View from Dubai: Why is Mumbai Burning?
By AIJAZ ZAKA SYED, Middle East Times, December 1, 2008
LOSING THE ARGUMENT — It’s all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism, but the world finds it hard to accept this line of argument as it sees the extremists take the center-stage while the mainstream Islam remains silent.
DUBAI, UAE — Watching the terror nightmare unfold in Mumbai over the past three days on television with me, my kids repeatedly asked: "Who are these terrorists and why are they doing this?" And every time I wished I could offer them a convincing answer.
What could I tell them? For one, I was as clueless as they were why these guys had taken over India’s financial and cultural capital and were targeting people who had nothing to do with them and had done nothing to harm them or their country.
I was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them these guys ostensibly were Muslims and came from a country that was created in the name of Islam.
At work, while my colleagues went about covering the madness in Mumbai and laying out special pages with the images of the incredibly beautiful hotel, Taj, with its Islamic arches and domes, go up in smoke, I find it hard to look my colleagues – many of them fellow Indians – in the eye.
And this happens all the time. Every time innocents are targeted in the name of Islam and Muslims around the world, one can’t face one’s non-Muslim friends and colleagues. I feel like burying myself in the ground. Growing up in a highly religious family, one never thought one would see the day when being Muslim could be a source of shame and embarrassment.
A very distraught friend who has devoted her life to speaking and fighting on behalf of the Arabs and Muslims wrote in saying "I’ve had it with the Arabs and Muslims and Islamic militancy. Forgive me but I am throwing in the towel."
The photo shows people at a funeral for the victims of the terror attacks in Mumbai, India, on Nov. 30. (Xinhua/Photoshot via Newscom)
I couldn’t write back to her. But I understood her pain and agony. She grew up in Mumbai and was understandably upset over what’s happened to her beloved city.
My friend went on to say: "The Muslims and Islam have a problem and only they can solve it. If they do not, the whole world will turn against them."
If this is how our most loyal and trusted friends feel, imagine the sentiments and reactions of the rest of the world. But can you blame the world if it’s turning against Muslims? What do you expect when not a single day or week passes without the name of our faith being dragged through the mud by fellow believers around the world?
How many innocents have to die in the name of Islam and Muslims before Muslim leaders and countries take effective action to deal with the nuts who are out to destroy us all with their nihilistic death cult?
I know that the Muslim leaders including those in the highest echelons of power have lately started speaking out against the extremists.
Darul Uloom Deoband in India, one of the oldest and most respected centers of learning in the Muslim world, issued a fatwa (edict) against terrorism at a large gathering of Islamic scholars and leaders in June. Last month, nearly 5,000 religious scholars backed the fatwa at a huge congregation hosted by Jamiate Ulema Hind in Hyderabad.
The OIC, the organization of Muslim states, and Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Arab-Islamic world, have of late been equally vehement in condemning these repulsive acts of violence targeting innocents by people who claim to be Muslims.
Eminent Muslim intellectuals and journalists like Tariq Ramadan, a grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, and India’s MJ Akbar and many, many others too have repeatedly protested this shocking distortion of Islamic teachings and values.
However, these calls of conscience on behalf of mainstream Islam have largely proved to be voices in the wilderness. Clearly, we need to do more to be heard by the world and to stop this victimization of completely innocent people in the name of our faith.
The great irony of the Mumbai attacks is the killing of anti-terrorism squad chief Hemant Karkare and his colleagues. Karkare, who was investigating the Malegaon blasts and other recent terror attacks that he established to be the handiwork of Hindu extremists and not Muslim groups like SIMI, was killed by the terrorists outside Cama hospital Wednesday night. Obviously, Muslims do not know who their real friends and enemies are.
And pray why is India increasingly being singled out for this savagery? What do they think India is? A Hindu country or an anti-Muslim nation?
Do the ignorant dummies repeatedly being sent out on the so-called jihad know that India is home to the world’s largest Muslim population? At least, twice the size and number living in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. India’s greatest superstar is a Muslim, not to mention the countless achievers in all other fields.
Why are our friends across the border bent on destroying the whole world with themselves? Is this what our faith and the noble prophet who brought it to us teach?
It’s all very well for us to say Islam has nothing to do with extremism and terrorism. We can go on deluding ourselves that these psychos do not represent us and do not speak for us.
However, the world finds it hard to accept this line of argument, because it sees the extremists increasingly assert themselves and take the center-stage while the mainstream Islam remains silent.
The great religion that preaches and celebrates universal brotherhood, equality of men and peace and justice for all has been hijacked by a demented, miniscule minority. And as my friend says, only Muslims can solve this problem. Only Muslims can confront these terrorists in their midst.
Only they can get their faith freed from the clutches of these nihilistic fanatics. This is no time to hide. It’s time to stand up and speak out. For the terrorists will continue to speak on our behalf, until we do not. This is no time for silence. Enough is enough.
Aijaz Zaka Syed is Opinion Editor of Khaleej Times. Write to him at email@example.com.
Source: Middle East Times