Muslims must use their proximity to the Qur’an and the Sunnah/Sirah of the noble Messenger (saws) as a standard to determine their standing in the world.
Given the chaos and mayhem that has engulfed large parts of the Muslim world — Somalia, Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan — it is easy to feel despondent. The overriding narrative posits that Muslims are at each other’s throats; that there is something inherently violent in their nature.
This narrative, however, ignores a fundamental point: the gross interference of external players manipulating and disrupting Muslim societies. Can anyone deny that the US and its European allies as well as its puppets in the Muslim East are involved in stoking the flames of conflict in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? Syria is not perfect and the people have a right to be dissatisfied with the government of Bashar al-Asad but external interference is a major source of instability.
The people of Syria like people elsewhere, have the right to choose their own government. At present they have not been given this right. But is the chaos that has engulfed large parts of the country the solution to this problem? Further, who should choose Syria’s rulers: the US, the illegitimate Zionist occupiers of Palestine, the equally illegitimate occupiers of the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey and Qatar on the one hand, or the people of Syria on the other? If it is the latter, then we must further ask, how are the wishes of the Syrian people to be determined? Is a foreign-backed and financed insurrection the answer?
Sufficient evidence exists to confirm that the people of Syria do not want to be ruled by murderers and cannibals. No amount of denial can obfuscate the fact that foreign mercenaries have committed egregious crimes against the Syrian people. Killing innocent people is forbidden in Islam. The noble Qur’an is very clear, “But whoever deliberately kills another committed Muslim, his requital shall be Hell, therein to abide; and Allah will condemn him, and will reject him, and will prepare for him spectacular suffering” (4:93).
On the political front, the Syrian National Coalition (NSC) consists of foreign-backed opportunists that have little or no support inside Syria. This explains why they insist on al-Asad’s resignation before they would agree to a political settlement. The SNC wants power on a platter.
It is interesting to note that the regime in Washington, flag-bearer of democracy worldwide, does not enjoy the support of a majority of Americans yet it wants to appoint rulers in other countries. The Saudi regime has threatened its citizens with death if they call for reforms in the kingdom. Despite all his rhetorical sophistry, Barack Obama’s approval ratings are very low. Nobody, however, would entertain the notion that he should resign much less be overthrown by foreign-backed mercenaries so that a popularly elected government can be established. The US political system is held hostage to moneyed classes where major corporations have the so-called elected officials in their pockets. “America has the best democracy money can buy” aptly describes this reality. If America does not have a government that represents the will of its people, on what basis do its rulers decide who should rule in another country?
The issue boils down to power, or “might is right.” It is the law of the jungle. No amount of sophistry about the will of the people will work. People under attack will fight back; this is natural. Survival is a powerful instinct.
But those who are struggling for their rights also have a responsibility to understand the nature of the forces alligned against them and the prevailing situation in their societies. Simplistic analysis or faulty assumptions will lead nowhere as the Ikhwan and their supporters in Egypt have found to their own detriment.
So what should struggling Muslims do? The first point to note is a proper understanding of the existing situation in Muslim societies. The imposed systems are illegitimate and must be uprooted and replaced by systems based on the model presented by the noble Messenger (pbuh) and the Khulafa’ al-Rashidun. Second, only muttaqi leadership above class or parochial interests must lead the struggle, not charlatans. Third, the leadership must set a clear directional course and the process by which this is to be achieved.
Muslims must evaluate their conduct on the basis of how central or marginal the Qur’an and the Sunnah/Sirah are in their political, economic and social lives. The more central they are, the more central the Muslims will be in the affairs of the world. Conversely, the more marginal the Qur’an and the Sunnah/Sirah are in their lives, the more marginal they will be in the affairs of the world.
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought