Three news items caught my attention recently: A suicide bombing in Afghanistan killed 89 people, blowing of religious places by ISIS in Iraq and a letter by a prominent cleric in India to the ISIS chief. All three incidents involved Muslims!
This is the state we are in today as a community. Even during the holy month of Ramadan we’ve not given peace a chance.
While nobody claimed the bombing in Afghanistan, it’s mostly Taliban behind such attacks in the country. Which Muslim would do that in such a month! If it’s indeed Taliban then they have further alienated themselves. This has been a trend of sorts during the last few years in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As the terror group ISIS increase its footprints in Iraq, it demolishes churches, shrines, and mosques not conforming to the group’s ideology. Perhaps the ISIS chief Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi is following his own sets of rules for neither the Quran nor the Hadiths of the Prophet [PBUH] support such dastardly acts.
Maulana Salman Nadvi of the reputed Nadva College in Lucknow wrote an open letter on social media to Baghdadi, advising him on how to curb killing of innocent people. What really stands out is his addressing Al Baghdadi as ‘Amirul Mominin’ or the ‘leader of the faithful’. The head of a ruthless group, which has been condemned by most Muslims organisations, deserves no respect leave alone a title like that.
The three incidents are not isolated, they’ve the same thread running through them. It seems the fundamentalists amongst us have no vision for coexistence with people who may not share our faith and practices. We’ve not learnt from our history. Sectarianism and separatism is doing more damage to Muslims than any outside influence. Some 1400 years have passed, but the two major sects of Islam have yet to cast their differences aside in the interest of the broader society. I’m sure when the Prophet of Islam talked about his community getting divided in the future, he was sending a warning to be taken heed of. Alas!
If we say ‘Salam Alaikum’ to fellow Muslims and curse them in their absence, we become the hypocrites that the Quran so clearly talks of. Unfortunately this is happening more so ever today, all thanks to the reach of social media. Speeches and text which were restricted to a small geographical area have now a global reach. Religious discourses are now watched and heard live by an audience that is increasingly getting larger in numbers. The clerics have more responsibility than ever. One wrong utterance can disturb peace in many areas. There’s enough bad blood between the Shia and Sunni communities already. What we need in place is a process of continuous engagement so as to minimise these differences, if not remove them altogether.
Muslims around the world pray five times a day, turning in the same direction 365 times in a year. Other than eating and drinking this is the single most undertaken activity of a practicing Muslim’s life. We follow the same Quranic verses in our prayers. Yet we fight in the name of religion.
The Muslims community has bigger challenges today. As the events in Middle-East show, we have played ourselves into the hands of powers having their own agendas that range from regional dominance to economic gains. The divide and rule theory has survived the test of time.
Muslims need to wake up. Let’s not judge each other on how we practise our faith but rather on how we treat a fellow human being. The Lord of the world will do that anyway on the day of reckoning. And when the day comes, we will be judged on how well we spent our lives.
Eid Mubarak to you all in advance.