Outrage, condemnation, candle light vigils and revenge talk is all good, but the need is practical solutions beyond condemnations. Obviously the burden squarely falls on Muslims; we have to grudgingly admit that almost all acts of terror are committed by men claiming to be Muslims in the pretext of defending Islam, Quran and the Prophet. It is our duty to build a better world for all of us to live in peace, and that is all God wants, here is the first step.
By Mike Ghouse
A bunch of terrorists rampaged into an office in Paris and killed 12 persons including four journalists; Charlie Hebdo magazine’s editor and cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier, Cabu, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac. Similarly a bunch of terrorists walked in to a school in Peshawar and massacred 131 innocent children and 17 adults.
What follows is outrage and condemnation of these acts of terror along with candle light vigils and revenge talks. What is grossly missing is solution beyond condemnations. Obviously the burden squarely falls on Muslims; we have to grudgingly admit that almost all of the acts of terror are committed by men claiming to be Muslims in the pretext of defending Islam, Quran and the Prophet.
If you believe Charlie Hebdo should not have published the cartoons of the prophet, you have a point, and that is how civilized people behave; respectful of other’s sensibilities. However, that does not give a license to the terrorists to kill another human being, in a civil society that we all cohabit, they have a right to disagree and protest it in a civilized manner to bring about respecting the otherness of others, but no one has a right to kill other.
It is the duty of governments to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting the peace in a society and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain a balance in the society. Those who violate the rights of others deserve all the punishment prescribed in a civil society in a humane manner.
Freedom of expression is the God-given right of every human, and is the foundation of civil societies. Indeed, it is the freedom of speech that has allowed Islam to grow in Europe and America. We should honor and respect that freedom with all our heart, mind and spirit. We cannot betray the very ideals that gave us the freedom to be who we are, and we cannot allow anyone to violate others freedom.
In behalf of World Muslim Congress, I condemn these acts of terrorism and urge the French police to spare no resources to get them, including those who knew about the plan, but did not report to the police, that is outright treason. These guys are dangerous to society at large and Muslims in particular.
What is our responsibility as Muslims?
Islam stands for freedom of expression, there is no compulsion in the matters of faith, and you simply cannot force anyone to believe against his or her will. God insists the plurality of religion many times in Quran – he says, weather you are a Jew, Christian or other, you need not worry, I will take care of you, as long as you take care of my creation; your fellow beings and environment. I gave you a well-balanced world for you to live enjoy and manage, and if you subscribe to that, I will call you a subscriber, follower, surrenderer and submitter to my will in preserving the well balanced peaceful world. Don’t mess with me and my creation, and you are a tiny insignificant speck in the scheme of things, and I am the most powerful, say God is great (Allahu Akbar). Indeed, Allahu Akbar is a call for humility and not killing.
Where did we go wrong?
Many things, but let’s start with Blasphemy Laws. Yes, these laws go against what God want – freedom of expression! The laws also blunt God’s warning – that he does not like the oppressors. Ironically the word “Blasphemy Isn’t Even Mentioned In The Quran” as Fareed Zakaria has pointed out in his article with the same title.
Shamefully, there are books out there, (not the Quran), which proclaim “Gustakh-e-Rasool” – (one who pokes fun at the prophet) deserves to be killed “Wajib Qatal.” A Muslim in India has offered bounty to those who kill blasphemers, and embarrassingly not all, but a significant number of Muslims in Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been brain washed to believe in it. They put these secondary books on par with Quran. Indeed, these men over a period of time have unknowingly made some of the Muslim scholars equal to God, a grave sin in Islam.
These men ignore God’s guidance to keep the cohesiveness of the society – including “suicides” “Killing another human” “no compulsion” and “God alone is the master of the day of judgment”.
Criticism of Islam and Cartoons of Prophet
Criticism of Islam, Cartoons of the prophet or cursing at the Quran will not make them disappear. Islam is not going anywhere and neither the prophet. They are here for good and nothing will happen to them, and they are not weaklings that seek the protection from ordinary humans. They are beyond all that. Indeed, the acts of these terrorists, who falsely claim to defend the name of the prophet, actually make God and the Prophet Look bad to the affected individuals. .
These men need to know, that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was criticized, attempts were made to kill him, and he was even harassed including getting pelted with rocks that hurt him. What did he do in return? Retaliate? Hurt them? None of it, instead he prayed for their well being. If you are a follower of the Prophet, you need to be a mercy to fellow humans and not a terrorist.
How do we restore Islam to its pristine place?
And how do Muslims become builders of cohesive societies where no human has to live in fear of the other?
We have to start back with “no compulsion” – if we force, oppress or kill these believers, the battle will never end. It has to begin with cooperation, conferences and education – with long term results on mind, and not quick turnarounds. If things are to be sustained it has to come through free will. Please note that I have not placed the blame on any one; I don’t intend to, that is escaping from the responsibility. We have done the wrong and we have to fix it.
Where do we start?
I would start with a Quran conference the likes of which is at www.QuraanConference.com – We have to develop a theme with specific goals – such as starting with “Understanding Blasphemy” and inviting people with two opposite views. That would be the first step.
God willing, I intend to write a series of articles and hope to organize conferences to make an effort to restore Islam to its pristine purpose; peace and harmony among people and what surrounds them.
It is our duty to build a better world for all of us to live in peace.
To reprint or reproduce the article, please feel free to do so, but kindly credit the publisher and the author. The next article will be about Fixing Sharia Laws.
(Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a Muslim pluralist.)
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