By Saima Baig
Orlando, Istanbul, Bangladesh and now one of the worst attacks in Iraq. The last few days of Ramzan have seen more bloodshed and less peace and love from the caretakers of Islam. Of course, we had widespread global condemnation, followed by the usual blame on western foreign policy by some, certain people fearing that this makes Islam look bad, and the overall placing of blame firmly on all Muslims by others. And most importantly, there was the complaint of why the attacks on Muslim countries did not get more attention in the media, why there were not enough hashtags and why no filters on Facebook.
The “terrorism has no religion” mantra is brought out once again, as is the one insisting that “this has nothing to do with Islam”. But it has something to do with Islam if the people who perpetrated this act themselves believed that it did, and as such, were able to find support somewhere in the Islamic doctrine. It is evident that terrorism always either has a religion or a nationalistic ideology behind it.
When you subscribe to the idea of being willing to die and kill for something, it is up to you to choose how far you will go to make this happen. The terrorists who did this clearly are willing to kill and die for something and that something is to impose Islamic law upon the world. They want to bring this about through Jihad. So yes this definitely has something to do with Islam!
Of course, there are geopolitical aspects that must be considered. Western nations’ foreign policies must be considered, as must their support for countries such as Saudi Arabia, whose main export these days is not oil but the Wahabi agenda and spreading Islamism — the mother of Jihad. If the west wants to stop such attacks from happening, they must stop all support for nations that spread this ideology worldwide and undertake similar actions on their own people in the name of Islam and national law.
But this does not detract from the fact that we should not sweep the aspects of a violent ideology under the carpet. This ideology can enable ISIS and their ilk to term anyone an infidel, an enemy of Islam, and wage war against them. They already have done so and now even Muslims have become a target for not following the fundamentals of the religion.
Moderate Muslims must stop deluding themselves that this has nothing to do with Islam, because it most certainly does. When they extensively post memes about Verse 5:32 of the Quran to make themselves feel better, they must firstly pay attention to the word “innocent” in it. And then the moderate Muslims should look at Verse 5:33, the very next one. That should clarify things a bit. Insisting on repeatedly bombarding the world with one verse is disingenuous. And in this day and age of digital information, it is a bit delusional to think that people would not have found the information themselves.
Stop trying to do damage control and posting this one verse and stop telling people that the word Islam means peace. It doesn’t; it means submission. And groups like ISIS are doing exactly that – submitting and making others submit. Saying that these people are not Muslims is a disservice to the world and to yourselves, because they are — they themselves say so. And this kind of takfir (the practice of excommunication) is exactly what gives them agency to kill people.
Thankfully, most Muslims are not extremist Jihadists because they do not follow each and every fundamental of their ideology. And they also do not want to impose it upon the world through terror. These are the Muslims that must now do more than just to condemn such horrible acts and divert the blame to everything else but their religion. They must act now to reform the ideology. They must agree with the rest of the world that human rights, liberties and lives are above and beyond religious doctrine and that said doctrine cannot be defended if it is in conflict with human rights liberties and lives.
Otherwise anti Muslim bigotry will increase as people place the blame of such tragedies squarely on all Muslims, as trends are already showing . And most importantly, such attacks will continue to take place because groups like ISIS will be able to use this ideology to recruit.
You cannot secretly revere the doctrine that promotes Jihad, endorses misogyny, homophobia and other singularly inhumane aspects and then say that it does not endorse these things. Accept it, reform it and join the rest of the world in the 21st century. Other religions have done so and moved on. It is your turn now.
Saima Baig is a is an environmental economist and climate change researcher currently based in Karachi. When she is not working on adaptation and mitigation strategies, she writes about various issues including religion, feminism, politics and secularism. She is also a staunch advocate of science education, in particular astrophysics and also blogs about latest news regarding this.