By Dr. Aslam Abdullah
The recent arrests of young Muslims in Canada, England and the USA and the alleged involvement of a few young Muslims in violence in India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq and Thailand must concern every conscious Muslim. Regardless of the charges filed against the detained youths, we must acknowledge the fact that within our community there are some who believe in achieving their objectives through violence. Many of those arrested in Europe and Americas are second- or third-generation Muslims who grew up in the affluent West; some were born in poverty in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
They grew up in a world where injustice is rampant, poverty is on the rise, violence is the norm and power is concentrated in the hands of a few. They grew up in a world where the rights of people are trampled. Palestinians live as refugees, Kashmiris still crave their freedoms and the whole Middle East is controlled by monarchs and tribal chiefs. It is not wrong to want to change the pathetic conditions in which a great majority of Muslims live. What is wrong is the violent manifestation of this discontentâ€”directed against fellow human beings who themselves are victims of the inequalities that have become institutionalized in our world.
When Prophet Muhammad (s) began his mission to repeat the divine message of oneness of humanity and oneness of God, he also confronted similar conditions. The rich and powerful exploited the poor and the weakâ€”those who were influential bathed themselves in luxury at the expense of others. But: the actions and manners the ProphetÂ (s) used to address these issues was totally different than what the discontented people of today have taken as their means. ProphetÂ (s) was peaceful, he sat with people gently and taught them. He was courteous and careful. He was full of mercy and perfectly just. He taught people to understand Islam in a peaceful way. He wanted people to change their way of thinking to fellow human beings. He endured great difficulty for this methodology. His companions were persecuted and killed, yet he didnâ€™t resort to violence to avenge their deaths. He was displaced from his place of birth, yet he never fought for his national pride or land. He was accused of almost every charge that his opponents could frame, but he forgave them.
How come this message of the Holy Messenger (s) is ignored by those who claim to be the leaders of Muslims? How come his methodology of peace has been neglected in favor of a way totally against his way? Who are those people who changed his message and methodology? The violence-mongers must be rejected and those who call for the blood of others must never be given an ear. Violence is against God and against humanity.
Political differences will always exist and injustice will never cease to exist. It is the responsibility of those who truly believe in justice to stand for their values and educate others as well persuade the perpetrators of injustice to change their ways. Killing does not solve the problem. It complicates it. It creates more injustice and it institutionalizes violence on both sides.
Our world is full of problems in every area. Poverty is widespread; corruption is common; injustices are ingrained in our social structures; inequality has become institutionalized. Our environment deteriorates every day. People are marginalized. Outrages against human dignity are the norm. This world needs to be changed. People ought to be brought out from their pathetic conditions.
They must be given hope in their ability to achieve their dignity in a peaceful way. Rather than focusing on these problems, some Muslim youths have tried to find answer in violence. It is wrong and it must never be part of any Islamic methodology for change.
The younger generation must direct its discontent towards peaceful solutions to the problems that the world faces. Let our youths devote their energies to finding cures for dreadful diseases that are creeping into millions of homes. Let our youths find solutions to the poverty that is everywhere. Let out youths articulate their ideas in a civil manner about injustice and inequality. Let our youths develop solution to the problems of environment and rationalization of the people.
At times, it is difficult to control oneâ€™s anger. At times, the pressure that we all face is so intense that many of us tend to lose our sanity. But these are moment to refocus and regroup our energy and centralize them in a constructive way to the welfare and well being of every human being.
Let us make a pledge together that we will never resort to violence even if we become victims of violence. It is better to suffer rather cause sufferings to others. â€¢