Physician Heal Thyself — Tackling Islamophobia and anti-Islam forces

We don’t need to help Islam and serve it as much as we should help and serve ourselves with the help of Islam.

There is a video which propagates a negative image of Islam and among many I have been asked to write against it and dispel the misunderstanding about Islam. I would submit that a lot many misconceptions about Islam have already been dealt with – by many. Doing the same thing again and spending time on it is tahseel-e-haasil (obtaining the obtained). Darul Musannifeen Shibli Academy Azamgarh has brought about a volume on Maz’habi Rawaadaari aur Islam by Late Syed Sabahuddin ‘Abdur Rahman and Thomas Arnold’s Preaching of Islam takes care of some other objections. There could be many more good works known to many. It is not a secret.

While the above exercise was and is certainly important, I, however, get an impression that the things will be fine as soon as we are able to provide authentic answers to the objections raised. I am afraid, it will not be enough. Providing answers to the questions is a short-cut. Living according to the ideals of Islam – in all walks of life – is the longest way. In the ultimate analysis, however, this longest is the only short-cut.

It also makes me feel that we are still thinking that the problem lies somewhere else i.e. with others who have misunderstanding about Islam and which (of course) we should dispel. In this given situation of our own drift from the real spirit of Islam, it amounts to searching for the needle on the road under the broad day light while actually we have lost it somewhere in the dark corner of our house. It amounts to shifting the focus from ourselves to somewhere else – the most convenient thing to do on earth.

I recall a parallel here. A few months ago someone in my workplace suggested that we should start our daily meetings with the recitation of Soorah al-‘Asr and its translation. There are people of different faiths among our colleagues and they, too, have a right for their religious books. It is a fact that was conveniently overlooked. The friend who came up with this proposal I later asked him why he wanted to initiate such a tradition. He replied that our job was to give da‘wah and once we have recited and given the translation our job is over. I told him that our job is NOT over by the recitation alone. I explained to him that we should be living according to the spirit of that Soorah. We should be the topmost in the observation of timings and we should be the most patient ones besides searching after the truth to the maximum and advising each other for the same (which is the import of Soorah al-‘Asr). To the extent that ‘Mr Malhotra’ asks us why are the Muslims so much regular in their duties besides being very patient lovers of truth? Then we should intervene and explain that there is a Soorah in Qur’an which enjoins the above traits as a duty upon us and It has many other beautiful principles.

Acting, however, according to the beautiful injunctions of Soorah al-‘Asr in the entire life is difficult. It is a tedious job. And a ‘boring’ one. Reciting it once in a day as a ritual is quite easy and a short-cut. We take to this short-cut. The fact that we never reach to the destination (no Malhotras ever ask us about anything admirable in us) is not a matter of concern.

The answers will not make much difference. The answers haven’t made much difference. Leave alone any derived answers, all the volumes of Ahaadeeth and the entire Book is already available with us. What else do we need? We need to relate and apply – what we already believe in – in our lives. This will refute all allegations. This will counter all propaganda. But this is the longest way. Writing a volume or two and some articles with all the evidences from history is not that difficult a task.

We have to outlive our tendency of getting easily distracted from the core issues. Our emotional reactions to such situations is precisely our problem. It is this trait which is not allowing us to stay focused. It is not allowing us to take the analyses to logical conclusions. And we are reinforcing this psychology on a daily basis. We never think twice about many things. This is why more thinking is required. The reaction to the above-mentioned video and demand for “well researched arguments” – post-haste – reminds me of the following couplet:

Meer beemaar hu’ay jis ke sabab

usee ‘attaar ke larkay se dawwaa letay haiN

We don’t need to help Islam and serve it as much as we should help and serve ourselves with the help of Islam – a collection of beautiful principles. The beautiful principles are never weak. The beautiful principles never beseech for help. They are never dependent on anyone. This truth we have to realize to the core. We also need to deeply realize the fact that we need to abolish our existing thought patterns.

There is a luxury in this demand of refuting the objections against Islam. The luxury is that the disease is in others who have misunderstanding about Islam. As for us, we are perfectly alright. We have no misunderstanding. Hence all our attention and energies should be diverted to the problems without as there are no problems within. It also implies that don’t disturb us. We are in deep sleep. Divert your energies somewhere else. It is an effort to dilute the focus and shift it somewhere.

As for history, we almost always learn the wrong lessons from it. We are supposed to learn history in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past and not get divided and divided – on petty issues. History in our case, however, does exactly the opposite of what it is supposed to. We are masters of the art of learning wrong lessons from the right stories. Qur’an mentions many historical events. In all historical events mentioned by Qur’an there is a moral that do not commit the same mistakes. Do not repeat the same follies. But we do exactly the contrary to what the Book wants from us.

If we had the full picture and had Something in our Right Hand we would not be reacting to any emotive situations to the extent that we get distracted from the real tasks of internal reforms. Having an empty Right Hand and bereft of any civilizational goal we run in all directions – completely disoriented. We have no qualms about wasting our (human) resources. The fact that we haven’t developed much of that – with the power of critical and scientific thinking – is yet another matter.

Please bear in mind that nobody can malign Islam. Nobody can distort it. No false propaganda can affect Islam adversely. We need to remove it from our minds. Let us not try to safeguard Islam and serve it. Let us not assume that we are the saviors of Islam. Not really. Just as nobody can hurt honesty. Nobody can malign integrity. No false propaganda can have any negative impact on truthfulness. Hence, let us not worry about Islam as much as we should worry about Muslims. Let us not be the victims of misplaced priorities which currently we are. 

There is no need, hence, to “now stand up to such false propaganda”. The need now is to stand up as witnesses against ourselves. The need now is to heal our own diseases – which we are avoiding on one pretext or the other. Therefore, “all righteous thinking, and highly educated members who would shun their dogmatism, prejudices and biases” should carry out serious soul searching turning the searchlight inward – in “an objective manner”.

The film is not spreading the “fanatic image of Islam”. The Muslims are. There is no need to “negate all that has been said in this film”. There is, however, the need to live according to the beautiful principles of Islam. A single person or a few more should not come up with anything “systematic and organized”. Every single Muslim should. There is no challenge for one or a few persons to “project a correct picture and image (of Islam) through concrete evidence”. There are challenges for everyone. Each individual has to fight his own battle. No delegation whatsoever will do. More than “show(ing) what is true and what is a lie” we should first know the same. All of us. Shunning our excessively communictarian outlook and imbibing an individualistic approach.

We tend to think – because of deep rooted conditioning effects – that “Islam ko khatrah hai”. It always reminds me of “the sky is falling”. The “threat to Islam” indicates a mistaken understanding of the Faith. Take care of yourself and Islam is well taken care of, if that is what you want. In fact, Islam can take care of you much better than you think you can take care of Islam. This is what will turn you into the leaders of the world and can bring about a healthy civilization. In which there is the betterment of humanity.

Let us give up our desire for short-cuts. Let us now come back to the core issues: Our VISION as a people. Doing away with the deep division between deen and dunyaa and deeni and dunyaawee ‘uloom. Let us come back to the real concept of knowledge. Let us come back to the objective of developing a systematic body of ideas and creatively reaching out to the unknown. Let us try our best to see the “whole picture” and “think differently” – about which we are silent. This is a must before anything else. Otherwise:

muzdah baad ai marg ‘Eesaa aap hi beemaar hai

The author is Head, Department of Islamic Studies, Preston University, Ajman, UAE.



The above article was written in response to a request to respond to an anti-Islam video. The video contains the following persons giving their views on "Islam", of course as they perceive or the way they want other to perceive Islam:
(i)    Robert Spencer: he is Director of JihadWatch.org and DhimmiWatch.org
(ii)   Bat Ye'Or: she is author of The Dhimmi: Jews & Christains Under Islam" and "Islam & Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide"
(iii)  Walid Sheobat: A convert to Christianity from Islam and Ex Member PLO Fatah Brigade, author of "Why I Left Jihad".
(iv)   Abdullah Al Araby: Director The Pen Vs The Sword Publication
(v)    Serge Trifkovic: Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicle Magazine and author of "The Sword of the Prophet: and Defeating Jihad"

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