An Appeal to the Conscience of Mankind

When the humanity is gripped by the forces of extremism, fanaticism, obscurantism, fundamentalism and communalism, when the natural bonds of fraternity in-between people and nations are on a declining course, when the general status of human relations is at its lowest, when religion is being used to perpetrate and perpetuate violence, when issues like clash of civilizations and increasing bitterness in inter/intra faith relations are being recognized as a world phenomenon and when the global family is religiously dying for peace and harmony; it becomes all the more important and pressing for the world community to take lead in initiating inter faith/ inter civilization dialogue between the religious, spiritual and intellectual leadership belonging to different faiths, schools of thought and shades of opinion. And more than anything else it becomes mandatory to undertake such projects which may send the message of inter faith harmony and peaceful co-existence to humanity cutting across all lines, divisions and denominations.

Another dimension to this whole issue is that under the present circumstances somehow "Muslims" and their faith in Islam around the world have provided space to believe that they together are a threat to peace and the existence/survival of civilized society. It is not a mere perception but some of our acts, responses and reactions too have contributed to this formulation.

My understanding of the Faith is that Islam and peace are the two sides of the same coin. It may be some misguided individual Muslims or groups of them or may be some of their institutions/organizations who can be rightly or wrongly charged with engagement in general acts of hostility and terror but to denominate that as Islamic terrorism or Muslim terrorism would be a great injustice to the faith and of course to its peace loving followers. The overwhelming majority believes in peaceful co-existence and acts and conducts accordingly.

Sometimes general public support (protests and demonstrations) to the acts of terror by a section of Muslims provides space for a perception to gain momentum that perhaps this whole community supports terrorism. This is being absolutely wrong and may not be termed more than an ill conceived or wrongly perceived notion.

The fact of the matter is that Muslims around the world are feeling themselves at the receiving end and in their psyche this has gone deeply placed that justice is universally denied to them and their natural wealth/other material resources are being exploited to advance the political and economic agenda of the West. So as and when they see somebody taking on such forces; out of sheer general frustration simply rally around without realizing the consequences and its fall out. May I call upon the West to revisit their total strategy towards Islam and Muslims around the world and I also call upon the silent peace loving majority of Muslims to rise to the occasion and become more vocal in standing against extremism in whatever form and manifestation it stands. Let us learn to join heads and our hearts with the West in particular and the rest in general to weed out the menace of violence from our rank and file once for all.

The Muslims in general also feel that why is the whole community being hijacked for the acts of omission and commission of few disgruntled elements and subjected to public harassment and condemnation.

They also feel that in Sri Lanka LTTE first started suicidal attacks and the Prime Ministers of India and Sri Lanka became its target but that is not termed as being Hindu terrorism, in South Africa Apartheid is the worst example of racial terrorism but that was never denominated as Christian terrorism, Even Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews that is also not considered Christian terrorism and many more such examples are there to quote.

For God sake let us not use religious entities to target the perpetrators of violence. Let us resolve once for all that we call a terrorist a terrorist not a Baha'I, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu Muslim, Jain, Jew or Zoroastrian terrorist; terrorist is jus a terrorist and that's it. He simply deserves to be condemned for the acts of terror in the most vocal terms and is not given the status of a Hero and the outfit he/they belong to can be described as the representative of the civilized society.

In fact we the Muslims; as a community around the world have also failed in discharging our fundamental duty to isolate extremism from our rank and file and beyond that also in educating the diverted minds of youth who have taken to a suicidal course of terrorism and militancy. We do not deny the cases of gross human rights violations and stances of political, social and economic injustice in various parts of the world but here again our general temperament of confrontation and hostility have somehow contributed towards this. But whatever be the temptations terrorism can not be the answer to resolve problems in a civilized society. Debate, dialogue, diplomacy and wise counsel provide much better options to the resolution of conflicts than the course of confrontation, hostility, hatred and terror. The general tendency to immediately jump to conclusion and offer a very sentimental and impatient response to sensitive issues always trap Muslims in the net which is knit by their opponents to target and label them in a certain "frame" for very obvious reasons of political capitalization. That is the case now and that has been the case before.

We as a community can be most easily blackmailed by playing with our so called religious sentiments. Religion offers a code of conduct which requires complete adherence and perfect following and that is nothing but abiding by the established norms of ethics and morality. This is not a subject of raising passions and converting that to obsession. Islam offers a middle path to lead a life of self esteem by causing no harm to any one and doing well to every one.