“They will remain Muslims as long as they pronounce the shahada and as long as the religious institution doesn’t dare to modernize the criteria for being a Muslim.”
Iyad Abu Shakra (image: aawsat.net)
Iyad Abu Shakra: For Years, Crimes Have Been Carried Out In The Name Of Islam As Muslims Stand Idly By
“Last Friday was a sorrowful and sad day in the month of Ramadan. But making do with expressions of sadness, condemnation, and statements calling to preserve national unity will no longer suffice. All this does no good and is meaningless, when time and again mosques are attacked and [the perpetrators] allow themselves to murder innocents.
“Some of us could explain the blasts at the Imam Ja’far Al-Sadiq mosque in Kuwait [by pointing to] the escalation of sectarian tensions in the Gulf, after the Khomeinist revolution [in Iran] sowed the spirit of extremism, and therefore all of us [today] reap the ideology of Al-Qaeda and the horrors of ISIS. What happened in Tunisia could be attributed to exaggerated bitterness that has built up among devout Tunisian circles in response to the secularization era of [Tunisian president] Bourguiba [1957-1987]… As for the newest criminal action in France – those who defend [the perpetrators] in vain will insist that this is a natural response to the cultural foreignness [felt by Muslims in France] and to the racial and religious discrimination [they experience]…
“Undoubtedly, each of the three crimes, that occurred on the same day on three [separate] continents, have unique local characteristics. However, the common thread among all three is greater and more serious, and is actually the root of the matter, while all the rest is secondary. Muslims, especially the Arabs among them, now have a choice: Either ignore the bitter truth and enable the disease to spread until it kills, or choose to acknowledge its existence in preparation for fundamentally dealing with it.
“The three crimes are part of one comprehensive whole: They are part of a series of criminal acts that have been taking place in the name of ‘the true Islam’ throughout the world for the past several years, and that until now have not met with decisive responses – even though they involve Muslims in a real war with the entire world…
“The murder of innocents in Kuwait, on the beaches of Tunisia, and in France is no different [from the crimes] that were and are still being committed by organizations like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, [Jabhat] Al-Nusra, Boko Haram, Al-Hashd Al-Sha’abi [Shi’ite militias in Iraq], Hizbullah, the Abu Fadl Al-‘Abbas Brigades, Al-Shabab in Somalia, the Taliban, and all manner of armed Islamic groups, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, in the name of ‘the true Islam.’
“This reminds me that in January, following the murderous attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the stream of Arab and Muslim condemnations claiming that it ‘does not represent true Islam,’ my colleague [Lebanese journalist] Nadim Koteich published a spot-on analysis… He asked in his piece: ‘So what is this true Islam that those who condemn crimes committed in the name of Islam are supposed to be bestowing upon us?…’ After providing several examples of crimes committed by Sunni and Shi’ite extremists, he said that the perpetrators ‘all belong to the true Islam…’
“[He added:] ‘It doesn’t matter which Islamic text, whether it is a Koranic or jurisprudential text, or a text recounting the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad; the killers do not kill for nothing, they kill in the name of books, fatwas, ayahs, and age-old tradition. All of these things are inseparable parts of true Islam. They will remain Muslims as long as they pronounce the shahada and as long as the religious institution doesn’t dare to modernize the criteria for being a Muslim. ‘These killers are us. They are our religion at its most extreme. They are our true Islam taken to its furthest extent and they are not beyond the scripture.’
“There is a true crisis in the way we think, which is the cause of our evil acts and the fact that we move from one defeat to another, and to destruction. This crisis has contributed in one way or another to the negative international attitude towards our problems. This is because the international community does not have to accept our perceptions if they contradict its own.
“How can we demand that the international community stand with us in the name of respecting human rights and defending citizens when we produce people and groups [who claim] a monopoly on faith, religion, good deeds, legitimacy, and nationalism? What gives us the right to call on the countries of the world to intervene for our interests and ease our suffering if we not only act against [those countries], but also act against our own peoples… when we kill each other, and accuse each other of being infidels and traitors[?] By what logic do we believe that our extremism is attractive to others and that our tendency to marginalize and reject the other can leave [others] neutral?
“I reject the attitude that tries to understand ‘circumstances’ – that is, [as an] action [that sparked] a reaction… The time for excuses and apologies is over. It is time for a fundamental solution.”