Islam, 21st Century and the Stereotype


Islam emanates from the root word “slam” which means “Peace” thus implying a religion characterized by a symbolic narrative of “acquiring and establishing peace”. This pristine interpretation of Islam can be cross-checked by referring to the holy scriptures of other dominant religions such as Hinduism, Judaism and Christianity in the Old Testament and New Testament. Many erudite experts and orators of comparative religion have concurred to this notion as they have come across plenty of signs and signals, implicit as well as explicit, which have pointed towards the arrival of legendary panacea named Muhammad s.a.w, God’s messenger who would be sent by Him to spread His ultimate message of “live Peace and Let Peace” and tasked by the Almighty to salvage the whole of humanity sunk in the deep swamp of chaos, ignorance and savagery and surviving through the wild-forest borne principle of “Might is right”. Nevertheless the fact that religion Islam was descended upon mankind to provide them a sigh of heave and a solution to their ills and odds, however what we have been experiencing today about Islam is in utter contrast from the real one as Islam once conceived as a solution now portrayed and blamed by the west-dominant power and regulator of the world contemporary affairs- as an orchestrator and instigator behind all the floundering problems of the 21st century generation. Whereas it is truism that no one would come out of the way not even God to help ashore our ship from the dreadful storm as it is unequivocally mentioned in the Holy Quran that “God Helps those who help themselves”, it seems as the only recourse before us to recognize and accept our responsibilities as a Muslim Ummah to turn the tide against Islam by mending our courses at an individual and collective level through bringing progressive improvement and inside-out development in our entire system of governance and well being. Moreover the Muslims, second highest in numerical terms, should join hands together and build a wider coalition to reinstate the centuries old true enlightened image of Islam which has been blurred, lost and tarnished due to various internally and externally oriented reasons.

It has been widely recognized among several segments of International community that Terrorism is the most potent and existential threat to the peace and security of the world. As west wields extraordinary sway and leverage over the institutions and offices of international interest, it has made itself virtually successful in its attempt to conflate the current tides of Global Militancy and Terrorism with the religion of Islam. The western world not only suspects but also accuses Islam as the reason behind the onslaught of Global Terror and militancy supporting violent Jihad or containing verses that incite or fuel fundamentalism and extremist tendencies in its followers even though it lacks substantial evidence that could have vindicated its stance. Moreover, in the wake of the tragic incident of 9/11 the emotionally sensitized segment of the west takes one leap forward in alleging about Islam, the world’s leading religion, that it spreads and makes its way by sword because it employed militaristic conquest and conquer approaches through-out its history, attempting to re-assert and assume that fabricated and false image of Islam. Nevertheless the fact is that the followers of Islam who bear the burden of all the havoc incurred by terrorism which can be manifest by quantifying its aftershocks endured by the Muslim world and their respective economies by not only in terms of Muslim people who laid bare their innocent lives in such terrorist ravages but also had to suffer immense economic loses and instabilities yet West remains intransigent and insistent to its delusionary and biased pretensions about Islam. Given West’s partisan attitude, which is rather exacerbating the problem rather than curtailing it, the Muslims should take matters to task and play a decisive game of survival not only for its own civilization but humanity as well, against the menace of terrorism. Muslims must themselves first and then the whole world in particular the west should realize that merely suppressing the symptoms in a heavy handed manner could never quash the squabbling bastions of terror unless we as a whole first identify and commit ourselves first towards the elimination of those root causes which lie inside our courtyards deliberately being ignored or put in abeyance due to the persistence of blinkered self serving interest.

To this end, Muslim world through collective and collaborative deliberations devoid of any sectarian and nationalistic possibilities should adopt a nuance and comprehensive view of terrorism by taking pain to recognize terrorism genesis in their policies of historical and sectarian animosities and build a wider Muslim consensus to abdicate such geo political moves in their intercourses besides crafting a counter narrative and counter terrorism strategy that enjoys support and recognition of all Muslim countries and stakeholders.

Likewise, through demonstration of unified posture and common stance at all the relevant forums of international significance such as United nations and OIC they must convince and compel the west to desert their arbitrary policies of conquest and interventions especially in the Muslim political and geographical landscape and give international community a space to solve the long awaited impending problems of Palestine, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Syria which are not only marginalizing a large segment of Muslim population but also providing an alibi to terror mongers to radicalize the Muslim communities for the attainment of their myopic goals.

The world population comprises one third of the Muslims. Although shared many values ranging from faith to culture and social norms, the only things that separates them is the world-wide demarcated nation-state borderlines. As Muslim dominated and several Muslim lead nation-states remained largely at the whims of dictatorial and autocratic regimes who conduct and regulate their state of affairs through anachronistic norms and personal prejudices, Islam is presumed by the west to have provided these despotic rulers divine and discretionary sanctions to rule and govern the Muslim world in such an archaic and aberrant ways which are very much alien to the established and recognized democratic norms and principles whose essential tenets being People’s welfare, Good governance and Social Justice. In a nut shell the west mulls Islam, discourages Democracy while at the same time encourages Monarchy and dynastic system of governance. This accusation would bear weight if individual section of people associated with Islam were pointed but lost its credence when religion Islam at large being slandered and treacherously maligned by the western commentators given its golden period of dominance and versatility which is preserved, documented and stills glints in the annals of history. Muhammad S.A.W being progenitor of the Madinah State which was founded on Islamic edifice while its entire frame work was architected on welfare armatures whose building blocks and ideals have remained rule of law, Accountability, Competency, Social Equality and Institutional Autonomy all of which today have been recognized as essential ingredients and motives of Democracy. Given such democratic principles being its cornerstone the inception of Madinah State which paved way for the evolution of the political system of Islam inevitably quashed and repudiated the west’s illusions about Islam as an adversary of Democratic norms and rules. Despite the fact Islam remained a leading proponent of democratic ideals has contributed to a great extent in its systematic evolution and implementation throughout its history. However the leadership of the Muslim world which was expected to continue such legacy of Muhammad S.A.W has either unfortunately shunned or deviated from this opportune path hence providing the West a justifying premise to foment their farce phantasm about Islam. Therefore all Muslims of the world in particular their leadership has to wake from their utopian slumbers to scotch this western propaganda against Islam by adopting a two-pronged strategy that simultaneously addresses internal and external loopholes perpetually hindering the Muslim world from moving towards the progressive path of representative governance. These internal and external causes entail the hegemonic maintenance of elitist state of government that always favors and secures the powerful elites while leaves very little space for the weak ones which constitute the larger share of population to contribute in the state’s political landscape and the presence of swiftly available foreign support to these elitist rulers to fracture those popular voices and uprising meant to install democratic reforms. The Muslim community must convince the West to abandon their policies of supporting such autocratic regimes in their quest for suppressing these popular voices while the Muslim leaders should in letter and spirit subject themselves to those democratic ideals and standards enshrined in the Noble Quran which although very much venerated and infatuated but consistently snubbed by the same rulers when it comes to inculcation and implementation of its teachings in to their well being and mode of governance.

It is indeed no far from the truth as opinioned by the west that Muslim world is in deep turmoil. They are being traumatized by the spurts of social and political upheavals. Politicization and exploitation of religion, falling threshold levels of tolerance and terrible statistics in the Human development indicators some of which includes Education, Skills, Healthcare, Poverty, Inequality, Sanitation and employment are the indictment of such upheavals. Despite the prevalence of all such scourges and social banes which conclusively portend towards the veracity of western claims about Muslim world yet could be plausible to deduce from the said pretext that religion of these communities is the ultimate pernicious force that leads to such state of their social and moral demise. In fact not at all, if one should seek a truth objectively and correspond to those periods of Muslim eras where Islam and its divine guidance was practically adopted for crafting out a state structure and its constitution besides was apolitically implemented for the conduct of its domestic and foreign affairs. History is replete with the examples of fruits that subsequently reaped when Islamic norms and principles were being enforced and incorporated in a non discriminatory fashion. The Islamic Caliphate of Madinah under Hazrat Umer’s leadership that witnessed the Muslim period of prodigious progress and prosperity across all the social and economic realms of life underscores the prospective potential of Islam in developing the social, political, moral and temporal status of any society. Hence the Muslim community can turn the tables and could reverse the western mindset if they reinstate and reinvigorate Islamic values in their entire structure of governance that would eventually culminate in, building their stagnant economies, revamping their social and human sectors and restituting the dormant culture of reason and knowledge in Muslim societies.

The western civilization cherishes itself of being the fain exponent of women’s rights – which envisages women’s participation and gender equality in all walks and nooks of life; Principles of Co-Existence – that encompass the notion of unity in diversity and demonstration of tolerance and harmony in relation to minorities and other cultural identities; globalization and integration – which advocates science and technological evolution, economic integration and cooperation, and shared prosperity and mutual progress across the world frontiers. Nonetheless, their gratifying record of attaining meteoric successes in the pursuit of these grandiose ideals, they have excessively held Islam as a stumbling block and primary hindrance against its ultimate fruition. Given the Muslim communities’ dismal and distraught record towards these critical areas of substantial importance in contemporary world, a large segment of the world population, even some intellectuals have owed fixation to this western dogma. Contrary to that, an analytical and objective introspection of the Islamic scriptures and its history in a socio-economic context disclosed a very disparate picture of Islam differed from what is now being prevalent in the Muslim world. The Women active participation and contribution in the political affairs of Madinah state specially in the war, academics and judicial circles; the promulgation of strident laws and capital punishment against female infanticide and false accusation of fornication; Secularization of state relationship to its citizens and entitlement of equal rights to all regardless of any racial, language and religious distinction; and the spread of Arab trade conveyed to rest of the world which further developed rapport and business partnership with the non-Arab communities that eventually cross-linked cultures and distinct civilizations paving way for the progressive development and evolution of all societies through exchange of knowledge, goods and services. Be it Caliphate of Madinah, State of Baghdad or State of Darul Andulusa, all these great Muslim political entities that adopted Islamic norms and its guiding principles as yardstick scuttled the notion of Islam being the major obstacle to Women’s empowerment, Co-Existence and economic Integration. However it is undeniable that, this western proposition about Islam could not be supplicated with its century’s old real-one unless Muslim world in tandem sprout in the direction of fostering, forging and reviving these values and traits in their political economic and social ambits. To this end Muslim world should utilizes their reflexes towards : Re-approachment with the non-Muslim world (West &  multilateral institution) for finding a common ground to all matters of such concerns; tending to domestic concerns i.e investing in human resource (particularly women) for bringing improvement in education, health care, and standard of living ; Reviving OIC to the level of ASEAN or EU bloc for building  a strong coalition and collective partnership which must be impervious to any divisive possibilities like Sectarian prejudices to address thorny issues which entail lag on Science and Technology, Crippling Economy, Menace of terrorism, Impregnating Extremism and squalling Sectarianism. While investing our energies in the direction of these objectives, reason not self serving gestures should be our yard stick besides we ought to get ourselves aware of the past where we were more tolerant, enlightened and wise.

The western conception about Islam as Anachronistic, incompatible and rigid religion could be reversed with its centuries old much venerated stature if and only if Muslim world poised to restore the procrastinated legacy of their Prophet Muhammad S.A.W and his successors.

is a chemical engineer and studies Political Science at Karachi University.

Discussion3 Comments

  1. 1. Islam means Submission. Not peace.

    2. Mohammed was a violent man. He robbed caravans and shared the booty of Women and wealth, after killing male traders.

    3. After Mohammed died, people returned to their previous faiths. But Caliph Abu Bakr started “ridda wars” and forced all of them back to Islam.

    4. Islam is not compatible with 12th century. Let alone 21st century. Please grow up.

  2. The 2 dumb-scumbags who could only belong to India as India is the only most self-sufficient country on god’s earth in producing scum, they have so much filth that they even appointed a lot in their government and forces, so the ones who commented on the post are no different, serious readers should ignore them.

    The topic is discrete a Philosophical one for which these 2 numb-nuts have no idea how to contribute.

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