It is so much easier to blame others for our problems than to accept responsibility ourselves. What others are doing now or they did in the past (colonialism) should not account for the quality of life for Muslims today. What accounts is so much anger that is always diverted against the external enemies and leaves no room to analyse the internal causes of our social, economical, political, moral and intellectual decline today.
Our determination to decline modernity and a will to embrace values of Stone Age with the sheer assumption that this is the only way to eternal salvation is so overwhelming that we are in the state of total refusal to see how the rest of the civilised world has been developed with adopting the principles of modernity and innovation. We are continuously on the path of decline while the rest of world is climbing up fast on the ladder of prosperity, economic, social, political, technological and intellectual development. The vicious circle of self-imposed isolation, self pity and exile has poisoned our mindset to see the rest of world with the sentiments of enmity and disapproval. We have our own justifications for holding such thoughts about world; after all, we have been oppressed for centuries.
Our enmity with western, un-Islamic world has many explanations. We see west as a ‘threat to Islam’ but we do not have much to say about Muslims killing Muslims today. The war ‘within’ is leading to a genocide of other Muslim sects; killing people who are innocent, peaceful and are not a potential threat to the integrity of a nation or a so-called ‘Muslim brotherhood’.
If all of this is termed as ‘jihad’, a ‘holy war’, who is this war declared against? Is this holy war directed against poverty, social injustice, corruption, illiteracy, violation of human rights and all other social and moral evils? The answer is sadly no. Than who is the target of this holy war. Is it only the innocent people who are being killed as a result of this self-imposed sacred battle, people who are armless and peaceful? Ironically, the answer this time is yes.
By doing all this, what message are we posting to the rest of the world? There is a huge discrepancy when we claim Islam is a religion of peace, and contrary to that we are engaged to gain that peace through proclaiming a war. With the hijacking of US planes and attacking the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, the message of Islam as a religion of peace was also being hijacked by those hijackers. The resulting war is against civilisation, it is against human rights and a constant threat to humanity, no matter whatever name is given to that war.
It is true that the condition of world today clearly requires a jihad, a holy war, but that should be directed to eradicate social and moral evils. That should be directed to restore peace of the world and a fight against hunger, HIV-AIDS and extreme poverty. Islam has clearly asserted that the super degree of jihad is to fight with your own self, the evil inside you.
The notion to fight ‘the evil inside’ is a clear way to restore our dignity and peaceful profile in world. Greater levels of tolerance and respect to others are the only ways to regain that reputation. ‘You shall have your religion and I shall have mine’ should be the way of life.
Time has come to think and reflect upon the message we are giving to world. It is time to reconstruct our message and re-direct this holy war against social and moral evils within first and then to rest of the world. Taking pride in a glorious past is good thing but denial of today’s realities and unclear path to future will lead nowhere. Extremism in any form has no vision, and has no clear path and destination. It merely has darkness; darkness of the age of Abu Jehal. The way to come out of this vicious circle is to disregard the clash of civilisations and embrace the global civilisation of human dignity and human brotherhood.
It is never too late to rethink and re-adopt the genuine path to salvation.
The writer is the Provincial Manager at the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO), Sindh and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org