It’s a painful time for Muslims, but try to keep the spirit of hope alive in the Ummah, writes Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar.
`Eid-al-Fitr is a day of great joy and celebration, but it is also a day of reflection and introspection.This Ramadan has been a painful time for the global Muslim Ummah as we witnessed in a series of grim incidents in a number of countries. The deadly conflicts in Syria and Yemen continued unabated and negatively affected the sanctity and sacredness of the blessed month of Ramadan experienced by the affected populations.
On May 30, 2017, corresponding to the 4th day of Ramadan 1438, a series of bombings killed 38 people across Baghdad. A day later on Wednesday May 31, 2017, a truck bomb exploded in a bustling part of the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 90 people and maiming close to 500 others. On Saturday June 3, 2017, horrific vehicle and knife attacks in London claimed the lives of seven people and wounded close to 50 more.
ISIS claimed responsibility for these attacks.
I believe this is yet another clear indication that the Muslim Ummah is living through a crisis of extremism. The key question that confronts all conscientious Muslims on this great day of ‘Id al-Fitr is: ‘what can we do right here in South Africa to mitigate the crisis of extremism facing the global Muslim Ummah?’
In this regard I would like to share five points.
First and foremost, in the face of the almost weekly killing and maiming of innocent people, Muslims should never tire of asserting that these unscrupulous acts of murder and violence are contrary to the teachings of Islam. Nothing can justify such brutality and no grievance can excuse the horror. In Islamic ethics the end does not justify the means.
Second, we must not succumb to despair and try to keep the spirit of hope alive in the Amah. At this time of distress, we should appeal to Allah, the Lord of Compassion and Mercy, to heal the Ummah from its current tumultuous state.
Third, we should actively support relief efforts for victims caught in the violence.
Fourth, we should support the calls for a serious reassessment of the so-called Global War on Terror. Fifteen years after the vengeful US invasion of Afghanistan, the world is no safer. Since the beginning of 2017 the Trump Administration has stepped up its bloodshed in Afghanistan by dropping the so-called ‘mother of all bombs’ in a remote part of the country.
In the wake of these latest atrocities we are alarmed by the decision of Trump’s Military Generals to provide more arms to Syrian rebels and to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. Credible research from scholars such as Robert Pape of the University of Chicago demonstrate that the presence of foreign troops inflame the conflict and is clearly not a solution.
Last but not least, during this joyous time of ‘Eid-al-Fitr, we as Muslims, need to do some serious introspection with regard to our understanding of Islam and how we are propagating our faith. The overwhelming number of victims in the terror attacks during Ramadan was not Americans or Russians, but innocent Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis, almost all of who were Muslim and fasting. We need to examine the mind-set of a small but influential group of Muslims who equivocate about such atrocities.
I would concur with the thesis of Prince Ghazi ibn Muhammad of Jordan in a newly published book titled “A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam: The Essence of Islam in 12 Verses from the Quran” (Turath Press, 2017).
He argues that a minority of Muslims seem to be determined to hijack the religion of Islam and bring it into perpetual conflict with the rest of the world as well as with the vast majority of Muslims who do not share their views. In the closing of his book, he poses the following introspective questions: “Do you believe that everyone calling themselves ‘a Muslim’, believing in the 5 pillars of Islam and in the 6 articles of faith, but who otherwise does not hold the same doctrine on matters as important (such as for example the meaning of ‘God’s Hand) is wrong? Consequently, do you believe if they continue to hold these views they are not true believers and in the end damned to hell? Consequently, is it your personal duty to correct them, and if they argue or refuse to change their view. Is it your duty to coerce them in so far as this may be possible, even to fight them? Do you believe them to be really non-Muslims? Would you find it impossible to live and let live with such people?”
These are serious questions that require honest answers. They are the litmus test for our understanding of Islam and the condition of our hearts. If your answers to the above questions are an emphatic “NO” then you have much to celebrate on this great day of ‘Eid-al-Fitr.