Political Islam has tarnished Muslims and Islam to such an extent that the word “Muslim” is now synonymous with terrorism, misogyny and brutality. It is not good enough to blame the West and the Jews. Muslims must re-examine themselves first and work to put their own house in order.
Political Islam gained strength in the 1970s. It did not have the viable political and economic policies to tackle the chronic problems of poverty, absence of freedoms and basic human rights. It offered violence, jihad, terrorism and anti-West rhetoric.
Iranian Islamic rule brought poverty and misery to the Iranian people. There is no freedom of speech, hanging for run-of the-mill petty crimes are common place.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban failed to address the real issues that touch people lives like improved living standards, education and health. Instead the Taliban regime has torched girls’ schools and music stores.
In Egypt in 2011, Egyptians filled Tahrir Square to protest the rule of Hosni Mubarak. By 11 February he was deposed. The Muslim Brotherhood formed the government but the experiment failed and by the 30th June 2013, millions took to the street and President Morsi was ousted.
Human Rights clash with Islam: Islamic teachings and practices are in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UHDR). Attempts have been made to reconcile the UDHR with Islam. For example the Organization of Islamic Cooperation approved a document in 1990 that is now referred to as the Cairo Declaration in an attempt reconcile the concept of human rights and Islam, but issues remain. Take articles 12, 22, 24 and 25 which are not only ambiguous but they assert the need to strictly adhere to Sharia’s laws which are restrictive and empowers the state against the individual. In the final analysis even these restricted freedoms remain at the mercy of governments. It reinforces discrimination against women and prohibit freedom of conversion to other religions.
Political Islam wants us to believe that the word of Allah must be supreme and there is no place for democracy and freedom of speech in Islam. Whilst Islam welcomes Christians converting to Islam it doesn’t permit Muslims to convert to other religions. Jane Corbin’s recent BBC TV documentary, about the plights of Christians in the Middle East, revealed how ISIS has given Christians the same harsh choices faced by their ancestors under Muslim rulers centuries ago: convert to Islam, leave the area, pay the jizya – a heavy Christian tax, or die. This is blatant compulsion and persecution. Many Muslims still share this ideology with ISIS. However freedom of worship is a widely accepted principle, internationally, enshrined in the Declaration of Human Rights but it is still far from established in the Muslim World.
In the Islamic world the killing of people and abuse of human rights is the norm particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and Somalia. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, and ISIS are doing their best to tarnish Islam and they use the teachings of the Qur’an as a stick to beat others, and to commit all sorts of crimes. Some critics believe that Saudi Arabia is the epicentre of Islam’s problems with its adherence to Wahhabism, an austere form of Islam. They argue it is no coincidence that 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked the US on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and the rest came from nearby countries.
Ironically the Saudis themselves are in fact victims to the Al-Qaeda and ISIS ideologies and are fighting both organizations. It is difficult to disagree with the Saudi U.N. envoy: who said in March “ISIS and Al Qaeda taint Islam’s image,”
Problems and Solutions:
Islamic States facing failure are ravaged by war and conflict which pose a danger to the entire world. Instability breeds extremism and terrorism. Libya, Iraq and Yemen are in turmoil. In Syria the brutal regime of Bashar al Assad opened the gates for al Qaeda elements to enter the country so the regime could claim it is fighting terrorism not its own people. Ample evidence exists that show Assad is co-ordinating with ISIS to discredit the opposition.
Muslims live in a state of denial. They always find scapegoats for extremism and terrorism. Blaming all and sundry for the Islamic world failures. The modern Islamic movements such as ISIS are dragging the Muslim world back to the dark ages and slowly but surely taking us into the abyss. The basic problem is very clear. It is that millions of people in the Islamic world do not believe in free speech, freedom of religion, democracy, a secular state, free enterprise and human rights. All Muslims must stand together and not only condemn the extremists but work together to defeat them. Shouldn’t Muslim scholars agree to remove texts that permit the killing of Kuffars (infidels) just because they are not Muslims? Muslim scholars must agree to revise religious texts that call for Jihad and violence against non-Muslims.
The world is tired of the often repeated mantra that ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. People judge Muslims by their actions on the ground against their fellow Muslims and Christians, not by slogans. Moderate Islam is fighting a losing battle against radical Islam. We don’t see demonstrations in the streets of the Arab and European capitals against the brutalities of ISIS against civilians, particularly women, Yazidis, and Christians, or even against Muslims in Iraq and Syria. Why aren’t Muslims speaking out against these atrocities?
Every time a Muslim in the West appears on the media he rarely issues an outright condemnation of atrocities committed in the name of Islam by the likes of ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban. Instead he or she puts ifs and buts with ambiguous justifications. In the UK Islamist organizations such as “Cage” is a prime examples of such apologists. If Islam is to survive and Muslims to be respected they must reform and deal with the bad apples in their midst. When Political Islamists silence critics, they are supporting inhuman and immoral practices committed in the name of Islam.
Nehad Ismail is a writer living in London. @nehadismail