Recently, a British newspaper reported that a British-born Muslim stood before a crowd and announced what he considered to be Prophet Mohammed’s message to non believers: “I come to slaughter all of you.”
Another Muslim is reported to have said “We are the Muslims, We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad.”
To pick these Muslim youth as examples, and show case them as the problem with Muslims is not fair. But let us declare on our part, loudly and clearly, No! This is not Islam, and No! This is not how Prophet Muhammad defined God’s work. What an irony that a religion that promotes voluntary submission to God and seeks peaceful changes in the heart and mind of individuals can become a faith of hatred in the slogans of those who are unable to control their anger. In their hatred of the west, they have become blind to the extent that they cannot see their own faith rationally and objectively. They have become ignorant of the Quran that refers to Prophet Muhammad as "a mercy to humankind".
What has led these youngsters to believe what they believe in? Who is responsible for that? One can easily blame Israel and the West or the media or whatever. One can blame the daily slaughter of Muslims in the streets of Afghanistan and Iraq for these extreme views. However, if we look inward, we can also find fingers pointing to us.
Let us take stock of our own problems first before we start blaming others for our problems.
In today’s Muslim world, unfortunately we find a number of examples that show little value for the life of an ordinary Muslim. The dignity of a human being or the rights of men and women are lamenting tales of the past, the principals of which we read in either the Quran or the authentic sayings of the Prophet .
In our recent history, one can come up with several examples where Muslims have perpetrated violent crimes against fellow Muslims. What happened during the reign of Saddam Hussein in Iraq is well known. What happened in Iran during Shah Reza’s regime is not hidden. How many Muslims were killed in Iraq-Iran war? No one even remembers. How many Palestinians were killed by the Jordanian or Lebanese army, no one dares to talk about. How many peaceful citizens were hanged to death in Egypt or slaughtered in Syria, Libya and Sudan by those claiming to be Muslims? No one wants to know.
Some sixty percent of the Muslim world’s populations live below the poverty line, experiencing humiliation and deprivation every day. Few among Muslims are willing to talk about this. Some 300,000 Muslim girls are abducted and sold in markets all over the world as sex slaves and no one talks about it. About 53 percent Muslims all over the world are illiterate and most regimes are only concerned about improving their own financial stockpiles.
Muslims must admit that our leaders and masses have failed to preserve the dignity of human beings in societies where they are in majority. We have neglected the poor, the needy, the disadvantaged and the deprived. We have de-valued the life of those who are within our camps. Shia-Sunni killing and ethnic strife all over the Muslim world speak volumes of the discord among Muslims and their frailer to adhere to the Quranic principals of peace and justice.
Our intellectuals have failed us. Our religious leadership has failed us and our political leaders have pushed us into an abyss of humiliation and shame.
We must admit that before we can move forward. Our recovery from the debacle in which we are quarantined would not come through our anti-west slogans or through our anti-Israeli rhetoric. It will come when we will seriously think and work for the dignity of each and every human that is relegated to a status of non entity. We have to develop an agenda that will establish the God given rights and dignity to all women, laborers, the poor and marginalized people in all Muslim societies. We have to develop an agenda that will see other human beings regardless of their religious background as a beautiful creation of the divine deserving the same dignity that we seek for ourselves.
Through this agenda of human dignity, we have to stand for every human life and defend its right to live at peace with itself and others. Without that, we would never be able to live up to the ideals that Prophet Muhammad set for his followers. Without that, we would not be able to submit to the Divine who defines Himself as the most Merciful and most Gracious.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is editor in chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and recently appointed director of programs at the Lahore based International Iqbal Institute of Research, Education and Dialogue. He can be reached at Aslamabdallah@aol.com