“Move ahead!” said a man behind my friend hurriedly. “Puḍhē jā (Move ahead)” he requested once again in a much pleading tone this time. In a jam-packed local train, with everyone struggling to find their own space to at least stand on both legs and to inspire an adequate amount of oxygen; there came an infusion of another crowd as the train stopped screeching on the platform. A man entered with a breeze of pleasant odour, probably from the ‘Itra (perfume)’ he wore. The aura changed. The crowd had a different vibe altogether. I, being a curious observer of this sudden transformation started probing the cause. A man wearing a ‘Philly beard’ was the source of the sandalwood aroma who caught the eye of many sceptics including me as sudden Islamophobia rushed through. I became skeptical as he advanced through the crowd towards the safer central area, distancing himself from the open door local train. Being paranoid about the situation, I stared at the black bag he was carrying with him which was abnormally bulky and stuffed. He was carrying an exhausted look on his face just like plenty others. A series of questions imploded my brain questioning the articles in his bag. His Islamic look impelled many to doubt him, the luggage and his intentions.
The plight of the Yazidi women in Iraq and Syria has done nothing but made hearts bleed. It is funny how sanctimonious we are when we place natives over humans. It is saddening to see the world rejecting the acts of terrorism in France, Belgium and the United States of America, but a faint and few muffled sounds are heard when ‘just another’ terrorist attack happens in Iraq or Syria.
There have been various news and reports on the Yazidi women who escaped ISIS and how brutal the Islamic State caliphate is, with multiple victims describing the horrendous crimes the zealots committed taking humanity to a new low. This article isn’t to list out the atrocities past journalists have penned. It is a request to advance the process of ‘publishing the heinous acts’ to ‘doing something about it’.
Various Islamic leaders and preachers have in past refuted the theology ISIS promotes and the agenda they hold. Imams such as Suhaib Webb and Sheikh Hamza Yusuf strive to keep young Muslims on the path of peace which the religion’s actual interpretations encourage. The efforts in the past have been applauded but still requires much publicity.
It is time for media channels to cover the religion of peace’s interpretations of Islam. If the followers of Islam say that the ISIS or ISIL and other terrorist organizations have a hardline attitude and violent interpretations of the Quran, then the peaceful lot following Islam should propagate the benevolent version of it. The coverage of the heinous crimes committed in the name of God by ISIS and affiliated groups questions the preachers, followers of Islam and their stand every time a human is killed, be it a Muslim or a Non-Muslim. It’s time to make use of the powerful media of journalism and social media to diffuse the message across the world.
Something is not wrong when others perceive Muslims as a threat to their country, family and themselves. The virulent view- Islamophobia, is present everywhere from the Internet servers to our perceptions. The people aren’t at fault if they fear a man wearing the ‘Sunnah’ beard or the woman who prefers to go out covered in Hijab. If the person who’s wearing the same look the previous terrorists wore, the sceptics would always doubt him/her intentions without caring that there exists about 1.5 billion other humans in the world appear somewhat same fashioning the same Sunnah beard and wearing similar attires.
Out of the approximate 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, even if those Muslims affiliated with various terrorist organizations are fifty thousand in number- that would still make 99.99% of the Muslims peacefully following their religion in different parts of the world.
The community cannot run from the Islamophobia that is being faced by them in various parts of the world. If Islam is a religion of peace and if 22% of the world population follows it, then, right now the preaching of the how ‘altruistic’ Islam is should surface, rather than the propaganda of the preposterousness of the Islamic State. Muslims need to act and the world needs to understand that the humanitarian condition cannot be overlooked if it is not your nation.
If a Yazidi woman gets raped and tortured by extremists, she would be sensing the same fear and agony as one’s own countrywoman would have faced. If a Syrian city gets bombed killing numerous civilians, they face the same pain and helplessness as the Orlando nightclub victims would have felt. The fear, pain and agony faced by humans at both the places were same. It just depends which wail is heard by the world. If the terrorists or followers of the radical Islam does not represent the Islam that the other 99.99% of the population is following, then this lot shall be able to successfully invalidate the various distortions, misinterpretations and misquotations of the verses of Islam’s holy book preventing any further addition to the IS’s horde of scoundrels. There is just no point criticizing the Islam that IS preach and follow.
The solution to the bigotry of followers of radical Islam doesn’t lie in the bombing of Syria, Iran or Afghanistan. Neither could it be given by the armies of U.S, Russia or Iran. Innocent lives could only be saved when the religion of peace invalidates all other misinterpretations and the cherry picked quotes, facts and figures.
Having gone through the same skepticism like million others, I noticed the man and his baggage in the train rigorously. I noticed how many times other sceptics including me have doubted the intentions of people fashioning the Islamic look and how the same number of times it didn’t turn out to be dreadful as we imagined. I noticed the exhausted look he had; same as others on the train. I could notice on his face the impact of the hardship of the day he faced. I could notice he was just like any other person in the crowd. However, I was immediately reminded that the devoted followers of IS would have the same look too and there’s absolutely no way I can differentiate between good and bad here.
As the train reached yet another station, a rush of the crowd pushed through the door. Falling on the platform due to the impact of the crowd’s push, the man I doubted strived to pick his tools and a broken toy which fell out of the bag. The toy was still being crushed by the hindmost crowd. As he picked his tools and brushed the elephant-shaped toy, the man I perceived as the potential threat had the look of an endeavoring father who just cared about his child’s glee when he gets home with that toy.
The Islamophobia that is existing today cannot be termed good or bad. Though, the partiality and biases are sure to be rejected, but then again, it is important to understand the term Inslamophobia. One reason out of many could be the shadow of malevolence over benevolence here. The inability of the larger lot of Muslims to propagate the right agenda of Islam and to prove that it teaches the path of righteousness and not ‘crushing the head of the wrongdoer in an adultery case’. It is not a fight between people. It has become a fight between ideologies. The reason 22% of the world’s population is following a religion shall not be a point to prove. The war in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other African countries cannot be won with arms and ammunition if the ideologies remain the same. It is the war between ideologies. It is important to understand that the people who have joined IS and other terrorist groups have the same ideologies or follow the same propaganda. The rest of the Muslims, which is the majority, should have the dominance when it comes to promoting religious ideology. If no one gets convinced by the hoax preaching, terrorist organizations wouldn’t have the number to become an army and the ability to convince anyone to blast themselves up in the name of God. It is the humans that derive pleasure in barbarity and not God.