Naima Nas: Deliverance – Islam NOT Islamism
When I was invited to write this, my immediate concern was how honest is too honest and how clear is too much clarity. Honest and clear are good, but neither promises delight. So I am a little bit sorry in advance if this fails to please.
Here it comes. . . .
I am not sure another note from a Muslim apologizing for or defending Islam
is necessary right now, and I am sure that neither an apology nor a defense is helpful. One more apology will only serve the one apologizing, simply by setting him or her apart from those causing the misery. However, perhaps it will have some positive impact in a way that I cannot anticipate.
I want to emphasize that the time for saying sorry has passed. More is needed now. And as for defending the ideology, don’t bother with that either, no one is interested. The truth is that we look terrible, regardless of whether or not we are better than how we look. So that is that!
The question then is: “what now”?
I am not a huge fan of over analyzing things, especially during a crisis. One does not stand over a contagious patient and analyze the lifestyle leading to the deadly infection: just find an antidote, please! Then we’ll analyze all you like.
And that is what is happening now, in my view. Islam is both infected and infectious. Not every Muslim is contagious; but hoping for the best is not an option. And no, I am not suggesting quarantine for all Muslims either. I am, however, suggesting a crash course of treatment for those displaying signs of infection. Moreover, the treatment has to be administered in-house. In other words, Muslims can only be treated by Muslims.
In the meantime, we have to understand, without sulking about it, why no one wants us anywhere near. It baffles me how this is not clear to everyone. So forgive me for spelling it out: non-Muslims cannot fix this problem! The root of the problem is the worn-out interpretation of a scripture hardly anyone is familiar with, either because they have never read it themselves or because they have read it with someone else getting into their heads telling them what every word means.
And here is the most painful observation: most Muslims, even the most peaceful and kind Muslims, do quietly believe that their religion is the only true religion. Most, not all!
And I know that this phenomenon is not unique to Muslims and that most people quietly think their way is the only good way. But most people do not have a whole bunch of psychopaths running around killing everyone who disagrees with them.
Try to resist the compelling temptation to list the examples of “others” doing just that! I already know all of them and could list them for you. But I am not really interested in what “others” do right now.
So honestly and clearly what am I suggesting?
Briefly: Every sane Muslim must at least consider that there is more than one route to salvation. In addition to that, we all have to agree on a definition of what Islam actually is, or at the very least what it is not.
The traditional and most commonly used definition of the word is incorrect to start with. Islam is not submission. Submission is “Isteslam”. So that is the first error. This is not just a linguistic debate; it is a lot more pressing than that.
Islam is the word derived from the verb “Aslam”, meaning to offer one’s whole being — heart, mind and soul — to the Divine, in recognition of His — God’s — undisputed supremacy over all that is created by the one and only Creator. The concept was not invented by Mohammad (ppbuh). The concept is as old as creation itself, and it was known to the first creatures before Mankind — according to scriptures anyway. Let us not split hairs with scientific debates right now.
Abraham and Moses and Aaron, just to name a few Biblical figures, are referred to as Muslims in the Quran. So it is not a new thing. In fact Judaism is Islam in that sense, or if you prefer: Islam is Judaism by another name.
And that really brings me to my point. The earliest form of Islam – as a concept rather than by traditional definition — was practiced first by Jews (let us call them that for ease of reference as I know they were not always called Jews). Their history, studied either from scriptures or other sources, suggests that they made almost every mistake we are making now, especially the tendency to be literal about everything.
What is fascinating, I think, is that Judaism survived at all. The good news however is that we now have a formula. In a nutshell, because I know nobody is in the mood for too long a piece, we can say this: delivering creatures from evil is not on the Divine to-do list. That is our job! We the creatures have the manual, the free will, and the need to survive.
My advice to Muslims therefore is this: now that some of us so-called “Muslims” have made the rest of us the New Jew – subject to persecution and rejection by just about everyone — how about studying the obvious? Do what the Jews eventually did: Stop waiting for deliverance and let us do some delivering of our own. Reform, rethink, regroup and rise again, without the swords, knives and blood. All we really need to do is what we were instructed to do as the first commandment. Read. Read. For God’s sake Read!
Just one last thought and it is a big request, I suppose. Try not to be distracted by the idea of comparing Jews to Muslims. I know there is a huge difference between Jews being persecuted through no fault of their own, merely for being different, and Muslims being persecuted as a result of the self-inflected misery we now feel we are subject to. After all, it was never compulsory for some of us to do what we did.
That is all I want to say for now!
This post was written by Naima Nas after I invited her to expound upon a rather cryptic comment she made one day on a thread I was following. She describes herself as an Egyptian Muslim peace moderator/mediator who understands that we are all so connected and dependent on each other whether we like it or not.
Thank you for your perspective, and I do agree. “If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Sorry isn’t enough in the face of slaughter.
A short and admittedly inadequate reply. No discussion of Islam as it functions on the world stage can be complete without factoring in the bellicose militaristic foreign policy of the U.S. Who for decades has pushed and shoved these and many other people around without mercy without any interest or concern for the inevitable blowback. Is it any wonder that extreme hard line sentiments gain traction within groups so besieged.
” as Muslims we are all one body in terms of responsibility. And while most of us are not in anyway culpable for the horrors , we are required to ache because of that harm. Also not to hang our failings on others. So whether or not others have done us wrong. We are not supposed to lose our humanity over it ” !
John Millen: Your reply is thankfully short but it is more than “inadequate” – it is an insult to anyone who has walked upright (morally, ethically and intellectually) for longer than one generation.
Agreed Rita. The world is full of apologists like John Millen.
Naima Nas, thank you for your wise, knowledgeable, and sensible take on things. Personally, it upsets me to think of a wonderful person like you feeling pressure to apologize for what ignorant, monstrous thugs do. At the same time, I’m very glad that every religion–and perhaps especially Islam and Judaism today–has thoughtful, knowledgeable, and spiritual interpreters and reformers like you.
Struggling to make sense of this. the first thing that strikes me is this concept of Islam needing to reform itself from within. An historical precedent exists for this in another religion – the Roman catholic church. I use the word, religion, for a reason. Religion is not faith. In the 16th century, the Reformers in Europe attempted to correct the abuses of the Roman church which gave birth to the Reformed Protestant churches. Apart from some differences in doctrine and practice, the two churches are today largely indistinguishable and the Ecumenical movement represents a move back to the Roman church. My point I wish to make here, is that you cannot reform that which is nonreformable. The Roman church is based on the lie that Peter the Apostle is the rock on which the church is built. Not so. Jesus is the rock.
How did Islam spread in the Classical world, and why did it spread so fast? Your article is an apologetic for a religion which spread at the point of a sword. How can something so rotten be reformed by its own exponents. People fear Islam because its very nature and history is one of subjugation and/or death.
To characterise the majority of the adherents of Islam as “the New Jew” is not only an affront to the thousands of real Jews that Muslims have slaughtered over the centuries, but shows a gross misunderstanding of of the story of Avraham, whose name you invoke, and his descendants.
Islam is by its very nature, a murdering political ideology. It has used knives and swords since the beginning, has killed millions, and still kills today in furtherance of its aims. The fact that the Jews still survive ought to give you some pause for thought. To compare yourselves to them is odious. In my view, the world should wake up to the fact that it fears Islam because of its very nature, conquer that fear and rise up to defeat Islam once and for all and wipe it off the face of the earth.