The presence of an Islamic element in most current international crises has driven many Westerners to believe that the world’s challenges and crises stem from the religion of Islam. Political Islamists who often argue that, according to our holy book, Islam demands that we fight for our rights (“Jihad”) also back up this belief. This proposition, which has made Western intellectuals fully accept the accusation against Islam, overlooks political factors and cultural issues that may have contributed to the development of current crises.
Although in our book Islam prompts us to regain our missing rights by various means, the same book incentivizes us to exert efforts to achieve peace, mercy and tolerance. Moving from one set of advice to another depends on each Muslim’s interpretation of Islam, along with their level of education, culture, and home nation’s political status. Our lives are shaped and driven by a number of factors; it is difficult for citizens to weight these factors correctly when they are motivated to act and behave.
Since the common denominator in many universal crises is Islam, Western thinking pattern and logic conclude, falsely, that the religion of Islam is the clear cause behind these crises, while understating the fact that our forceful Muslim Arab culture drives many of us to act impulsively and immaturely. Not only do we lack good education systems; some of our school curriculums stimulate us to act violently. Additionally, living in a politically heated environment, amidst poor economic conditions, ends up irrationalizing many of our deeds.
Western politicians often want to pursue a shortcut by attributing today’s challenges to various reasons that don’t lay any responsibility on their shoulders; thus, Islam is often designated as the single common denominator in these challenges. Sadly, most Western citizens buy into this argument and, unintentionally and foolishly, we Muslims are working on reinforcing this myth. Moreover, the powerful status of Western nations enables them to impose their non-factual understanding on many universal citizens.
Meanwhile, we Muslims are not exempt from blame. We insist on living within our own taboos and are unwilling to apply basic modernization to our patterns of thought and lifestyles, falsely believing that we are thus complying with the true values of Islam. We tend to be obsessed with the element of Western interference in the challenges we face, conveniently forgetting that the initial spark was set off by us. Muslims who often believe that it is Western nations who light this spark should blame themselves for allowing this to happen.
If we truly believe that a great deal of misinterpretation of Islamic values, along with other factors, motivates terrorists, then we should not be obliged to accept their claim that they are fighting on behalf of their religion. These terrorists attach the “Islamic value” label to themselves because they can find no better justification for their actions. Nevertheless, terrorists who emerge from Islamic nations will continue to be a shortcoming of our society and a responsibility that we need to address.
Deliberately or unintentionally, the world is mentally trapped within the Islamic phenomenon, limiting its citizens’ ability to solve many of its challenges. We are presently confronting many complex crises triggered by politicians and extremists. Islam is misinterpreted and misused in a way that better serves the current political era — and results in expanding universal citizens’ ignorance.
If we truly want to better address our challenges, we should think of alternative methods to solve our problems. From our end, we Muslims need to expend more effort on exhibiting the positive aspects of our Islamic values — not by preaching, but by putting these values into practice, which the vast majority of Muslims certainly do not do. Meanwhile, non-Muslims need to work on better visualizing the entire array of challenges confronting Muslims — not in order to condemn them for their behavior, but in order to understand their motives.
Originally published on www.arabnews.com