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Woolwich attack and Islam

June 14 2013





In the last few months the world has witnessed, once again, atrocities planned and in two cases, carried out, disguised in the name of Islam.

The most recent was a terror attack in Woolwich in which a former armed forces member was murdered. Previously, bombings at the Boston Marathon killed several, including an eight-year-old boy.

Here at home, RCMP arrested two Canadian men for allegedly conspiring to derail a VIA rail train, an act, which if it had gone undiscovered, would likely have caused the deaths of many innocent people.

The question remains unanswered — who is to blame?

The debate among Muslims in the West is filled with tension.

On social media sites, in print and in person, members of the Ummah (the Muslim community), of all stripes — conservatives, moderates, progressives, all genders, gay and straight — now frequently debate who is at fault for the chaos.

And being liberal does not always predict your view.

Is it Western foreign policy, which some say creates so many innocent casualties of war, now with drones — that fuels the fire of hatred? Is it Muslims, who collectively are accused of not “doing enough,” here in the West, to prevent attacks?

Is it both?


Well, why can’t there be more than one cause of terrorism?

And as Muslims what more must we do to stop the chaos, in addition to demanding changes in our Western countries’ foreign policies?

Looking inwards at our community, we see the majority of Muslims are peaceful. But you don’t have to look long to find the intolerance that plants seeds of hatred in the hearts of the ignorant.

The hateful dogma, disguised as Islam, which states that apostates should be killed and the People of the Book — Christians and Jews — should never be regarded as friends, is not hard to find.

Here in the West, many mosques emphasize parts of our scriptures which uphold tolerance and affection toward non-Muslims and many promote peace through sincere interfaith work. But it takes only one click on Google to locate the dogma of hatred.

And many times it comes from a place, which unfortunately and in contradiction, is still held in high esteem by many traditional mosques and a country that the West regards as a friend.

Where are the seeds of intolerance sown exactly?

Is it the same place where, according to many, an Imam receives his “best” education and where some Westerners are treated like kings?

Saudi Arabia is a member of the G20 and one of the West’s largest trading partners.

It is a place where last week, Saudi writer, Abdullah Mohammed Al Dawood, created a Twitter storm, by reportedly encouraging men to molest women working at grocery stores. Al Dawood is a strong supporter of gender apartheid. Al Dawood, who has 97,000 Twitter followers, later said he was misquoted.

So far Al Dawood has not been charged with any crime, while creator of the Liberal Muslim Network, Raif Badawi and blogger Hamza Kashgari, both remain in jail, charged with apostasy. According to Amnesty International, Badawi, a husband and father of two small children, may be beheaded this year.

And how does Saudi Arabia treat non-Muslims? It remains a place where there is not a single church, synagogue or temple and none are permitted to be built. It flies in the face of Muhammad’s example of governing a multi-faith community in which no one was forced to convert.

And back then, members of any faith could enter Mecca — at the time known as Bakkah. Now, under Saudi rule, non-Muslims are prohibited. This is contrary to the Quran, which states:

“Behold, the first Temple ever set up for humankind was indeed the one at Bakkah: rich in blessing, and a [source of] guidance unto all the worlds, full of clear messages. [It is] the place whereon Abraham once stood; and whoever enters it finds inner peace. Hence, pilgrimage unto the Temple is a duty owed to God by all people who are able to undertake it. And as for those who deny the truth – verily, God does not stand in need of anything in all the worlds.” (3:96, 3:97)

Is this injustice? Yes. Is it Islam? No. But it makes little difference from a practical perspective.

Because only when Saudi Arabia, and places like it, uphold pluralism, or are no longer regarded as having any authority over Islam, shall we as a community be free from blame.

Can we Muslims, here in the West, where we each have a voice, while we work to spread inclusive understandings of Islam, also demand an end to foreign dogma? That has no place in Islam?

Can we work to demand change in Saudi Arabia?

Can we topple the giant from which the seeds of chaos originate and scatter?

Perhaps Western leaders should, as well, take heed and peacefully demand that the dogma, that appears to incite violence here, be eliminated there, even if it’s bad for business.

 Originally published by The Huffington post canada


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