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Ideology, Islam & the West

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Bushra Zulfiqar
I have always found the blanket and almost decisive division between the liberals and extremists very artificial, un-substantative and mostly untrue of the multiple realms within which these ideologies operate. There are individuals, societies, ideas, cultures and actions which are either or nor or both or one of the two but the distinction cannot be so clear cut and simple. Liberalism cannot always be equated with objectivity and rationality just as extremism does not necessarily mean bombings, arms and violence. In my view, these are two famously infamous concepts which basically represent a state of being, a stage of evolution or a natural cyclical process of life influenced by external factors, be it of an individual or a society at large.
What we see in today’s world, particularly in the West is a very murky and judgmental approach towards understanding and interacting with the Muslim world. The very fact that East has come to symbolize Islam and West has emerged as the champion of secular liberalism is damaging to the core and cause of both these schools of thoughts. A majority of the self proclaimed expert institutions or individuals in the USA for instance, not only fail to understand and appreciate what Islam and Muslim nation states exist for but have greatly damaged the Muslim world by taking an anti-Islamic or Muslims course. Not to say that West is responsible for the dangerously destructive elements within Muslim world but the Western approach has been short sighted, ill designed and selfish. It has resulted into the East and West being on a confrontationist path, which is in conflict and not in commonality with each other.
Terrorism or the use of arms and weapons in the name of religion is condemnable in every form of expression. It is strictly prohibited in Islam. All religions Islam included preach humanity and love. Yet there is no denial of the phenomenon of global jihad which is not only completely contrary to the principles and teachings of Islam but has a history of being pursued for political and power gains. Al-Qaeda is a criminal, violent, senseless and destructive network of bloodless evils which in my view does not need to be defended by any human, yet alone a Muslim. The apologetic discourse of defense in case of this and other terrorist networks, who call themselves Muslims by the way, reflects the back foot which the majority of us have been forced to take. This will not do any good, neither for the West nor for Islam. As I said in the very beginning, a natural and cyclical process of existence does not make people liberals or extremists. Pastor Jones and his plans of burning the sacred text of Muslims on 9/11 anniversary certainly is an extremist mind set. It is not only dangerous but also extremely counterproductive to the cause of reconciliation between these two worlds of East and West, who by appreciating each others’ essence and equal existence can make the world a much better and a painless place to live. There has to be a common ground which pulls together the commonalities of principles, values and interests so that people can take comfort and joy in celebrating their faiths and freely exercise their religious choices without any fear of prejudice. In the long run, this is the only way the ideology of extremism be it in the form of Osama bin Laden or Pastor Jones can be defeated. The human family will happily and peacefully co-exist if their commonalities and complementariness is celebrated. The war against terror may fulfill short term objectives but in the long run it has to be the assertion of the faith in intrinsic goodness of the human breed, if ultimate peace and progress is to last all over the world.

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