By Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi
December 23, 2015
Today, we see debates being carried out on terrorism and extremism across the world. In my discussions in the last few weeks with the leaderships of different religions of the world, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Dr Abdullah bin Abdul Mohsin Al-Turki, Imam Majid (a leader of US Muslims), Christian leader Bob Robert, Sikh leader Bhai Sahib and Iranian leader Ayatullah Taskheeri, we tried to analyse why extremism and terror attacks are on the rise across the world despite multiple undertakings and endeavours to eradicate the menace. Extremism and terrorism often end up being correlated with religion whereas there is no religion in the world that is not opposed to terrorism and extremism.
The literal meaning of Islam is ‘religion of peace and security’. The Holy Quran describes Allah as ‘Rabbul Alameen’ (the God of the universe) and presents Holy Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) as “merciful for the entire world” (Rehmatul-el- Alameen). The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) has defined a Muslim in the following words: “A Muslim is he from whose hands and tongue others feel secure.” Similarly, teachings of other religions, including Christianity, stress the importance of patience, forbearance and harmony instead of violence.
Keeping in view these teachings, if one analyses the prevailing scenario in the world vis-a-vis extremism, terrorism and violence, one realises that all those who are pursuing rigidity and violent tactics by keeping aside moderation and dialogue options are imposing their personal agenda and vested interests, using religion as a pretext. The situation that emerged after the Paris attack and the way provocative activities are being launched against Muslims across the world have heightened responsibilities on the part of the religious and political leadership to take practical steps to lessen the miseries of the Muslim world.
While miseries and challenges have increased manifold during the last 60 years for Muslims, Islamic teachings do not justify violent actions as a reaction to such scenarios. Unfortunately, Muslim rulers and the world at large have been non-serious about resolving the crises confronting the Muslim world. Except for a few Muslim leaders,most are not inspirational for Muslim youths. Those spiritual leaders who have the ability to inculcate a sense of respect and patience are often sidelined due to their differences with the leadership of the Islamic world.
The way terrorist organisations are waging their propaganda on social media and utilising information technology to fan their extremist ideologies across the world can only be curtailed with mutual efforts irrespective of the distinctions of religions and ethnicities. Islamophobia and the biased attitude towards Muslims are mounting in Europe and the US. The leaderships of these countries should come forward to dispel anti-Muslim sentiments currently prevalent in Europe and the US. Endeavours on the part of some Christian leaders are very appreciative in this regard, but these are individual acts. To make a more resounding impact, Muslim and non-Muslim leaderships should be on the same side. The Holy Quran explicitly promotes dialogue. In accordance with this Quranic principle, the Mufti-e-Azam of Saudi Arabia and the secretary general of the World Muslim League communicated the message to the entire world that Islam has nothing to do with acts of terrorism. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian spiritual leaders to guide Christian youths against violence.
On a concluding note, I want to talk about the recent unfortunate incident in Jhelum where a factory belonging to Ahmadis was set on fire on the allegations that the Holy Quran was desecrated on the premises. The Pakistan Ulema Council condemns this incident. Irrespective of differences of faith, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure the rights of Ahmadis. No one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. It is the responsibility of the Punjab government to expose those responsible for this inhumane act.
Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi is chairman of the Pakistan Ulema Council