As Muslims are absolutely helpless and fast becoming 21st century Jews, a handful of Islamophobes are doing for Islam what 1.3 billion Muslim together could not do: They are paving the way for establishing Islam as a way of life.
The more the overt and covert, Muslim and non-Muslim Islamophobes scare the world away from Islam in the name of terrorism and “Islamism,” the more the Qur’an is becoming the bestseller in the West.
Lost people on both sides of the Muslim-non-Muslim divide are scouring the text for phrases that might explain actions of the “hijackers" or the claims that Islam is a religion of peace.
Like the blind men and the elephant in a famous Indian fable, those who looked at the Qur’an in bits and pieces argue that violence is inherent in Islam; others blindly say that Islam means peace without knowing that peace doesn’t come from nowhere.
To the disappointment of Islamophobes, the ‘understanding Islam’ industry is booming, with debates, books and pamphlets professing to unearth the depths of Islamic culture, politics and history.
The problem is not what is in the Qur’an, but what people want to prove with the Qur’an: their prepossessions, approximations and even pre-conceived ideas; even falsehood.
Without keeping the ultimate objective of our existence and Islam in mind; approaching the Qur’an with preconceived ideas and even judgments, can help find anyone almost anything in Islam.
To understand how Islamophobes are shooting themselves in foot with their war on Islam, we need to understand that with impartial study of the Qur’an, people would soon realise that they need to look at the reality of Islam rather than associating it with the words and deeds of so-called Muslims, who are lost like any other nation before them.
For example, looking for explanation of the so-labelled “suicide” bombing in the Qur’an is useless. Many have come up with the idea that such attacks are an attempt to win virgins in paradise. The question is: Why should Muslims have discovered this only in the last 23 years or so that “suicide,” without any rational reason at all, is a good way to enter paradise? Why did Iraqis discover it only in 2003, while the Qur’an exists for the last 1400 years?
To understand how Islamophobes are serving Islam, we need to look into everything -” from the myths of Al-Qaeda’s nihilism, from the growing Islamic web pages to the schoolgirls determined to wear veils; from the individuals setting themselves up for sale in the name of “progressive” and “moderate” Muslims to dictators, like Musharraf and his mantra of “enlightened moderation” -” from the perspective of the Qur’an.
What new breeds of Islam have in common is their disconnection from the bigger picture: the purpose for their being in the fold of Islam. The self-proclaimed “liberals” are focused on the fulfilment of the self, rather than their obligations to establish the Deen -” establishing Islam as a way of life.
Muslims, showing concern over the plight of Muslims, are at loss in the sense that they can hardly realise where the things have gone wrong and from where to start fixing the problem. Together they have yet to realise that fixing the problem begins with self and at home.
Interestingly, the phenomenon of isolated individuals, seeking to find a spiritual pattern and meaning for their lives, is not limited to Muslims alone. Many in the West have witnessed injustice, lies and deceptions on the part of their torch bearers of civilization for so long. The 9/11 and subsequent wars for global domination abroad and consolidating police state at homes have proved to be the last straws on the back of an already overloaded camel.
Of course, in Muslim societies, religion is tied up with culture: with the food people eat, the mosques at which they pray, their social and political networks. However, they are not “traditional Islamic” societies, as they are considered.
Individually we are Muslim but not Islamic at all. We have all the rituals and celebrations and dresses, but they have no meaning attached to what is taking place in the name of Islam. Nor are our societies Islamic in true sense. Most of the minds are hardly concerned with the basic questions of why and why not: for example, Why these rituals and rites? Why not elimination of Riba?
In Muslim societies, materialism in the guise of “modernisation” has led to a weakening of family and community ties and the undermining the study of religion for understanding why to be a Muslims and what does it take to be a Muslim.
The roots of this phenomenon go far deep in history, to the colonisation and related attempts at revising Muslim school curriculum, and influencing Mulla-mentality to make Saom, Salat, Zakat and Hajj as the article of faith, without their connection to the ultimate objective of taking both individuals and society to the level of excellence through practicing and establishing Islam as a way of life respectively.
The colonialists successful tinkering with the mindset of Muslims limited Islam to ritualism. The subsequent age of materialism, then, successfully alienated Muslims even from the rituals. That’s why there has to be a Pharaoh to save Moses. And that’s why we have Islamophobes to cover-up for the lost Muslims.
The lost Muslims see the Qur’an through the spectrum of individual needs and desires. In his book, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, the French sociologist Oliver Roy rightly notes that cyberspace is full of people that could be “Mr Anybody” pronouncing on what “Islam means-¦” Even Muslims argue, everyone knows we are Muslims, so keep Islam aside and let’s discuss issues in the light of our own rationality. This is a telling sign of a lost people.
On the other hand, Islamophobes are pushing the world to read the Qur’an without jaundiced eyes. The more people do so, the more they will realise that it is, in fact, a guide for the humanity. The more they understand it, the more they would realise what they need to do: establish a society on the principles real freedom, justice and equality as set out in the Qur’an.
This great awakening is already underway in parallel with the climax to which materialism, in the form of capitalism, has reached. Starting with the lust for more and more, human being reached to the present age of mega-cities with devastating foot-prints.
This is all but just one aspect of following the misdirected goals. There is no end or limit in sight to this march motivated by the desire to have more and more. The reason the future belongs to Islam is simply because Islam has the solution to individual and collective excellence. Without individual excellence, collective excellence remains a dream and without striving for the collective Â¾ society wide excellence Â¾ personal excellence is meaningless.
It is easy to say, individualised forms of Islam are linked to fundamentalist violence rather than understanding that it is the direct result of denying Muslims opportunities to live by Islam. The denial of opportunities to Muslim self-rule is one of the root causes of the troubles around the world, which of course didn’t start with the arrival of Bush in the White House.
Dutch public opinion is blaming foreign culture for the murder of Theo van Gogh, but background of the person who did that suggest, he is fluent in Dutch, he is a Dutch citizen, and we even have two converts from an American father and a Dutch mother who played a big role in the plot. However, it is wrong to conclude that such violence is linked to “the deterritorialisation and globalisation of Islam.”
This is exactly the opposite of the right conclusion. The Qur’an was not revealed for a specific territory, a specific people, or a specific age. Nor was it sent for individual practice without any reference to the collective excellence of the society; without making any efforts to live by its prescribed ways.
Lost people, who do not know where to go and what to strive for, have no option but to act in isolation, in ways that appear contradictory to the message of Islam because they have no ultimate purpose, or visible way to move towards the ultimate purpose, before them.
For Muslims, the simple solution is: Be good Muslims, the way you have to be. Establish a truly Islamic society as a model for the humanity and silence a million Theo van Goghs Â¾ not through knife but through letting them see the reality of Muslims and Islam.
Once they see the reality of Islam, Van Gogh like people will be the first to prefer to live by Islam rather than cursing it. At the moment, when a majority of Muslims themselves are lost, the left over van Goghs cannot be blamed for being lost about Islam. The onus of understanding Islam thus falls on the shoulders of both the so-called Muslims and non-Muslims.
Fortunately, Islamophobes are coming up with new tools for demonizing Islam. Many of the myths they propagate would die away as they force people into understanding and acting upon the Qur’an. For example:
1. “Islamic Nihilism”: A thorough reading of the Qur’an would let people understand that it is absolutely not possible that a group of Muslims, dedicating themselves to die for Islam would visit pubs and bars and consume lots of liquor the night before their “jihadi” mission? How can true Muslim author documents with a bizarre set of prescriptions for themselves -” such as “wear tight socks.”
Such nihilism has no place in Islam and it is totally beyond comprehension that a group dedicated to dying for Islam would engage in such activities. The lack of understanding of Islam makes many think that this is in a way “demonstration of the strength of their faith.”
That’s why understanding Islam is not only gradually shattering the myths about Islam, but also exposing the real culprits behind the crimes against humanity.
2. “Invention of Ummah”: They would understand that the concept of Ummah (community) is not “entirely an invention” of the “neofundamentalists,” but it is a part and parcel of Islam. (See: http://www.icssa.org/Ummah.htm)
The majority of Islamic injunctions apply to the Islamic Ummah rather than the individual. The importance of society and laws governing social interaction in Islam therefore becomes obvious. The governance of such a society requires Islam to provide guidelines for the establishment of a just government and the running of the State machinery. To deny Muslims this opportunity, the concept of Ummah becomes the main target of Islamophobes.
Oliver Roy is one of these Islamophobes who are desperately trying others to believe: “Neofundamentalism provides an alternative group identity that does not impinge upon the individual life of the believer, precisely because such a community is imagined and has no real social basis.”
3. “Consumerism in Islam”: Those who are not aware of the core message of Islam easily fall victim to myths that link the rise of Islam to a consumerist lifestyle choice.
Non-Muslims would do themselves a favour if they stop listening to the contemporary Muslims and looking to them as models of Islam. They are not. For example, an unknown American Muslim quoted in Globalised Islam says that ‘Muslim preachers are salespeople, smiling and sweet-talking salespersons. If salespersons fight and argue with the customer, do you think people will buy the product'[?]. It is simply a ploy to say in other words, don’t believe in any Muslim preacher, even if one is not the alleged “firebrand Mullah, preaching Jihad against the West.”
A direct reading and understanding of the Qur’anic text and saying of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would awaken any interested person to the reality that Islamophobes are mixing-up different issues to show that Islam gives a confused message.
For example Oliver Roy would present Western Muslims on internet chat rooms, asking whether ‘body piercing is permissible in Islam’ or whether they should marry their lover, a variation on advice columns in lifestyle magazines as consumers of Islam. Of course these are genuine questions and require understanding. It is not that such curiosity would lead to globalisation of Islam as he fears.
4. Reducing Islam to politics alone: While the French press sees headscarves as the symbol of a foreign and patriarchal culture, the die-hard Islamophobes are trying to present it in terms of personal choice of the concerned girls. They are attempting to show that headscarves have nothing to do with Islam, it is Muslim women’s insistence Â¾ ‘this is my right’, or ‘nobody can tell me what to wear’ Â¾ that is making it an issue.
Similarly, in view of the Islamophobes, if young Western Muslims use traditional greetings, wear traditional clothes or eat Halal food this is more the result of identity politics, or at best a pristine cultural survival. However, it has nothing to do with Islam.
The reason for promoting this line of thinking is simple: tomorrow if the government calls for a ban on halal food, Islamic clothing and greetings, it would simple be a struggle for civility, not a war on Islam.
According to the French writer, Oliver Roy, “To say assalamu alaikum in Afghan Persian is vernacular, but to use it when speaking French [or English] is to display an ostentatious, quite exotic and even provocative religious belonging.” This shows the obsession with the desire to eliminate everything that is related to Islam; even it greetings. To them saying assalamu alaikum is about the projection of a confrontational identity against mainstream society.
Changes in Islam are in total contrast to changes in other religions. It is naive to compare Islam with Evangelism as the Islamophobes do. Islam has nothing as individualisation, the generational gap, born again and bypassing religious authority. There is not place for papacy or religious authorities in Islam. Evangelicals emphasise personal religious experience rather than community ties, whereas Islam focus on both personal and societal excellence like two well balanced wheels on a cart. Unlike Evangelicals’ promise to mitigate people’s dissatisfaction with modern life, the Qur’an is a guide for all ages and all the humanity.
Contrary to the Islamophobes spread misconceptions, there are no old and new styles in Islam. Islam is simply the submission of one’s will to the Will of Allah. If one submits his will, he has to follow the guidelines of Allah in the Qur’an. It is impossible to be submitting one’s will to Allah, as well as negating His Will and commands, saying this is my style”; “I am a homosexual, but this is my style. Otherwise I am a Muslim.”
This attitude of justifying one’s departure from the Will of Allah is promoted by the Islamophobes as new styles of Islam. That is exactly why they complain that “far from fundamentalist Islam being a Middle Eastern import into the West, it is increasingly the other way around.”
The reason is simple. Most Muslim born or raised in the West have seen both sides of the divide. They have a critical mind and they studied the Qur’an and Islam on their own. They know what are their responsibilities as a people who claim to have submitted their will to the Will of Allah. If we see Hizb-ut-Tahrir spread to Central Asia, Pakistan and the Middle East from its London hub, it is because Muslim kids in the former colonial lands are taught that their objective in life is to become doctor or engineer for making the best living possible.
The interesting thing to note is that human beings have created different identities for themselves, based on tribes, approaches to worship, approaches to doing social and economic dealings, etc. However, the broader classification done by the creator of human beings is given in the beginning of the Qur’an. Four verses at the beginning of second chapter describe the believers. The next two describe the disbelievers, and thirteen verses that follow describe the hypocrites among Muslims for the simple reason that identifying hypocrites is extremely necessary to avoid their mischief. (See: http://icssa.org/real_classification.htm )
And this is what the world is gradually coming to realise. Human being created nation states; drew boundaries, created nationalities, even the concept of having national passports is not more than 100 years old.
The reason Islam is viewed as an exotic, historical throw back, is that after all such divisions human beings are coming to realise value of the classification given in the Qur’an.
Islam is used as “the other” to avoid discussing the present crisis of identity in the West: specifically in Europe. There is a crisis of the nation state, because of globalisation and European integration. What does it mean now to be Dutch, French or British? They are confronted with the crisis of national, geographical, financial and religious identity. They find that there is no difference irrespective of how many times and in how many blocs we may divide the humanity. It boils down to real Muslims and the rest.
The more people study the Qur’an independently, the more they will realise that by focusing exclusively on material well-being, human beings neglect to analyse human nature in the light of the manuals sent down by the creator with his creation.
The so called modernisation has been with human beings for ages. People in every age think they have touched the zenith of modernisation, civilisation and innovations. However, that has always been alienating and disorienting due to lack of central purpose and objective for human existence.
Human beings today are passing through the same crisis. They don’t have a proper standard for success. Is it making millions upon million like Bill Gates or reaching the level of Bush for one to be considered as successful? No one asks beyond the levels of their understanding success. No one asks: If I reach the level of success, I have in mind, then what?
That is why it is natural for human beings to want to hang on to Islam. Even Muslim societies suffered under the influence of alien ideologies, such as Marxism or nationalism, and now they are reeling to somehow embrace the moribund capitalistic, secular democracy, but there is no ultimate standard before them.
The revived breeds of Islam Â¾ that is inevitable to appear as a result of the struggle put in by a handful of Islamophobes Â¾ will be independent of the shadows cast by the changing ideological shapes of the West.
It will be direct product of individual and independent inquiry of curious minds among Muslims and non-Muslims. Like any arrogant age of the past, today, with the old political frameworks gone, the West is unable to furnish the ideologies to go along with the process of westernising the world.
Democracy is the final weapon left, which is either touted as a magic bullet, able to address all problem, or used as a fig leaf to cover the unprecedented crimes committed by the “champions” of freedom. It is fruitlessly used as a gel to hold alliances of the criminals and thugs together in a dislocated world.
Islamophobes at all levels and across different sectors attack Islam in the name of “Islamism” to assuage themselves from the blame of a war on Islam and to avoid asking hard questions about the suffering of humanity.
The Islamophobes’ threat of “with us or against us” and a renewed general interest in the message of Islam are already aligning general public and personalities in two distinct groups: those with and those against Islam.
With the increasing restlessness among Islamophobes, this polarisation is set to gain momentum in the coming years before which the artificial boundaries and classifications among human beings would tumble down like grass before the scythe.
By the time this polarisation reaches the moment of clash, all the false pretensions Â¾ such as, ‘this is a war on terrorism and Islamism; not Islam’, and ‘we consider some portions of the Qur’an irrelevant but we are still Muslims’ Â¾ will be gone.
The more Muslim and non-Muslim Islamophobes scare people away from Islam, the more it makes every one curious to know the reality behind their noise and anger for themselves.
The possibility of understanding Islam is now directly proportional to the lies, the amount of time and efforts the Islamophobes are putting in demonising it as a way of life.
Today, the future of Islam lies in the hands of Islamophobes who are driving people away from understanding the objective of their existence. That’s how the journey towards the Truth begins in every Dark Age of human existence.
Notes: For reference see: http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/4428/ For more evidence see: http://icssa.org/21s_century_Jews.htm  A typical North American city with a population of 650,000 would soon require 30,000 square kilometres of land-“an area roughly the size of Vancouver Island, Canada-“to meet domestic needs alone without even including the environmental demands of industry. In comparison, a similar size city in India would require 2,800 square kilometres See: http://www.gdrc.org/uem/footprints/ It might be useful to examine the impact of London, the ‘mother of megacities’, the first – 190 years ago – to exceed 1 million people. Today its footprint, following Rees’s definition, is 125 times its surface area; nearly 20 million hectares compared to 159,000. This means that – although it contains only 12 per cent of Britain’s population – London requires the equivalent of all the country’s productive land, though, of course, this extends to the wheat prairies of Kansas, the tea gardens of Assam, the copper mines of Zambia and other far-flung places. See: Giant Footprints by Herbert Girardet in Our Planet, June 1996. URL http://www.gdrc.org/uem/footprints/girardet.html  The Ummah, a word difficult to render in English, applies to the community of believers, the whole body of Muslims.