FROM MAULANA’S DESK
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.
NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA
The following is a report on a recent development in Sydney, Australia:
POLICE in Australia's most populous state will be allowed, under a proposed law, to shoot suspects in “terrorist-related” incidents, even if the attacker does not pose an imminent threat, New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said yesterday. The change comes after a series of “lone wolf” Islamist-inspired attacks, the most serious of which raised questions about the traditional police strategy of “contain and negotiate” in hostage situations. Under the proposal, lethal force can be used immediately if an incident is declared “terrorist related” by the state’s most senior police officer, Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney. Currently, police have to wait until a suspect demonstrates an imminent threat to others. Authorities said that the present law curtailed their ability to end a 2014 siege in Sydney’s Lindt Cafe in which three people, including the hostage-taker were killed.
(“Oz cops get more teeth in terror fight”, The Times of India, 9 June 2017)
Another news report from Victoria is as follows:
In a move slammed on Thursday as troubling and wrong, an Australian Islamic council has called for taxpayer-funded “safe spaces” so young Muslims can express “inflammatory” views without fear. News of the request comes just days after a fatal shootout in Melbourne claimed by the Islamic State group, which is being treated as a terrorist incident. In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into freedom of religion, the Islamic Council of Victoria demanded funding for federal counterterrorism and anti-extremism programmes be diverted to create the refuges. “Existing funding re-allocated to create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms,” it said. “(A space) where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory.”
Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “very troubled” by any suggestion for safe spaces where Muslim youth “could be radical”. “There is no safe way to rail against the West,” he told reporters. “I am very troubled by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a de-radicalisation programme. That makes no sense to me whatsoever.” He ruled out any funding for such an initiative.
(“Australian Muslims demand safe spaces to talk about Islamic issues”, Hindustan Times, 8 June 2017)
The above two news reports from Australia set me thinking about the present age and the role of Muslims.
Of all events of the twentieth century, the Second World War particularly stands out, as it was the worst event of destruction in the entire history of war. However, it also had a positive aspect, that is, after WWII the change in thinking that emerged led to the dawn of a new age of globalization. This age was characterized by a new dimension to tourism, global mobility between nations, opportunities for peaceful activity, unprecedented expansion of modes of communication, innumerable scopes for global interaction, an explosion in the desire for the quest of truth.
In these changed circumstances, a new historical phenomenon was witnessed. That is, people began to travel frequently to different countries. This scenario had a natural effect on Muslims as well. Earlier, Muslims had remained confined to their respective countries, but now they too began to migrate to other places. Today, Muslims are present in almost all the 196 countries of the world.
The modern age can thus be termed an age of diaspora for Muslims. Previously the Muslims had gone into diaspora after the death of the Prophet in 632 CE. They moved out of Arabia and spread out all over the inhabited world of that time. In these foreign lands, Muslims came as bearers of the divine message. Before the Prophet, Islam had been only a regional religion, but later it became an international religion—all this happened solely due to the seventh century diaspora of Muslims.
In earlier times, the Muslim diaspora had played a peaceful role in the regions they entered—that is, they took the message of Islam to the new populations they encountered. However, in the present age, the Muslim diaspora is performing a completely opposite role. Their activities have led to the spread of intolerance, hate, violence and even suicide bombing in the countries in which they reside. Some Muslims are engaged in all of this directly while others’ involvement in this is indirect in that they do not openly condemn the heinous acts committed in the name of their religion. Although Muslims perpetrate these acts in the name of Islam, their actions are in truth only doing a disservice to Islam.
News of this “disservice to Islam” can be continually seen in the media. The latest news of this kind has come from Australia. The abovecited newsreport is very alarming for Muslims. Prior to this, everyone enjoyed complete freedom in Australia. But Australian Muslims, who had originally come as immigrants, imitated Muslims living in other countries by importing the “violent Islam” to Australia. As a result, to maintain peace the Australian administration took the decision to pass a new law which will give the police more power to curb violence.
This step from the Australian administration was quite natural according to the situation that presently exists there. Australia is a peace-loving country and desires a peaceful atmosphere to prevail. For this reason, in giving more powers to its police personnel to control terrorism, the Australian administration cannot be blamed for ignoring the plea of human rights violation.
As the media also states, the Australian Muslim leadership has made a very unwise plan against the backdrop of the violence that some Muslims have committed. They have demanded that the taxpayer money meant for counter-terrorism initiatives be used for creating spaces for Muslim youth to gather and talk about issues, even if it involves speaking in an inflammatory manner. This request would certainly be unacceptable to an administration which is working towards putting an end to the menace of extremism, as fulfilling such a demand could be instrumental in further fuelling the radicalization of impressionable minds.
The Australian Muslim leadership’s demand runs counter to wisdom. At the present moment, they should have unequivocally condemned the violence that the young Muslims have perpetrated. They should divert the Muslim youth to peaceful activities such as going ahead in education, participating in constructive activities and, most importantly, conveying the peaceful teachings of Islam to their countrymen. This is the solution to the problem of radicalism that the Australian Muslim community is currently facing.
Australian Muslims should live as peaceful citizens and not allow any separatism in the name of Islam. They must shun all forms of active and passive violence. It is in their best interest to live as a creative community in Australia and not a protestant community. This will be possible if Muslims become part of the national mainstream. This is the way to success for Muslims in Australian society. Any other path will only lead to destruction.
>strong>Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
People see the signs, but pass
them by without detecting them.
One who has a prepared mind,
however is able to recognize them
and then turn them into objects of