I Have a Serious Problem With ‘Nuun’ Profile Pictures.


Arabic letter, 'nuun'.
Arabic letter, ‘nuun’.

Recently, a large number of people have changed their profile pictures to the Arabic letter, ‘nuun’. For a little while, I had no idea what it meant. Then I saw a post that said something about ISIS painting the letter on the houses of Christians in Iraq in order to mark them.

Now, I know I’m going to get backlash about this either way – so I’m just going to put it out there bluntly. Changing your profile picture to the letter nuun is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Let me tell you why. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here (and think that you’re not purposefully trying to divide people), so I’ll raise a few points that you’ve probably not considered.

First and foremost, it breaks the victims of ISIS down to their respective religions. This is hugely problematic, because as a result, people with their little nuun profile pictures are saying they stand by the victims of ISIS who share the same beliefs, only. I don’t actually care if that isn’t the intention – that is how it comes across. That is what the nuun says. It says ‘I am a Christian who stands by the Christians’.

Fine, if that’s where the thought stops. It doesn’t. It continues with ‘against the Muslims’ and, because I am being kind today, I’m going to extend it to ‘against the Muslims who are persecuting the Christians’.

This is a problem for so many reasons. I wish I could draw this out in a huge brain storm, but I can’t, so I’ll do my best to make sense.

The aggressor

Clearly, the aggressor in this situation is ISIS. This group is quite clearly hiding behind the guise of Islam. ISIS is not just un-Islamic. It is ANTI-Islamic, as Nihad Awad so eloquently puts it:

If we want to stop ISIS, we must deny it any claim to represent Islam and starve it of the fuel of injustice. Despite misappropriating and misusing the name “Islamic State,” ISIS is little more than a criminal gang that attaches itself like a leech to revered symbols of Islam. It exploits counterproductive Western policies driving desperate people into its fold and uses injustices in the Muslim world as a smokescreen to cover its own cruelty.

ISIS is not acting in some religious war. They are not there to spread Islam. If that was the case, they would not have started beheading Muslims. They wouldn’t be spitting in the face of every Islamic principle. They. Are. Not. Islam.

You cannot give these people the right to abuse Islam and the beliefs of Muslims. It is times like these where people need to remember that we are all human. If you want to bring this down to a system of religious beliefs – fine. Islam is an Abrahamic religion. Islam, and Muslims do not see ourselves as part of a separate religion. We see the religion of God as the same one that has continued from the beginning of time, developing into Judaism and Christianity and finally to Islam. The only reason why we give other religions these names is to identify which Prophet of God cared for these people, and which Prophet they continue to follow. So when we talk about Jews, we’re talking about the people who were ruled by the laws of Moses. Christians were ruled by the laws of Jesus, and we see both as Prophets of God. Muhammad is seen the same way. Thus, one religion, worshipping one God. How is it then that you’re associating Islam with this group?

The aggressor is not Islam. It’s a group of barbarians.

The victim

Yes, Christians are being persecuted in Iraq. They’re not being targeted because they’re Christian. They’re being targeted because they’re standing in the way of ISIS; the same way that Muslims have been attacked for standing in their way.

It’s so convenient for social media warriors to break this down to some evangelical war, a crusade. A battle between Christianity and X-entity. It isn’t. This is not a war against Christianity and Christians. This is a war against people, against all of humanity. It actually amazes me that I have to explain this concept in the first place. Let me  reiterate – THIS IS NOT A WAR AGAINST CHRISTIANITY. ISIS was not formed to fight Christians.  They may call themselves a Caliphate. I don’t know how many more organisations need to stand out in the streets to yell about the fact that we do not accept them.

This whole thing started through Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreN. The person who started it was Jeremy Courtney, an American living in Iraq. The man himself said:

When Americans only defend the oppressed when they think they share their theology, that’s a problem. When they only defend those they consider their brothers and sisters, that’s a problem.

When ISIS first came into Mosul and 500,000 people fled the city, the majority of those were Sunni Muslims. It seems they left because they were not fundamentalists deemed to be compliant enough with this new Islamic authority. Why didn’t Americans get up in arms when Muslims were being driven from their homes? Why didn’t we change our twitter icons when Muslims were being slaughtered? We should be equally worked up about other minorities here who are suffering.  We can’t only have compassion on people that we think are like us.

(You can read more here)

Let me cover off on your questions before you even ask them. Even if there currently existed an Islamic Caliphate, it still would not be Islamic to prosecute people for their religions. The Prophet Muhammad created a doctrine which essentially stated that we are to love and protect Christians and Jews as our own brothers and sisters. Muhammad stated that until the end of time, Muslims are to leave other religions to govern themselves and to live their own lives. Not only that, but that we are to protect them if ever there be a time where they are under attack. You can read more about it here.

The number one victim of ISIS is Islam. It makes all of us the problem and takes out of the equation for the solution. It implies that we support what ISIS is doing. It implies that it is what we’ve all secretly wanted to do. It’s moronic. Stop it.


I know it’s hard for a lot of people to self-assess. To reflect. But let me help you do that. Ask yourself – what is it you’re trying to say by changing your profile picture? Every single one I’ve seen goes on about standing with the poster’s Christian brothers and sisters and branding themselves in an act of defiance against the Muslamic infidelz.

This entire concept, this division, is completely counter-productive. It does nothing but create further separation. It separates people out here in the Western world who are watching in horror. It separates the victims. It justifies the actions of ISIS. It legitimises their actions. It makes it a thing of religion, instead of humanity. It says that you would not give a shit if these people were not Christian. Is that what you want to say, because seriously, it’s what you’re saying.

And what is it that you are ultimately achieving? Your Christian brothers and sisters aren’t benefiting from it. They’re not seeing it. They’re not being helped. If you think you’re bringing light to the issues – you’re not. You’re turning the issues into something they’re not. You’re making them about religion when they are not. You’re implying that the only victims are Christians, when they’re not.


So. Stop it.


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  1. The symbol reminds us to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

    But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
    (Galatians 4:29)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Two verses to prayerfully ponder 🙂

        The LORD through Moses-

        And I will put a division between my people and thy people: to morrow shall this sign be.
        (Exodus 8:23)

        Jesus Christ the LORD-

        Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
        (Luke 12:51)


  2. Disclaimer: I am not remotely a scholar but the Book of God is accessible to all. (which also leads to half of our problems). Forgive me if I misunderstand or misrepresent. Please stay for the lengthy yet fruitful passage.

    “And they say: None shall enter the garden except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful. Yes! Whoever submits himself entirely to God and he is the doer of good to others, he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve. And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything good, and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything good while they recite the same Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say; so God will judge between them on the day of resurrection in what they differ”. Surah Baqarah, Verses 111-113

    Those who believe in the Oneness of God, the Sole Creator of the Universe with no partners or progeny, are believers. Jews, Christians, Muslims, hipsters, bookworms, etc. are all words we use to identify ourselves to express our existence. God doesn’t need identifiers from us apart from our deeds.


  3. This is a great point. I found that majority of society see it as a war of religions as shown in the media. Where as it is a war of people disagreeing and standing up to ISIS and the monstrous, horrific, cowardly group. Reading your opinion helps me stay open minded and remember that its about our brother and sisters in humanity and no matter what we need to be united to stop this horrific monster.


    1. That’s it! It’s all well and good to attribute pain and suffering or blame to a particular type of human with particular religious or cultural beliefs. Ultimately we are all the same, and there is absolutely no reason why we should focus on what type of person is hurting instead of the fact that a person is hurting. We really are all one. There are times where I just can’t get over the fact that humans are willing to hurt each other. It’s so counter to what being human is all about.


  4. I used it back then (and still use it on my disqus account) not because I want to say anything against muslims, but because I want(ed) to express my connection to the persecuted brothers and sisters.
    When the king of Denmark wore the star of David, he wasn’t even a Jew, but he expressed his solidarity with the persecuted Jews and his countrymen joined him in this solidarity, so the nazis had a hard time figuring out whowas Jew and who wasn’t.
    But it was in no way a means to say anything about Germans in General.
    I do oppose strongly those muslims who think it was right to kill people of others faiths. But I do not have any problem with the majority of muslims, who do not share this idea.
    Of course I know there are people who cannot see the difference between both muslim groups. But this is not my fault. These people need to get educated.If I cannot name a crime, the criminals will finally get away with it.


    1. Thank you for your comment. I can understand where you are coming from, for sure, but I think that at the time, the profile picture was being used to support non-Muslims who were being killed as though they were the only group being persecuted. As you know, the majority of those killed by ISIS were, and continue to be, Muslims.

      My problem wasn’t that I think that the letter represented an idea that Muslims were bad; it was that it divided ISIS’ victims in a way that mimicked already divisive practices.


      1. While I understand your point and do in the greatest part agree with you, I think there is a slight difference between Muslim victims of Daesh and victims of other faith groups.
        There were no signs that marked the houses of Muslims as far as I know. So as a Muslim you needed to actually do something “wrong” to be a target, as a Christian (or a Yesid) you were a target for for mere existence.
        Being German myself I tend to compare such things to the 3rd Reich. The Jews (and others) had no chance to get away, not even by conversion (difference to Daesh), while “Germans” (those who were accepted as German by the Nazis) were at least able to shut up to avoid concentration camps. Still there were some of these “Germans” going to CCs: Socialists, Church people and others who were in the opposition.
        And as I think there is a difference in how my ancestors were victims to how Jews or other persecuted groups were victims, I also think there is a difference between the victims of Daesh.
        Of course, using the nuun as a profile picture shows in the first place solidarity with a certain group of Daesh victims. But it is the group that was marked by Daesh with that letter. So the division was already made by Daesh, it’s nothing people of the west invented.
        In the Germany of Nazi days, the Jews were the outsiders who could hardly do anything to better their lot. But the “Germans” had it in their hands. After all, the actual members of the Nazi party were not so big in numbers, so if others had resisted, maybe things would have changed. There were resistance groups, but too few to have an impact.
        So the foreign troops had to solve this problem for us.
        I think Muslims from all over the world have the chance now to challenge Daesh and the theology they stand for. If Islam stands for peace there must be an Islamic theology that proves Daesh wrong.
        I believe there is such a theology, and I hope it is promoted among Muslims throughout the world, only I do not hear about it (one reason could be that the languages I do speak are German and English and I understand a bit of other European languages, but no language that is culturally closer to Islam like Arabic, Turkish or Persian).
        What I hear is that every Islamic country have their own Shura who are all more or less influenced by their local politics instead of having an international focus like terrorist groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda have.If there were one or two internationally accepted Shuras who could challenge the propaganda of the terrorists, they’d get into trouble.
        But I think I already went off topic a while ago, so I stop here and wish you a nice Ramadan-weekend…


  5. The symbol means more to me than how you see it. It focuses around only one thing…the Nazarene. The one who died & lives again. He bought me & I am His & He is mine. To me it’s a sign of ownership & I belong to Him. It has become my birth mark & that’s what I’m telling people, I’ve been “born again” & I owe my life, my love, my everything to the Nazarene called Jesus.


  6. My first time on this site and I really love this. I have unfortunately people close to me who think all of Islam is the problem. They think it is oppressive and I just love them but on this have never been successful in getting them to be more open minded. As a Mormon, I think about what people did and say (even a state passing an extermination order) when the religion was founded before the death of Joseph Smith Jr. and even after the Mormon exodus to the Salt Lake Valley (and even now some people have a lot of hatred toward the religion). I see people acting the same way against Muslims (sans state sanctioned extermination order thankfully). It is horrible, and I highly dislike it. I think your article is spot on.


    1. Thank you so much for sharing your feeling and opinion. It’s really hard when you’re surrounded by people who feel the way that those around you feel. Sometimes it’s useful to remember that most of their opinions stem from fear and maybe with time they will come around. Until then I will hope for a better future.


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