04 November 2008

The Many Salafisms

Yes, I know what you must be thinking: misogynist, arrogant and supremacist. This in fact is the dreary picture painted by the sociologist Riaz Hassan in his book Inside Muslim Minds of what he labels "Salafibism". Fortunately, mortal muse is never that wholly encompassing of truth. Take for example the Muhammadiyah Association. Reporter Amy McQuire who toured East Timor and Indonesia with the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre in July came into contact with Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim group in Indonesia. What did she find? That it runs hospitals and schools in urban, regional and remote Indonesia. And "it does not discriminate in providing services to all sectors of society. Muhammadiyah also has an active women’s branch called Aisyiyah, which is involved in several charitable works aimed at empowering women."

All this good from a group which if we have been told is an inherently evil form of expression colluding with sectarian fantasists of old?

From the Muhammadiyah website:
On 25th May 1957 a group of students from Madrasah Raudatil Atfal and students of the late Ustaz Abdul Rahman Harun, Ustaz Rijal Abdullah and Ustaz Amir Esa had organized an Eid Adha Hari Raya Gathering. In that gathering the students had unanimously agreed to strengthen their group and officially established a Sunnah/Salafi movement in Singapore.
I'd argue there is nothing uncommon about a humane, tolerant Salafism. Just like there are many Sufisms, there are many Salafisms. Some of them are dubious, some of them are not. The routine mutual slander (as occurs on the blogosphere) is neither here nor there. Moreover, an individual humanity supersedes prejudice.

The task of a contemporary Muslim, in my view, is also to struggle with labels and meanings. In order to achieve that, we must first emotionally distance ourselves from group-thought, and then, come to common terms.

I'd like to voice my own personal disagreements with a lot of what is established, but it'll probably cause more division. I have come to the realisation that dialogue and everything sounds good but at the end of the day we're going to disagree. Let us live together and clog the hurt. Sectarianism is one of the biggest problems facing Muslims.

It doesn't help when Irfan Yusuf blames all terrorism on the "Wahhabis". There is more to it and more to a range of a peoples than meets the eye. Terrorism, in fact, is the legacy of Sayyid Qutb who subscribed to the colossal Leninist irony that killing of innocents on whatever scale is justified in a quest for earthly utopia. This ideology lies at the heart of Al-Qaeda's error: "there is no hope". The actions of terrorists suggests that God is unable to govern with fairness and permits debauchery and killing in the service of depraved, elitist maniacs. Certainly not the God of Islam. Not the God of man. In Islam triumph is always of unrelenting faith, of good, of meekness, of patient labour and of small kindnesses.

Salafis, Sufis and Shias must stop fighting and start building.

We are mortals, of course, balancing immortal revelations. Separated by land and sea and culture and viewpoints. Yet, there is no excuse for slander.

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