Originally published in The Oshkosh Northwestern
Every time I hear of an atrocity in the name of Islam, I feel the ever growing need as a Muslim to speak to the entire Muslim population. My intent in doing so is to unite all Muslims everywhere to join together and eradicate extremist and fundamentalist elements.
I would begin by mentioning that protecting life, liberty, and property (i.e. houses of worship) should be above everything else. Everything should result in peace and the rules of justice should be followed in all affairs.
The platform will be a letter because it would best allow me to speak directly to my Muslim audience in solving this problem. It would also contain Prophet Muhammad’s example to contrast what needs to be achieved.
My first case-in-point would be the recent Kenya mall attack where the supposed intent was to fight the “enemies of Islam” as a requirement for jihad. I would underscore that when “enemies of Islam” severely persecuted Muslims, Prophet Muhammad only guided them to Abyssinia, a Christian kingdom; “The king of Abyssinia is just and equitable. None are subjected to oppression under his rule.” This example clearly showed the true meaning of jihad is to overcome struggle and to protect life, not to revert to violence and extinguish it.
The aforementioned example would then segue into the unfortunate recent brutal incident of the Christian church bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan. Muslims have to acknowledge that when a member of the Taliban calls himself a Muslim and blows up a church, he is acting against the Charter of Privileges — document of rights by Prophet Muhammad. One of the main purposes for writing this charter was to protect the Christians, article 5, “None of their churches and other places of worship will be desolated, destroyed, or demolished” and article 7, “…and shall be protected by the Muslims. Let this document be not be disobeyed till Judgment Day.” This document is a testament that it is an obligation on Muslims to protect other houses of worship and property.
I would then have to pinpoint that the sources for these tragic events are the unjustified coercive laws that many Muslim countries have used against individual liberty. The blasphemy laws of Pakistan have caused sectarian strife killing and imprisoning many innocent people. The hardline theocratic rule of Iran and Saudi Arabia has disallowed freedom of religion and speech. The brutal theocratic tribal laws of Afghanistan have created a generation of misogynistic and xenophobic societies. They have misused sharia (Islamic code of life) for the purposes of gaining power. The literal meaning of Sharia is “a path to life-giving water” and the ideology behind it is like a person naturally seeking water when thirsty — i.e. that of no force. We know it works because of the Charter of Medina by Prophet Muhammad. These oppressive countries should learn to follow it.
In concluding my letter I would state that the Muslim world faces its predicaments today because of the lack of good leadership. Good leadership comes from following the rules of justice in all affairs, especially in relation to those whom you govern. A good leader’s main objective is to seek a peaceful resolution in all situations. Places like Syria or Egypt have failed at every level in this and now hundreds of thousands of innocent lives have been lost. Prophet Muhammad, instead, always followed all the rules of justice and sought peace; a prime example is the treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
In the end I know I actually do not even have to worry about writing such a letter because it has already been written in the form of countless dialogues and speeches. His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, has spoken at peace symposiums and to dozens of governments the world over to curb injustice and explore peace. He has always addressed the entire Muslim world whenever he speaks.
The only thing left for them to do is to put his words of peace into action.