THE BLOG

Saving Islam From Muslim Extremists

26/11/2014 11:11 GMT | Updated 25/01/2015 10:59 GMT

Political Islam gained strength and influence in the 1970s. It did not have viable political and economic policies to tackle the chronic problems of poverty, absence of freedoms and basic human rights. It offered violence, jihad, terrorism and anti-West rhetoric.

Iran Islamic rule brought poverty and misery to the Iranian people. There is no freedom of speech. Hanging for run-of the-mill petty crimes are common place. In Afghanistan, the Taliban failed to address the real issues that touch people lives like improved living standards, education and health. Instead the Taliban regime has torched girls' schools and music stores.

In Egypt on 25 January 2011, Egyptians filled Tahrir Square to protest the rule of Hosni Mubarak. By 11 February President Mubarak was deposed. Muslim Brotherhood formed the government but the experiment failed. In Cairo, on 30th June 13, millions took to the street. Morsi was ousted.

Human Rights and Islam:

Islamic teachings and practices are in conflict with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR 1948). . Attempts were made to reconcile the UDHR 1948 with Islam. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) approved a document in 1990 that is now referred to as the Cairo Declaration in an attempt reconcile the concept of human rights and Islam. Take articles 12, 22, 24 and 25 which are not only ambiguous but they assert the need to strictly adhere to Sharia's laws which are restrictive and empowers the state against the individual. In the final analysis even these restricted freedoms remain at the mercy of governments. It reinforces discrimination against women and prohibit freedom of conversion to other religions.

Whilst Islam welcomes Christians converting to Islam it doesn't permit Muslims to convert to other religions.

There are verses in the Qur'an affirming that there is no compulsion in religion. In other words Muslims must not force anyone to adopt a religion or change religion. The point was illustrated in an excellent piece in the Guardian recently by Brian Whitaker who wrote in 28th October 2014: "most Arabs share ISIS ideology" Compulsion in religion is the ideological foundation stone of ISIS and Islamist movements in general. Believing they have superior knowledge of God's wishes for mankind, trying to make the world more holy".

However freedom of worships is a widely accepted principle internationally, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it is still far from becoming established in the Arab countries.

As recently as June 2014 the "The IS Caliphate" killed and expelled thousands of Christians from Mosul in Iraq. The IS message is clear "Convert to Islam, pay a tax or die". This is blatant compulsion and persecution. This sort of behaviour has done irreparable damage to the image of Islam.

In the Islamic world the killing of people and abuse of human rights is the norm particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria Nigeria and Somalia. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, and ISIS are doing their best to tarnish Islam and they use the teachings of the Qur'an as a big stick to beat others with and to commit all sorts of crimes and the ugliest massacres.

The Islamic world is in a state of upheaval. There is no such thing as stability and peace except in a handful of countries like Jordan, Morocco and the UAE.

In the 1990s Osama bin Laden, declared on more than one occasion that the only way forward to Muslims is holy war against the infidels i.e. the US and the West. Moderate Muslim voices have not been loud enough in condemning Bin Laden and his destructive philosophy.

Some critics of Islam believe that Saudi Arabia is the epicentre of Islam's problems, a country that stands for virtually everything that the liberal West condemns. It is theocratic. Its legal system is considered barbarous by the standards of Western democracies. It is intolerant of any religion other than its own fundamentalist strain of Wahhabi Islam. They argue it is no coincidence that 15 of the 19 terrorists who attacked the US on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and the rest came from nearby countries. The Saudi establishment is trying to reform but the very slow pace means it would take decades to see real change.

Problems and Solutions: Reforming and modernising Islam:

Islamic States facing failure are ravaged by war and conflict which pose danger to the entire world. Instability breeds extremism and terrorism. Libya, Iraq and Yemen are in turmoil. In Syria the brutal regime of Bashar al Assad opened the gates for al Qaeda elements to enter the country so the regime could claim it is fighting terrorism not its own people.

The basic problem is very clear. It is that millions of people in the Islamic world do not believe in free speech, freedom of religion, democracy, a secular state, free enterprise and human rights.

Muslims live in a state of denial. They always find scapegoats for extremism and terrorism. Blaming all and sundry for the Islamic world failures. The modern Islamic movements such as ISIS are dragging the Muslim world back to the dark ages and slowly but surely taking us into the abyss.

All Muslims must stand together and not only condemn them but work together to defeat extremists like ISIS. Some critics of Islam blame the strict interpretation of Islam by Wahhabism a Saudi strand of Islam and the teaching of children to curse and hate kuffars for the rise in fundamentalism and extremism. Shouldn't Muslim scholars agree to remove such texts that permit the killing of Kuffars (infidels) just because they are not Muslims? Muslim scholars must agree to revise religious texts that call for Jihad and violence against non-Muslims.

The world is tired of the often repeated mantra that Islam is a religion of peace. People judge Muslims by their actions on the ground against their fellow Muslims, not by slogans. Muslims Must stand up to stop the destruction of a great faith.