Evaluating armed struggle
With Muslim issues consistently topping the list of foreign affairs concerns, American Muslims are faced with the challenge of evaluating the appropriateness of Muslim armed struggle in various global hotspots.
Armed struggle is a touchy subject for American Muslims. Media stereotyping has created the popular impression that Muslims, whether living in the United States or other parts of the world, are a violent people. The specter of the terrorist continues to loom over Muslims as a catchall moniker, and armed insurrection has become readily associated with Muslims in many countries. So American Muslims fight an uphill battle with reference to the violent image of Islam and Muslims that pervades the media.
The need to battle negative stereotyping does not however, obviate the need for Muslims to critically analyze the nuances of various conflicts so as to make a judgement concerning their appropriateness. The complexities of this task are monumental. But without such critical examination the ability to work within the American political arena to impact change in some of these hotspots is diminished.
One of the most important questions American Muslims will need to answer is: Are all armed struggles good armed struggles? Unequivocally the answer to that question is no. But gather a roomful of Muslims representing the myriad cultures that comprise the American Muslim community, and one would be hard pressed to get a consensus on which struggles were legitimate and which were inappropriate.
For instance, the situation in Kashmir is indeed dire for Muslims living under oppressive Indian military occupation. But is it appropriate for American Muslims to support insurgency as resolution to that dire situation?
In Daghestan, a group of individuals claiming to be the champions of Islam and the revivers of Muslim rule in the Caucasus region have taken up arms against the Russians. Is this a legitimate struggle?
What about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the south Philippines? It continues to struggle against the central government because of decades of exploitation of the Moro people and their land. But the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) seemed content to make peace with the government. So is the continued MILF struggle legitimate?
These are difficult questions to answer. And the complexities of behind the scenes political maneuvering makes deciphering these issues all the more difficult. But American Muslims cannot afford to hastily label certain struggles good and others bad.
American Muslims need to come to some consensus on the true needs of Muslims in various regions of conflict. Those needs must then be compared to the various avenues for positive progress.
Ali Asadullah is the Editor of iviews.com