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Saturday, January 21, 2006

Muslim clerics should propagate true meaning of Islam

Posted on 16 Jan 2006 # IANS

Muslim clerics should propagate true meaning of Islam
By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

The Nimrah mosque congregation at the end of Haj resounded with an emphatic "yeah" when the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, declared in Arabic: "Islam does not allow terrorism because it (stands for) peace and harmony. Muslims all over the world must unite to follow true Islam propagated by Prophet Mohammed."

The declaration was very welcome because the address reached a gathering of 2.5 million Muslims. The mufti's words should serve as an eye-opener to those Islamic theologians in the Indian sub-continent who issue irrelevant 'fatwas' rather than condemning acts of terror committed in the name of jehad.

Muslims all over the world must exert their solidarity against the so-called jehadis who while having Islamic names and lifestyle commit deeds that are demoniac and devilish. It is time that Muslims must realise that they have a special role to play in making terrorism unacceptable.

The choice is between the terror-tainted religion of the extremists and the compassionate religion that initiates self-transformation. Sane people follow this religion that talks of the middle path of the Buddha and Sufi saints.

The need of the hour is that Muslim clerics like the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia and the intelligentsia must engage their counterparts not only in Jammu and Kashmir but also in Pakistan and elsewhere in a dialogue. Using the media, posters, public and personal meetings, jehadis should be advised to desist from employing armed hostilities in the name of god.

Time and again we have agonized over terror attacks - be it in New Delhi (Sep 29, 2005) or London (July 7, 2005) or Bali (Sep 12, 2002). It is sad that even in this hi-tech age, we are still anachronistic and a victim of that beastly instinct to go for each other's jugular in the name of religion.

To many non-Muslim friends of mine, Islam has come to be seen as an intolerant and violently proselytising religion whose followers enforce conversions, destroy shrines and idols of other religions, and indulge in terror in the name of religion. This is because religions are often judged by what their most debased, fanatical and intolerant followers do.

It has been the same in the case of Islam. The religion tends to be judged by the vandalism of a Mahmud of Ghazni, the Taliban and the terrorist acts in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is as unfair as judging Christianity by the savage tortures perpetrated by the inquisitions of Spain or judging Hinduism by the vandalism of the Babri Masjid or the Gujarat killings.

The suicide bombers are doing something absolutely un-Islamic. The Quran states on suicide: "Let not your own hands throw you into destruction. Do not destroy yourselves; surely God is most gracious to you."

Islamic scholar and India's freedom fighter Maualna Abul Kalam Azad once stated in his publication Al-Hilal that in addition to being against true faith in Allah, committing suicide is also against the social well-being. Muslims around the world should condemn all violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.

The Western (and to some extent Indian) media has left no stone unturned in projecting Islam as a religion of terror and Muslims as terrorists. Muslims must be separated from "Muslim terrorism". We feel that those who commit devilish acts have nothing to do with Islam. Sura Al-Baqr (Verse: 114) in Quran states that Allah dislikes those who indulge in arson, loot and killings.

The Quran repeatedly calls for universal harmony between all races, peoples, tribes and clans irrespective of their faiths. Islam even says that if a Muslim ruler is hostile to non-Muslims under him, he should go.

Most so-called religious leaders, according to thinker and eminent lawyer M. Atyab Siddiqui, have lost the trust and confidence of the people. These leaders never allow the good ones to come forward. People understand this very well and know that they are being misled and exploited but feel helpless.

However, people have to stand up and fight for their freedom and rights. For this they have to study, understand and implement the true message of the holy books including the Quran.

Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on educational, social, religious and political issues. He can be reached at firozbakht@rediffmail.com


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