The London bombings have shocked the world and once again raised the question 'Why?'. But people who hurry to blame fundamentalists and poverty are missing the point: Islam itself.
Today there is a
lot of talk about the root causes of Islamic terrorism
and how to deal with them. So what are these root causes
then? UK-US foreign policy? The Westís lust for oil?
Illiteracy and poverty in the Muslim world? The
hijacking of Islam by a few extremists? These, amongst
others, are the reasons most left-wing intellectuals and
self-declared liberal Muslim thinkers, from British
Robert Fisk to Pakistani author
Tariq Ali, are providing for the attacks on London
and Islamic terrorism in general.
Muslims vs. Muslims
But letís be frank. While we canít deny the double standards of US foreign policy or Americaís quest for hegemony, when have Muslim states not shown the same double standards regarding international affairs? Havenít Muslim nations tried to dominate their own neighbours, even when those neighbours are part of their Muslim brotherhood? Pakistanís quest for hegemony in Afghanistan, Syriaís hold on Lebanon, Iraqís attacks on Iran and Kuwait; these are just a few prominent examples. And our famous progressive Muslim scholars barely mention the barbarianism of Muslim Iraq, Iran and Turkey towards Muslim Kurds.
So letís look at the real root cause of Islamic terrorism: Islam today. World leaders, in order to maintain religious harmony, claim that Islam is a religion of peace. But in fact there are several fundamental flaws in the teachings of Islam: gender inequality, intolerance of non-Muslims and limited personal freedoms (including freedom of expression and the creative arts). It is true that Islamic terrorism is staged by only a small percentage of extremist Muslims; however, it is also true that this terrorism is not strongly condemned by the majority of other Muslims.
The need for change
Progressive Muslim scholars claim that Islam has been Ďhijackedí and that ordinary Muslims donít support terrorism. If this statement is true, then why is Osama Bin Laden a hero in most Islamic countries? Walk on the streets of Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Somalia and many other Muslim countries and you will see the respect and love shown for Bin Laden and other leaders like him. This respect is not a result of illiteracy and poverty but of the way in which Islam is taught. This is why thousands of Muslim doctors, professors and other highly qualified professionals do not condemn Islamic terrorism.
The worldís media and leaders need to focus on truly liberal Muslims who have the courage to demand real change to remedy the basic flaws of Islam. Those self-declared progressive Muslims who try to justify Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance are just making the situation more confused. There are many real liberal Muslim scholars who have been proposing changes to Islam for years, but their voices are constantly and deliberately being ignored by the media. If these voices start getting heard, perhaps they will change the traditional Muslim mind for the better.
Tahir Aslam Gora - Toronto - 21.7.2005