This week marks the five year anniversary of the Syrian uprising. When the uprising started, just as in Egypt and Tunisia, the overwhelming feeling amongst Muslims in Britain was sympathy for the Syrian people. Showing a measure of their concern, UK Muslims sent millions of pounds in charity. The protests were recognized as a legitimate response to the genuine grievances the people of Syria had. Five years later, the reasons for the calls to remove the Assad regime have been muddied and the overwhelming feeling appears to be one of confusion.
British politicians and media portray Isis as the greatest threat, Assad as the lesser of two evils and themselves as struggling to find a solution. Muslim support for the opposition to Assad is portrayed as support for Isis, ‘terrorism’ and a marker for ‘extremism’. With such a muddied landscape, it is hardly surprising that the average onlooker is confused.
However, in this chaos, there are two things that we all need reminding of.
Firstly, the Syrian people are deserving of our du’as and thoughts. They have been victims of the Assad regime – from the earliest days when their children were killed and mutilated, after which the Shabiha terrorised the population and the regime committed mass murder of civilian populations.
But they are also victims of others ‘claim’ to be engaged in putting out the fire, while actually throwing petrol on the flames.
Local powers like Saudi and Turkey – who have the military capability to defend them, remove the oppressor and end the exodus – did not do what could have been done. External powers, like the US, UK, UN and Russia, all claimed to want to find a solution but have seemed to work to secure Assad’s position when he was at his weakest. And within the conflict zone, you have ISIS, who spent more effort targeting the opponents of Assad rather than the regime itself, while wearing the false label of Khilafah in the process.
The Syrian people are of a stature that Mu’awiya ibn Qura related that the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wassallam) said “If the people of Al-Shaam are corrupted then there is no good in you. There will always be a group of my Ummah that will be victorious, and they will not be harmed by those who seek to humiliate them until the hour comes.”
They are those who raised their voices and stood steadfast for Allah; who gave their protests Islamic names.
Till now, they have seen through every international conspiracy to subvert their aims, and attempts to manufacture a leadership that is compliant with western aims.
No one should doubt the need to stand with them as they face tests on all sides.
The second point to remember is that, far from being the problem, Islam offers the only solution. There is a myth that first, before any talk of Islamic governance, Khilafah Rashidah e.t.c., there needs to be a stable situation and perhaps an interim caretaker government. Then, perhaps, there could be a discussion about the role of Islam in future.
This is to both misunderstand the nature of the problems and the role Islam has in solving problems.
Only the Khilafah Rashidah would have the legitimacy to unite the various rival factions that oppose Assad. Only the Khilafah Rashidah could unite the various sects and minorities with the majority as citizens, whose affairs were looked after by Islam. Only such a state could overcome the false Sykes-Picot borders pencilled in a century ago – and be independent of external influence, providing security to the region and unifying it with other lands. It is the political system that is consistent with the peoples’ beliefs and values and rooted in their history.
The idea that there is some stepping stone or interim overlooks the obvious solution – and the Islamic solution – which the international powers have conspired against and have done all they can to subvert.
Once upon a time, the warring state of Yathrib, plagued by tribal conflict, became Al Madinah Al Munawwarah because of Islam. It is a reminder that everyone would do well to heed. Tribes that warred with one another became united as brothers. Non-Muslims were brought in by the Islamic constitution to be citizens with rights to be protected by the Muslims. The Ansar aided refugees who migrated from Makkah, the Muhajiroon, like brothers. The state rapidly became the leading light in the Arabian Peninsula, then embarked upon carrying Islam to the world.
The naysayers and pessimists would have us think that such a thing is impossible. They clearly have not studied their Islam, or indeed other history. The leading nation in the world today, the United States of America was born out of a bitter war of independence – followed by an even more bitter Civil War.
It is absurd that people give legitimacy to external powers who are trying to impose a secular solution onto the Middle East when ‘Plan A’ (i.e. Sykes Picot) is unravelling. Yet, they cannot see that the Islamic system will be what offers hope of a real solution to a region that has been plagued since that Islamic system was removed from political life decades ago.
Dr Abdul Wahid is a regular contributor to New Civilisation. He is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy and the Prospect Magazine.