by Sister Salima, email@example.com
"Truly, Allah does not remove Sacred Knowledge by taking it out of servants, but rather by taking back the souls of Islamic scholars [in death], until, when He has not left a single scholar, the people take the ignorant as leaders, who are asked for and who give Islamic legal opinion without knowledge, misguided and misguiding" (Fath al-Bari, 1.194, hadith 100).
Islam has been kidnapped-hijacked some say, by various groups of people who claim to represent its ideals and principles, when in reality nothing is further from the truth. One such group is the clergy, who at present enjoy a position of absolute power, the majority of whose preference is to keep the Muslim public ignorant. Attempts by lay people at trying to form classes in reading the Qur'an for the purpose of comprehension are fiercely opposed and aborted. Clerics and scholars will use fear to subjugate the illiterate into submission to them, totally in opposition to all that Islam enjoins upon us. Submission is to be only to Allah.
Another group that uses Islam in various ways to further its own agenda is politicians. Depending on what country we live in, there may be little or nothing we can do about the problem directly. But once again, ignorance of the public is their most valuable tool. In order to fight them, we need only address those whom they are exploiting and duping and educate them as to what is really happening.
There are groups of extremists who are misinterpreting the Qur'an and Ahadith and may even be totally sincere in their beliefs, but absolutely wrong. They support fatwas, laws and acts that are uncalled for in Islam because they are misguided and haven't studied the truth on their own. They rely on someone else to be their leader who is not qualified and whose motives may even be suspect.
But the most harmful of all are the terrorists, which are distinguished from what would rightfully be called freedom fighters or true jihadis. Their senseless acts of violence do nothing to propagate Islam. In fact, this has virtually closed the door on any communication at all between Muslims who want to speak out about it and a paranoid world population. It has only fostered more hatred and retaliation.
One of the questions I am most often asked by non-Muslims is this: if it is true that the majority of Muslims do not condone terrorism, if Islam is a way of peace, why is it that their voices are never heard?
There is more than one reason for this. Certainly one is fear of criticizing brothers and sisters in faith. But we are told to censure those Muslims who fail to live a life of righteousness; it is an obligation. In fact, it is a more serious offense for a Muslim to do an evil act than for a non-Muslim, and it should upset all Muslims ever that much more.
Another reason is the simple fact that we don't know what can be done about it. How do we stop Muslims from doing unislamic acts in the name of Allah? And how do we tell the rest of the world that those with the loudest voices are not the majority, when that is all they have to listen to? How do we reason with people who are being terrorized by their own prejudice?
It is a fact that horrible things are being done to people all over the world by other people of all religions. No one has a monopoly on atrocity. It is a fact that Muslims do not all agree and may attack each other as a result of their arguments. But in order to stop the prejudice and accusations against Islam from the rest of the world, it would make more sense to stop Muslims from doing the things that cause these kind of accusations.
I do have one suggestion. Instead of wasting time and energy trying to explain to a non-Muslim what are the laws in Islam and why some Muslims have misinterpreted them and why some Muslims are attacking and exploiting others etc etc ad nauseum, I believe it would be wiser to confront those Muslims who are subscribing to premises that do not exist anywhere in Islam. For those who can, physical confrontation in the form of discussion and explanation backed up with specific references to Qur'anic verses and Ahadith would be advised. This could be done singly and informally or in groups by invitation. For those who are not living in Muslim communities, or those who are more vulnerable, or more adept at written word than spontaneous public speaking, I would suggest going to an extremist website where Muslims have been misinformed and seduced into doing unislamic things and explain it to them. It is very true that the silent, sensible and responsible majority of Muslims do need to take a stand and speak their minds-but there is a time and a place to do it. It must be said calmly, in a rational and respectful manner, to the people who have it in their power to make a change in their own hearts.
Anas said, The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Help thy brother whether he is the doer of wrong or wrong is done to him." They (his companions) said, "O Messenger of Allah! We can help a man to whom wrong is done, but how could we help him when he is the doer of wrong?" He said: "Take hold of his hands from doing wrong." (Bukhari).
When all Muslims follow what is expected from them by Allah, there can be no substantial argument from anyone on earth against them.