In the wake of the horrendous Paris attacks, and even since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one notices a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments in some parts of the world. Even though the majority of Arabs and Muslims continue to condemn the brutalities, massacres and terrorist carnage committed in their name, yet one wonders whether it has become a truism in today’s world for an Arab or a Muslim to feel guilty until proven innocent? As an Arab and as a Muslim I condemn every murderous act and every terrorist attack committed in the name of my culture and faith. However, one wonders when should we as Arabs and Muslims allow ourselves not to feel guilty towards acts committed by a gang of criminal terrorists? In addition,as an Arab and as a Muslim I don’t have to carry the unsettling feeling of guilt for crimes committed by any mad dog or a criminal individual who masks himself/herself as true Muslim? I do believe that as a Muslim individual who wishes nothing but peace and love to the rest of humanity, I have no extra moral responsibility to condemn terrorism than any non-Arab or non-Muslim around the world. In fact, one gets sometimes quite baffled by the persistence of some Western or international media outlets when they focus on terrorism while to some extent ignore the racist and discriminatory backlashes against Muslim individuals and communities around the world.
As an Arab and as a Muslim, I share with the rest of humanity a desire to live in peace with the rest of God’s children; however, I will continue to resist any attempt to categorize me as a threat to anyone just because I have darker skin color or because I follow a specific religious faith. Numerous Arab and Muslim political commentators have already condemned all acts of terrorism committed in their name, however they have also been continually pouring international medias with calls to differentiate between Islam as a religion of peace and terrorists.
As an Arab, I continue to feel proud of my native Arabic culture because I continue to believe it to be peaceful, constructive and humane. Moreover, as a Muslim individual, I continue to feel proud of my Islamic culture and heritage because I continue to believe it to be based on a peaceful religion, which calls for the protection of all human life. For instance, in the Holy Quran in Surat Al-MÇ’idah, verse 32, God says: “If any one slew a person – unless it be … would be as if he slew the whole people.” A peace-loving Muslim will always interpret this particular Quranic verse according to its true context: all human life is sacred throughout time, and if one destroys one single innocent human life, they would have committed a genocide. Ordinary and peace-loving Muslims usually read the Qur’an almost every day; and in the holy book, God explains, “O men, we created you from a male and female, and formed you into nations and tribes that you may recognize each other. He who has more integrity has indeed greater honor with God. Surely God is all-knowing and well-informed” (49:13). No Muslim individual or group can claim integrity or greater honor unless they become the most righteous. In other words, maintaining true Islamic faith based on integrity requires the acknowledgment that all humans are equals. True believers in Islam understand that one of the central messages of their faith is to fight against prejudice, unfairness, and injustice and against the prosecution of those who are non-Muslims. Those who inflict terror on innocent people do not respect the true principles of Islam as we know them as Muslims and as we read them in the holy Quran. As we demand from the rest of the Arab and Islamic worlds to condemn terrorism, we also need to remember that Arabs and Muslims share with the rest of humanity a moral responsibility to fight terrorism committed in the name of any religious faith.
By Khaled Aljenfawi