By Samar Fatany
Sep 3, 2016
News of the brutality of Daesh (the
self-proclaimed IS) and the latest discovery of massive graves of thousands of
innocent people in Iraq and Syria murdered in cold blood is alarming and
devastating. What makes it worse is the fact that these atrocities were
committed by people who claim to be Muslims and say that their cause is to
advance Islam. Can any sane person believe that they have good intentions or
have a noble cause?
The Arab and the Muslim world remain the
real victims of these atrocities. Muslims all over the world have condemned
this terrorist brutality yet the bigoted rhetoric of Islamophobes continues to
fuel hatred against Muslims in the West while the frustrations of Muslims over
the situation in Iraq and Syria is fuelling further rage and mistrust against
the war policies of Western superpowers in the region.
Muslim radicals use religion as a political
justification to publicize their terrorist propaganda. They have politicized
Islam and distorted its teachings to promote their own selfish agendas. Islam
is a religion of peace and compassion and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
was sent to perfect good manners. Politicizing Islam has distorted its message
of peace and compassion. Politics are based on deception and selfish agendas
for military and economic gains. Religious leaders who have politicized Islam
claim that they are the true defenders of the faith and that it is their duty
to preserve the teachings of Islam. However, in reality what they advocate is
contrary to the Islamic principles of peace, mercy and compassion toward
mankind. Their distorted ideology is based on bigotry and intolerance.
Political Islam has no place in our world
today as it is an obstacle to peaceful coexistence and an impediment to global
prosperity. It has alienated Muslims everywhere and continues to threaten the
lives of innocent believers all over the world. Rejectionist voices who
maintain a negative stand and impose their ultraconservative interpretations of
Islam to gain power are impediments to peace in the region.
Religious leaders failing to overcome
theological differences have not been able to provide spiritual grounding to
help people hold on to their own religious truths, without disrespecting the
religious truths of others. Sound grounding in religious education can help
people differentiate between right and wrong, recognize the truth and reject
The Kingdom continues its efforts to unite
leading religious figures from different sects not only at home but in Yemen,
Syria, Libya and elsewhere. However, hard-line scholars persistently refuse to
accept the other and the threat of sectarianism still prevails.
The Council of Senior Ulema, which
represents the consensus of officially recognized senior Islamic scholars, has
a responsibility to reject ultraconservative interpretations that influence
ongoing divisions between sects. It is critical to preach mutual respect and
dignity among all Muslims, denouncing incitement, violence and intolerance. The
religious environment can become dangerous when unqualified scholars promote
Wider acceptance and tolerance of diversity
of opinions is the key to our regional prosperity. It remains critical for
reformers to engage different religious sects in dialogue to end divisions and
establish a commitment to coexistence between all nations.
The silent majority should not remain
complacent. It is time to mobilize a moderate front with more commitment and
resolve to defeat the evil that has spread like cancer destroying the homes of
the innocent and killing their loved ones.
The level of frustration among young people
is very high due to inadequate opportunities for social mobility and their
limited participation in social, cultural, economic and political life.
There is an urgency to promote a viable
civil society and to build strong civic institutions to complement economic
goals and targets. It is critical to develop a sense of optimism among the Arab
masses and promote meaningful change.
The region needs to strengthen the role of
NGOs to promote nonviolence and prepare for peace building. Moreover, peace
could be achieved if more women were encouraged as decision-making partners in
international security assistance programs. They can be agents of change and
the driving forces to stabilize an insecure and troubled region.
Although Western media is full of doomsday
scenarios for the region and many economists and global experts remain very
sceptical, opinion leaders in the Arab world have a responsibility to inspire
hope and change for a better future.
The global community can also play a bigger
role by initiating a more serious and constructive dialogue with community
leaders around the world. This could expose the global enemies of peace and
curb the escalating conflicts that exist and continue to be a threat to
humanity and global prosperity.
Enough blood has been shed; politicians and
religious leaders need to change the direction of existing religious and war
policies through peaceful global initiatives and regional social development.
There is an urgent need to invest in peace and development to end the global
terrorist threat and the raging civil and proxy wars in the Middle East.