By Inas Younis, New Age Islam
I am grateful to all my Christian friends for cultivating my understanding of Christianity and introducing me to the radical Mercy and love that is central to Christian teachings. Jesus is one of the most highly revered prophets in the Islamic tradition. When a Christian commits a mass murder in the name of Jesus, I do not equivocate about whether or not this has anything to do with Jesus or Christians or the Christian faith. I know for a fact that there is no relationship between the two. And I am quick to defend Christians against anyone who suggests otherwise. I don’t just base this on my interactions with Christians. I base this on my actual understanding of the Christian religion, which is one of peace and love.
Hatred is a natural psychological response when you are led to believe that you are the object of hatred. But it is not a religious response. It does not matter whether you are a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim, hatred and God cannot co-exist in the same heart. That is a metaphysical fact that should have simplified our understanding of which behaviors are motivated by God and which ones are motivated by our prejudices and lust for power.
The anti -Muslim rhetoric may have reached biblical proportions, but certainly not because of biblical teachings. When Jerry Falwell Jr.exhorts the masses to kill Muslims with statements like, “.. We could end those Muslims before they walked in, and killed them” Ijust feelembarrassed for my country. The obscenity of this kind of language should mortify all of us.
Of course, Falwell does not have a monopoly on this type of speech. There isno shortage of anti western sentiment growing within various cult groups,most of them backed by the Wahhabi religious aristocracy in the Middle East and elsewhere. Bigotry is a natural psychological response to chronic fear, but again, it is not a religious one. The United States is now witnessing a fraction of the fear that plagues the majority of the third world and naturally, it too is gravitating towards bigotry and xenophobia. But what makes this brand of ideologically based fear far more dangerous isthat it is almost always coupled with a kind of conspiratorial mindset.
Just as ISIS is on a mission to carry out its apocalypticself fulfilling prophecies, so are the ‘One World Order’ conspiracy theorists of the white supremacy movements that have been percolating throughout America since the industrial revolution. The truth is, all world dominance manifestos are alike. They are all driven by a primitive need to ascribe moral and political significance to a man’s tribal identity. All world dominance manifestos are so boring and antiquated that they confuse our 21st- century minds. They are so beneath us that they are beyond us.
But they are pervasive because nothing exonerates ignorance and evil more easily than the sanction of state power. When racism is sanctioned by the state it evolves the status of divine sanction in the minds of the people. Evil needs multi layered disguises and religious extremism is only the first layer, state power the second, and killing the opposition is the third and last. When a nation has gone the way of hate, there are no facts that will disabuse them of their fictions. Any resistance only reinforces their narrative. And so we can no longer afford to dream our way out of a problem that we slept our wayinto. What we are witnessing now, on all sides of this global conflict, is the political manifestation of a psychological phenomenon that has been marinating for decades. Radicalism and violence are nothing new. Violent interpretations of Islam or any religion or secular ideology are not actual interpretations that have withstood the test of mental processing. They are merely recycled manifestos, and if you have heard one fascist utopian manifesto, trust me, you have heard them all. Evil knows no variety, it is established by forced conformity, and is always the same force camouflaged by different trends.
Many Muslims and non-Muslims are insisting that Islam needs a reformation, forgetting that the tyranny we are witnessing is actually the product of a reformation. Most religions start out puritanical and modernize over time. Islam took the opposite course. It started out flaming with liberalism. It granted its followers unprecedented freedoms and established a trajectory towards increasing freedoms. Islam was a religion built on the fluidity of ageless principles designed to evolve with the times. It granted womenproperty rights at a time when women were themselves considered property. Non Muslims sought the protection of Muslims because Islammandates the legal protection of Christians and Jews against persecution. This was the esprit de corps that led to the expansion of Islam until it was truncated by the so called “reform movements.”The most recent historical blows against Islam suppressed the process of independent reasoning, which is a very important legislative arm of the Muslim tradition. And it replaced it with an imitative approach to religion that focused on the enforcement of limitations on thought and behavior.
It is not totally inaccurate to suggest that Muslims are in a state of Jihad (struggle). But the Jihad that most informs our efforts is the spiritual Jihad against the false interpretations born out of the extremely orthodoxWahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a prime example of a government monarchy that is genuinely oblivious of its own corruption and criminality.
As the holy Quran says in Chapter two verse eleven “And when it is said to them, ‘Do not cause corruption on the earth,’ they say, ‘We are but reformers. “ It goes on to say that although it is unquestionable that they are the ones who are the corrupting the earth, they are not capable of perceiving it. This reinforces the notion that only God can alter the perceptions of the spiritually blind, rendering our campaign to educate haters as futile as it has proven to be.
So if there is to be any reform movement, it should not be a movement to change Islam, but rather to undo the corruptions perpetuated by thatcentral governing body currently presiding over our holy sites. What started out as a stunted little sect has grown into a malignant cancer, no thanks to the carcinogens produced by our greed for oil.
Every brand of fascism currently taking root, whether it’s ISIS or its many diluted versions throughout the world wants moderate Muslims to feel so disenfranchised and hated by the mainstream world that they begin to question their loyalties. The first part of their mission is to embolden their ideological soul mates in the western world to take revenge on moderate Muslims on their behalf. They want the non Muslim world to stop providing us refuge and to persecuteus to the extent that we begin to doubt our allegiance to the values of life and liberty. And they intend to do this by ensuring that those values stop working for us.
They may succeed with the first part of their mission as evidenced by the demonization of Muslims in the media. But they will not succeed with the second part, which is to get Muslims to turn against those values. Some American Muslims may have betrayed their religion by not being more outspoken against the religious establishment that has co -opted the teachings of Islam in order to maintain political power. But American Muslims have never betrayed their country. We have been lamenting US foreign policy day one. We have pleaded that the United States stop enablingthe murdering mad men of the Middle East, but to no avail. We all bear some responsibility to fix this problem. But we cannot fix what we refuse to diagnose. And until we atone for our militant complacency we will never be able to move forward. As the world begins to acquire moral certainty about the power of political freedom, we cannot afford to develop the kind of moral amnesia that is threatening to destroy the integrity of our own free society. There comes a time when a nation must choose between its economic interests and its social stability.That time is now. If the free world is ever to claim the kind of power that only moral certitude can grant it, we must simply do the right thing. And God bless America.
Inas Younis is a freelance writer residing in Kansas. She has written for Muslim Girl Magazine and her work was featured in the anthology Living Islam Out Loud. She contributed this article to New Age Islam.