It was following 9/11 that the moderate sections of the Muslim world started hankering after reinterpreting many an Islamic doctrine that we’d previously lapped up as a matter of fact. The tafsirs were haphazardly rephrased; authenticity of controversial commandments was examined; the question of context became pertinent and Islamic history was rigorously rewritten. All wars fought under the flag of Islam throughout history instantaneously became retaliatory; Jihad became ‘inner struggle’ overnight and the ominously defensive chant of ‘religion of peace’ immediately became the official slogan of (moderate) Islam.
This assortment of half-cooked apologia, convenient fabrication and theological perversion was a reaction to the West getting a small dose of Islamist terrorism. Despite the undoubted tragedy, and the epoch-defining significance, the insecurity and paranoia in the aftermath of 9/11 is an iota of what most of the Muslim world experiences on a daily basis, owing to its own ideologically moulded behemoths. Said paranoia in turn metamorphosed into a mass-scale anti-Muslim bigotry, wherein the burden of proof of not being a terrorist lay with every single Muslim of the world. The West’s xenophobic backlash catalysed Islamists and the theological apologists simultaneously.
As the Islamist Frankenstein arrived on the global stage, the need for a counter-narrative had indeed become pertinent. While the burden of proof of being law abiding citizens should never have rested with the entire Muslim community in the West, the onus to prove that Islam is compatible with the modern world was inevitable. The gauntlet was thrown a century too late.
The baton of religious moderation, after being successfully passed on by all other religions, had finally been handed over to the Muslims, as the world collectively awaited our verdict on finally integrating into modernity. And we milked it, big time.
The West has realised and is overcompensating for the anti-Muslim bigotry by allowing radical Islamists to live on welfare and touting any scepticism vis-à-vis Islam as ‘Islamophobia’. Meanwhile, the moderate Muslim world is still singing defensive jingles from 2001, while simultaneously playing the perpetual victim card, instead of accepting their religious community’s blatantly obvious shortcomings and theological flaws that encourage global terrorism.
The West’s bigotry has an offshoot of Chamberlainian appeasement of radical Islam in the past 13 years, while the Muslim world’s ‘fundamental’ question has evolved from al-Qaeda to ISIS – the goriest brand of Islam witnessed in centuries.
The most convenient reaction to 9/11, which has been echoed every time terrorists showcase Islam as the motivation behind their butchery, has been to excommunicate the terrorists – claiming that the Islamist militants aren’t Muslims at all. The same reverberations have been resonating ever since ISIS has come to the fore, with leaders of the West, Barack Obama and David Cameron dutifully lip-synching to the chorus.
This takfir, or excommunication, has been as expedient as it has been precarious, because it allows the Muslim world to rid itself of any responsibility for the action of the terrorists that it nourishes. It also allows Muslims to conjure the aforementioned victim card when the obvious influence of Islam on Islamist terrorism is even hinted at. What this also beefs up is the resolve of the moderate Muslims, a lot of whom do not reside within any tangible proximity of the ‘Muslim world’, in shrouding the most important fact in all the debate surrounding Islamism: that majority of the Muslim world supports the Islamist ideology even if they don’t back the ensuing terrorism.
Saying that ISIS represents all Muslims or Islam would be preposterous – just like saying that Islam has exclusive rights over violence. However, claiming that ISIS doesn’t represent any Muslims is even more absurd, just like saying that Islam does not influence Islamist terrorism at all. ISIS, al-Qaeda, TTP, Boko Haram, et al are the manifestations of the obvious influence of religion on religious extremist, and their identical ‘misinterpretations’ of Islam, which has the backing of the popular Muslim opinion, cannot be shunned as un-Islamic.
[quote]In a PEW survey it was found that over 80% of Muslims from the Muslim world want Sharia law in their homeland[/quote]
In a PEW survey in April last year it was found that over 80% of Muslims from the Muslim world want Sharia law in their homeland – 84% in Pakistan. Now since the interpretation of Sharia varies, one has to dig deep to find out what exactly the Muslim world seeks.
76% of Pakistanis who support Sharia believe apostates should be killed, 89% believe adulterers should be stoned to death and 87% believe hands should be chopped off for theft. While numbers vary throughout the Muslim world, the extreme viewpoints form the comfortable majorities in most cases. Not to mention the fact that PEW did not include Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan in last year’s survey.
Even so, in another PEW survey conducted in July this year strong majorities all over the Muslim world expressed their apprehension regarding Islamist terrorism – including 66% Pakistanis. Now either the Muslim world has undergone a miraculous reformation in 15 months or it’s completely oblivious of the concept of cause and effect.
Whilst the majority of the Muslim world is against blowing up one’s own country, the lion’s share still support the ISIS interpretation of Islam of stoning and chopping off hands. What possible logic can then be used to claim that the likes of ISIS have “nothing to do with Islam” or the even more mindboggling claim that they aren’t even Muslims?
Instead of owning up to the Muslim community’s collective shortcomings and instigating a veritable reformation of Islam wherein the precarious commandments are shelved instead of being twisted into a self-defeating coil of apologia, the moderates continue to declare pointless takfiri fatwas on the Islamists. Apostatising the Islamist ideology would mean declaring over 80% of the Muslim world as non-Muslims.
It’s the excommunication of terrorists by the tiny moderate fraction of the Muslim world that is directly responsible for the escalation of Islamist terrorism in the past decade. Because you don’t solve a problem that you claim isn’t yours to begin with.
[quote]History reveals that converting people to your ideology, if you’re not armed, is a cumbersome mission[/quote]
History reveals that converting people to your ideology, if you’re not armed, is a cumbersome mission and for the Muslim world the task of converting the Muslim world to moderation is too arduous. Excommunicating the extremists and assuming that they’ve been created in a vacuum engulfed by proponents of moderate Islam is easier and convenient. This allows them to scream bloody murder and accuse the West of disrupting their countries when attacks are designed to eliminate monsters that are destroying the Muslim world – the same monsters that the moderates had earlier refused to own up to.
While the Islamist organisms multiply in the Muslim world, the Muslims continue to accuse a foreign species of causing this reproduction. The blame-fest hogs the limelight, providing the organisms the nourishment of apologia and distraction that it needs. And then the cycle keeps on repeating itself till al-Qaeda transforms into ISIS.