I hope you had a joyous and fulfilling â€˜Eid. Enjoying the blessings of Ramadan is in part an endurance test. â€˜Eid, heralding the end of Ramadan brings the message of fulfillment, peace and tolerance. These are the some of the foundational principles of Islam that Muslims have followed faithfully for more than 1400 years. And yet non-Muslims say Islam and Muslims are intolerant.
If we scrutinize each event, either historical or contemporary, in fact one finds that the opposite is true. Let us just examine a few recent events to illustrate this. About a year ago, the people in charge at Guantanamo Bay desecrated the Qurâ€™an, then a few months later a Danish paper published blasphemous cartoons. In both instances, massive world-wide protests erupted to vent out emotions. Sometimes these emotional protests turned violent, but we reject such violence as the actions of a few angry people.
Those outbursts, however, are the results of sustained psychological attacks that have come in the form of continual acts of desecration and blasphemy–mental trauma or mental torture. Some of us may even feel these outrages, hateful as they are, physically in our persons–our guts may recoil, our adrenaline may pump–we may feel stung by an enemy who hides far away.
The outcry that results is in fact only a manifestation of these feelings, a result of attacks from the outside.
Why have non-Muslims attacked our faith in this manner calculated to evoke our strongest feelings? The people did these despicable things because of their hatred and intolerance for Islam and Muslims. Their irresponsible and intolerant behavior takes the form of a psychological attack, even a form of psychological torture, on our community. The Geneva Conventions explicitly prohibit torture, whether physical or mental.
In other words, the real culprits are the bigots who awakened fitna by being intolerant–then when their victims cry out in pain, they label them as â€œintolerant.â€ Like Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib interrogators who howl and scream when their torture victims cry out in pain. What bigotry!
Similarly, in recent attacks against hijab and niqab in Europe, where even cabinet ministers like Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and British MPs have taken to undermining the religious rights of their female citizens–this discussion is in fact nothing more than intolerance against Muslim culture. It is their way of expressing dislike and intolerance.
They are saying hijab expresses or is a symbol of suppression of womenâ€™s freedom. Yvonne Ridley doesnâ€™t think so; on the contrary in her recent article (p. 1) she explains the sense of freedom and liberation that she feels when she wears hijab.
Who determines what constitutes freedom and rights for women? Who determines a womanâ€™s right of expression, of her liberty? Who determines the social norms?
Does western society think the fewer clothes the women wear more liberal they are? If wearing a bikini is an expression of more freedom, then what about nudity? Would you consider her a completely liberated woman? Or does that violate social norms? How stupid it sounds to judge a womanâ€™s liberty and freedom by the length and breadth of cloth she wears? The manner in which a woman dresses, whether by hijab or niqab, is her own choice of expression, dictated by culture, religion, and her own wishes. By interfering in her own decision-making you are curtailing her freedom. It is as simple as that. So who is intolerant? Islam has always remained peaceful and tolerant. Muslims are being maligned for following their religious texts, the dictates of Islam, and for following their culture. And yet in spite of continuous stereotyping on a daily basis we hear of many reverting to Islam, an antithesis to claims that Islam has been spread by force. In reality the â€œswordâ€ hangs over Muslimsâ€™ heads more often then rests in their hands. On deep reflection, it is not difficult to see that it is Western society (Europe and North America) that is becoming intolerant.
Imam Ghazali said: â€œThe civility of a society is measured by its religious tolerance–higher the religious tolerance higher the civility.â€