I got many interesting responses to my last post regarding Islam and I want to thank everyone who contributed to the comments section of that blogg. Many frank and honest questions were raised and many kind words were said.
In my last post I tried to explain why Muslims seem to find it so difficult to openly criticize their religion. I also tried to address the issue of the abuse of Islam by clergy and politicians to serve their political agendas. Today I will try to address the political nature of this conflict and how that might reflect on Islam. I hope that none of you will be offended.
The recent outcry and riots, by Muslim around the world, in response to the rumours of the desecration of the Qur’an in Guantanamo has raised many eyebrows amongst people who still view Islam (the ‘religion’) as the problem.
I do agree that it seems absurd to see so many Muslims all around the world rioting and proclaiming ‘Jihad’ and death to America, simply because of a rumour that some soldier at Guantanamo might or might not have flushed the Qur’an in the toilet. The naturally conclusion that anyone would form is that it is the teachings of the Qur’an that obliges us Muslims to do that.
You would be correct to assume that. The Qur’an does state we must not allow anyone to desecrate our holly book on punishment of death. The Qur’an is supposed to be the earthly manifestation of Gods words so to flush it in the toilet is like flushing God himself down the toilet, (I went into the issue of the Qur’an in my last ‘Islam’ post. Please go back and read it).
Did you know that it is actually an offence to even put the Qur’an on the ground, so imagine what flushing it down the toilet means; Eternal damnation in the seventh level of hell, I suppose…;)) ( I jest ).
It is also true that not many Muslims bothered to take a stand to calm or rebuff these rumour or stop these riots. But all of the above have more to do with politics than the religion itself. (please allow me to explain. read on)
All the above is true, but I think that the most critical insight one can make into all of this is possible by carefully observing the nature and content of the Arabic and Muslim media. For example. in the past three days we have had nothing but the usual reports about; -- ‘Israel building some more settlements’, ‘Americans died in Iraq’, ‘Brave Iraqi resistance fighters blow up more freedom loving traitorous children’, ‘More American operations in Iraq’, ‘More Israeli Operations’, 'Palestinians die in Gaza', 'Hizb Allah bravely engages Israeli forces in south Labanon', and so on and so forth..And of course, their favourite subject lately, hours and hours of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib abuse accusations topped with the latest rumour of the Qur’an desecration incident.
Unfortunately, it is very clear that we are living in a World War.
The Eastern Muslim world is openly and clearly at war with America and Israel. And both sides use Islam and the media as weapons and tools of convenience in this conflict. In opposite ways of course.
The Arab world abuses Islam to justify a cause and to unify people behind this cause. Religion has always been a powerful unifier of people at times of war. And Islam lends itself very well to being used in this way. At the same token, the West observes every opportunity to vilify Arabs, Muslims, and anyone who supports them in order to justify and support their actions, views and goals.This is a classical psychological case of conflict polarisation. When two competing factions are in conflict, both sides try to find any excuse to vilify the other in order to dehumanise and humiliate them, and thus make it easier to justify the war and killing of the other. History repeats itself. We have seen this strategy in principle played out throughout history for as long as there were people in conflict.
When millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Palestine, or wherever go out on the street and proclaim death and destruction to America and Israel with the same breath and sentence, it is not because of the desecration of the Qur’an or the perceived insult to Islam. No. It is simply another excuse for the general muslim population to vent their anger and frustration towards their favourate enemy.
America's continuing historic support for Israel and its continuing perceived injustices against the Palestinians and Muslims around the world is what is driving these mobs to the streats. Islam is simply a tool and a banner conscripted by the Clergy as a ‘rallying flag’ to unite as many people behind their political agenda.
I know this subject has become like a bit of a caricature.
‘We’ve heard it all before’ – I hear you say. ‘Why do the Arabs and Muslims always return to Israel as the scapegoat and justifications for their own in-action?’
Well, and without any apologies, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is, and has always been, at the heart of this problem.
Islamo-fascism didn’t come to life on the day Saddam was toppled, nor was it born on 9/11. Islamo-fascism was created through a long process of bottled up Arab and Muslim humiliation going back to the 60’s and 70’s. The lack of Democracy and freedom in all Arab and Muslim countries throughout these past decades has simply caused the pressure to finally blow the cork in everyone’s face. Not least America, on 9/11.
The problem is that America and the west, has until very recently, seen no reason to deal honestly with the concerns of the general Arab street. Of course, they have always dealt favourably with the majority of the dictators of the region for as long as they continued to serve Americas economic and geo-political interests at a time when the cold war and the communist threat was the priority for the pentagon. This all changed on 9/11 and I truly believe that America has finally woken up to the fact that it must finally deal positively with the Arabs and the issue of democracy and freedom. (very late in the day, I’m afraid)However, Its very difficult to try to convince Arabs and Muslims of America's genuine intensions after decades of self interest, especially when nothing is seen to be done on the Palestinian-Israeli front.
Not long ago I was introduced to a Palestinian guy who was in his mid to late twenties. This guy was a refugee in Germany whom had in the passed 6 years travelled the whole of Europe without papers or any particular direction to his life. His story is very sad and typical of many Palestinians that I have met in Europe. Most see no hope for Palestine or in an eventual equitable settlement there.
Anyway, this was around the same time that Saddam Hussein was captured in that rat hole of his. So we got talking about life, politics and Saddam, etc……
The first thing this guy said to me is how much he admired Saddam Hussein, that he was a real Arab patriot whom was willing to stand up to both America and Israel. Naturally I was shocked and began to tell him about how I felt about Saddam and his mass graves and abuses of power etc. etc.. His reaction was not that untypical of many Arabs that I meet, he insisted that it was all lies and that it was all American fabrications and its fault. I quickly changed the subject ;-))
-This, i hope, give you an idea of how much we Arabs are willing to accept tyrany and dictatorship if only that tyrant or tyrans can promiss to regain our Arab Pride and honur and to wipe away the shame and humiliation of the past 50 years.
Then, we got talking about Palestine and how that maybe Abu Mazin (who was wrestling with Arafat for the PLO leadership at the time) can bring about positive changes and help open a dialogue with the Israelis.
You know what this guy said to me –
‘ To hell with Abu Mazin. To hell with Arafat, and to hell with the PLO. To hell with all Arab leaders they are all hypocrites. The only people who can help us are the clerics. They are the only ones who can bring about the chaos that we need to destroy Israel and the world and to liberate Palestine’.
You know, those words still resonate in my ears to this day. What the Arabs want, What the Islamo-fascists want. What the Palestinians want. Is not Islam nor the Qur’an nor the rebirth of Mohammed nor even the return of the Caliphs of the olden days.
No, what they really want is to bring down America and world order. They want chaos because they see that as the only way to for them to liberate Palestine and regain their, all so important, false arabic 'Pride and honour'.
This is what’s going on in Iraq. The terrorists don’t care about the outcome in Iraq. They don’t care about Democracy, Saddam, the return of the Ba’ath party, or even the Islamaficaton of Iraq. All that is important is to create such chaos in the Middle East and the world that eventually the world will be forced to do something about solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Coming back full circle; Yes, I do agree with you, we Muslims do need to put more effort into facing up to our clergy and the bad parts of our religion.
I thought that’s what I’ve tried to do with both of my ‘Islam’ posts. Many other Muslims around the world are also trying to do the same. So please give us some slack.
And to answer the question that many have asked me, -- ‘ Why isn’t there more Muslim or Arab condemnation of the twisted form of Islam used by the terrorists to attack America, or Spain, or Bali, or Iraqis, in the name of Islam, or when we have demonstrations calling for an all out Jihad against America and its allies?’
The answer to that is simple - We can’t condemn Islam. Because deep down we know that its got nothing to do with Islam itself, and that its simply a weapon used in a war that many are happy to see continued. It all boils down to how much you believe that an open and continuing war with America, Israel and the west would serve the interests of the Arab and Muslim world. And how Islam can be used in this conflict.
I for one Don't, Many on the other hand do…….
Time will only tell where the future will take us, but I’m sure that as long as the march of modernity continues then eventually all of this will disappear one day soon. The question is how soon? And this question depends not only on Muslims but also on the rest of the world. We Muslims do not live in a vacuum
There is no simple Black and White. Only shades of Grey.