What are the turmoils happening around the Muslim world?
We see in the news today, past week, past month, a variety of different revolts taking place in what is known as the Arab world, a portion of the Muslim world. And there is a generalization concerning the turmoil which spilled over into Afghanistan, into Iraq, and has spilled into other areas like Somalia, Chechnya etc. As Muslims, it is important for us to understand the forces that are playing. Of course, what the media presents is often times a mixture of facts and fiction, is agenda based and tends to promote the most negative possible images of the Muslim world.
A fear has developed in America, for example, where a number of states have banned Shari'ah. Most people who are politicians who have been involved in this, if you ask them what is Shari'ah, they really don’t know, to them, it’s synonymous to terrorism, so everything is now related to terrorism.
We also have in many Muslim countries dictatorships, where the rights of people are abused, and the population suffering under the crush of this evil rule, and the people eventually exploded. This year, a man set himself on fire and from there spread to Egypt, the rulers of Tunisia left, Egypt stepped down, to Libya , to Syria etc. And we are hearing now in South Yemen etc. That response by the people was really a response to the oppression of the masses of people. Oppression which did not actually have any direct connection with forces opposed to Shari'ah, but since the autocratic rule where leaders abused their countrymen and women, taking the wealth unfairly, and giving their wealth to western powers in a way which the society suffered etc. So the removal of these dictators was really an attempt by the people to find some form of redress and some form of normalcy in their life. They were living under very terrible circumstances. In many of these countries, if a person was seen to oppose or speak in a way which was against the government, this person would disappear, they could be fined, their families will never hear from them or about them again.
After years of this type of situation, these countries started to explode, but that explosion is not specifically an Islamic explosion, it is just a reaction to what existed in their country. What it has done at the same time is that, it happens to remove some of the barriers, and you could say political oppression on Muslim parties, where Muslims wanted to be part and parcel of the rule of these various countries. The well-known Islamic parties were suppressed, their leaders were jailed, people were murdered etc. So with this revolt, the ban on these parties has been lifted in most places. So Muslim figures, well known figures, politicians etc., have now come out in a greater force. Their voices can now be heard etc.
However, in general, these revolts are not guided by Islamic principles. So many of the hopes that people might have, probably won’t be realised. Because there are other forces that don’t want to see this turn into an Islamic change in society. This Western civilizational enmity towards Shari'ah and it, in fact, becomes an enmity towards Islam, represents the desire to implement the ideals of western civilization, secular democracy on the rest of the world.
Some of the Huntington’s writings spoke about this. In his “Clash of civilization”, though I don’t necessarily agree with everything he said in the book, he did identify a point of clash: Does Islam wants to fight? Does Islam wants a military clash? No, this is not what Islam teaches or encourages. However, if the Muslims come under attack, they will fight back while they are able, they will. However, Muslims in the past when they dominated large segments of the world they didn’t force their belief system on the populations that they ruled. Muslims ruled Spain for some 700 years, the majority of the Spaniards did not become Muslims, some other did, but most did not. Muslims ruled India for over a thousand years, the majority of Indians remained Hindus, the belief system of Islam was not forced upon the people of the country. So it is not Islamic way to automatically enter into direct conflict with other civilizations or other belief systems etc. Not necessarily it doesn’t happen, sometimes, at some places, it happens. So the Islamic way was more live and let live. However, the western civilizations today does not want to give Islam a chance, not the Islam which is practised properly, what they like to see, is what commonly known as moderate Islam or liberate Islam, which is in fact what we would call nominal Islam, where a person is a Muslim only in name, but he or she does not practice or adhere to the principles of Islam. A person who strictly adheres, piously adheres to the principles of Islam, such person is now labelled as extremist, this is an extremist. This is what Muslims are faced with today. That to stand for Islam, to speak out about Islam means that you are now open to be labelled as an extremist, calling to extremism.
So we have to face with a variety of false labels and false attacks which are a result of media exploitation, exploited newspapers. The truth is often times, not very exciting, so these false accusation becomes finally news when there is some happening. So this is the situation Muslims are faced with around the world today.
Most of them focus on women, so you won’t be surprised to hear if you go outside of Guyana, someone points a finger at you and says, “You Muslims who mutilate the genitals of females, you are female genital mutilators”. So you think what kind of word is that? What was this feature mutilate genital? What was this? Well, in parts of the Muslim world, in Ethiopia, in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, they do practice, some among them do practice a form of female circumcision which is female genital mutilation, something which Islam disapproves to 110%. However, these people in this area, they practiced it even before Islam came there. And that’s why it is not surprising to find Christians in Ethiopia, and in Sudan also practise it because it was their practice prior to Islam. However, it has been associated now with Islam, so we are labelled with that label. So though in Guyana, nobody is going to call you that or speak about female genital mutilation because it is unheard of, most of the Muslim world never heard about it, is not involved in it, but that becomes a label.
Honour killing, another thing, found in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan where the head of the family or the members of the family find that, usually a female member, has dishonoured the family by having some form of extramarital affair or relationship not sanctioned by Islam. So they believe that it is necessary for them to purify the honour of the family by killing her. So the father, brother, the uncle, the son, they conspire, catch her and murder her to purify the honour of the family. And in these countries, because it is a known practice, the punishment in the law is very light, they may get a couple of years, or whatever, jail time. But in Islam, is there such a thing? Is there such a thing called honour killing in Islam? No, murder in Islam is a murder punishable by death. You kill somebody, whether it’s a sister or mother or your daughter, then you are to be executed, that’s what happens in Islam, but we have been associated with this honour killing. So don’t be surprised if you get into discussion with others and they point at you that you practice this.
So we have to face with a variety of false labels and false attacks which are a result of, as I said before result of media exploitation, exploited newspapers, the truth is often times not very exciting, so these false accusation becomes finally news when there is some happening. So this is the situation Muslims are faced with around the world,
There is turmoil within our own society right here and the turmoil does rest on the same issues that exist externally but just manifest in different form. There is a culture, a legacy of what we may call a cultural Islam, which dominates the true teachings of Islam. And as such we end up doing things which are against the very teachings of Islam. This ignorance is widespread in the society, it is widespread across the Muslim world today. And as result of ignorance, a number of negative expressions and negative practices have emerged. Among the evil one’s that we may find here is the challenge of Universalism in Islam where all Muslims are one,
“The believers are one brotherhood…”
And the other verse we heard that,
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” 
However when the knowledge of Islam becomes weak people revert to tribalism. Tribalism which manifests itself as a form of racism which has now entered into the Muslim society here and elsewhere. Where people are looking at each other in a perspective of Indian Muslim, African Muslim. No, in Islam it is just Muslim. Yes, the roots may be from this place and the roots may be from somewhere else, but at the end we all came from Adam. Adam was created from dust. As Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) at the farewell pilgrimage, where he (ﷺ) called the pilgrims together and he (ﷺ) told them that there was no superiority of an Arab over a non Arab, of black over white, white over black, that the only superiority lies in closeness to God, fear of God, love of God. This is where a true superiority lies, everything else is fake, is false, is evil. So Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) has said something concerning tribalism, “Daha wa innaha munziza” i.e., "give it up, because it is rotting." It eats away the society. It destroys the true bonds of brotherhood, of faith, of humanity. So Islam is opposed to this way of thinking.
And we look back into the history of Spain, where we spoke that it was ruled by Muslims for 700 years, if we go back, look and see why didn’t it last for more than 700 years. You will find that as Muslims strayed away from Islam there, tribalism’s ugly head arose, distinction between Arabs, Africans etc. appeared. Arabs taking hold of the more fertile areas, the major cities relegating the African origin rule to less fertile areas, minor cities. It is destructive, it is against Islamic teachings and we, in this community, need to wean it out, not to support it and we need to know that, in fact, this is displeasing to Allah. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) spoke against it and Islam and Muslims will not succeed as long as it remains alive and present amongst them.
So the Muslim world is in turmoil, the general assessment is that ignorance has spread to such as an extent that Muslims don’t really know what Islam is, and as such they have engaged in a variety of activities, whether it is in the name of terrorism, whether it is in the name of honour or whatever, which are against Islam. Keep them down because they cannot rise to play the role that they should in human civilization. 1.5 billion people have something to say but it can’t be heard, because it is muffled by these ignorant practices which has become common in our Muslim lands, in our Muslim communities around the world.
 [Qur’an: 49:10]
 [Qur’an 49:13]< Back to Questions