By Amaar Ahmad:
Chaos and violence in the name of Islam across the Muslim world should make us pause and evaluate the root cause of the problems. Is is not true that some Muslims (i) believe in violent Jihad against non-Muslims, (ii) believe in applying Takfir against fellow Muslims who disagree in interpretation of religion, and (iii) believe that punishment for apostasy or blasphemy is death? We must admit that these very beliefs are the root cause of so many conflicts. We must not deny that these so-called “Islamic” beliefs are used to fuel violence and terrorism today. We must accept that numerous religious scholars throughout history have believed in such violent concepts.
Many apologists say that “Jihad” can only be conducted by state and not individuals. That blasphemy laws are okay if applied “correctly”. That councils of Ulema or parliaments can determine whether someone is a “true” Muslim or not. Do they realize that these very concepts are alien to Islam and lay the foundation of society’s destruction? Have they not seen what state-sponsored “Jihad”, “correct” application of blasphemy laws, and “parliament-certified” Muslims have done to Pakistan?
It does not matter to the Ulema that their crazy ideas are basically against Quran’s message “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Moreover, even if all these scholars have never committed a single violent act themselves, their very beliefs are an abomination and intellectual terrorism. The present political upheavals throughout the Muslim world such as Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Sub-Sahran Africa (BoKoHaram) are caused to a great extent by crazed people inspired by such so-called Ulema.
Muslims, if ever they had any confusion, must realize that the very concept of violent Jihad today is a grave violation of Islamic teachings, that apostasy or blasphemy can only be punished by God and that one must not proclaim someone an infidel due to religious disagreement. They must come to the realization that self-defense and protection of religion were the only rationale for Islam’s early battles. They need to understand that today the situation is completely different as non-Muslim majority states provide complete religious freedoms to Muslims.
Today, Muslims of all sects can worship, propagate and preach in states such as India, USA and even Israel. Does one realize the irony that Muslims in so-called Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan are not free where violent fanatics of one sect want to go after another sect? An even bigger irony is that those who want to reform Muslims and want the best for them are often the first target of religious zealotry. Sir Syed Khan faced that for promoting modern education in mid-19th century India. Jinnah faced opposition for trying to promote constitutionalism and rule of law for the Muslims. Most importantly, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya community, faced virulent fatwas for trying to reform these very beliefs.
It would not matter if the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful unless they speak strongly against Ulema who hold dangerous beliefs. Without accepting that compulsion has no place in Islam and without condemning those who do, the world of Islam has no hope.
The views expressed are solely that of the author who can be reached at @amaarahmad on Twitter.