To Tackle Islamophobia, Both West and the Muslims Must Introspect

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By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

It should be a matter of serious concern for us Muslims that the optimism for real change in the Muslim world we had felt from the Arab Spring a few months ago is growing dimmer. But despite all these depressing developments, the Muslim world shows no signs of introspection. We continue to wallow in victimhood. Conspiracy theories abound. Denial continues. Even 9/11 is not yet accepted generally as the handiwork of Al-Qaeda.

We Muslims could have utilised the killing of Osama bin Laden as an occasion for making a new beginning.

But not only in Islamist Pakistan, even in secular, multicultural India had some Muslims offered funeral prayers in absentia for the world’s chief terrorist. A War within Islam is clearly going on but we mainstream Muslims ourselves don’t seem to realise its grave consequences.

I want to take this opportunity, Madam President, to appeal to all the Muslim countries represented in this august forum, to take this war within Islam seriously and devise strategies to win this war for mainstream peaceful Islam.

That we Muslims continue to be in complete denial of our situation cannot be in doubt. We just do not seem to recognise the danger inherent in allowing Petrodollar-funded Islamist groups taking over our mosques and mardrasas.

Take the case of funeral prayer in absentia (ghaibana namaz-e-Janaza) for Osama bin Laden. Even in normal circumstances holding such prayers for people whose funeral is known to have been already performed with due Islamic rites is of dubious religious value, not even allowed by some theologians. But for Osama bin Laden! And knowing well that the US government had already organised proper rites for him!

What message were these Muslims trying to give to the world? What exactly was the idea? One can understand the Taliban of Afghanistan and Pakistan, even Syed Ali Shah Geelani of Kashmir and his militant followers, wanting to bless Osama as they did.

But Muslims of Chennai? Kolkata? Hyderabad? Mercifully the numbers of Muslims gathered to say these prayers were few, but those who objected or did not participate did not make it a point, as they should have, to make their opposition and even revulsion at this display of support for the world’s chief terrorist known.

Our religious scholars have never declared the late Osama bin Laden a deviant or kafir, even though they keep doing that routinely to all members of sects other than their own from what can only be described as their kafir-manufacturing factories.

The implication is not lost on the world and cannot but further fuel a growing fear of Islam in the West and elsewhere.

You can read the complete transcript of Sultan Shahin’s oral statement to the 18th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva at the New Age Islam website.

Sultan Shahin is the Editor at NewAgeIslam.Com Take part in the discussion of stories and issues relating to Islam at the New Age Islam website