It is sad and unfortunate part of the human nature, that when oppressed by others, we appeal to humanity and justice, and fight against the oppression, as we should. Once we get the upper hand we turn around and inflict similar atrocities on others. All ethnic groups, religions and societies have been guilty of this evil.
In these ever-repeating tragedies, the innocents are the victims. Yet by their quiescence, when it happens to others, they are guilty of being enablers. Often the lament is what could an individual do? It is usually true, but not always. As the history is witness, not many but a few times, an average individual has made a difference.
It is important to speak out against all atrocities, even when one cannot make a difference materially. It is more difficult, therefore more important to speak out against atrocities committed by one's own kind.
O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk... (Quran 4:135)
There are a number of examples where the oppressed have turned around and become the oppressors them selves. In 2004 the Asian Center for Human Rights reported the land grab and killing of indigenous "Jumma" people in south-eastern Bangladesh (Chitagong Hills). The attacks are aimed at terrorizing indigenous people for their lands. In April 2003, the army and illegal settlers burnt down Jumma houses in Bhuiochari village after indigenous peoples asked the settlers to stop encroaching onto their lands, and to dismantle the houses they had built. The army encircled the village and forced the indigenous people out of their homes while the settlers looted and burnt down the houses.
Recall that Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan in 1971 because of the inequities and the maltreatment from the more dominant West Pakistan government. Similar atrocities are committed by the Janjaveed (Nomadic Sudanese, claming Arab decent) on the darker settled Muslims of Darfur region.
Muslims vocally, monetarily and emotionally decry and condemn, as they should, the atrocities and land grab against Muslims in Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Ughur, Kashmir, Gujarat and many other places. Such land grab, ethnic cleansing and genocide are occasionally even gingerly condemned by the supposedly Islamic governments, though not too vocally lest their own record may be examined more closely.
Yet, when Muslims oppress people of other religions or even other Muslims in the same manner the criticism at most is muted. For example the persecution of Muslims and non-Muslims by the Talibans in Afghanistan, Kurds by Arab regimes, Jumma people in Bangladesh, Qadianis in Pakistan or tribal cleansing in Darfur region of Sudan and Acheh in Indonesia.
To their credit, many Muslim journalists have taken pains to write about it with passion. Bangladesh Observer wrote a very strong editorial, but the governments, social and political organizations and individuals remain generally silent or perfunctorily shake their heads.
Often governments justify their actions or inaction by pointing to the follies and deviance of the people being oppressed. These are more self-serving then real.
Even when true, the duty of the government is to treat all its citizens with equality and justice. The miscreants should be brought to the court of law. Governments that suppress civil descent and practice oppression in effect invite rebellion.
Unfortunately it is true that some in the western media with an anti-Islamic agenda would take the Muslim condemnation of other Muslims for their own purposes. This should not deter us, because bias against Islam has been going on for a long time and we have no control on what others do. We need to make sure we do what justice demands. Our timidity and non-condemnation only helps the evil forces within our communities. Paucity of reform and negation of such heinous forces from inside the community bring condemnation and pressure from outside. It only helps to advance the agenda of those outside forces that are malicious towards Islam for their own vile reasons.
It is always better if the opposition springs from within the community. It is more effective and conducive to thoughtful change.
The idea that "true understanding and adherence of religion would ameliorate these problems," have been bandied about in all religions since time immemorial. It has only produced more discord and arguments about the true meaning of the religion .
In public discourse we never tire of pointing out that Islam stands for peace, mercy and compassion' and it does! Oppression breeds extremism. When extreme becomes common, the normative base of the society is severely injured. Such perversity of beliefs must be opposed by the civil society, especially one that claims a moral high ground.
When others practice cruelty and mayhem against Muslims, it hurts and we resist and fight against it. When Muslims do it, we need to fight even harder. We should condemn it, resist it and fight against it with even greater resolve.
The question that is staring us in the face and tugging at our conscience is - Do we practice Islam as a religion of morality without exception as it ought to be, or simply as an extension of local tribalism into a super tribe?
Should only others be condemned for inhumanity, but people in our own super-tribe are ours therefore should be supported lest they grow even weaker or at worst should be gingerly criticized so that others may not see what we refuse to acknowledge?
It is a shame that the central tenet of Islamic ethos based on justice is so cavalierly and nonchalantly violated by many Muslim governments and leaders, and we are mute, observers at best and by our quiescence collaborators at worst.
Mirza A. Beg can be contacted at [email protected]
I agree with Dr.Tayyab..
Almighty Allah knows the BEST
"" It is a shame that the central tenet of Islamic ethos based on justice is so cavalierly and nonchalantly violated by many Muslim governments and leaders, and we are mute, observers at best and by our quiescence collaborators at worst. ""
We are mute BECAUSE we are emulating the west at every corner and field of our lives. Our men are chicken and the muslim women are defiantly "marinating" in their "Freedom/Liberated" culture. This western cultural venom have made our men impotent to throw our traitor-leaders and our women are having a field day; hence our families and societies are fractured,unwholesome and disjointed !
Its good to address the attrocities within Ummah itself by rude politicians or dictators. But most your focus is towrds those who are not oppressed in reality when you compare the attrocties of majority of ummah by America and his puppet rulers. Whatever is happening with other communities in muslim lands is just because of general anarchy and currupt rule. Condemning Taliban even after five years of their fall doesn't make sense. Some time modern muslim writers or journalist try to do injustice with their own people by accusing innocents or oprressed like Taliban of Afghanistan or Hammas of Palestine. If they are just in their nature they should not insult the weak but committed muslim brothers or groups who made real sacrifice for the cause of justice, honor, dignity and better rule for Muslim Ummah and other communities in their own domain. O good muslim writer cann't condemn Islamic Movements rather he/she can condemn currupt regimes or puupet rulers. Be fair in analysis and presentation.
They believe in God and the Last Day; they enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in the ranks of the righteous.
How wise is this verse! We need to be more diligent in our tolerance of misdeeds to others! Muslims need to be decent to other Muslims before the rest of the world will stop putting Us down! If we know the truth, then we need to be an example to the world in order for them to accept the right path.
Give me a break you ... Israel is the measure. You love Israel equals to you hate Arabs. You support Israel equals to you bash Islam. How could any Muslim of any ilk trust you deceivers and wolves clad in sheep's skin? The prophet you claim to follow denounced your wrong doings of yore! Yeah, I'm talking about Jesus/'Isa/Yeshua,pbuh, the son of Mary,pbuh. Get your bibles and read it straight for the Judgement is nigh, you lost sheep in the spiritual desert of the house of Israel ..!
The Prophet (saw) said, "Support your brother when oppressed and when he is being the oppressor."A companion asked him," I know how to help my brother when he is oppressed, but how do I help my brother when he is the oppressor?" The Prophet ( saw) said,"You stop him from oppressing others "
I think, these are the times when Muslim thinkers and writers must think objectively, whether the Muslims ( Leaders and commoners)in these times are more oppressed or are the oppressors and then give their fair analyses in their support. <
The constant claim of being the victim will never solve anything... only action within muslim societies will do that...
responsibility and innovation
are key... not imitation... (whether it be of the West or an attempt to relive long gone Islamic history)
The Muslim world must find its own path, the Muslim world must take care of its own problems... fixing the problems of Muslims is in the hands of no one but Muslims themselves... and no amount of crying "waah Israel" or "Waah America" or "waah colonialism" will fix this.
Muslims were dominated by Western powers and Israel not solely based external greedy design, but more so based on internal corruption, fatalism, lack of innovation and an undeserved superiority complex.
It was Islamic cultural decay that allowed the Muslim world to fall behind... it was revering imitation rather than innovation that made Islamic sciences inferior...
When the 4 founders of the judicial schools and the collectors of the Sunna made their systems they were innovators... taking a situation that they found (sporadic hadeeth with no system) and creating a system... They were not prophets... but they were great men and innovators... It was their innovation that codified Islam...
Innovation is key...
One commentor here says fixing the Israel situation is the West's responsibility. Why is that? The West wants Israel to continue being an enemy... however if the Arabs and Israelis would come together and recognize that they were pitted against each other for the very purpose of causing conflict and to divide the region (as was attempted with Hatay, Lebanon, and alowia to seperate arabs from the coast) how much better would things be
And Allah (SWT) knows best.
I think a slight re-working of one of the authors points as valid as the original:
"Unfortunately it is true that some in the Islamic media with an anti-western agenda would take the western condemnation of other westerners for their own purposes. This should not deter us, because bias against the west (and unbelievers in general) has been going on for a long time and we have no control on what others do. We need to make sure we do what justice demands. "
I think in the last few hundred years the west has engaged in self-criticism far more openly and honestly than the Islamic world has, and that we are better off for it (in the sense of relative to where we would otherwise be, rather than relative to any other people). One of the biggest illnesses in modern America is the rise of radical conservatism and the attendent hostility to self-criticism.
If muslims start to promote peace, mercy and compassion, rather than apologizing for extremism, more openly, often and consistently I might even start believing Islam stands for those things. Right now as far as I can tell my response to the statement "Do we practice Islam as a religion of morality without exception as it ought to be, or simply as an extension of local tribalism into a super tribe?" is that Islam, with its sharp distinctions between itself and non-believers, and the second-class (at best) role prescribed for non-believers, is designed to create a "super tribe."
I'd love it if you proved me wrong! This is one of the few muslim articles I've read (and I surf Islamic sites regularly) that gives me hope that there is a basis for communication between non-believers like myself (who are inclined to peace but also personal freedom) and the muslim world at large.