Paris attacks: Moderate Muslims must do more than just condemn terrorism

They must act now to reform the ideology. They must agree with the rest of the world that human rights, liberties and lives are above and beyond religious doctrine

I woke up to the news of the Paris attacks yesterday. The day before there had been an attack in Beirut. Both terrible, terrible tragedies that are beyond human understanding. Post Paris, the responses were as per usual. Widespread global condemnation, followed by the usual blame on western foreign policy by some, certain people fearing that this makes Islam look bad, and the overall placing of blame firmly on all Muslims by others.

The "terrorism has no religion" mantra is brought out once again, as is the one insisting that "this has nothing to do with Islam".  But it has something to do with Islam if the people who perpetrated this act themselves believed that it did, and as such were able to find support somewhere in the Islamic doctrine. It is evident that terrorism always either has a religion or a nationalistic ideology behind it. When you subscribe to the idea of dying and killing for something, it is up to you to choose how far you will go to make this happen. The terrorists who did this clearly are willing to kill and die for something and that something is to impose Islamic law upon the world. They want to bring this about through jihad. So yes this definitely has something to do with Islam!

Yes, there are geopolitical aspects that must be considered. Western nations' foreign policies must be criticized, as must their support for countries such as Saudi Arabia, whose main export these days is not oil but the Wahabi agenda and spreading Islamism – the mother of jihad. If the west wants to stop such attacks from happening, they must stop all support for nations that spread this ideology worldwide and undertake similar actions on their own people in the name of Islam and national law.

But this does not detract from the fact that we should not sweep the aspects of a violent ideology under the carpet. This ideology can enable ISIS and their ilk to term anyone an infidel, an enemy of Islam, and wage war against them. They already have done so and now even Muslims have become a target for not following the fundamentals of the religion.

Moderate Muslims must stop deluding themselves that this has nothing to do with Islam. When they extensively post memes from Verse 5:32 of the Quran to make themselves feel better, they must firstly pay attention to the word "innocent" in it. To the Islamic Jihadists if you are not following every aspect of the Quran and Sunnah, you are not innocent – you are creating "fitna" in the world. It is their job to rectify this. And then the moderate Muslims should look the very next verse. That should clarify things a bit. Insisting on repeatedly bombarding the world with one verse is disingenuous. And in this day and age of digital information, it is a bit delusional to think that people would not have found the information themselves.

Stop trying to do damage control and posting this one verse and stop expecting people to magically believe that Islam means peace, when the word’s literal meaning is “submission”. Groups like ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, etc are doing exactly that: submitting and making others submit. Saying that these people are not Muslims is a disservice to the world and to yourselves, because they are – they themselves say so. This kind of takfir is exactly what gives them agency to kill people.

Thankfully, most Muslims are not extremist jihadists. They do not want to impose their beliefs upon the world through terror.

These are the Muslims that must now do more than just to condemn such horrible acts. They must act now to reform the ideology. They must agree with the rest of the world that human rights, liberties and lives are above and beyond religious doctrine and that said doctrine cannot be defended if it is in conflict with human rights liberties and lives. Because otherwise anti-Muslim bigotry will increase as people place the blame of such tragedies squarely on all Muslims – as trends in the aftermath of the Paris attacks are already showing . And most importantly such attacks will continue to take place because groups like ISIS will be able to use this ideology to recruit.

Saima Baig

Saima Baig is a Karachi-based environmental economist, climate change consultant and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter

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