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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Crisis in Islamic world: Heads of states, clerics have failed; Muslims desperately need statesmen now

(C) INDSCRIBE

A group of terrorists commit an act in a city but Muslims across the world, in towns and cities in faraway countries bear the consequences.

They are expected to condemn it (everywhere--online and offline), worry about hate crimes or Islamophobia and face even more trouble in finding rented accommodations or getting jobs.

This is an unprecedented situation today. The argument is that these terrorists commit crime in the name of Islam.

Yes, they might, but Muslims repeatedly say that terrorists are defaming the Islamic teachings and their acts have nothing to do with Islam.

A man holds a few persons hostage in a city in Australia and because he is a Muslim, the images are shown live across the world, and it becomes a global problem. However, crimes of much higher magnitude are often not reported outside particular countries.

But when a crime qualifies to be 'terror', it becomes an international issue. And when does a crime become 'terror'? It is when the perpetrator is a Muslim. So when a 'terror' releated report breaks out, TV channels and media lap it up, shows it round the clock, and this in turn leads even more scare and 'terror' for society.

Terrorism COULD BE TACKLED and contained if crimes aren't distinguished i.e. crime remains crime irrespective of perpetrator's faith and if terrorist aren't given publicity, which they badly want. There is no dearth of loonies in our society.

Many commit such acts because they know media would fall in the trap. So the incidents keep happening. Muslims feel that why 1.6 billion people are stigmatised because of acts of a few individuals. But the other argument is always ready, 'the commit the act in the name of Islam'. Huh.

So what's the solution? After 9/11, the Us Vs Them stand has brought the situation to such a passe that no one wants to listen. This is a terrible situation where the entire Muslim world find themselves in. And it's even sad that we have no VOICE.

WHERE ARE THE STATESMEN?

The entire Muslim world hasn't produced an intellectual voice, a statesman, a leader of leaders in these years, why? That's a crucial question.

Though I am not a big fan of Saudi monarchs, but they could have taken the lead, given their celebrity status and their being custodians of the holy mosques.

But they don't utter a word or shown any interest in this regard. The truth is that if they speak, despite the sectarian differences, everybody would pay heed.

They have excellent rapport with the Western rulers, but have remained content with the relationship as long as West doesn't interfere in their internal issues, especially, their poor human rights record and their treatment of women and minorities.

Further, they seem more interested in containing Iran's influence or maintaining their regional supremacy, rather, than taking up a stand. It is such an irony that none of the countries in entire Middle East, has a leader whose voice is heard. Or even who is willing to speak.

The Saudis have a privileged position and could have used it to issue diktats over Islam's liberal tradition, and for shunning fundamentalism. Millions of Muslims go for Haj and throughout the year too for pilgrimage, and appeals or messages by Sheikhs would have worked.

Had they taken a stand to urge Muslims and reminded them about Islamic tradition of tolerance and good treatment of minorities, it would have been heard, and also message would have gone to rest of the world too.

But they are happy living in their ivory towers and managing 'order' in their nations. If not rulers, the religious personalities like Imam Haram could have issued a diktat. Sad. Nothing of that sort is even expected.

Why don't we hear a strong word from them against Boko Haram, Al Shabab or regarding the mindless sectarian violence in many Muslim countries. It is simply beyond comprehension why Muslim world doesn't have a leader today?

MUSLIMS WORLD HAS LEADERSHIP VACUUM

There is a need among Muslims to hear a leader, a statesman who can have DIALOGUE with the West. It is not that you always end up blaming US attacks on Iraq or Afghanistan, for problems in Muslim world.

There is restlessness among Muslims, who want someone to take up the position.There is a vacuum, but no leader is stepping in to the shoes of the statesmen of the past. No one is taking the lead.

Someone who can urge Muslims to do inward looking too. Someone who can also talk to France over the ban on Hijab, if not resolve it, but put this point across. Someone who can tell the world to stop the practice of terming particular crimes as terror, and then putting the entire community in the dock.

Someone who can remind Muslims about the Prophet's teachings regarding tolerance, how Muslims treated their minorities fairly, how to stop the barbaric practices, how to stop misusing laws on blasphemy, give call to make Muslims focus on education rather than sectarian divides, reviving intellectual tradition.

Muslim world should have many statesmen today. Sadly, it has none. Why there are no public speakers, motivators, statesmen who could have come from countries like Turkey, with its cultural affinity to both East and the West.

In the early part of 20th century, we had visionary leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in India. Even Agha Khan was a major figure in British India.

In those days no one thought which leader belonged to which sect.If today, the current Agha Khan, speaks, won't the world listen? 

I have taken his name just as an example. The point is that there is a space, a huge vacuum. We want to hear someone take intellectual leadership.

No one would prop you up, rather, you have to take up the leadership. But no one is willing to speak to the large number of Muslims and also on behalf of them.

Why?


CLERGY HAS FAILED, MODERN VOICES MUST EMERGE

Islam doesn't have a system of institutionalised clergy. It was once a boon, as there were no separate class of Monks or Gurus.

Unfortunately, it is the clergy which is today seen as the voice of Muslims. But clerics have failed us. BADLY. Another tragedy is that motivational and articulate 'Islamic' speakers who have a huge following, rather than talking of reason, turn towards bigotry and sectarianism--thereby harming the community.

There is need for modern, educated, sensible, liberal Muslim to come forward and claim his religion from the clergy. There is dire need for this. Muslims in countries where they are in a majority, especially, in Middle East, probably don't realise this as much.

The reason could be that they don't face religious prejudices (or Islamophobia) on a daily basis, in their own land, but across the world, Muslims are fed up of the situation. They do feel the need for saner voices.

They won't come from the skies. It's we who have to speak and fill this void.

READ: Media's excessive, hysteric coverage of Australia hostage led to worldwide panic