My Dear Muslim Brethren
Today, we the Muslims around the world are passing through the most difficult times in our composite history and civilization We are almost gripped by discontent, frustration, anguish and a deep sense of alienation for the reasons of justice being denied to us world over. We consider ourselves as a strong block of fifty seven countries and enjoy the second largest majority status in the two largest states of the world; China and India. Even in Russian Federation the status is almost the same. In fact, we are substantially present in every nook and corner of the world. If some of us are poor then many are too rich as well. There is nothing that happens or may happen in this world by ignoring us. This is what our mindset is about our self and the state of affairs that we are in.
The fundamental question arises that in spite of so much being there as a recurring source of strength and consolidation how come we have lagged behind in every walk of life particularly when we compare that with other nations in the world. Unfortunately, the worst part of this whole scenario is that we as a community is not yet fully prepared to take our lessons correctly, open up ourselves to the fresh air of change, go in for diversified reform and develop an adaptive course of behavior to assimilate with the changing needs of time and space.
On the contrary our “lust” for further “deterioration” is not yet over. We are still engaging our ranks in every thing that deters us from the path of progress of which adopting moderation and rationality is an essential component. We are committing the same mistakes again and again for the last fourteen centuries of our existence on this planet and that too very “bravely”. And most unfortunately our leaders are opting to this course consciously and that too with the application of the best available minds in the community. The climax or anti climax of this scenario is that we still find ourselves fully competent to challenge or threaten any body and any where in the world particularly when the results of the past are there before us as an all time eye opener. What a pity!
Any way my aim here is not to engage this effort with politics in any form. However this was necessary to pinpoint for putting the record straight and also to invite the attention of the elders of the community towards self introspection and retrospection at all the levels. I very firmly believe that any nation devoid of the habit of introspection can not sustain itself for too long.
As a community we are gripped by three fundamental problems.
This is a world which demands from the subjects of different situations response/responses and not reaction/reactions. Response is positive in essence whereas reaction is negative to the core. Remember response requires a solid consultative mechanism consisting of experts and specialists drawn from different fields of life and a supportive education system in place necessary to train and groom the young mind to refrain from being misled or misled by passions. On the contrary while confronting new situations it depends more on logic, rationale and scientific temperament filled with sufficient inputs of personal/professional dynamism.
Most of the problems that we face today are the creation of our too passionate and intolerant temperament and confrontationist attitude that a section of Muslim clergy, some of the so called intellectuals and politicians devoid of necessary intellect and wisdom often adopt in relation to incoming new situations and challenges.
Let us take some examples. In various parts of the world Sunnis are killing Shiites and Shiites are killing Sunnis and that too in the name of religion. Faithful offering prayers and someone from the same Faith comes and shoots the innocent devotees and again that too in the name of religion. What is this? Islam in which suicide is forbidden but in spite of a very candid position of the Faith on this issue still some of us in order to express our resentment or to take revenge from the hostile element or force and finding the state of our affairs filled with sheer helplessness do take to this course. What ever are the temptations suicide and killing of innocent civilians can not be the answer. Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Bangla Desh, Pakistan, India, America, Spain, Australia, United Kingdom, Palestine, Israel are some of the victims besides many others.
May I take this opportunity to call upon all those individuals, groups, outfits and organizations who have taken to violence for want of or in search of justice may please shun the path of extremism immediately and give peace a chance through inter faith and inter civilization dialogue.
The life around the world for a common Muslim with every passing day is becoming more difficult and complex. There is a general sense of self humiliation and embarrassment amongst most of us. It is only you who can take us out from this net. The last decade filled with violence has failed to resolve any of the outstanding issues or positively deliver on any front. To be honest we have largely made a “value addition” to our already too fragile situation.
At the world level Iraq is almost destroyed, Iran is passing through a volatile phase, Pakistan is under constant threat and is the victim of its own creation, the Palestine issue is not yet resolved, Algeria, Libya and Sudan had to retreat, Indonesia is yet to fully recover from the seeds of extremism, Lebanon, Sudan and Somalia had to bear heavy costs, Egypt is still not completely out of it, Turkey is being threatened again and again, Bosnia is still recovering, Chechens are fighting for centuries with no positive outcome, Afghanistan is a complete story of destruction and disaster, in Nigeria the relations between Muslims and Christians are not yet in good health, Bangla Desh as a new nation is yet to come to terms with itself, NRI Muslims in different countries of the world are feeling the pinch of extremism and their day today life is affected by the changed mindset of organizations, other communities and nations, Muslims in India had to pay a heavy price for their wrong handling of Babri Masjid Dispute, Kashmir is still burning, there is problem with Muslims in China, Thailand, Philippines, Russian federation and in some other parts of the world. Practically we are not at good terms neither with ourselves nor with others. This is a multi billion dollar question which demands from all of us to join our heads together to get a genuinely satisfactory answer. And besides that it is a thought of the day as well.
No nation, country or community can ever afford hostility with one and all. This is high time to revisit our attitude, temperament, feelings, passions, sentiments and obsessions, go in for an honest self appraisal if we are keen to strategize for a peaceful and vibrant future for the present and coming generations.
Inter Faith Harmony Foundation of India, a forum for Inter Faith and Inter Civilization Dialogue floated by moderate and enlightened Muslims is an honest effort and initiative to engage the civilized society in a continuous process of dialogue to build the bridges of understanding with our sisters and brothers in other communities.
This forum is not working on the unification of religions rather we believe in the principle of unity in diversity. Our exclusive thirst is on building the stable bonds of social harmony by cultivating and nurturing an atmospherics which is filled with the general sense and spirit of peaceful co-existence.
Let all religions be accepted as they are and respected equally. Let there be no room for compulsion and coercion in matters of Faith. Let there be no space for using material means to allure people belonging to other religions, particularly targeting the socio-economically weak sections in a society in order to exploit that weakness to the advantage of religion A or B. Let nobody claim his religion being superior to the other. Let no one threaten the faith or credentials of other religions. In individual capacity one may believe in what ever one wants to and with what ever details but publicly let us maintain no hostility zone.
Before I conclude I want to appeal to all of you not to look at every new initiative with suspicion and hostility. Have faith in your self, Almighty Allah that we believe in, The Prophet we take inspiration from, the companions of Prophet whose lives are there as examples of living sacrifice and compassion, Imams of all schools of thought as the true interpreters of Faith, Scholars as the guardians of Faith, Intellectuals for their anylatical approach and the common men for its most honest spirit. Inshallah we will succeed. Amen.
To conclude in dialogue lays the resolution
of all problems of today and tomorrow. I seek cooperation of
one and all and am looking forward to a positive appeal.
Dr. Khwaja Iftikhar Ahmed