SHAFAQNA – A new debate has taken shape in Europe whereby die-hard secularists have worked to assert that religious freedom stands not as an inalienable right, but is rather a privilege the “elite” ought to have control over to prevent Society from tumbling down the staircase of mass indoctrination.
Of course such a debate had to take place from behind a convenient screen of democratic self-righteousness, targeting the one minority the Western world already feels an aversion for: Muslims.
The infamous Muslim – this backward barbarian whose faith is but the expression of a vindictive chauvinistic and bloodthirsty deity … this impotent and dangerous fool of a polygamist whose understanding of the world cannot see beyond the call of the sword, and the corridors of his harem.
What a hateful despicable faith it holds … Is it not true after all that Islam has called for the systematic enslavement of communities … all communities on the premise that IT knows best?
Is it not true again that Islam has promoted the objectification of women, demanding that they, the weaker sex, comply to specific codes and regulations?
Is it not true that Islam only speaks of civil liberties for a selected elite – those “righteous” men whose task is to act as guides to the otherwise ignorant masses?
Only Islam does NOT call for these things. The trouble is that this theological reality has not stopped from many blaming a Faith for the shortcomings of certain individuals.
Islam – it needs to be said absolutely and unequivocally – stands in opposition to any form of enslavement, any form of objectification, and – most importantly – against any negation of a person’s right to choose.
I would refer readers to the pages of the Quran:
“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 256]
“Allah says: “If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed. Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?”” [Surah Yunus: 99]
Do not think me naïve when I say that Islam has been misinterpreted and its scriptures abused so as to make Western Islamophobes feel entitled to their hatred and self-righteousness. I am in no way attempting to reason with them – I am merely stating a fact.
In the face of all the vile poison so-called righteous people have spread and spilled on Islam, calling its followers ignominious men and submissive women to better affirm their own theological truths – or rather atheological untruths – I can only speak of what I know my Faith to be.
Islam is no more violent and bloodthirsty than the Torah and the Bible. Islam does legislate over human affairs and this does of necessity touch on matters of war, violence, bloodshed and hardship. However if Islam must deal with these shameful deeds humanity is so prone to, its message is nonetheless that of Justice, Liberation through worship, and Resistance against Tyranny.
If you wish to know about Islam and how this one Faith was hijacked by a miserable few I would refer you to my book:Arabia’s Rising – Under The Banner Of The First Imam.
I am acutely aware of the fact that my words will open me up to a flurry of criticism, since for some people no serious intellectual, let alone a woman, can ever pretend to mental sanity whilst defending Islam. But that’s the thing, I don’t need to.
I don’t need to defend Islam, Islam is what it always was – a way to attain and experience the divine, just as valid and true as the Words inscribed in the Torah and the Bible. All three are God’s religions and all three speak of a Truth which is Divine, Real, and very much relevant to those who find themselves in it.
It is human beings who have given religion a bad name. It is human beings who have sought to pervert and rebrand the Words given so that they can play power at humanity’s table whilst clamouring for immunity for their own shortcomings.
We live in the age of political unilateralism and radical secularism. Our freedoms we are being told can only hold if we fit within the cage the powers that be have engineered for us
No you say? All lies you say? Let me tell you what Western secular democracies are bringing you: illegal wars against sovereign nations, slavery, chauvinism, elitism, nepotism, racism, ethno-centrism, state-sanctioned torture, and murder aka rendition – and most cruel of all – cultural genocide.
France is arguing fashion against women in the name of cultural integration.
The United States and other Western capitals have empowered a beast – Saudi Arabia – so that it can enslave Yemen and forfeit 26 million people of their right to political self-determination.
Western powers have allowed torture to become matter of fact in the name of counter-terrorism while allowing Terror’s handmaiden – Saudi Arabia – to feast at its table.
Europe has launched a religious war against Islam proposing that its Faith is much too foreign to ever be worth anything, without realising that the very religious traditions it claims for itself are in fact from the Middle East.
Islam is not foreign, it simply is. Islam’s worth cannot be argued in terms of ethnicity or origin, that would be missing the universality of its message, just as Judaism and Christianity cannot be measured against any particular scale.
Religious freedom if we are serious about democracy cannot sit at the centre of any debate. Religious freedom – as Voltaire asserted – is a natural right.
According to natural law theory, the moral standards that govern human behaviour are, in some sense, objectively derived from the nature of human beings and the nature of the world. Whilst Islam is logically independent of Western natural law legal theory, the two theories in fact intersect.
Moreover what so many Westerners refuse to understand is that by the contempt for Muslims they have become so enamoured with the very rights they are denying to a whole community they are given up themselves.
Yes, Terror is a poison which needs to be eradicated. However we don’t have to become terrorists ourselves to defeat it.
Yes, Terror is a plague which needs to be contained and plucked out. However we cannot hope to achieve this by turning to fascism or mass-hysteria.
Maybe, just maybe we ought to answer Evil with something better – maybe Terror can be defeated by enacting democratic principles.
If we don’t we will soon find out that we have become the enemy that we once swore to slay.
By Catherine Shakdam – Director of Programs for the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies
This article was published in The Duran