It’s leadership

100,000 vs 1,200,000,000.

ISIS – the 100,000 — represents 0.00008% of the 1.2 billion Muslim world.

The argument that there is something wrong with Islam because a miniscule number of violent extremists have hijacked Islam to justify their murder, is patently false. The numbers just don’t stack up.

We also know that over 95% of all ISIS murders involve killing/raping/savaging Muslims. So why are we blaming the primary victims?

The conventional arguments just do not make any sense.

It is like saying that Donald Trump is a disaster for the Republican Party, America, and, if elected as President (God forbid), the World. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there is something historically wrong with the United States of America.

Bibi Netanyahu has single handedly ruined Israel’s standing in the world, done everything on his side to discourage rapprochement with the Palestinians, virtually destroyed the Foreign Ministry, couldn’t make decisions during the last Gaza War, and leaves Holocaust Survivors begging in the streets of Israel. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there is something historically wrong with Israel.

Vladimir Putin has recreated a unitary authoritarian state, murdered dissenters, and embedded deep cronyism and corruption within the ruling elite of Russia. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there is something historically wrong with Russia.

So why is it fashionable to say that as a result of Daesh ‘something is wrong with Islam’.

There are Muslim individuals caught up in an aberrant cult of terror, murder, and death-worship, but to blame the whole of Islam, like blaming the entire USA for the racist rants that comes from Trump’s narcissism and the supporters he garners, just doesn’t stand up.

Many of the pronouncements about Islam that come out of the mouths of people who know nothing about Islam is nothing short of horse-dung.

Here is a classic from Australia’s recently forcibly-retired Prime Minister, Tony Abbott: “”All of those things that Islam has never had — a Reformation, an Enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state — that needs to happen.

“All cultures are not equal and, frankly, a culture that believes in decency and tolerance is much to be preferred to one which thinks that you can kill in the name of God, and we’ve got to be prepared to say that”.

1400 years of history. 1.2 billion people. Whoosh! All tarred with the same brush by a group that represents 0.00008%.

And of course, Abbott is not the only one making the claim that the problem is Islam. The right-wing commentariat write and blog endlessly about it.  Yet I sense that deep down, many people watch the butchers of ISIS behead, rape and slave innocents and just feel that something really is wrong with Islam.

But it isn’t Islam that is the problem, it is something more profound and something all peoples share in common.

There are two elements which are critical to the success of any movement: Beliefs and Leadership.

Strong beliefs are the fuel that power the engine of individual activity. Beliefs inspire motivation to act, and when harnessed across groups, amazing things happen. With an aligned belief system, “Give me but a firm spot on which to stand, and I shall move the earth”.

The turbo-charger of this power is having the right leaders through which to harness, shape and direct the beliefs and motivations of the group toward a unitary vision. We see this all the time. Roosevelt, Napoleon, Jobs, and numerous leaders local and global. People who have harnessed the power and energy of their people, companies, charities, churches, teams…any organisation of like-minded people willing to contribute to a cause greater than themselves.

And of course, we know only too well about the leaders who chose the dark side; Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and in today’s world, Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi – the leader of ISIS. But because of Stalin, we don’t blame all Russians. Because of Hitler, we don’t blame all Germans. So because of al-Bahgdadi, we shouldn’t blame all Muslims.

People make Movements.

Leaders give Movements traction.

If the right leaders had said no to Hitler, instead of appeasing him, who knows how history may have turned out. It certainly would have turned differently.

One of the most profound issues with the captivating gaze of ISIS is the lack of effective leadership in the Muslim world. If the right leaders of the Muslim world say NO to ISIS, and lead their communities to self-close the door to radicalisation, then maybe we will have found a critical path to a solution that rids us – the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds – of the stain on humanity that ISIS represents.

About the Author
Co-convenor of the Australia-Israel Labor Dialogue. Director of Blended Learning Group (Emotional Intelligence and Leadership training) Director of Bowerbase (IT start-up) Director of Soldales Pacific (Water technology start-up linking Israel and Australia).
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