Islam Misunderstood

If language is a mode to express and communicate with fellow human beings then perhaps linguistics and lexicons, know better how difficult and inadequate they find themselves when they have to translate and understand the meaning of a word from the text to the context, from one language to the other or elicit the implicit meaning from within a word itself into an explicit, distinct, appropriate invariably without ambiguity. The task remains challenging yet never achievable, not because we lack the means and method to do it, but because the very nature of it's usage. It's growth in a given culture and society, in which it is used keeps the perennial challenge alive as to how to interpret it in the lights of changing circumstances, with the growth and development of society. And this very difficulty of interpretation of language more particularly religious text has been the root of all misunderstanding. Not only have the subjective elements of individuals or groups, colored their own interests while throwing light to the meaning of the text, but this was and is still being surreptitiously distorted, misinterpreted by the 'other' in their race for dominance and superiority for serving their own interest. It is limitation of human language that more often than not, the meaning of the religious text has got lost in the encyclopedia of its own school of interpretation. 

Realizing this paradoxical dilemma of not having consensus on the meaning of its own text and the same being the case with the others, radical elements within and outside the Semitic religions had zealously and relentlessly pursued, to tarnish and damage it's counter part for it's own sustenance and existence. It has become the maxim of Semitic religions that "misunderstanding were to be followed as a rule with others". More often we have seen through the history that the basic inherent tendency of Semitic religion like Islam, Christianity and Judaism is in their in-built nature to exclude the other from itself and by implication it means to attract within it's fold as many people as it is possible to maintain it's superiority over the other. And to be superior in the material world is to be in control of at least, the resources, economy, technology, trade, and all other things attached to it that would give to it's followers dignity better living standard and superior value system. Since there was no uniformity in the process of bringing within it's fold new groups of believers and in most occasion in the Semitic religions itself, they had to face each other within the same ethnic cultural group of people like the Arab Muslims and Arab Christians. Though ethnically they would be more alike and similar but because of the change in their belief system and religion they started feeling more in common and felt alike with those who shared their beliefs and their new religion than with those with whom they shared ethnically the same world view earlier. This paved the way for more complicated reorganization of people in terms of their religious world view within the Semitic religions and as such an urgency for adjustment of each other's interest arose wherever confrontation had to be avoided. This situation arose within the same ethnic groups, where Semitic religion came to take it's root together and also where different ethnic groups who were completely under the fold of one Semitic religion had to encounter the other Semitic or non-Semitic religion. So long as there were some internal understanding and balance of interest were maintained within the Semitic religion protecting their own interest either through debate, dialogue or conciliation, we had witnessed periods of peace in the history. But the day disgruntled elements decided to subvert the balance and attempted to annihilate the other or retard the growth of the other we have enormous examples in our pages of world history that speaks voluminous of death, destruction and tragedies that both sides had to suffer. 

So what is happening in the world today is nothing new that should either shock or surprise us. It is the logical extension of the same attitude that have ramified into our political and social ideology, however, only the backdrop has changed. The attitude is colored now under the complicated network of science, technology, economic development, world security, human rights, terrorism, free state etc which in it's intrinsic sense, has nothing to do relatively, with religion or religious beliefs but with it's own inherent values and forces that it generates by it self as it progresses with development of our society. 

The western world in general and America in particular, though finding themselves still deep rooted in their religion and their belief system were far sighted and more practical in their approach, when they realized it was impossible to resolve multiple religious aspirations, in the light it's own emerging social realities, created by multi-cultural and multi- ethnic set up, while complicated further by the advancement in science and technology. As such they relegated religion into personal sphere of life, realizing the practical existential difficulties, they would have to resolve if this was not done. Applying religious meaning would be suicidal to these new realities. This was not because the values adhered within religions cannot explain the modern phenomena but because of the diverse opinions within itself- about, what is religion? What is value attached to it? Whether religion should regulate our total life? Do all religions has something universal ? etc - are so vexatious and complicated that anybody and everybody could use God or Allah as a pretext for justification of his personal or collective deeds or misdeeds. We are all civilized and cultured during our peace time, when we are in total control of our interest or when there is no immediate threat to the same, but sets a crisis and all our rationality takes a back seat. Instinctively humans reacts to incite a sense of arousal around it's surrounding to generate a mass support identifying it's personal individual problems with the sympathy of the overwhelming collective. Rationalizing, justifying cannot arouse this common excitement, even if it does we have seen that the impact is miniscule because of the difference of opinion that it always create in its process of arriving at any understanding. And the limitation of people or group who would react would always depend on the level of education and the political or social ideology they subscribe to. As such human emotion becomes the most potential victim of vested interest groups and radical elements in Semitic religions. And if the subject matter to which emotions would be directed is divinity then history is a witness as to how "rationality" has been time and again imprisoned or brutally murdered for revealing the misdeeds of rulers, administrators, powerful nations who had taken religion for a terrible ride, when their economic crises had to be averted, political justifications were to be given and when lust for power and dominance were driving them to hell. 

Needless to say why equate Islam with terrorism then? 

It is a fact that Islam has been misused by vested elements within itself for furthering their own interests. But this is also true with the vested interests in all the religions. The danger in equating Islam with terrorism would amount to committing a serious mistake. This is because Islam is geographically and politically distributed throughout the globe and amounts to one third of the global population and the aggrieved elements happens to be within the Islamic countries. These aggrieved elements are reacting to the incapability and complacency of their own respective governments, to voice against the Western military and economic dominance over their land and oil. It is this peculiar situation that all Islamic countries are unable to address to the growing dissenting voices within their respective countries that is actually fueling, fomenting small connected groups of people who are finding themselves more easy to identify with each other in religious terms to fight against the western dominance. The Fact that even Islamic countries have joined the world forces against these isolated groups proves that, even they are sincere to see that world peace should not be high-jacked by any groups even if they are from within the same fold. The issue is not Islam in Islamic countries world over for which they are reacting against the west or America in particular. The real issue is the vast disparity between the techno-have and the have-nots, between monopolization and self-assertions, nuclear powers and non nuclear powers, extra-territorial domination and no territory and between the exploiter and the exploited. 

How do we manage our natural resources that are unequally distributed in the diverse geographical locations? How to reach the benefit of scientific knowledge to the remotest of our society? How do we bridge our ideological differences and economic inequalities? There is no denying the fact that our social scientist, environmentalist, economist, NGO's, and other social bodies are working extremely hard in understanding and giving practical shape and direction to resolve this pressing necessary issues which, if not addressed and resolved would sooner or later destroy our social and economic structure and chaos would be imminent. No religion, ethics, morality or values would save us then. We will have to be doomed to live in a perennial state of insecurity, dread, poverty exploitation, terrorism, health hazards, and deprivation. 

Terrorism in any form is bad. The pulse of terrorism lies deep rooted in our society, it is created out of inequality, deprivation and the motivating force of terrorism is mutually generated by the perpetrator and the victim that drives the aggrieved sections of the society to resort to all possible means to fight against the powerful aggressor irrespective of any means they adopt to achieve their desired goal. But, the moment we start justifying any act of violence as terrorism, we know it opens up a plethora of questions along with it. Why is their terrorism? Who should define terrorism? What type of terrorism we talking about? Is the society itself responsible for creating it? What is the remedy? There are diverse opinions among intellectuals and they are yet to arrive on any common understanding about it. But they do agree that the issue is about people, technology, agencies, radical elements and vested groups who have capabilities to generate terror cutting across all man made boundaries. The medium to transmit this terror can be religion, culture, technology, and ideology. As such it is a human problem, the issue of our society, the security of our nation. And we all know Human beings are as diverse as universe itself. Society in which we are living and the world that is emerging is made up of a cross section of people, culture and values. And our nation itself is a fragile man made entity, where the general health of it depends upon how every section contributes in adjusting and balancing their respective interests, irrespective of their own religious cultural ethnic background. So it would be suicidal on the part of any aware individual or groups who knows that they are living in the multi cultural, religious and multi ethnic society, where progressive mind sets and radical elements play hide and seek every now and then, to generalize any act of violence in terms of religion, ethnicity and culture on any particular group of people. 

Scientific attitude towards life itself, has brought out a class of people in every society, who irrespective of their religious or cultural background, participate and identify themselves with each other, more zealously than with their own ethnic or religious counter part, if there is a contradiction in perception of life and values in the modern world with them. As such this progressive group of people will have to play and who I think are playing a vital role in reforming their own society. Our society has given great sacrifices in reaching this state where it is maintaining a delicate balance between the progressive mind set vis-a vis the radical elements. 

No irrational mind should be allowed to disturb it. This again is because we don't have a choice. If we want to live peacefully and if we aspire for progress and development then balancing the needs and aspiration our society is a necessity and not something that we can luxuriously afford to discuss and desire.

It is this balancing of interest that is relevant in maintaining global peace in the world in terms of resources, technology and information. The accountability question lies more, on the western world and America in particular because they are at the vanguard of all the scientific, technological advancement in the world today. Have they been maintaining the balance of interest in the world today? Certainly not! Do they have the moral strength and character to admit to the duality of their foreign policy ? And have we ever objected to that ? No, we were complacent! Will they be civilized enough to admit that they had their share in the creation of Osama-bin-laden and the Talibans to neutralize the Russians factor during the cold war. Certainly they must be regretting now that they should have disbanded them earlier when the job was done. Now should the price for being opportunist, indifferent, complacent, for the rights, justice, deprivation and forced occupation be so colossal that thousands of lives of innocent civilians had to be taken in the most horrifying manner first, to wake up the conscience of humanity that under the garb of globalization and Free world something wrong was being seriously committed. Certainly not! 


More by :  Khalid Khan

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