Islam and The Cartoon Scandal
The cartoons and the present harvest of sermons calling for violence when impact is not achieved as exacted by Islamic dictates--would not go away but the anger, regardless, should be ours. People caring about their fellow men, not only insist that others can speak their mind. They ought to help elicit conditions so to that moderates have less of a game of chance with life doing just that.
I am wholeheartedly in agreement with many commentators for valuable elucidation of 'Islamic rage' being manufactured to fulfill another agenda. It is entirely clear that quite a few cynical political players in Islam including plenty of Imams--and in the past weeks waves of more opportunistic leaders in Islam and elsewhere -are taking advantage of the cartoons and countering cartoons campaigns in order to develop the lowest common denominators to consolidate their rank and file as well as influence new realms. As I have stated before to my colleagues at spec-list, theirs is not a desire for respect and acceptance as equals --which Islamic culture can easily achieve these days of care to dialogue and open communications, *but as emphatically superior to anything unIslamic.* The worse to come is predicated on the crowd behavior so well manipulated by the extremists that it cannot entertain or become aware of the possibility of accepting the moderators in, or modern interpretation of, Islam, as they evolved in Judaism and Christianity for the past few hundred years. Worst yet, is the punitive and effective harnessing of moderates and moderation attempts. Precisely because the cartoons bring about Islamo-fascists death fight with the moderates, Islam will have to evolve to meet the challenges of imperative modernization. These challenges will be met at a higher cost, later rather than earlier and moderate expressions can be soon silenced completely if we do not realize that:
First, moderate Islam does not have sufficient financial support, media, textbooks, organs of expression, personal safety and dexterity and it has been pursued only very passively for the most parts with a few country exceptions. UNRWA, the Palestinian Authority, the educational ministries in most countries that aim at a measure of moderation, being kinder and much more concerned as compared with, say, the twisted Saudi brand of Wahabbiyah education [e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia, Morocco] -all still support basic education in the *madrassat* that mostly feeds uninhibited hatred to the infidels in the largest demographic cohorts in all these countries i.e. of under 22.
Second, some of the conduciveness for theological dialoguing with others long suffered intended omissions in Islam that are still paramount within the so called moderate "schools". These include the wealth of exegesis and original thinking about Tawhid as a classical Islamic principle of accepting others; the god given primacy of all human race unity; the relevance of the value and concern for human life and essential affinity, all but forgotten, of "people of the book".
Third, myth exists nearly in all religion but in Islam the worse myopias in terms of inter-faith relations never get to be highlighted for their false origination. Unlearning lies and glossing over wrongful continuities is yet to be pursued by moderate Muslims as well as concerned non Muslims. As a side note and illustration: The Jerusalem Mosque has no religious significance for Muslims. Literally, Muhammad never went there. Yazid III, who lived 200 years after the death of Muhammad, was the ruler of Jerusalemand did not have or get much wealth since Jerusalem was not at all a tourist/religious center like Mekkah (Mecca). He asked his very wise prime minister to initiate a "cure". The PM suggested making the most beautiful/amazing mosque and tell everybody that Al Aqhsa (far away) Mosque mentioned in the Qur'an 23/64 from that rock Muhammad had ascended to Heavens 23/64 was there. It was a manifest, clear fabrication, but after a few years everybody believed in it. And, Jerusalem did become another religious/tourist spot, and the ruler Yazid fared very well for his regime and treasury.
The Prophet Muhammad had a little personal Mosque (a cave) outside of Mekkah. He used to go there to get away from it all and meditate. It was from that rock that he supposedly ascended to heavens. That was the Al Aghsa (far away) Mosque, since it took Muhammad a couple of hours on camel back to get to it. The records for these facts are among the oldest verified in Islamic historiography. The significance of this, now marginalized, fact for a better positioning of Islam vis a vis Jerusalem and Jewish values is too obvious to bring out in an anti-Semitic world.
Fourth, many Islamic websites "action" and last Friday's Shiiah sermons were indicative of the 12th prophet al-Mahdi's coming. This scenario of upheavals and temptations and civil disorder is preached to spread where infidels reside. It is less than the best facilitation for near future suppression of present radical Islam's mood and newly recreated manifold bases for continued anger and rage.
Fifth, one sees less than firm hand handling radical Muslims that create these crimes against Islam and against humanity. The mentioned British Imams and the Copenhagen based Palestinian Imam; Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban are a case in point. This Copenhagen rascal actually started the cartoon campaign and the recent circulation of *Gamah Islamiya's* hatred messaging among crowds in so many countries; he has not stopped for one week creating new pools of venom by reciting message of calling to punish Western tourists in Islamic countries. This call appeared in the *Gamah *Scandinavian published journal *,al-Murabitun*. Last week I saw him on *al-Jazeera*hailing in Arabic the Muslim world outrage at his country of residence. Invited often to speak on Danish television he condemned, that very same week, the boycott of Danish goods. He, like Arafat before, learnt that he can send different messages without the slightest guilt, without sense of contradiction or sense of obligation to his adopting country. He never was brought to justice by the Danes before this cartoon era and it seems even more justified and unlikely now.
The moderate tone of all of NYT, WP , WSJ and WT commentaries would reminds us that our colleagues are all students of and partisan to the values and closely held tenets of Western democratic civilization. What appears to me now even more urgent is to fast realize that many silent thinkers and a few political leaders in Islam are similarly concerned but fear stoned by the above described burdens. Cowering moderates to take cover, rendering the in -Islam opposition to appear weak, soft calling for peaceful coexistence while lacking knowledge, resources ,courage to begin- all challenge for empathy.
Just like in 1998, when intellectual and political Egypt opened its mind to the Lurie cartoons [see my previous post to on this topic ], it would behoove us to respond: assisting more exposition of alternative thinking, depicting positive objectives and mutual wishes of coexistence that support moderation and moderators in Islam.