Muslims must be valued as they deserve
The Jakarta Post
What attracts your attention when you look at a newspaper's international news section? Have you ever wondered why reports of suffering, fighting, death and scarcity always emerge from Islamic lands?
Are you not amazed at the way the world regards this human drama and suffering in Muslim countries as something quite ordinary?
Let us consider a scenario, if you will: Let us assume that a terrorist attack, something quite ordinary
in Iraq, in which 30 or 40 people a day lose their lives, took place in London.
Let us also assume that nobody was killed in this imaginary attack in London and let us also assume that on the day of this imaginary attack in London incidents also occurred in Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia or Egypt and that Muslims lost their lives.
Do you think the attack in London or the people dying in one of those countries we have listed would attract most interest?
Would the same effort be made to avoid deaths in those other countries as would be made in the event of that attack in London to ensure there is no repetition?
Guantanamo... Abu Ghraib... People taking the fingers of Muslims killed in Afghanistan home as souvenirs'¦ Some 120,000 civilians murdered by the Ba'ath regime and the 6 million displaced people in Syria '¦ the people shot as they prayed in public squares in Egypt ... the people martyred by being burned alive in Myanmar '¦ those unjustly imprisoned in Bangladesh '¦ the people executed for non-crimes in East Turkestan: In summary, what would the world's reaction be if just one-thousandth of the everyday experiences of the innocent people despised across such a broad expanse of land were to take place in the West?
Of course we do not wish a single drop of blood to be shed or any painful incident to occur in Europe, America or anywhere else.
However, you all know the answer to the above questions. The painful truth is that much of the world is largely insensitive to the oppression and sufferings of Muslims.
The fact that while those who lose their lives in Islamic lands are known as mere statistics ' such as 100 dead in Iraq, 70 in Syria or 500 in Egypt ' the sufferer of any incident in the West is immediately known by name is a matter calling for serious reflection. What it is that makes Muslims so worthless in the eyes of some segments of the West, and even of many Muslims, needs to be revealed.
Without doubt, one of the main factors in the West is a combination of prejudices from the past and a lack of knowledge. The impact of the mental damage caused by ideologies that caused the first half of the 20th Century to be marked by wars and that foresaw 'conflict,' 'occupation' and despising the 'other' is an indisputable fact.
One of the ways in which the Islamic world can be freed from its present troubles is for the West to renounce and abandon that problematic perspective; however, it is also unjust to say, 'The West is solely responsible for all the sufferings in these lands.'
In seeking the answer to the question, 'Why have Muslims become so devoid of value?' it is more crucial for Muslims to engage in self-criticism, saying, 'What part did we play in this?' than it is for the West to realize this change of mind.
That is because it is many times more painful for a society to remain immune to the sufferings of its brothers in religion than for people of different cultures and beliefs to do so.
Sincere assessment shows that there is a major deficit of spirit in the Islamic world, beyond mere political and economic conditions. Indeed, it is this lack and deficiency which prevents it from overcoming its obstacles.
Muslims gradually lost their essence and spirit as they turned away from the Koran after the death of our Prophet. The gap created by this turning away from the Koran was filled by bigotry.
This way of thinking, which relegates women to the background, is unable to value other people, regards compassion as weakness and kindness and quality as unimportant, attaches no importance to cleanliness, is unaware of tolerance and values only the form and appearance of essentials has inflicted the worst ever harm on Muslims.
It has removed art, science and beauty from Muslims' lives and ushered in bigotry, crudity and backwardness.
What one should think of when the word Muslim is mentioned is maturity, moderation, common sense, reason, quality, modernity and free thinking; yet the model that actually comes to mind today is the result of bigotry and turning away from the Koran.
So many false images of Muslims, such as 'Muslims are ignorant,' 'Muslims support violence' and 'Muslims have no conception of art,' are the work of that bigotry and this prevents Muslims from being respected and valued.
The state and behavior of Muslims will play a great role to facilitating a change of heart in those who regard Muslims as worthless and imagine they can oppress them as they wish.
In the light of that, it is of vital importance that Muslims should renounce all the bigotry injected in later years into religion, and approach the essence of Islam by embracing the essentials of quality mentioned in the Koran.
Besides, as per God's commandment in the Koran, it is crucial for Muslims to form unite together to bring the Islamic world out of the current circumstances.
An alliance along the lines of the European Union will establish a great power and such unity will strengthen the status of Muslims in the face of other world powers.
This way, Muslims will observe the obligation stated in a verse, '[Believers] those who, when they are wronged, defend themselves' (42:39). Only in this way will the disregard of the lives of Muslims discussed above come to an end.
Instead of dealing with a Muslim world that has to bow its head to its wishes, the Western world will approach a great power that is decisive and independent in terms of politics and economics, and that will be the end of the ongoing affliction in the Islamic world.
By God's leave, when Muslims live by the democratic, libertarian, progressive and noble values revealed in the Koran, they will come to represent the most powerful obstacle to those who choose to persecute Muslims.
The writer has authored more than 300 books in 73 languages on political, faith-related and
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