By Arif Jabbar Khan
While traveling through Jhang a few years ago, I saw a banner on a house that struck at the core of many issues faced by Muslims across the world. The banner read “O Prophet Mohammed (SAW), we are willing to die for you, but we are not ready to follow the message that you left for us” (translated from Urdu).
In a world where economic, social and political inequalities abound and where consumerism and corporate greed has killed every other ideology, it is easy for any group with personal and political interests (which is what all these groups are about and there is nothing Islamic about them) to attract the hearts and minds of those sidelined, marginalized or angered by the current social, economic and political set-up globally. The fact that so many youths from educated middle class families in the West have or tried to join some of these ‘jihadi’ outfits shows the extent of the anger at the lack of an ideology for these youth. ‘Islamic Terrorism’ is therefore currently the most widely used and abused word across the world. Whether it is the suicide bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq or an estranged lunatic firing randomly at passerby in Europe or the US, ‘Islamic Terrorism’ is an easy escape-goat for the governments and media alike.
For centuries, politics of the Muslim world have kept Spiritual Islam away from the common Muslims; adapting and releasing doses of it as per their needs. Just search the kinds of quotations promoted during different times and you will see how our minds are conditioned about our religion to suit the political gains of those in power. And some of them didn’t even stop at that. They inserted their brand of Islam in our curricula and successfully inserted groups and structures that protect these political orientations as though they are the scripts from the Quran itself.
So where and what is the solution to this? The solution is and has always been out there but especially we Muslims have failed to understand it in contemporary terms and then follow and practice it. As its name implies, Peace is a pre-requisite for Islam. If Islam could be spread through the sword mainly, Quran would have had more manuals and strategies on warfare, than dealing with complex issues of humanity and humanitarianism. What we therefore need is the ‘Renaissance of the Islamic Ideology’. An ideology built on one simple slogan “LIVING FOR ISLAM”. We need to build a whole new narrative around this slogan, based on our roles and responsibilities as effective citizens of this world, if we want salvation in the thereafter. We need a whole new breed of scholars and researchers focusing on understanding, researching, documenting and disseminating the spirit of Islam and then applying it to the promotion of science, technology and humanities; subjects of the contemporary world. We need institutions and leaders that are role models of accountability and peaceful co-existence and who can give us a vision of humanity and humanitarianism that we all can relate to and aspire towards. A vision that will make us want to live for it.
Most importantly, we need to focus on the individual, especially ourselves. Let us start with a simple step. Let’s have a banner in our hearts that says: “O Prophet Mohammed (SAW), I want to live, to understand, follow, practice and promote the path and message that you left for us, even if it is hard” And we have role models who have proved that this can be done; Abdul Sattar Edhi Sb being at the top of this list.