A lit­tle more un­der­stand­ing, please

The Compass - - EDITORIAL -

It is sad to see just how eas­ily a sim­ple word can cause a world of trou­ble.

The word “ji­had” has be­come syn­ony­mous with violence, among young Mus­lims, and there­fore among non-Mus­lims. The “Ji­had bis saif,” or armed strug­gle, is of­ten re­ferred to as “the Lesser Ji­had,” but for many in the West it is the only ji­had we have ex­pe­ri­enced. It was never in­tended to be a call to in­dis­crim­i­nate violence, but a re­minder that the Mus­lim has a duty to de­fend his cul­ture against at­tack from out­side. Like any other so­ci­ety, in other words.

Look­ing back over history since the Sec­ond World War, it is dif­fi­cult to avoid see­ing many ex­am­ples of Is­lamic coun­tries com­ing un­der at­tack by non-Mus­lims. The French col­o­niza­tion of, and re­luc­tant re­treat from, Al­ge­ria can be re­garded as such an at­tack against Is­lam, as can the on­go­ing treat­ment of Pales­tinian Mus­lims by their Is­raeli neigh­bours. There are count­less other in­stances of East-West con­fronta­tion that can be in­ter­preted as at­tacks on Is­lam.

Young Mus­lim men who come un­der the in­flu­ence of rad­i­cal Imams see them­selves not as ag­gres­sors, but as de­fend­ers of their peo­ple and their re­li­gious cul­ture. The young of ev­ery so­ci­ety tend to see the world in black and white terms, and young Mus­lims are at­tracted by the rad­i­cal teach­ers.

Their par­ents, like the par­ents of ev­ery cul­ture, are more in­clined to prac­tice a less con­fronta­tional “Ji­had bin nefs,” or “Ji­had by the heart,” which is a strug­gle to drive out the evil from one’s own thoughts and be­hav­iour.

Most de­vout Jews and Chris­tians con­tin­u­ally en­gage in a sim­i­lar in­ter­nal strug­gle.

While we in the “post-re­li­gious” West have ac­cepted mini-skirts and twerk­ing as in­no­cent ex­hi­bi­tion­ism, to the de­vout Mus­lim this be­hav­iour is an at­tack on his/her cul­ture, which is noted for its modesty and its chival­rous re­spect for women. It’s hardly sur­pris­ing that mod­ern ji­hadis should turn their violence against night­clubs and rock con­certs, given the un­sub­tle sex­ual na­ture of our Western en­ter­tain­ments. What we see as harm­less fun, the de­vout Mus­lim sees as ram­pant Evil.

I don’t think it’s very use­ful to sim­ply con­demn the Mus­lim com­mu­nity as “bar­baric.”

They have, af­ter all, an an­cient and highly ad­vanced cul­ture. We have learnt much of our med­i­cal, sci­en­tific and math­e­mat­i­cal knowl­edge from Is­lam, and our con­cept of ro­man­tic love was taken di­rectly from their po­ets.

It seems to me that an in­flux of Mus­lim im­mi­grants would be a pos­i­tive ad­van­tage to Canada, and to our neigh­bour to the South.

Ed Healy Marys­town

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