How do Muslims react to Islam-related terrorism? — Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos

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NOVEMBER 23 — It is sad for a Muslim who knows his Quran when he hears terrorism has been committed in the name of Islam.

We have just witnessed the brutal and meaningless shooting in Paris and the beheading of Bernard Then by groups that claim to profess the religion of Islam.

The very term “Islamic State” (IS) which for years has been on the lips of many Muslim scholars and even ordinary Muslims who have no idea what it means has today come to stand for barbaric violence against humanity.

It is ironic, certainly, that when the concept of an Islamic State has been touted as a “solution for humankind” by many Muslim quarters before, today it expresses itself in the form of masked men wielding guns and killing people mercilessly.

Even PAS had in the past championed the goal of achieving an Islamic State of sorts with their primary and most important goal being the implementation of its version of hudud passing off as Allah-sanctioned laws. But that is another story.

There are many conspiracy theories abound including the one that IS is actually a Jewish ploy to create havoc in the Muslim world.

The adherents of this theory point to the fact IS has actually killed more Muslims than non-Muslims. Surely, they argue, IS members cannot be Muslims.

Without dismissing the conspiracy theory, I am humbly of the view that such an argument is too simplistic because it overlooks the years of enmity and violence between the Sunni and the Shiah factions in many parts of the world.

Both of these groups profess to practise Islam.

The so-called “Islamic world” has also witnessed cruel and inhumane treatment of minority groups within their fold such as the ill treatment and persecution of Ahmadiyah sects in Pakistan and so on.

The point is, sectarian aggressive behaviour within the fold of what is perceived as the “Islamic world” continues in many parts of the world today.

This is something the “Islamic world” must address if people are to be convinced that Islam is a religion of peace.

As a continuous student of the Quran, I am not surprised with such sectarian aggression as Allah has already predicted and denounced such sectarian aggression between those with differing religious views (see Quran 6:159, 19:37, 23:53 and 30:32).

A Muslim who loves his Quran will not be part of any such sectarian egoism leading to disunity among fellow human beings as Allah has already ordained that He shall be the ultimate judge (see Quran 6:159).

A Muslim is not even allowed to be violent or unjust to a non-Muslim on account solely of different religions. So, why not leave the ultimate judgment to Allah instead of imposing each other’s understanding of Islam on each other?

Further, it is clear from the Quran that had Allah wanted, he would have made everyone a believer, hence who are we to usurp Allah’s jurisdiction by compelling others to our understanding? (see Quran 10:99-100)

However, this is not something that religionists and politicians with vested interests will readily accept.

Power is all about control and the only way you can exert control is if your views are dominant.

The argument goes that if everyone is allowed to have their own view of Islam, then chaos may arise.

There may be confusion and no uniformity. How do you exert control over diverse views which by nature cannot be subjected to any control?

When you speak of control in an institutional sense, you are talking about laws.

Laws are important for the politicians to govern society. Laws are important for religionists to exert authority.

I believe it is for this reason the juristic face of Islam has become dominant in society as opposed to the other aspects of teachings in the Quran.

If you were to Youtube or read any writings of any Muslim, religionists or scholar, more likely than not, you will hear about what is permissible (halal), what is forbidden (haram), what is encouraged (sunat) and what is discouraged (makhruh).

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this but the discourse dominantly revolves around hukum or laws and it is almost as if there is a total abandonment of invoking conscience, thinking and common sense.

In the long run, the community gets into some sort of a religious trap where when it comes to matters considered “religious”, the attitude is to look for a “hukum” from some “learned expert” to the exclusion of using the brains to think.

Again, this attitude seems antithetical to the numerous injunctions in the Quran that exhorts human beings to think and reason with compassion.

There is also a danger in such so-called “uniformity” of religious attitude.

When a Muslim learns to dispense with his thinking and reasoning faculties when it comes to Islam, he becomes easy target for manipulation by persons with vested economic and political interests.

For example, a Jew who spots a beard, speaks Arabic fluently and utters selected Quranic verses and the hadith completely out of context is able to manipulate such Muslims easily to commit atrocities in the name of Islam and Allah.

The ordinary ignorant Muslim may feel guilty not supporting something when Allahu Akbar is chanted.

Hence, how can any Muslim blame this Jew when we have not got our own house in order and allowed our communities to be easy prey by our penchant for so called “uniformity” without thinking skills?

Once again, being a student of the Quran, I am not surprised that many who profess to be Muslims can be easily duped as this devious strategy has also been forewarned by Allah in the Quran: “There is among them a section who distorts the Book with their tongues; (as they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, ‘That is from God,’ but it is not from God; it is they who tell a lie against God, and (well) they know it!” (Quran 3:78)

I am of the humble view it is not enough for the Muslims to behave defensively whenever there is news of Islam-related terrorism.

Whether we like it or not, it is being linked to Islam, albeit wrongly, and the perpetrators are being perceived as Muslims.

Muslims need to be more proactive is denouncing this Islam-related terrorism and they should also be able to demonstrate to the world the mercy, the humanitarian and spiritual aspect of Islam.

Actions speak louder than hours of sermons, what more when a minority but dominant groups of Muslims occasionally utter the most extreme of statements purportedly in the name of Islam.

I strongly believe Islam-related terrorism can only be effectively wiped out when the global Muslim community can be freed from the “religious trap” of dispensing self responsibility to Allah.

There has to be public space for rational, intelligent and civilised discussion of the “diverse face of Islam” so that ideas do not go underground.

No doubt it is a complex issue but we have to start introspection in our own country first.

However, for this to happen, we require courageous, knowledgeable and sincere leaders and, a courageous and willing-to-learn citizenry.

* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at [email protected]

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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