By Saif Shahin
June 13, 2016
Islam can itself be the best guide for Muslims in this globalized world of ours.
The bullets had hardly left Omar Mateen's assault rifle before America was arguing over the reason why 50 people were suddenly lying dead at an Orlando nightclub. "Lack of gun control," said liberal America, for Mateen had had little trouble in obtaining his AR-15. "Islamic terrorism," came the voice from the right-wing, for Mateen was a Muslim. "Homophobia," protested some Muslims, including Mateen's father, insisting that his act had little to do with Islam.
To be sure, poor gun regulations have caused much heartbreak in this country year after year, and the anti-gun lobby rightly raises the issue after every mass shooting. Had gun laws been stricter, Sunday's tragedy may have been averted. Yet Muslims should not let this fact -- nor the bigotry of right-wing Islamophobes who paint all Muslims with the same brush -- distract them from the reality that Mateen was, after all, a misguided youth who committed a horrible act of violence against "infidels".
Mateen pledged allegiance to the Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the latest globally recognized face of radicalism. Not too long ago, radicals from Australia to America would claim an affiliation with Al Qaeda's Osama bin Laden. What is it that betroths misguided youth around the world to such egregious allegiances and makes them commit such horrendous acts?
It's a complex question, but a simple answer is that misguided Muslims tend to take a singular, exclusivist view of their identity. For them, being a Muslim often means being just and only a Muslim -- nothing else. This is dangerous, and this is wrong.
Of course, we are Muslims, but we are also a lot of other things -- Americans, Emiratis, Indians, Pakistanis, security professionals (in the case of Mateen), students of some college or university, fans of some football team or baseball franchise and so on. All of these identities bind us to different social groups, share in their joys and sorrows, and learn to love many kinds of people. They make us realize that humanity is not divided into black and white, but has many, many hues. Nor are we, as individual human beings, of a solitary allegiance: we carry all those hues within us.
A singular "Muslim" identity primes Muslims to interpret every little misfortune they face as an instance of Islamophobia. And like Cervantes' Don Quixote charging against windmills, it also makes them willing and eager to take up imaginary causes in the name of Islam.
National and regional Muslim groups in the US, such as the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Colorado Muslim Society, have strongly condemned Mateen's action and even apologized for it. But Muslim response to this tragedy should not stop there. There needs to be a deeper rethinking about what Islam means, and how it is discussed, understood and practised in our homes, and outside.
A crucial component of this rethinking ought to be the promotion of a more diffuse sense of identity among Muslims -- a realization that being Muslim does not stop us from being other things and identify ourselves with other people. In an age of globalization, when cultural practices are everywhere in flux and every society is becoming more variegated, such a "postmodern" sensibility has become a necessity of social harmony.
Ironically, Islam itself has always encouraged such a sensibility. The Holy Quran clearly notes that Allah could have made the whole world a single community but chose not to do so. It also tells Muslims that while they follow their faith, they should let others follow theirs. Thus, Islam -- not just as a religion and identity but as a deeply understood belief system -- can itself be the best guide for Muslims in this globalized world of ours.
Saif Shahin is a doctoral candidate at the School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin, United States.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Womens in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Womens In Arab, Islamphobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism, Moderate Islam, Moderate Muslims, Progressive Islam, Progressive Muslims, Liberal Islam, Liberal Muslims, Islamic World News
"As Director Comey I think will indicate, at this stage we see no clear evidence that he was directed externally. It does appear that, at the last minute, he announced allegiance to ISIL, but there is no evidence so far that he was in fact directed by ISIL. And there also at this stage is no direct evidence that he was part of a larger plot. In that sense, it appears to be similar to what we saw in San Bernardino, but we don’t yet know. And this is part of what is going to be important in terms of the investigation."
Agreed that--“ISIS has nothing to show
for all that it boasts and takes "credit" for anything that happens”
Also, as the homophobe is not alive to
deny or accept the alleged claim of association with ISIS, it is obviously cashing
in on the claim. It is a gift from its god on the platter.
Conspiracy theories abound, such as
Mateen was heard shouting Allahu Akbar. But it is also claimed that he has been
a regular at the Pulse for the last two years.
Hope the American people and
Administration will have the maturity and ability to see this tragedy in the
light of “Right to carry Gun”, “mental health” and many other issues in their
country. There are any numbers of examples in the past to draw from, not only the
US but from the World over.