Arshad Alam, New Age Islam
visceral hatred towards homosexuals and actually deciding to go ahead and kill
them are two different things altogether. Both are problematic and should be
condemned but executing a prejudice in the deadly fashion as we saw recently in
Orlando needs some prior planning and design. Choosing the target, choosing the
time and killing so many in a space of few hours, all point to the fact that
this was a premeditated killing with a design to inflict maximum damage.
Moreover, the choice of weapons used in this assault itself points to the careful
application of mind on this planned mass murder. Finally, being a homophobic
attack, this was also directed by some ideology which clearly ordained that
people with alternative sexual behaviours must be killed in the most brutal
such killings as the work of a ‘lone wolf’ does not do justice to the complex
motivations factors which underpin such killings. Neither does it truly capture
the worldview within which such an attack takes place. It is only by bringing
the role of ideology that the true import of such killings can be understood.
By all accounts, Omar Mateen was driven by an Islamic ideology which preached
hatred towards sexual minorities. His ‘cool and calm’ composure after the
killings lends credence to the perception that he was absolutely convinced that
he was doing the right thing and carrying out God’s command to punish the
It is all
very well on the part of Muslims, especially in America, to dissociate from
these killings and term it an aberration committed by a lone Muslim individual.
Muslims in America are condemning this as an act of terrorism which has put a
question mark on the integrating capacity of the whole Muslim community.
condemnations will be heard in the near future. But mere condemnation is
perhaps not enough. There is a need to go beyond mere condemnations and ask
what has gone wrong with the followers of this religion. The fact remains that
homosexuality is condemned in almost all Semitic religions, but why is it that
only Muslims react to it in a violent fashion. Does it have something to do
with the way Islam is being taught in religious schools? What about the
homophobic discussions which in most Muslim households would be considered normal?
Are we doing something to curb the almost routine prejudice which pervades
Muslim society about Jews or homosexuals?
Or is it
that the problem is much bigger. Have we thought of the possibility to engage
critically with those tenets of the religion which make Muslims homophobic?
Condemning something when it happens is the easier part, but what is needed
perhaps is a deeper reflection on Islam itself and the way it is being taught
such an incident happens, other Muslims are quick to point out that it is not
about Islam. We hear the same platitudes like Islam are a religion of peace and
brotherhood and that killing innocent people is not the Islamic way at all. The
problem is that the majority of the killers do not just seem to be but also
proclaim to be inspired by Islam. If they do not have a problem in saying that
they are doing what is God’s command, then who are the others to call such an
And if at
all, some Muslims are indeed saying and believing that Islam is a religion of
peace, then what have they done to critically engage with those verses in the
Quran which ask the believers to wage war in the name of Islam.
One is not
saying that Muslims who believe in the non-violence of Islam are not serious.
What one is saying is that they are not serious enough. It is time to go beyond
such clichés and critically engage with the whole corpus of religious texts and
make it more amenable to contemporary times. Any serious engagement with the
Quran or the Hadees and its many commentaries has to keep in mind the objective
of diversity and pluralism and this is what is sadly lacking in such attempts.
One fails to understand such a reluctance within the Muslim community in to
engage in critical hermeneutics of their own religious tradition. Perhaps the
fate of those who have tried to do so stops Muslims from taking such risks. But
it is time that such an endeavour should be organised and Muslims themselves
have to come forward for such an action. A failure to do so will only make
people like Donald Trump carry on with their vitriolic campaign against
A NewAgeIslam.com columnist, Arshad Alam is a
Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic
Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism
This is a great article. What is great is acknowledging the fact
that the gunman Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to Abubucker Al Bagdadi just
after the massacre. Muslims in general hide or defend these actions. I remember
a student once told me “My mother warned me not to talk about (the atrocities of)
Idi Amin because he is a Muslim.
The second great prophet of Islam is particularly harsh
about ‘political correctness’ or on those who sit on the fence. He said “I know
your works. You are neither hot nor cold. So then you are lukewarm I will vomit
you out of the mouth” (Revelations 3:15-16) Based on these versus Edmund Burke
said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do
Good on you Arshad. Criticism or at least calling spade a spade
is very essential for the growth of a community. If every Imam, mullah or Ayatulla
condemned every terrorist action islamophobia would not be so triumphant. People
are afraid of Islam not because of the violence but because of the silence.
When journalists asked about IRA Catholic terrorists the Pope replied “Murder
is a murder”. It means no one can escape the consequences either in heaven or
in this world. It is sad the escaped Yazidi sex slave Nadia Murad testified
before the US congress and UN Committee that not one Muslim country has
labelled the Islamic state an infidel group.
He should read up the papers which report that Omar Mateen was a frequent visitor to the gay club Pulse (scene of shooting) and is suspected to have been gay himself. Religious beliefs may have played a role in making him hate himself for what he was. He was obviously a sick and mentally disturbed person. His motivations were therefore complex and mixed and included self hatred. Killing other gays was perhaps seen by him as some kind of redemption for his own weakness for the same "vice". The same person, had he not been gay himself, may not have bothered at all about the gays.
This is like any other shooting by a mentally sick person so common in the US. It does not look like an act of terror for political gains.