Helplessness of Muslim ummah


Mohammad Jamil

APATHY or helplessness of Muslim ummah is obvious once again on desecration of Holy Qur’an in an anti-Islam rally in Norwegian city Kristiansand. OIC and its members are mute; and except Pakistan and Turkey, none of other Muslim countries has so far condemned the deplorable act. Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the despicable act in the strongest terms and directed Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to write to OIC to highlight the issue at the international forums. He said that such activities against Islam will not be tolerated by the entire Muslim community. On Friday, Pakistan strongly had condemned an attempt by an extreme right-wing group namely ‘Stop the Islamisation of Norway’ and stated: “We respect all the religions and expect others to respect ours.” According to Anadolu News Agency, the Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement asked Norwegian government to prevent such actions and bring those responsible to justice.
In 2011, controversial Pastor Terry Jones, a blot on the name of humanity, had acted as a judge in a mock trial that ended with burning a copy of Quran at his Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida. The US had strongly condemned the burning of Quran by the radical pastor, and the spokesman had said the Obama Administration was deeply concerned about all deliberate attempts to offend members of any religious minority. But Muslims were of the view that the condemnation was not enough, and unless the US invoked hate crime and put the perpetrators of heinous crime in the dock, the desecration of the holy book and acts of blasphemy would continue hurting the Muslims.
Earlier in 2010, Terry Jones had called off the event after criticism from U.S. religious leaders, violent protests abroad and pressure from President Obama and then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
On 30th September 2005, blasphemous caricatures of the Last Prophet (SAW) were published in a Danish newspaper hurting the feelings of Muslims that make about 25 per cent of the world population. Danish Muslim organizations had objected to the depictions responded by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-Posten’s publication.
The caricatures were also reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries, which led to protests across the Muslim world, some of them escalated into violence with instances of firing on protestors resulting in a total of more than 100 reported deaths. Danish Embassy in Pakistan was bombed and the Danish embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran were set on fire. Crowds had stormed the European buildings, and burned the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French and German flags in Gaza City. But this time no such demonstrations took place, perhaps for a reason.
There is a perception that extremists in the US and the West intentionally provoke Muslims; and when they react or retaliate they are dubbed as rebel rousers, extremists and terrorists. However, the publishers of the newspapers took refuge under so-called freedom of expression.
American and European intellectuals and the people in general continue demonizing Islam for the acts of terrorism by a very small minority of fanatics, extremists and terrorists. As a matter of fact, the tirade against Muslims and Islam had started with Samuel P. Huntington’s article on inevitability of clash between civilizations. It appears that after disintegration of the (erstwhile) Soviet Union, the West needed another myth to keep the West united.
The “Clash of Civilizations” was published in the journal Foreign Affairs in the summer of 1993, and given its intellectual and doctrinal nature, had the greatest negative impact on the governments and the people of the western countries.
He wrote: “The fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not primarily be ideological or economic…The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating the civilizations from one another”. But the fact of the matter is that majority of the people wish to have better understanding and mutual respect among followers of different religions.
Of course, they stand for inter-religion harmony, as the Holy Quran enjoins on Muslims to show respect to the Christ and other prophets that are revered by the Jews. The Organization of Islamic cooperation should appeal to the US and the West that they should not ignore the social, political and economic realities, which give rise to extremism. If the western countries continue to misuse the right of freedom of speech to hurt Muslims and followers of other faiths, they would make this world unsafe for the present and coming generations.
The people of Asia, Africa and Latin American countries that were colonized in the past by the western powers have not forgotten repression and exploitation of their resources. Though they got independence from the colonizers, they were subjected to neo-colonialism through economic domination. This has resulted in poverty, hunger and disease in these countries, and such conditions spawn crimes, extremism and terrorism.
However, those who misinterpret Islam as a dogmatic, conservative, upholder of obscurantism in fact deviate from the simple, rational and humane spirit of Islam, and are, indeed, enemies of Islam. Islam advocates religious liberalism: “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256). If anybody had transgressed such command in the past, then Islam should not be blamed. As a matter of fact all religions gave the message of tolerance, peace and love.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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