Dr Abdul Wahid says that despite the shallow War on Terror commentary following the Brussels attacks the solution to the problem – in the West and in the Muslim world – is more Islam and not less.
The first thoughts that many of us might have were “Not again” or “Please Allah, make it not be a Muslim who did it” – because we know the inevitable backlash from cowards and idiots who would attack women or elderly men.
Then we see the news footage. The endless footage – 24/7. Smoke, bodies, screaming, and you can understand why the ordinary man and woman in Belgium feels anger and fear.
Then we hear the commentary. The shallow, hypocritical commentary. “Shallow” because the events are so fresh, yet journalists and egotistical state-sponsored “experts” insist on saying anything to fill the air time and justify their existence.
“Hypocritical” because the understandable indignation for the loss of innocent life was absent when bombs went off in Ankara and Istanbul just days before. “Hypocritical” because they rightly weep for the thousands of victims of ISIS, yet shed no tears for the victims of Assad, who number around two hundred thousand.
Then we hear the politicians and the leader writers talking about a “Long War” and that “more attacks are inevitable.” Militarised language that instills fear and suspicion in the general population. Add to that their insistence that Muslims in Belgium – like the Muslims in Britain – haven’t done enough to deal with the issue. The problem, they say, is an “extremist” ideology. They lie, implying the “more Islamic you are the more of a potential threat you are” and repeat it so often that it would make Goebbels proud.
Reasons behind the violence
Each time we see such events I ask: What are the reasons behind this indiscriminate violence? (And I mean “reason” not “justification”). Why the collective blame on Islam and Muslims? What should I, as a Muslim, be doing in response?
The reasons are complex. But two things play a huge part: Instability in the Muslim world and the alienation of individuals within the West.
The instability has been chronic since World War One: the division of cohesive lands; the removal of the legitimate leadership of the Ottoman Caliph; the installation of unnatural and unrepresentative client regimes; political repression and poor social conditions; failed experimentation with nationalism, secularism, monarchy and military rule; invasion, occupation causing yet further destabilization.
The columnist Simon Jenkins recognizes this in part when he suggests how Britain should respond, saying “What is not stupid is seeking to alleviate, or not aggravate, the rage that gives rise to acts of terror, and then to diminish the potency of the incident itself. The first requires a wiser foreign policy than most Western nations have shown towards the Muslim world over the past decade.” His is one of very few voices that is honest in an arena where most commentary deflects all criticism of foreign policy.
Why the collective blame on Islam and Muslims? In part to distract from society having to confront what has been done in their name for decades. But also to create a justification for more intervention in the Muslim world, and more draconian policies within the UK. The police are made to spend more time interviewing school-children who cannot spell “terraced house” and “cucumber” than they are chasing bombers – the majority of whom across Europe, incidentally, are not Muslim.
Political views opposing Western foreign policy (including its support for the Zionist occupation of Palestine) has been labeled as “extremism,” silencing such views.
Blame Islam and you create an environment where the secular state feels justified to try and “change Islam” to conform to today’s liberal capitalist norms.
What should Muslims be doing?
So, what should Muslims being doing? Silence on political issues and twisting the religion aren’t Islamic options. Enjoining good and forbidding evil is an integral part of our deen. Entering into Islam completely, obeying Allah and His Messenger, believing in the whole of the Book are unshakeable pillars of our faith.
Indeed, silence from Imams and leaders – or worse, trumpeting the government line to appease critics -adds to the problem. It creates a vacuum filled from the dark spaces of the web. It tells young Muslims killing civilians is wrong, but ties such advice to the government narratives about Islam, Jihad, Khilafah etc – so rendering such advice worse than meaningless.
You have to give a real solution and not one that is populist but false. If you don’t give a credible, independently-voiced solution, you leave people with a choice between flabby rhetoric that sounds like it’s written in the Home Office and the hardline of random attacks.
But if randomly and violently responding to Western states’ aggression is Islamically unacceptable, so too is succumbing to their agenda to deform Islam in the West, and suppress the return of Islam as a way of life in the Muslim world.
Because the solution to these problems for Muslims is MORE Islam not less.
Within the West, a Muslim community that upholds Islam in the best manner would be one that offered a distinct alternative to people in their lives to the harms caused by capitalism and liberal values.
And within the Muslim world, a society with Islam at its heart, a Khilafah Rashidah on the way of Prophethood, offers the only alternative to the chaos and instability of over 90 years. Not just for the Muslim world, but for the whole world!
We must realise, confidently and with certainty, there is only one middle way between the path of the government and the path of those who espouse random violence. That’s the path of Islam in our lives here and across the Muslim world.
Dr Abdul Wahid is a regular contributor to New Civilisation. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy and the Prospect Magazine. @AbdulWahidHT