Monday, January 24, 2005

Do They Mean It?

An important Sheikh has denounced terrorism in an Eid sermon in Mecca:

The warning came, amid a surge in militant attacks in Muslim countries and beyond, from Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while addressing Haj pilgrims in a customary Eid sermon. The imam also advised Islamic scholars to preach moderation to confront this “rotten” phenomenon.
“Islam is the religion of moderation. There is no room for extremism in Islam,” he said.
He called on Muslims to “protect non-Muslims in the Kingdom and not to attack them in the country or anywhere. Islam is a religion of peace that abhors attack on innocents.” Militants were using misguided interpretations of Islam to justify violence, he added.

Are the moderate Muslims beginning to stand up against this monster that has arisen in their midst? Do they really mean it? I hope so.

The problem is that there is ample evidence in the Koran that the terrorist-minded can point to justify their sick behavior. The problem is....well, the problem is Islam itself. If ever there was a religion in need of reform it is Islam. If ever a religion needed to be dragged out of the Middle Ages--it is Islam. If ever a religion needed to come to grips with its misogyny and suppression of women--it is Islam as it is practiced in most of the world. If ever a religion needed to face the psychological denial and projection it uses to cope with the realities of the 21st century--it is Islam. Wanting Islam to be a religion of peace, does not make it so.

In psychiatry we say that the first step in getting well is recognizing you have a problem. Taking responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, and behavior is absolutely necessary if you want to take the next step and be able to change them.

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, has at least recognized there is a problem (but not necessarily Islam's problem, unfortunately) and his way of dealing with it is to say that those who embrace terror are not "true" muslims. One thing we can count on is that somewhere there is yet another Sheikh saying the opposite--i.e., that the only true muslim is one who embraces the jihad and kills the non-believer. If the imam had said "Islam is not yet a religion of peace, but our goal is to understand why terrorism has found its home in our beliefs and fix the problem" --I might feel a bit more hopeful.

If Sheikh Al-Sudais means what he says, I want to know what his religion is going to do about this "phenomenon" within Islam? Talk is cheap. Take the first step and admit responsibility.

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