02 May 2009

Kindness in Islam/Views on the Taliban/A Message of Peace

There are a group of Muslims - fanatical, tribalist, nationalist - that are in the habit of telling other Muslims that they are not following Islam, and they're a general offence in the sense that they spread hatred and violence against non-Muslims. The most extreme example of this group is the Taliban: long bearded, short-sighted, fascist to say the least. And the most common trait of this group is that they are unkind. Seriously, you'll hear of them beating women, throwing acid into the faces of girls who want to get an education, torturing boys and men. In short, the Taliban and its like-minded followers love nothing more than raping humanity. In the Islamic view, if you show inhumanity and unkindness to others, you don't have faith. You have lost it. There is one thing that is fundamentally incompatible with Islam: inhumanity. Islam's last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), has said: "Kindness is a mark of faith: and whoever hath not kindness hath not faith." How universal: "All God's creatures are His family; and he is the most beloved of God who doeth most good to God's creatures." How significant: "Who is the most favored of God? He from whom the greatest good cometh to His creatures." How lovely: "What actions are most excellent? To gladden the heart of a human being, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the wrongs of the injured." How wise: "Verily, God is mild, and is fond of mildness, and he giveth to the mild what he doth not to the harsh".

It will be hard for many non-Muslims to recognise Muhammad's voice in these messages - with his lament for God's creatures. But that's how it is. That's how he was. He was not like what the Danish cartoonists or Orientalist fantasists made him out to be or what al-Zawahiri makes himself out to be. The Prophet was not just an important figure in Islam but a great figure of humanity. By concentrating solely on the wars he fought against people who wished to kill him (and then blame him for their moral weaknesses) or making the Prophet a perfect deity of sorts - such as the false mystical belief that he was the first act of creation and a sort of inspiration for what followed - we do our faith a great injustice. We need the Prophet's words more than ever. He walked on earth and taught his brothers and sisters because he was human. Especially now that we find men in religious robes using a vulgar image of Islam to destroy the societies around them, brutalising countless innocent people.

We must listen to the Last Prophet (and the Prophets before him); to educated, intelligent Muslims; to wisdom and knowledge; to share our common legacy with all of God's creatures; to honour God (for to honour God you must first love your fellow man).

We don't need senseless violence; sectarian strife; terrorist atrocities against Muslims and non-Muslims; and trivialising "the West" as a darkened place of mere material longing (which is the sister of Orientalism: Occidentalism). Separating the world into the pure and impure is itself unacceptable. Who decides that? Good and bad people are dispersed in every land. There is nothing like "Islam and the West" in Islam. It's all God's beautiful earth. Do they ever pause by a rolling river or a mist-covered mountain? They madly say it's just "science". Respect others! Moreover, in Islam there is no room "for revolution, only evolution" (Muhammad Asad).

Let kindness be our first step, let faith be our heart's rest, let the conscience be the staff in our hands and let the everlasting rainbow of God - stretched from the East to the West, North to the South - humble us...before we say an unkind word or lift a callous hand to strike another human being. One day all of us will return to God and answer Him for what we said and did. It is the choice each one of us must make: to either be on the side of what's good or what's prohibited.

There is no system of honour killing or concept of revenge killings or holy war in Islam. "What the West did" is a popular refrain. I dare al-Qaeda to say this truly, for it has itself partaken in the retardation and destruction of decent Muslim societies. Muslims must address their own history of colonialism and distance themselves from the vain glories of the past. They must emulate the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), not the time in which he preached. Islam must not be confused with Jahiliyah, which is what the Prophet fought against. We must fight against it, too.

We must first build an ethical, God-fearing house, because it is well-known that murder and debauchery do not breed faith. They are an abuse of faith.

It's the Prophet Muhammad against the Taliban. It's Islam and humanity against superstitions, barbarity and thoughtlessness. And may the Taliban perish with the ashes it beholds for our future. May we fight them and regain the golden sands of learning, reason and knowledge. Where God is worshipped in peace, for that's what Islam means.

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