There is a crisis within my world, my global Islamic family. There are over one billion Muslims throughout the world, a good size for any family, and I have always felt that, by and large, we are a moral and upright group. We live our lives, try to do good, give alms, pray, work, live and let live.
There is also a crisis in my immediate family, the land of peace, liberty and justice where I chose to make my home, the USA. But I will leave that discussion for another time.
In my Islamic family, we all know that we have more than our share of bad apples. The bad apples, rotten to the core, have been insidiously taking center stage, spreading their disease. At first it seemed that the preaching of intolerance and hate was uncommon, and that the audience knew better than to let the words take hold. No longer – The incidence throughout the world of such sermons has increased, largely heeded by the unthinking masses that are searching for a scapegoat, an explanation for all of their woes. It is unimaginable to any rational Muslim that the cancer is still spreading, that new recruits can be found, in spite of the obvious chaos, destruction and heart break that we have seen as a result.
Oh, I know the arguments. I know the theories that this cancer is fueled by a wish for revenge for all the atrocities that Muslims have had to suffer from Kashmir to Palestine and from Iraq to Chechnya. I know the theories of how this violence is worsened by crimes against Muslims by the occupying powers.
Without going into the historical aspects of who did what, there is no justification for the violence that is being perpetuated in the name of Islam.
God has given us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong and we have “surrendered to the will of God”. We have clear guidance that has been provided to us by God in the Quran and the example of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. We should know better than to surrender to evil, to think that we can win any situation, large or small, by becoming more treacherous, more violent, less thinking and less human.
The blame is only against those who oppress men and wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous. But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs. (Quran 42:42-43)
I admit that growing up as a young Arab, I had only sympathy for the Palestinians, fighting to free their land from occupation. But what can I say now? What can you say to the suicide recruiters who send children to certain death, planning to take the lives of Israeli children also? How is there is a “fatwa” or religious ruling that states that this is martyrdom, without there being a hundred fatwas that say the truth? Where are the masses reminding the recruiters that God has clearly told us that one should never willfully kill another unless in self defense, and one should never willfully kill oneself.
It is not helpful to get into the discussion of who started the war, because this is where we are now. Those who have transgressed bounds of humanity are tarnishing the people truly fighting for liberty and justice. They can no longer claim to be better than their enemy. They are not following God’s most basic command; thou shall NOT kill. They have violated every rule of Jihad. How can they hope to achieve anything?
I grew up hearing about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, cheering as the Mujahedeen bravely defended their land from the Russians. I believe that the Chechens are trying to do the same, they are freedom fighters, fighting a Russian occupation. But how do I support them now? The bad apples from among them are responsible for the death of hundreds of people, mostly children – How can they be looked upon except as murderers? How inhuman do you have to be to reach that level of cruelty? How can they profess to believe in God at all when they have so flagrantly violated His commands?
My stomach turns every time I think of the beheadings in Iraq. How can anyone do such butchery in the name of God?
All people have the right to defend their life, honor and their country, but one does not profess to be fighting in the name of God, and then commit unspeakable crimes shouting ” Allahu Akbar”.
I can understand anger, frustration and revenge but these are not elements of our Islamic faith. What did Ali ibn abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) do when his enemy, who was under his sword spit on him? He left him alone saying that if he had killed him at that time he would have abandoned the noble objective of fighting to defend Islam and would have surrendered to his anger.
How long will it be before my children are killed because of a hate attack at the bus terminal, at the airport or at the school?
What will it take to make my entire global family realize that it is up to us to uphold truth and justice?
O ye who believe! stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (Quran 5:8)
It is our Jihad to speak the truth, no matter how painful it may be to admit that our beautiful religion of Islam is being used by a few for their own convoluted reasons. We cannot sit back and let others distort our faith from within , nor let others from outside malign and attack Islam based on these distortions.
Muslims of the world, we must unite in our faith, the beautiful teachings of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them all. We must live the teachings of tolerance and peace, of loving your neighbor and giving to the poor, of hard work and worship, thanking God for all that he has blessed us with and be a voice for peace and justice. We must follow God’s command to “tanhoun an- almunkar” to denounce evil wherever we find it, starting with what we know to exist within our own family. We must remember God’s words that to forgive is better than to take revenge. We must comply with the true meaning of “Islam”, and surrender to God, not to violence and hate.
Dr. Sarah Badran is a physician based in Los Angeles, California.