Holier than thou

Most disturbing is the use of Islamic rhetoric to substantiate violence.

zahra.mohammed August 28, 2012
It seems as if a large portion of the population will have to be decimated so that the adherents of a certain ideology can create an ‘Islamic’ society. The binaries of ‘self’ and the ‘other’ are now frozen, with the ‘other’ being essentially damned and the ‘self’ being essentially blessed – a pompousness which has absolutely no place within a religion which embraces difference, encourages criticism and celebrates diversity.

Islamic history boasts of centuries and centuries of coexistence between people of different faiths. Sadly, historical narratives suffer the same fate as religious texts do: they’re either ignored, or are split apart from their contexts. Dissociated fragments of texts (both religious and historical) are then splashed around to substantiate violence and hatred. For instance, it is not a surprise to note that Quranic verses which enjoin cooperation with Jews and Christians are relatively unknown.

Rimsha Masih’s plight and repeated Shia killings in Hazara are inconceivable in a society which aims to be ‘Islamic’. It must be understood that all kinds of faiths are often determined by geography than human choice. Thus, targeting human beings on the basis of what they believe is the most grotesque exhibition of exaggerated superiority notions.

Most disturbing is the use of Islamic rhetoric to substantiate violence. If the aim is to realise an Islamic society, then the ongoing violence on the grounds of faith retards the process like nothing else. An Islamic society is marked by pluralism, and is incomplete without the peaceful existence of men and women from other religions.

A basic insight into seven centuries of Islamic rule in the Iberian Peninsula would suffice to prove the claim. From 700-1100 AD, parts of the Iberian Peninsula that were under Muslim rule, known as ‘al-Andalus’, offered the most breathtaking example of coexistence between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Not surprisingly, this unity led to one of the grandest  intellectual exchanges the world saw after the Greek civilisation - with many Jewish and Christian canonical works translated into Arabic.

This all-embracing nature of Islam might be in stark contradiction to the popular narrative which explains it as an intolerant faith, baying for the blood of every non-Muslim. However, this is not the case as the public sphere of Islam is one of tolerance and equality. It embodies all the merits of the secular public sphere, without offending any religious sensibility. Thereby, it renders the secular-religious divide completely redundant while embracing every ‘non-believer’ - quelling the alarm bells of religious violence altogether.

Read more by Faiza here.

COMMENTS (5)

Sane | 8 years ago | Reply @Umair: What you say, I totally agree. This subject being very important is curtailed probably due to limitation of no. of words.
Umair | 8 years ago | Reply @John B The author is right. From my own lectures in Muslim history I know that most the classical literature was translated into Arabic during this period. Read up on Ibn-e-Rushd and Ibn-e-Sina and their huge contributions. The Christian world in the dark ages had shunned all the classical works. It was only this civilization under Muslims which took up all this knowledge, translated it and introduced it back to the Western world. I feel she is not claiming that canonical works weren't translated before. Only that a huge amount was translated by this civilization. And obviously this unity withered away when al-Andalus was gripped by Christians again. I feel Faiza should have elaborated more on that. However, I feel that this article is addressing a very very important point and should have been longer. Gives the feel as if she knows more but has to stick to a small word limit. Faiza, you should go ahead and write in detail!
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