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Guardian: Islam has become its own enemy
By Ziauddin Sardar
21/10/2001 11:18 am Sun
[Raja Kelentong pun diambil kira!! - Mat Teropong
Islam menjadi begini kerana banyak umatnya masih bermimpi
dan lebih mengutamakan diri sendiri padahal ilmu dan iman
mereka masih belum mencukupi. Oleh itu ramai yang tertipu
oleh regim yang pandai berpura dan berkata-kata sehingga
kata-kata mereka lebih diikuti dan dipercaya dari kata-kata
Kesedaran adalah kunci perjuangan Islam. Inilah yang akan
membuka pintu hati manusia dan seterusnya kejayaan. Kesedaran
itulah yang membuat Abu Jahal, Firaun dan Shah Iran tumbang.
Tetapi ia berlaku bila rakyat sampai ketahap tertinggi
kesedaran - pengorbanan syahid. - Editor]
Muslims in denial
Saturday October 20 2001
Muslims everywhere are in a deep state of denial. From Egypt to
Malaysia, there is an aversion to seeing terrorism as a Muslim
problem and a Muslim responsibility.
The meeting last week of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference
in Qatar condemned the 11 September attacks, but refused to accept
any responsibility. Instead of taking the lead in tackling the problem,
once again they are being railroaded into joining a 'global coalition'.
Terrorism is a Muslim problem for some very good reasons. To begin
with, most of the terrorist incidents actually occur within the Muslim
world. In Pakistan, for example, terrorist violence is endemic.
Marauding groups of fanatics, such as Sepa-e-Shaba ('Soldiers of
the Companion of the Prophet') and Sepa-e-Muhammad ('Soldiers
of Muhammad'), have spread terror throughout the country. In Egypt,
militants of Islamic Jihad have killed tourists, and members of the
extremist organisation Gama-e-Islami have ma e the life of ordinary
Muslims a living hell. The Abu Sayyaf group of the Philippines, far
from fighting for 'liberation', is nothing more than a band of ruthless
kidnappers who kill other Muslims without hesitation.
Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Algeria, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Iran - there
is hardly a Muslim country that is not plagued by terrorism.
It goes without saying, then, that the bulk of victims of terrorism are
also Muslims, 11 September notwithstanding. This is particularly so
when we consider that violence and brutalisation has become the
norm in unending quests for self-determination in such places as
Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya. Terror and counter-terror forms
an endless cycle that has cost countless Muslim lives.
Thus, terrorism, the horror it provokes and the consequences it
breeds, are more familiar to Muslims than to any other people.
Yet, while they have been shocked and sympathise with the victims
of the atrocities in the US, Muslims have stubbornly refused to see
terrorism as an internal problem. While the Muslim world has suffered,
they have blamed everyone but themselves. It is always 'the West',
or the CIA, or 'the Indians', or 'the Zionists' hatching yet another
This state of denial means Muslims are ill-equipped to deal with
problems of endemic terrorism. Indiscriminate violence, terror by
governments against their own people, by opposition groups and
between factions, has now become such an integral part of the
political discourse of failed polities that it is taken for granted.
In the US-led coalition against the Taliban, liberal Muslims have
found an ideal substitute for self-examination and the critical, internal
struggle needed to address home-grown problems.
The coalition now waging war against terrorism in Afghanistan
harbours another danger for Muslims. In the indiscriminate politics of
coalition, the first people that the hesitant Muslim states will turn
against are the few voices of sanity in their midst. As Anwar Ibrahim,
the former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and a rare lucid voice,
points out, the democratic cause in Muslim countries 'will regress for
a few decades as ruling autocrats use their participation in the global
war against terrorism to terrorise their critics and dissenters'.
Anwar has to know. The article was written from the prison cell where
he is serving a 15-year sentence. His crime? To stand against the
tyranny of Mahathir Muhammad's government.
This is not the time, he says, to stir up anti-American sentiments, or
sermonise over US foreign policy. It is time to ask 'how, in the
twenty-first century, the Muslim world could have produced a bin
The answer has two components. Anwar hints at the first. There is
simply no place in the Muslim world to express dissent. Autocratic,
theocratic, despotic regimes allow no political freedom, all thought is
outlawed, and brute suppression is the norm. In such circumstances,
violence is seen as the only way of expressing dissent.
In his youth, Anwar Ibrahim founded a dynamic Islamic movement. I
also spent my youthful days working for various Islamic movements; it
was how we first met in the borderless internationalism of the
worldwide Muslim community. And it is in the Islamic movements that
we must look for the second reason for the violent state of affairs in
In the Sixties and the Seventies, the Islamic movements, such as
Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt,
represented hope, the language of justice, the ideal of self-reliance
for the masses languishing in misery. A plethora of Islamic
movements and initiatives made their appearance; and we toiled
against autocracies and despotism in Muslim societies.
But the movements became a mirror image of what they were fighting.
The leadership passed from intellectuals to semi-literate
demagogues. What the Islamic movements have generated is fanatic
militancy, a fundamentalism that is as autocratic, illiberal and
repressive as the established order they seek to dethrone. Instead of
allowing debate, and a rethinking about the contemporary meaning of
Islam, fundamentalist notions became something to die for and finally
something to kill and destroy for in pure hat ed.
The failure of Islamic movements is their inability to come to terms
with modernity, to give modernity a sustainable home-grown
expression. Instead of engaging with the abundant problems that
bedevil Muslim lives, the Islamic prescription consists of blind
following of narrow pieties and slavish submission to inept
obscurantists. Instead of engagement with the wider world, they have
made Islam into an ethic of separation, separate under-development,
and negation of the rest of the world.
The struggle against violence in the Muslim world is much more than
a struggle against murdering fanatics like the Taliban. Or despotic
leaders like Saddam Hussein and Mahathir Muhammad. It is also a
struggle against the Islamic movements whose simplistic and virulent
rhetoric often ends up sanctifying the fanatics and demonises
everything else in the absolutist, unquestioning terms of all totalitarian
The answers to the problems of the Muslim societies are not hard to
find - merely difficult to initiate. Political freedom, open debate, the
liberation of society to be civil, plural and humane - these are
obvious remedies. But the Islamic movements have become a barrier
We need reasoned creativity and critical awareness. These used to
be favourite phrases of Anwar Ibrahim. But his most frequent
prescription was humility. The humility to acknowledge one's own
mistakes and shortcomings.