Recently, a British newspaper reported that a British-born Muslim stood before a crowd and announced what he considered to be the Prophet Muhammadâ€™s (s) message to non believers: â€œI come to slaughter all of you.â€
Another Muslim is reported to have said â€œWe are the Muslims, We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad.â€
But to showcase a few individuals as genuine Muslim voices is not fair.
Let us shout from the top of our lungs and declare loudly and clearly, â€œNO, WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IS NOT ISLAM! WHAT YOU HAVE SAID IS NOT THE MESSAGE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (S)!â€
What an irony that a religion that promotes voluntary submission to God and seeks peaceful changes in the hearts and minds of individuals has become a faith of hatred in the slogans of those unable to control their anger. In their hatred of the West, they have become blind to the extent that they cannot see their own faith rationally and objectively.
What has led these youngsters to believe what they believe in? Who is responsible for that? One can easily blame the state of Israel and the West or the media or whatever. One can blame the daily slaughter of Muslims in the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq for these extreme views. However, if we look in depth, we can find fingers pointing to us and us alone.
In what Muslim society is the life of an ordinary Muslim valued? The dignity of human beings and the rights of men and women as found in the Qur`an and `ahadith are like fairy tales to Muslims. In our recent history, one can bring many examples where Muslims perpetrated violent crimes against fellow Muslims. What happened during the reign of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is well known. What happened in Iran during Shah Rezaâ€™s regime is not hidden. How many Muslims were killed in Iraq-Iran war? No one even remembers. How many other Muslims have been killed by Muslims in other regions? How many peaceful citizens were hanged in Egypt or slaughtered in Syria, Libya and Sudan by other people claiming to be Muslims? No one wants to know.
Some 60 percent Muslim worldâ€™s population lives below the poverty line, experiencing humiliation and deprivation every day. No one among Muslims is willing to talk about that. Some 300,000 Muslim girls are abducted and sold in markets all over the world as sex slaves and no one dares talk about that. Some 53 percent of Muslims all over the world are illiterate yet most Muslim regimes are concerned only about improving their own financial stakes.
The Muslims must have to admit that they have failed to preserve the dignity of human beings in societies where they are in the majority. We have neglected the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged, the deprived and the marginalized. We have devalued the lives of those who are within our camps. Shiâ€™a-Sunni killing and ethnic strife all over the Muslim world speak volumes of the failure of Muslims to live at peace with each other.
Rather than blaming others for out wrongs, we must look inward and hold ourselves accountable for our share in creating a situation where anger rules and hatred dominates.
Our intellectuals have failed us miserably. Our religious leadership has failed us miserably and our political leaders have pushed us into an abyss of humiliation and shame. We must admit that, before we can move forward.
Out recovery from the debacle in which we are quarantined will not come through our anti-western slogans or through our anti-Israeli rhetoric. It will come when we seriously think and work for the dignity of each and every Muslim who is relegated to being a non-entity.
We have to develop an agenda that will give a dignified place to women, labor, to marginalized people in Muslim society. We have to develop an agenda that will see other human beings, regardless of their religious background, as a beautiful creation of the Divine, deserving the same dignity that we seek for ourselves.
Through this agenda of human dignity, we have to stand for every human life and defend its right to live at peace with itself and others. Without that, we will never be able to live up to the ideals that the Prophet (s), described by God Almighty as a Messenger of mercy, set for his followers. Without that, we will not be able to submit to the Divine, who defines him as the Most Merciful and Most Gracious.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and recently appointed director of programs at the Lahore based International Iqbal Institute of Research, Education and Dialogue. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.