By Uzma Yunus
The attack in San Bernardino by the extremist couple has been an utter shock to America. It has been terrifying and mind-numbing to see a family transform into a killing unit, ruthlessly and mercilessly. Especially unexpected has been the violence from a woman and mother. It has been particularly unnerving to see the sanctity of motherhood translate into pure evil and hate.
Being a Muslim, this is even harder to digest.
Syed Rizwan Farook had just finished memorizing the entire Quran, a process that is long and tedious and is considered a great accomplishment for a man of faith. Ms. Tashfeen Malik educated from a University and a Religious institute, a purdah- observing role model Muslimah who appeared to be following the religion in an outstanding manner.
Overtly they looked like exemplary Muslims. The truth was far from it.
Everyone is struggling to make sense of this. This attack has shaken up the core trust of an average American in seemingly normal and peaceful Muslims living in this country. It feels like a betrayal from within. As if something native has rebelled against itself. This situation very reminiscent of a mutated cancer cell from one's own body trying to gradually take away all that matters...life, happiness and internal resources,and replacing it with fear and anxiety.
The extremism of these radical Islamists carries also, a deep betrayal of the very faith they claimed to follow. It seems that that the Muslim world has a serious disease. A disease called "Cancer of Extremism," as diagnosed by the President himself.
Having spent the last two years of my life more or less thinking and writing about cancer, I consider this metaphor of cancer for Islamic Extremism extremely apt and useful.
Starting as a small occult focus quite a while ago, this illness is now raging and threatening through the entire Muslim world and now posing a threat globally. The cancer is proliferating and very little has been done to thwart its rapid progression. We all know and understand that time is of the essence in cancer treatment.
The moment has arrived where the Muslim world needs to comprehend this fact that just as only few cancer cells can lodge themselves, in a location of choice and then recruit more cells and grow from there, this threat is frighteningly real. The narrative that it's only few extreme ones, not all "cells," does not reduce the fear or the severity of the threat. A few are enough to malign the whole body. That's exactly what is happening to Muslims in the West. Muslims find themselves in position of having to constantly apologize and condemn the actions of a few evil ones.
In a cancer patient, it is the few mutant militant "jihadi" cells that can take the entire body down. Ignore them and horrific consequences are likely. They are indeed a minority but a violent force to be reckoned with.
And to treat those few, the entire body has to take a beating through chemotherapy.
Right now all 1.6 billion are feeling threatened and apprehensive, by the cancer itself and the symptoms generated by this disease process. The rest will come as the side effect of the treatments.
Any rapidly growing cell, whether cancer or not, is destroyed by chemotherapy. That is what is called Collateral Damage, also a real imminent threat to all Muslims.
The Collateral Damage. I wonder if there is a way around it. The Islamophobia will sadly be the unfair price to pay for cure. The treatment team takes every possible precaution to minimize damage while offering treatment, but it does happen and I suspect it will.
The diagnosis of cancer is scary. The Muslim world has been diagnosed with cancer. Mostly of the "cells" in the body are doing what they are supposed to, peaceful and calm, minding their own business , albeit few cancer cells that are growing rapidly and at the cost of others, growth for the sake of domination and planning to take over the entire body.
Unfortunately due to fear, the Muslim world remains in "denial" -- a very common phenomenon with cancer diagnosis. It's hard to accept. It's hard to accept having been betrayed by your own body. Some that aren't in denial are either filled with fear or anger. Having cancer evokes feelings of helplessness. Muslims are feeling it against the rising wave of hate and bigotry.
The question arises .Why do some cells have this propensity to self-propagate and become cancerous? Is it genetic? Is it damaged DNA or is it environmental exposure?
All the same questions in the Muslim world. How is it happening? Who is driving this wave of radicalism? What is the end point?
It's time the Muslim world signed up for "treatment."There is treatment before the terminal stage.
The dream of the cancer cell is to establish domination. This need to be stopped. There is time yet to treat it. Recovery is possible from cancer. But treatment is necessary. Band-Aids won't work.
A comprehensive treatment plan requires new drugs, new approaches and new strategies. It's time to reconsider how we approach and think about our religion and how we incorporate it in our lives. It's time we abandon thought processes that are divisive and judgmental. We need to move to ideology consistent with this time and age. Slavery in the Muslim world was abolished with consensus. Why can't some other practices be abandoned that aren't relevant to this world that we live in, in this century?
The values of tolerance and mutual respect along with freedom and justice must prevail.
Survival chances will improve only if attention is paid to the outcome and staying the course of treatment. We need remission. I see hope. We need to survive, for our values, for our freedom and for what is dear to us.
We can no longer ignore the symptoms, no longer ignore the pain.
Can we beat this cancer within?
Denial won't make the cancer disappear; it will just delay treatment till its no longer curable.
Cure is a lofty goal with cancer. The need of the time is for all Muslims to join hands. All sects, all groups in the Muslim world need to respond to this deadly imminent threat that has infiltrated us. The mutant cells arose from within; our own immune system has to mount a response along with strategic and effective treatment regimen.
President Obama, himself, emphatically urged the muslims to confront this challenge within.
A small window is opening, will we choose to look or turn away?