Muslims are in crisis. We are a religion of over two billion adherents, blending cultures that encompass Berbers, Malays and Mongols. Converts and diaspora are in every country of the world. And yet we are all, collectively, held hostage by a tiny minority. Their black flags and unkempt beards fill the screens and newspapers of the world, while the vast and rich heterogeneity of the faithful goes unreported. Their intolerance drowns the universal message, their brutality masks our charity and compassion.
Muslims are in crisis because unless we understand the source of this vicious parasite, and how it draws strength, it will consume us.
Muslims are in crisis because in our apathy and ignorance we have allowed this thing to gnaw its way through the body of the Muslim Ummah. We may wince when it strikes another part of the body, but we bear the pain and keep going, thinking it will not come for us, unaware that those around us only see its festering form, and turn away from its diseased stench.
Muslims are in crisis, but not because of a terrorist wielding a gun under a black flag, or because a bearded madman preaches hate from a pulpit. The parasite is one of belief. There is a creed that promulgates an Islam shorn of humanity, and whose adherents see difference as something to be scoured from the earth.
Muslims are in crisis because the periodic plague that has ravaged the faith from its earliest days has risen again. It is an infection that has no purpose other than to consume its host, and this time, fuelled by lakes of oil, it has run rampant. It has adopted the forms of the religion without understanding their spirit, it has taken the words and robbed them of context and tone. It has even turned on the lunatics that let it loose.
Muslims are in crisis because of the Wahhabis (who may also take the labels Salafi and Deobandi). Their austerity is not a noble denial of the self, but a joyless, inhuman existence that hardens the heart. Their piety is a ritual empty of the soul soaring height prayer can offer. Their purpose in this incarnation was as a prop for the House of Saud to impose itself on the Arabian peninsula, a tool of power. It is the lifecycle of such tools to turn upon their wielder. If ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and Lashkar e Jhangvi scream their hatred for the hands that shaped them, it is the natural puberty of their development.
The House of Saud and their fellow Emiratis have done a deal with the devil for their power and status, and the devil always gets his due. Don’t pity them cowering in their palaces. They have sold out our religion while wearing the robes of guardians, and they may cost you your soul as well.
All of this is known. Here is a shortened version from The Telegraph. There is a world of difference between being known and being accepted, and several more steps along the road to recovery before any action is taken. But like any parasite this one can be removed, like any disease it can be cured, as long as we don’t let it go too far.
Stop. You’re about to say this is nothing to do with you. The abomination that is ISIS does not speak for you. You abhor its actions. You put the “Stand with…” pictures on your Facebook newsfeed, what more could anyone ask for?
You are deluded.
This thing has grown up within the bosom of the Muslim Ummah. Yes, Wahhabism is a construct that was planted to serve a political agenda, but it is the Muslims that have enabled its growth, the Muslims who turned a blind eye to its crimes, and now it is the Muslims that have to act.
Your silence has been its enabler. Keep your Facebook posts and the watercooler comments at work. I mean your silence when that guy in the mosque, you know the one, makes his violent comments about the kuffar, and you shrug your shoulders and move on. Or maybe you cringe. But you say nothing.
Perhaps you tune out during Friday prayers, when the sermons turn to injustice anywhere in the world being cause for retaliation anywhere else. Others are listening, and without a voice raised in protest there is no one to tell them you cannot defeat injustice with more of the same. Or maybe you have more courage than the rest. You ask questions and the preacher says, “just believe”.
Islam is bigger than your curiosity. Ask. Ask. Especially about the things they tell you not to.
You’ve seen your mosque grow. The buildings refurbished, and the committee members slowly changed. The beards grow longer, the trousers shorter and suddenly all the double glazing and central heating can’t take the chill from the air. There are new books on the shelves, but you don’t read them. You don’t question where the money came from, and at what cost.
That brother with the uncomfortable views, the preacher you try not listen to, the money you don’t want to know the source of – they are all part of the same disease that is subverting everything you hold dear. It thrives on your reticence, it multiplies in your apathy.
Do nothing, because it is none of your business. You fast, and you pray and let everyone else to their own conscience.
So you watch as that brother, who rants against the kuffar, goads another and another. The brother huddles with the preacher. Suddenly there is money to fund a study trip to Pakistan, or reconstruction work in Somalia. You kid yourself that the boy will come back a man strengthened in faith. Someone with his face comes back, strengthened in something that makes your skin crawl. But his wild-eyed speeches are just words, they won’t hurt anyone.
Some time later there is a bang. You stand with wherever it was, but it was nothing to do with you.
Except it is everything to do with you.
Muslims are in crisis. You have to speak out to save us.
Update 25th May: since I wrote this see the following from Patrick Cockburn on the Wahhabi roots of terrorism and this on 1000 revolutions: The concentric circles of blame for the Manchester attacks
Related thoughts of mine in previous posts:
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7 thoughts on “Muslims are in Crisis”
Although I am offline until September, I read this with great sympathy. I have no religion, but recognise that the best in all religions gives humanity a strong moral code that includes kindness to friends, strangers and the weak. I remember reading about this approaching crisis in Islam about 25 years ago and realise that other religions and western political actions and done nothing to prevent this and much to promote it. Christianity has been through horrendous periods in its history and today its weirder zealots are small and marginal groups. I think you are right and if the sane muslim majority can visibly and vocally pull together the world will learn to separate the zealot terrorists from the great religion they purport to follow. As fear fuels people’s reactions them, doing nothing hurts the majority of muslims and this must be a very difficult, frightening time.
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This is an amazing piece. My favorite line is this: “Ask. Especially about the things they tell you not to.” That is universally applicable. The phenomenon you write about here is cropping up in other religious and political groups as well… I even see it among some of the most liberal groups I know. When a social group “others” people long enough, eventually, the violence seems justified. We need more people rising up and saying, “Stop. Just stop. We’re all in this together.”
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That was I did… question and question… and became somewhat bad boy in the eyes of the preachers… then over time all changed, I got my answers anyways by keeping my bias away, made a habit of pondering more and more … discussed with friendly scholars and many new points raised affirming Islam to be a true religion for humanity, making it clear and clearer that justice was the core of religion… meaning justice for all was the pinnacle of peace, inner peace and world peace … something good happened in the process I became a poet as to put a river in a bowl…as preachers said that they had learnt something new that they never had thought of … they admired my efforts and promised to raise those points of wisdom in public…now some of them take my points and poetry to the pulpit… it gives me hope that more people will ask questions and get the straight path… “The path of those whom Thou hast favoured. Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray” (Al-Quran 1:6-7).
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They really are.
The Muslim youth has gone away from the flow of the society,they have been treated as if they are terrorists,it needs to be changed.
Wow. It is difficult to express a strong opinion with compassion and great love, and you did just that.
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Heartfelt, well thought out, well written. Thank you.
Well said Ali. My UK stepson goes to a Salafi mosque. He likes the ‘purity’. He’s in denial about Salafi being the source of anti-Western self-segregation and the ambivalent or supportive attitide to Islamism. See my blogpost ‘Colour me racist, blame my genes – racism explained as a redundant instinct’ (https://soothfairy.wordpress.comm/2016/08/14/racism), which addresses this issue in great detail.
Shame about your link to the anti-Rohingya troll blog, though. See my post, ‘Halo goodbye, Suu – the Rohingya crisis’ (https://soothfairy.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/halo-goodbye).
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