Time for people to relearn Islam

2013-10-11 00:00

THE recent tragic event in Kenya, perpetrated by some radical fanatics, has once again refocused global attention on Muslim extremism.

In my defence of Islam, to people who insist that Islam is a violent religion, I would like to reaffirm and inform that the vast majority of Muslims follow Islam with a spirit befitting the true meaning of Islam, which is peace and this does not promote abuse of any kind, hate and violence. Extremism and bloodshed have no place in Islam.

Many uninformed and ill-informed non-Muslims might find it ironic that Islam, meaning peace, should be the single cause of the catastrophic killings of human lives by human hands and thus regard the label Islam a misnomer. Without condoning the abuse and violence, I strongly advise people to make a concerted effort to study the Qur’an and the prophetic tradition objectively and then, with an unbiased mind, draw conclusions and formulate judgments.

Islam carries a message of mercy and peace; murder and terrorism are crimes punishable by death.

Jihad is often stereotyped by Western media as meaning “holy war”. In reality, Jihad means “struggle”, to fight the evil in one’s own heart, to show compassion and to remove injustice, inequalities, oppression and evil from society and not just “holy war”.

One should also research the root causes of the sudden uprisings in the Muslim world and study the role played by outside interference in Muslim-ruled countries to get a more or less holistic view of the Muslim world.

There was a time when Muslims were remembered for their justice, inventions and discoveries.

How have Muslims become nothing but victims of war, suffering and genocide?

Unfortunately, today we have leaders who are not playing their role as leaders.

Their only interest is self-aggrandisement, with the result that they manipulate religion for their personal benefit. It is for this reason that so many Muslims live under authoritarian, monarchical and despotic systems. Many of these autocratic regimes are propped up by many Western countries.

The level of suffering, cruelty and brutality that exists around the globe is beyond imagination.

We are no more the human beings we are supposed to be. We are constantly pulled off the straight path by our base desires, greed, pride and arrogance.

In Syria, I saw the true arrogance and brutality of human beings. I cannot express what I saw. Reality is more dreadful and shocking than any­thing the mind can understand or words can declare or manifest.

How do I discuss the Syrian imbroglio?

How do I explain the inexplicable? Where do I start?

Do I describe how the Syrian regime bombed homes, schools, places of worship and other infrastructure?

Or do I describe the needs of the millions of people (refugees and displaced people) in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, especially on the borders of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, or the rape of women and children that we seldom hear about?

Or the physiological needs of the victims?

As a human being, I would never have desired to see what I saw. I have a responsibility to share and convey what I saw in Syria to the global community.

I saw grief-stricken families, as they sat on pavements close to the devastating ruins that were once their homes, now piles of rubble.

In hospital, I saw the broken and brutally damaged limbs of children and adults, whom Bashar al-Assad’s forces had pounded with bombs.

All wars are inhuman and cruel, but the civil war in Syria seems to set new standards for cruelty and violence every day.

With over 100 000 people killed, millions in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and millions of displaced people and refugees, the civil war in Syria cannot be allowed to continue to fester unabated.

The minuscule moments of reality that I witnessed on the ground in Syria and the injuries I suffered make me feel almost ashamed of the comforts I enjoy.

Why is there so much violence, corruption and rebellion in the Muslim world when we have been left with a perfect legacy by Prophet Mohammed (PBUH)?

In order to address the sad conditions in Muslim countries, we need to undertake some effective and critical dialogue and thinking. Muslims need to relearn Islam by studying the Qur’an and lives of the prophet and his companions.

The Sahaba, companions of the prophet, would sit in the company of the prophet and learn and study the Qur’an. Thereafter, they implemented all of it in their daily lives and not selectively, as we see these days.

As a result of this submission by the companions of the prophet, one of the most peaceful and just societies in humanity was created.

Unfortunately, today the offshoot of this great tradition or way of life is in a state of absolute turmoil because current Muslim leaders have forgotten or lost the prophetic plot.

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