These days it seems like not a day goes by without some gross violation on human rights, a mass slaughter, rape or enforcement on gender or religious inequality. Sadly all too often these take place in the name of Islam.
Every time violence is carried out in religion’s name by ISIL, Hamas, Al-Shabbab, Taliban, Al Queda, Hezbollah etc, government and political leaders of the Islamic world shout in unison to condemn these atrocities. Moreover there is always distinction made between ‘Islamists’ and Muslims. ‘What these barbarians are doing is not real Islam and we condemn it as such’. Something like that.
Yet while these condemnations are broadcast around the world, the subsequent action to combat the threat of radicalisation is near non-existent. Why?
There is a key Islamic concept from the time of Muhammed called ‘Taqqiya’. In essence it is legal loop-hope ‘whereby a believing individual can deny his faith or commit otherwise illegal or blasphemous acts while they are in fear or at risk of significant persecution‘. It makes me ponder whether these leaders genuinely believe that these terrorists are in the wrong or just stating so to avoid being persecuted themselves.
This may be unpopular to say but whilst Hadith and Quranic literature does encourage peace and empathy, there are no shortage of passages that directly incite violence against what it deems ‘non-believers’. eg. “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (the Boxthorn tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. “
It is very unpopular to mention that these texts are part of Islam as their meaning is pretty explicit. Yet an allegorical and modern interpretation in vital if the Islamic world is to progress.
I would hope that Muslims re-reading and positively interpreting such texts would not see it as heresy but instead as the reformation that is so desperately needed.
Christianity and Judaism have already gone through theirs. A similar change can and must occur from within Islam.
A close Muslim friend of mine recently said to me: ‘The mindset of extremists and their sympathisers cannot be changed from the outside. Interference from America, Europe etc will only make things worse. It is only from the inside that progress can be made. When the voice of reformist Muslims around the world is powerful enough to actively work to educate and foster peace and understanding within their community. Only then can this progress be accomplished’.
They themselves are careful to publish anything too critical of Islamic subjects on social media for fear of being branded a heretic. A sad state to say the least.
This brings me back to the Arab League. Will you be instrumental in making this necessary change? With all your wealth, will you truly strive to make the Islamic world a better place? Or are your words of condemnation just taqqiya? Do you condemn the actions of Islamic terrorists only in public? Or will you develop strategies to combat them?
Use your influence and wealth to cultivate peace and education for future generations. Empower the likes of Walid Phares, Tarek Fatah, Irshad Manji and Maajid Nawaz of the Quilium Foundation who would help with this goal.
Use your technology to embrace progress and show the people that the golden age is the future and not 14 centuries ago.
Finally, use your military might to engage those psychopaths whose minds and hearts have hardened beyond reason and kindness.
Why do you stand ideally by with your hands in your pockets? We are waiting.