Written By Haroon Moghul
I had refrained from writing anything about the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester principally because it took me a long time to know where to even begin.
My first thoughts were simple ones: What kind of sick, demented bastard targets children and teenagers, especially women, and what kind of demonic ideology convinces human beings that innocent people are their enemy, and deserve to be slaughtered? There is no other word for ISIS than inhumane, and if there is anything that distinguishes their faction from previous, similarly monstrous ideologies–Nazism comes to mind–it is that they possess no industrial capacity.
And thank God for that.
My second thought is: What is to be done? That might be the calling of our lives. The doom of our times. But maybe God put is in this world not to do what we love, but to stop that which we hate.
There are some Muslims who still insist that Islam is a religion of peace. Well, that’s all well and good if you mean Islam should be a religion of peace, or was intended to be, but modern Islam is hardly a religion of peace. There are various causes, internal and external, for the turmoil that afflicts the central regions of the geographically contiguous Muslim-majority world, but many of these have to do with how we teach religion, what we do with our differences, and why we incline to violence in so many of our interpretations–of historical events and present affairs. All the same this is, in other words, very much our problem.
I think there is a Muslim world, there is meant to be an ummah, and that means we belong to each other. Not politically, but in a deeper, more profound sense. Which means we are responsible for each other.
And we will, especially where the ummah is made up of minorities, be blamed for each other’s actions. It is a terrible fact that right now the Middle East is split between an Iranian regime conducting a murderous war in Syria, killing even more than ISIS; ISIS itself; al-Qaeda; Hezbollah, and the entirely unjustifiable Saudi war on Yemen. What do all these actors have in common? They believe themselves to be Islamic. They call themselves Islamic. They claim to uphold God’s word and God’s values.
And what do they do?
Indiscriminately torture. Murder. Starve. Each and every one of them. For shame.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said a time would come to pass when Muslims would abandon Islam in droves, and the worst of people would be the most outwardly religious, and you have to wonder. Are we there yet?
And how much worse can it get?
I am not interested in people who demonize all of Islam; the vast majority of the world’s Muslims reject this violence. Wholeheartedly. I am instead interested in why so many millions can accomplish so little.
I am also not interested in platitudes like “Islam is the solution”–as if every problem is religious; Islam is not the solution to a broken bone, nor is there one Islam, or one solution, to most of the world’s pressing challenges–or paeans to our golden age. It is nice that a thousand years ago we were advanced for our time, but what does that mean when we have young people who believe blowing themselves up and killing innocents around them is not just sanctioned by God. But cheered by Him?
Something more is called for. Not marches against terrorism; those are mere symbolic gestures. Something bigger is called for. Something grander and greater. Initiatives that seek to build institutions out of our common sentiments. Educational enterprises that seek to create leaders, build networks out of them, and amplify their voices and ideas until they drown out the ugliness around them. For the love of God stop building mosques. Build leaders.
For the love of God stop building mosques. Build leaders.
Make them so that they are better than you and do not just replace you but build upon what you have done.
Bold, decisive and principled confrontation of extremism, and the authoritarianism which it exists in parasitic relationship. Neither the corrupt monarchies who steal their peoples’ wealth and squander it on palaces and weapons, nor the violent movements whose greatest victims are the innocent.
Creative arts, genuinely moving literature, films and songs, vehicles through which we express the richness of our heritage and build a legacy that will stand another thousand years. Dream freaking huge. Make a mark upon the world. Remake the world. Stop being sufficed by mediocrity.
Above all, steadfastness.
This festering evil has many causes, and will be with us, I fear, for longer than we would like to admit. It cannot be defeated easily, and will not be defeated by indiscriminately bombing towns and villages. It will require not just that we confront and contain militancy, but that we offer some counterpoint to it. For just as a vacuum in a place as long suffering as Syria sucks in nations around it, or strongman dictatorships breed strongman dictatorships, so too does confident, inclusive religion inspire and strengthen those around it, and spread enlightenment, empowerment and enterprise to its neighbors.
We can get there.
Though we have a long road ahead of us. We may not ever see around the bend. It may be our destiny to simply hold the line.
But we can hold it all the same.
May God have mercy on those who perished so tragically. May He preserve us from the evil of those who claim to act in His name. May He give us the strength to stand up to perfidy wherever it rears its head, whatever language it speaks, and whatever causes it claims to embrace. Until Jesus comes.
[Authored by Haroon Moghul and originally published on Facebook. Reproduced here with permission]