The most difficult thing Muslims are facing in western communities is the way people look at them, as if they were defendants charged with a crime called Islam.
I once wrote about a Russian professor who called me to quote my opinion on two terror bombing incidents that occurred in a city in southern Russia. She said: “In Russia, there is a belief that Islam, when it is engaged with politics in the Middle East, Russia, or anywhere else in the world, turns into fascism and leads to terrorism.”
Of course, like any Muslim who is protective of his religion, I defended Islam and explained that all religions have people who chant religious slogans to justify their crooked behaviour, which contradicts with the religion itself.
“Most Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslim.” This is part of a motto raised by many people in the west who refer to the bombings in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Egypt. But this phrase needs an addition: “Most of the victims are Muslim as well.”
Unfortunately, we are plagued by people who raise slogans of Islam and act in contradictory ways. They confuse the holiness of religion with politics. We call these people “Islamic politician”, i.e. politicians using Islam.
Do you remember the massacre that occurred in a mall located in the Kenyan capital? Those “Islamicpoliticians” who killed a number of mall-goers were caught praying after the murder by the mall’s cameras. They wanted to tell the world that they killed civilians as part of their religiosity and the rituals of Islam.
I had a meeting with the supervisor of my PhD degree abroad. I told him there was a problem at the Islamic centre I visited that bothered me a lot and that I did not know how to solve.
The story began when a discussion occurred between some people at the Islamic centre. It was a normal conflict, but each party justified its position with quotes from the Holy Quran and Hadiths. The situation intensified to the extent that some of us rented an apartment to perform prayers away from the ‘enemies’—who were just people with a different point of view. Everybody was speaking in the name of Islam. But Islam also advises us that “the believers are but a single brotherhood. So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.”
Similar incidents had occurred in other Islamic centres, as well. In every mosque, there is a person or a number of people who think they are speaking for Islam.
I was annoyed because we do not even adhere to the tenants of Islam within the Islamic centre.
The professor asked me about my position in that incident. I told him that I tried to mediate the dispute until I announced my support to one party out of my belief that they were the most desirable party to heal the rift and respect Sharia law. However, the dispute heated up. The different parties stopped communicating, even in the mosque. All the meetings ended with the same result: “It is useless”.
The supervisor advised me by saying that the best thing any Muslim can do is to not talk about Islam, but to adhere to Islam. In his words: “Do not talk about Islam; be Islam.” His words lingered in my mind.
A lot of “Islamicpoliticians” insult Islam, and consider themselves doing well by it. They are more like the home delivery guy who defames his company. The fundamental difference is that we cannot “fire” them from Islam because Allah did not determine a prophet in our time to speak on his behalf. But these people self-proclaim themselves as prophets, speaking on the behalf of God and abusing religion.