By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam
31 May, 2014
Why is it that there has been and there still is some degree of tension between the Muslim and other faith communities, although the Quran promotes “peaceful coexistence”? 1. I would suggest a few reasons behind that and I will try to be very brief.
First and foremost is to mix Islam with Muslims. Islam, properly understood and implemented is perfect; because it was revealed by the Perfect (this sentence can be applied to other faiths also, although they are all just one faith). But Muslims are imperfect human beings; and so is the case with every community, some are bound to be imperfect; they have just put a label on themselves. They are merely professing a particular faith and not practicing it.
Can any religious community make the claim all its members or followers are perfect throughout history. This distinction should be made clearly. All human beings, irrespective of religion are bound to commit errors. In fact there are many Muslim cultures that violate the basic principles of Islam.
It is helpful to understand the causes of radicalisation, be it perceived or real. Severe and sustained injustices and disregard of Muslim human rights lead to radicalisation but this can never be used to justify those evils that are forbidden, even if the person is oppressed2.
The second source is the focus on the negatives in history done by the selected few Muslims. In the case of Islam for 14 centuries of interaction with other communities by Muslims who varied in their ways of degrees of commitment but still none of them could really be perfect. If you want to look for the negative you will find a lot in every community. Why just focus on one religion?
Justice and balance urge us that we should also delve in the many centuries of relatively good, solid, peaceful coexistence between Muslims and other communities and cooperating together in producing immense civilizations, which led in science and arts and knowledge and heritage that sparked the European Renaissance. So this really is a question of bias and cherry picking, both elements are there, but the positive actions exceed the negative actions.
Thirdly there are the media stereotypes and spins. The persistent effort to drag the good name of Islam into everything that is negative and bad is easily noticeable. There are two aspects of it. If someone commits an act of terrorism then it is reported as say: ‘John has done this’ but when a Muslim commits the same thing, then it is ‘Muslim terrorism’. However there is some truth in the latter. Let me explain. Generally when Muslims try to legitimise their act of violence from the Islamic sources, then it is partially correct to label the act as ‘Muslim terrorism’ or ‘Islamic terrorism’; however when Muslim do not try to legitimise their act of violence from the Islamic sources, but carry out the act out of their personal vendetta then it is never correct to label it is Islamic terrorism.
But the media labels both acts as Islamic terrorism and without miss, does not label any act as Christian terrorism or Hindu terrorism, even though in some cases these violators of other faith communities use the prop of their religions.
This is very flagrant type of bias that instigates hate and magnifies negative and erroneous stereotypes.
The next source is the post 9/11 worldview, as if all Muslims are responsible for it. An image has been created in the minds of the non-Muslims that whenever there is any kind of violence or conspiracy then there has to be Muslims. There is also an absence of balanced and fair reporting on the part of many journalists; I am not saying there is an absence of bias reporting. But there is lack of balance; both the sides are not given proper weightage. I must also add that there are meritable and excellent exceptions to that.
The other source is the hateful acts and works out of personal vengeance between Muslims and other faith communities. This puts us in a spin of a downward spiral, a vicious circle that reinforces erroneous stereotypes, distrust.
The last and the most serious is to interpret the scripture in a way that violate rules of interpretation and does not connect with its historical context or even for that matter textual context by looking at what the other verses indicate on the same topic.