Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fighting Fear

It is sad that I must begin my blog with condolences, shame and sadness. Condolences to those who lost their lives or endured fear, injury or trauma during the Mumbai attacks, and for all of their families. Once again, for myself as a person who follows a religion called Peace – because this is one of the meanings of Islam – I am enormously distressed by violent men who use the word Islam for their monstrous deeds. The Muslim community globally continues to reel from those who dominate our screens with images of hate and bloodshed.
I am sure that all Muslims in every community are, like me, condemning these latest acts of terrorism. Like them, I do not have any solutions to the injustices that lie beneath the rage that we see in these satanic young men. But I strongly believe that we must continue to honestly delve into the roots of their anger in order to dry up the emotions that are played on by their evil masters. It is true that there is injustice occurring all over the world. It is true that the wealthy continue to profit and exploit the poor. It is true that lies and deceit dominate much of the history of global politics and the marginalised communities are frustrated to the point of desperation in meeting their legitimate demands. However, this alone does not explain and can never excuse the awful crimes of terror that have been committed and associated with the name of Islam.
The other aspect to these atrocities lies in the teaching and justification that permits them. Globally and internationally the lack of education that exists in so many Muslim countries permits the ill-informed to be presented with a view on life that is totally out of touch with reality. We know that there are teachers who play on the frustrations and anger that injustice develops, and these teachers present lies as truth about what historically has occurred in Islam and what is permitted. The only way to combat such teaching is a mass education drive to spread an alternative teaching throughout the Muslim world – confidently presenting the teachings of Islam that offer hope, political solutions, and an ethical path of determined and rightful resistance that does not target innocent children, the elderly, women or the vulnerable. Such an ethical path can never be called terrorism – and terrorism has never been the practice or teaching of Islam.
There must be a concerted effort on both fronts – working to provide solutions and hope to marginalised and frustrated communities – through our writing, speaking and active entry through global political and aid organisations, and simultaneously an active campaign to expose the falsehood of teachings of hate and of recruitment of the gullible and hurt. It is time for our leaders to step up to the plate and begin this important work – not as we see now, armchair leaders who are silent in the face of atrocity and defensive when confronted.
Ethical leaders of courage – where are you?