Mus­lims, we have to crit­i­cally re­view our un­der­stand­ing of Is­lam

The Diplomatic Insight - - Contents -

Words fall short to truly ex­press my deep sad­ness and re­volt in the face of the car­nage per­pe­trated by ter­ror­ist groups such as the so­called Is­lamic State in Iraq and the Le­vant (ISIL). I share pro­found frus­tra­tion with a bil­lion-and-a-half Mus­lims around the world at the fact that such groups com­mit ter­ror­ism while dress­ing up their per­verted ide­olo­gies as re­li­gion. We Mus­lims have a spe­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity to not only join hands with fel­low hu­man be­ings to save our world from the scourge of ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism, but also to help re­pair the tar­nished im­age of our faith. It is easy to pro­claim a cer­tain iden­tity in the ab­stract with words and sym­bols. The sin­cer­ity of such claims, how­ever, can only be mea­sured by com­par­ing our ac­tions with the core val­ues of our self­pro­claimed iden­ti­ties. The true test of be­lief is not slo­gans or dress­ing up in a cer­tain way; the true test of our be­liefs is in liv­ing up to core prin­ci­ples shared by all ma­jor world faiths such as up­hold­ing the sanc­tity of life and re­spect­ing the dig­nity of all hu­mans. We must cat­e­gor­i­cally con­demn the ide­ol­ogy prop­a­gated by ter­ror­ists and in­stead pro­mote a plu­ral­is­tic mind­set all, be­fore our eth­nic, na­tional or religious iden­tity comes our com­mon hu­man­ity, which suf­fers a set­back each time a bar­baric act is com­mit­ted. French cit­i­zens who lost their lives in Paris, Shi­ite Mus­lim Le­banese cit­i­zens who lost their lives in Beirut a day ear­lier and scores of Sunni Mus­lims in Iraq who lost their lives at the hands of the same ter­ror­ists are civ­i­liza­tion will not progress un­til we treat the suf­fer­ing of hu­mans re­gard­less of their religious or eth­nic iden­tity as equally tragic in our em­pa­thy and re­spond with the same de­ter­mi­na­tion. Mus­lims must also re­ject and avoid con­spir­acy the­o­ries, which have so far only helped us avoid fac­ing our so­cial prob­lems. In­stead, we must tackle the real ques­tions: Do our com­mu­ni­ties pro­vide re­cruit­ment grounds for groups with to­tal­i­tar­ian mind­sets due to un­rec­og­nized au­thor­i­tar­i­an­ism within our­selves, do­mes­tic phys­i­cal abuse, ne­glect of youth and lack of bal­anced education? Did our fail­ure to es­tab­lish ba­sic hu­man rights and free­doms, supremacy of the rule of law and plu­ral­ist mind­sets in our com­mu­ni­ties lead those who are strug­gling to seek al­ter­na­tive paths? The re­cent tragedy in Paris is yet an­other re­minder for both the­olo­gians and or­di­nary Mus­lims to strongly re­ject and con­demn bar­baric acts per­pe­trated in the name of our re­li­gion. How­ever, at this junc­ture, re­jec­tion and con­dem­na­tion are not enough; ter­ror­ist re­cruit­ment within Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ties must be fought and coun­tered by an ef­fec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion of state au­thor­i­ties, religious lead­ers and civil so­ci­ety ac­tors. We must or­ga­nize com­mu­ni­ty­wide ef­forts to ad­dress all fac­tors that aid ter­ror­ist re­cruit­ment.

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