SHAFAQNA – “Islam is the religion of militant individuals who are committed to truth and justice. It is the religion of those who desire freedom and independence. It is the school of those who struggle against imperialism.” Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
If Islam today remains as it was on the first day, our collective understanding of its tenets and our adherence to its laws and principles have somewhat left something to be desired – there we share a burden of guilt one can only hope will ignite a need for atonement.
As Ayatollah Khomeini warned several decades ago, our inability to anchor ourselves in the Truth for the sake of convenience, has allowed for the true nature of Islam not only to be hidden but to be perverted in its interpretation.
Under siege, and in places under de facto occupation, Islam today has been painted, portrayed and labelled as a belligerent faith, a repressive faith – together a message of oppression, injustice and barbarism … Such reality is difficult to bear considering the many great sacrifices that were made so that we could, as Muslims, stand in our rights and our dignity.
One must ask therefore what it is that our hands have bought if we cannot master the courage of our Prophet and Imams’ teachings and speak not control or admonition but truth and compassion?
It is after all when night is darkest that light cuts sharpest still.
And indeed, there is light aplenty if only one cares to see! For all the apathy the West has been buried under due to hyper materialism and religious dissonance, not all communities have given up! In fact, one could say that the Western youth has found a new impetus under the guidance of Ayatollah Khamenei, and his call for resistance against those forces that have perniciously embedded themselves onto Islam to strip it from its sanctity, and thus leave a people orphaned from the Message.
“Do not allow for the true nature of Islam to remain hidden, or people will imagine that Islam is like Christianity [nominal Christianity, not the faith’s true expression], a collection of injunctions pertaining to man’s relation to God, and the mosques will be equated with the church,” noted Ayatollah Khomeini in Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist. I would venture and say that such an advice could not be more timely.
If anything, the threat the Islamic world now sits under is greater than in previous decades since it finds itself caught in between neoliberal fundamentalism and Wahhabi-inspired takfirism. Here, I don’t believe anyone will disagree when I say that across the board, beyond all matters of differences, disagreements and upsets Islam’s school of thoughts are united against the same aggressor.
It is in denunciation of Wahhabism and the litany of horrors its preachers have promoted under their infamous black banner that youth organizations, Islamic centres and NGOs across the United States and the United Kingdom have rallied around to manifest positive change through social resistance.
One particular comment stuck with me, since it really echoed of Ayatollha Khamenei’s advice to both the western youth and Muslims in the West. ROC – Roots Of Conflict – in Seattle (Washington, US) said: “Today, an evil ideology is wreaking havoc in the name of Islam and their actions are variously fought by or, given material support by Western countries due to strategic expediencies. Western countries have taken the unfortunate path of treating Islam and Muslims as “The greatest threat to the West” despite the fact that 99% of the victims of Terrorism are Muslims. This has created a backlash against Muslims here in the US which is expected to get worse as the future unfolds. We are a small group of Muslims and our aim is to hold conferences at educational institutions to expose the roots of extremist violence in order to change public perception. There are very few people, both among Muslims and Non-Muslims, who are raising these issues to this depth.”
While of course ROC is not alone in pushing back against ignorance and bigot prejudices, few organizations have been able to formulate such a stand in the United States in answer to Tehran’s calls for peaceful social resistance.
One can only hope more will join in and bridge up those divides which continue to hinder our abilities to offer exclusionism a strong opposition. Here I believe Ayatollah Khamenei offered the best of explanation when he emphasised in December 2016: “a great deal of money is being spent in order to create discord between Islamic denominations and between Sunni and Shia. They work on this in their “think tanks” – as westerners put it. These are places where they sit, hatch plots and formulate plans. If these things are explained to the people, they will really be surprised to know that so many things are being done in order to make two Muslims – one Sunni and another Shia – avoid sitting beside each other and speaking to one another. They will be surprised to know that all these things are being done in order to make them have a bad and hostile relationship with each other and pull guns on one another.”
Ultimately there lies our biggest challenge since a house divided cannot stand. Maybe there is wisdom in such an adage since Unity – that which comes from obedience in God’s command, demands that our faith be made complete through both the Quran and the House (AhlulBayt).
Ultimately it is when we turn to just leadership that Resistance will be best expressed!
By Catherine Shakdam – Director of the Shafaqna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies and Editor of Shafaqna News Association – UK
This article appeared first in Ayatollah Khamenei’s website