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How Long Must Muslims Apologize?

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  • M Muneer Khandwalla
    ... In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful ... * HADITH OF THE DAY: KINDNESS EVEN TO ANTS * HOW LONG MUST MUSLIMS APOLOGIZE? (Toronto Star)
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 30, 2002


      In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful



      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Once while a prophet
      amongst the prophets was taking a rest underneath a tree, an ant bit him.
      He, therefore, ordered that his luggage be taken away from underneath that
      tree and then ordered that the dwelling place of the ants should be set on fire. God sent him a revelation: 'Wouldn't it have been sufficient to burn
      (the) single ant (that bit you)?'"
      Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Hadith 536
      How long must Muslims apologize?

      As Al Qaeda's spree of senseless slaughter threatens to continue unabated, Muslims everywhere find themselves bound to an unending logic of denial and dissociation.

      Precisely because Osama bin Laden speaks in the name of Islam, Muslim communities have been galvanized into action.

      If Muslims do not provide their own lived narrative of Islam, their faith will continue to be hijacked by a band of violent, narrow-minded bigots.

      Even before the events of Sept. 11, Muslims bore a special responsibility to represent Islam truly. For what is normative in Islam is, unlike the case with Christianity and Judaism, relatively unknown in many Western societies.

      Christians, for example, never had to explain or apologize for the Christianity of David Koresh, Timothy McVeigh, or even the Christianity-laden pretext of white South Africa's apartheid policy.

      Islam, still seen by many to be foreign and exotic, is known mostly through the prism of catastrophic events.

      As one journalist pointed out, we only learn of Islam when there is a bang-bang overseas, or when the tectonic plates in the Muslim world start to grate and shift. Islam thus tends to be understood through the norm of the extreme.

      The post-9/11 world has put a greater onus on Muslims.

      Often, however, this has been a case for more than just great expectations.

      Even though Canadian Muslims unequivocally condemned the killing of innocents in the name of Islam � a fact that was prolifically covered in the Canadian press from coast to coast � the charge of a complicit silence was frequently levied against them.

      Muslims, it was alleged, remained silent and said little. A corollary, and recurrent theme, was that Canadian Muslims were slow to prove their loyalty and patriotism.

      In short, Muslims were held to a more rigorous standard than their compatriots � and found to come up short.

      They faced, as another commentator suggested, a "stiffer test of patriotism" than their fellow Canadians. And even with the prolific condemnation, it was at times asserted that the dissociation was not true or authentic.

      Rather, it was peremptory, even obligatory. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

      The bar of culpability seems fixed rigidly to guilt by religious association.

      The blame game continues. Even now, with every new attack, pundits sit in ivory towers of self-righteousness and demand fresh new condemnations from innocent bystanders.

      Many requests are so harsh, so venomous, that no amount of condemnation will ever suffice. We are witnessing, instead, the politics of ethical one-upmanship that asserts a quota on morality but, in reality, corners the market when it comes to moral chauvinism.

      Rarely, for example, is the U.S. brought to task for creating the Bin Laden Frankenstein, supporting and arming him to the teeth.

      Nor is Russia asked to apologize for invading Afghanistan, brutalizing it for a decade, and creating a climate of internecine warfare and extremism.

      Or, for that matter, is Israel called on to rectify its brutal and morally unjustifiable occupation that provides fuel to these twisted conflagrations of hatred. Indeed, one detects through these omissions that the apportioning of blame to Muslims en masse has an ugly racial face.

      When, for example, was world Jewry called to account for Israel's flagrant violation of international law and, just recently, according to Amnesty International, its war crimes in refugee camps?

      No matter what the future holds, Muslims must continue to dissociate themselves from Al Qaeda. For bad and worse, their silence is presumed to be consent.

      Still, an appeal ought to be made for moral symmetry.

      It is often forgotten that hundreds of Muslims perished in the attacks as well. The attackers were not interested in filtering out believer from non-believer.

      And their actions ought to speak louder than our words of denial and dissociation.

      We � that's right, we � were all the same to them.

      Riad Saloojee is executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Canada.



      M Muneer A A Khandwalla

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