Tuesday, September 12, 2006

muslim response to 9/11:

this is from the canadian muslim union (the newlyformed progressive group.)



The Struggle for the Soul of Islam

It has been five years since the day of infamy that weall refer to as 9/11. On that day, 19 men in the nameof Islam brought death to more than 3000 New Yorkersand terror into our daily lives. The terror of 9/11did not end there. More terror was unleashed in Bali,Sinai, Amman, SaudiArabia, Madrid, Mumbai and London. On the fifthanniversary of 9/11, Muslims stand as part of theglobal community to commemorate the lives lost andpray in recognition of the calamity, pain andsuffering it has resulted in for those who lost theirloved ones.

9/11 is no longer a mere date. It has entered thehistory books as the beginning of something new, a newera where “the full wrath of the United States” wasunleashed in a "crusade" to "rid the world ofevil-doers.” In this post era, 9/11 has become acatalyst and pretext for other forms of terror. Underthe banner of a global war on terror, ill-conceivedand ill-fated military campaigns, interventions, andoccupations in Afghanistan and Iraq have beenjustified. In the name of joining the global war onterror, states have mobilized dysfunctional andhypocritical definitions of human rights to justifythe systematic sacrifice of countless human lives inPalestine, Lebanon, Darfur, Indonesia and Chechnya. Inthe fight against terrorism, domestic, administrativeand legal regulations, embodied in the so-called “BillC-36,” remodeled after the "USA Patriot Act," has beenenacted to erode the very pillars of our Canadiandemocracy and liberty.

In this post 9/11 era, terror has been unleashed, bothin the spoken word and in military might, againstIslam and Muslims. Set into motion by a discourse thatdemonizes the Muslim as Other, Islam has once againbeen turned into the very epitome of an outsider thatmust be expelled or radically remolded by the U.S. Andso a new discourse was introduced. 9/11 was no longerjust a "crusade" to "rid the world of evil-doers,” italso became project of spreading Western democracy andthe rule of law in the Muslim world, albeit a projectinitiated in and through violence. Terrorism is nowfought in the name of democracy. And yet, this fighthas in fact led to a distinct weakening of politicaland civil societies in the Muslim world and to aweakening of the principles of democracy and libertyon the home turf. Democracy and the rule of law haveironically, though predictably, taken a far moresevere battering at the hands of their defenders thanby their attackers. More than 50 Iraqis die everyday,Lebanese children were killed while they were asleepand many more Muslims are dying faceless and nameless.We only know them as “collateral damage.”

Today we as Muslims stand as part of the globalcommunity to commemorate the lives lost in 9/11 andthose lost post 9/11. Today, we as progressive Muslimscondemn with the same breath the crimes againsthumanity enacted in the name of the war on terrorismand the crimes of humanity enacted by the suicideterrorist attacks in New York, Bali, Sinai, Amman,SaudiArabia, Madrid, Mumbai and London. The hijackers of9/11 not only hijacked planes and lives, they alsohijacked the very soul of Islam as a breathing,living, compassionate and liberating force that hasstirred the hearts of women and men for over 1400years.

The so-called jihadi movement must be criticized andcountered not as a natural product of Islam, but as anillegitimate heir to an Islam inspired not bycompassionate teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet,but born and bred in the dungeons of anti-democraticpost-colonial states whose despotic rulers havepreserved power by undermining civil society andinstitutions, and expounding anti-human andanti-humanist visions of Islam, while at the same timecrushing the very few options to engage in discourseand manifest dissent inside and outside the mosque.
This so-called jihadi movement is nothing but amisguided and ill-fated political response to the longhistory of colonialism and forced globalization thathas placed the West in position of superiority inrelation to the Muslim world and has paved the way forAmerican hegemony in the region.

The so-called jihadi movement’s control of sexuality,archaic definitions of gender, the oppression ofpolitical, religious and ethnic minorities, and thesuppression of voices of dissent, are sad, misguidedand false attempts to return Muslims back to atime/space of authenticity, when no such return ispossible or even desirable if constructed in terms ofexcluding of women from public space including themosque, attacks on gays and lesbians as sinners (asmanifest in public hangings in Iran and Iraq,whippings in Saudi Arabia, accusation of blasphemy andapostasy in places such as Pakistan), and the stoningof raped women in Somalia.

This so-called jihadi movement is not the vision ofIslam that many of us hold dear. In this post 9/11era, we as progressive Muslims stand with the globalcommunity to commemorate the lives lost in 9/11 and toremind us all of those no less precious lives lostpost 9/11 by reasserting the humanist tradition inIslam that liberated slaves and women, that prescribedjustice and mercy as the foundations of faith, thatscorned racial and ethnic bigotry and recognized theDivine in the faiths of others.

The resurgence of progressive voices in the house ofIslam in the post 9/11 era, symbolized in an avowed“Not in my name” and “Not in the name of my God,” arepaving the way to a renewed concept of democracy thatwill resurrect the liberating spirit of Islam.

El-Farouk Khaki and Hanadi Loubanion behalf of the Canadian Muslim Union(http://www.muslimunion.ca/)