By Wafa Abyad
By Wafa Abyad
Casablanca – The latest attacks in Istanbul, Bangladesh, Iraq, Jeddah, and Medina have been hard for the Arab world and the world in general to absorb. It is difficult to comprehend how Muslims can kill other Muslims. How did we, the Muslim community, get to this point? What can be done to stop this ongoing violence?
It is hard to think objectively when we see dead bodies of innocent people in the streets. We are enraged by such violence and hatredWe are blinded by it, and we often point our fingers and claim that those who perpetrate the attacks are not Muslims. Why would we include them as members of our faith? The answer seems obvious: mainstream Muslims are under attack by those who have hijacked our faith for their violent purposes. However, simplistically deeming the attackers un-Islamic blinds us from comprehending the bigger picture. With this approach, we cannot understand how the Muslim community reached this point, how a member of our faith blew himself up so close to the second holiest place of our religion, and how we might reform our religion to progress towards peace.
It is time for us to face reality and name things as they are. This is an inter-religious war. Muslims are killing other Muslims in the name of Islam. We have to stop lying to ourselves when we use hashtags like #notinthenameofislam. These attacks are being carried out in the name of Islam. The attackers are Muslims who kill their coreligionists because they believe that other Muslims are practicing their religion the wrong way.
These people are called takfiris, a term which roughly translates to “those who deem others to be unbelievers.” This concept is the cornerstone of the internal schism within the Islamic community between extremists and mainstream Muslims. The extremist takfiris believe that they practice the only correct form of Islam; they thereby claim the moral authority to deem themselves the only true Muslims, and deem other believers that practice differently kufars (heretics). According to shari’a (Islamic law), the sentence of a heretic is death. Justifying their actions by this logic, takfiris kill mainstream Muslims that they believe are heretics.
The Arab world has done little to stop this ideology of takfir. Many Muslims today ask themselves why the Islamic community has we not been able to stop takfiri ideology from spreading over the last decades. How on earth, with all the expertise that Islamic scholars contribute to the religious community, have we failed to do so?
The answer stems from a combination of geopolitical and religious factors, and the inability and unwillingness of the Muslim community to respond thus far. We let the takfiris grow strong initially because they framed themselves as mujahideen, religious soldiers fighting for God against Western and Soviet occupying forces. They started in Afghanistan, but when the war against the Soviets ended, they had to find other reasons to fight and other targets to attack.
In the new millennium, Al Qaeda and ISIS rose to power. Muslims largely let foreign forces take the lead in the fight against these takfiri groups, convinced that they had the situation under control. These foreign powers have not been able to contain this ideology. Over the past decades, history has repeated itself over and over again. Takfiri groups have risen to power, foreigners have failed to suppress them, and the Muslims have suffered from horrific violence.
It is time for the Muslim community itself to take a stance by reforming our religion and eradicating takfiri ideology. It is time to let the new generation of scholars work for change. Admitting that the problem comes from within Islam is a first step toward peace. As Cheikh Hamza Yusuf beautifully stated in his essay about the latest deadliest events, “The Qur’an clearly instructs us that when faced with calamities, we ought to look first at what we may have done to bring them upon us. Introspection is a Qur’anic injunction. Until we come to terms with this Qur’anic truth, we will remain mired in the mirage of denial, always pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. “Verily, God does not change the conditions of a people until they change themselves” (Qur’an, 13:11).”
We cannot permit ourselves to continue denying that takfiri ideology does not come from Islam. We must recognize the distinctly Islamic elements of takfir to successfully reform our religion and, at last, find peace.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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