Thus, Muslims should collectively work to establish
a system that brings societies different from one another
into relationships of mutual tolerance and peace. Certainly
it is one of the main duties of a Muslim to invite people
of other faiths to join Islam, but at the same time they
must treat such people well and justly whether they answer
their call or not. Muslims' constant goal should be the
welfare of all humanity, for as God said, "You
are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind"
(Qur'an, 3: 110).
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, however,
a dire problem emerged. Certain circles that claim to speak
on behalf of Islam, but clearly lack the understanding of
the essence of it, work to wreak suffering on humanity rather
than striving for its benefit. In attacking and killing
innocent people, they committed the vilest sin forbidden
by Islam-in other words, they brought chaos to the world.
Their violent methods and aggressive messages seething with
anger are wholly at odds with Islam. And at the same time,
these circles are putting the world's one-billion-plus Muslims
into a very difficult spot.
The Qur'an speaks about such people who misinterpret
religion and commit terrorism in the name of faith (3: 7;
27: 48-49). God warned Muslims to steer clear of the forces
that are obdurate in "disbelief and hypocrisy," and against
people who fail to perceive the noble morality lying at
the core of religion and so employ violence due to their
hardened natures (9: 47; 49: 14). In the history of Islam,
such groups as the Hashashins and Kharijites used terrorism
in the name of religion and sowed disorder in the world
due to their own ignorance.
Clearly, this is a truly pressing matter crying
out for a solution. Islam should be cleansed of such wicked
tendencies, and extremism and superstitions should be wiped
away. Muslims must instead be educated about true Islamic
morality based on the Qur'an, and in the words of the theologian
Imam al-Ghazali, the Islamic world should be "revitalized."
Problems in the US Policy
Westerners, and especially the United States,
the target of the Sept. 11 attacks, have come to recognize
this issue, at least in part. Therefore the US administration
has begun an attempt to "reorganize the Islamic world"
over the next 10-15 years. However, its strategy has two
1. The United States should not employ
The US operation in Afghanistan ushered in
an era of military interventions which so far shows little
sign of letting up. To take one example, consider the impending
war against Iraq. Some observers predict that after it deals
with Iraq, the US will proceed to still more military operations
against other countries in the Middle East. Such a path,
however, will not help the US to reach its goals, and will
moreover claim the lives of many innocents. Military methods
will inevitably be interpreted as a "war against Islam,"
which will in turn only add further fuel to the fires of
tension and conflict.
If the United States truly wants to wage a
"war against terrorism" it should do so in the realm of
ideas and opinion. Terrorism is not a tangible enemy, rather
it is a method used by people guided by mistaken ideas.
One cannot fight against a method, one can only fight against
a force that uses this method. If this force is an opinion,
then it should be defeated on the field of opinion. The
ideology and psychology that lead to terrorism must be done
away with. In their place, people should instead should
be taught the real religion based upon the Qur'an, instead
of mistaken religious interpretations that result in terrorism.
2. The United States should not try to impose a
solution from "the outside."
The reasoning laid out above shows that it
is not right for the United States to try to solve the problem
from "the outside." The problem lies in misinterpretations
and distortions of Islam at the hands of certain people,
therefore the solution should come from the world of Islam.
Muslims could work to promote a proper understanding of
Islam and at the same time fight misinterpretations of it.
The United States should support a solution originating
from within the Islamic world.
Were the United States to support such an approach,
this would be better for the US, better for the world's
Islamic community and indeed better for the entire world.
Those who claim the opposite should reconsider their stances,
realizing in the process that such views are leading the
world into a bloodbath. The US administration must be careful
not to give credit to the erroneous suggestions of some
forces with various ulterior motives. These forces are some
ideologues and strategists who want fervently to see a bloody
war erupt between the West and the Islamic world, and moreover
are trying to portray US anti-terrorist policies as part
of a "war against Islam." The US government, and in particular
President George W. Bush, has made sensible statements rejecting
such "the-West-versus-Islam" interpretations, and these
efforts have yielded some good results. However, it is also
necessary that the policies of the US government fully reflect
a more enlightened viewpoint in the eyes of international
How Should An Islamic Union Be?
So then, the war against terrorism should be
carried out in the realm of opinions and ideas, and its
solution should originate from within the world of Islam.
But how will this come about?
Before answering this question, we must point
out one fact: The current divided nature of the Islamic
world. Today many different religious interpretations,
views and models exist in the world of Islam. However, the
Islamic world currently lacks a central authority to separate
out doctrines which contradict the faith, a service which
would guide all Muslims. The world's Roman Catholics can
look to the Vatican, and Orthodox Christians have the patriarchs,
but there is currently no central authority in the Islamic
However, there is no division and uncontrolled
structure in the essence of Islam itself; on the contrary,
there is unity. After the death of the Prophet Mohammed
(peace be upon him), the Islamic world was guided by the
Caliphate, and this authority became the guide for all Muslims
in religious matters.
Today, it is still possible to set up an authority
to act as a guide to all Muslims. In the Qur'an, Allah orders
all Muslims to obey "those in command among them." (Qur'an,
4: 59). Now, the methods used to select "those in command"
can be altered according to the requirements of the age
(such asappointment or popular vote). Thus is possible to
establish an Islamic Union and a central Islamic authority,
based on democratic principles and the supremacy of law,
which should do a number of things:
This union should do a number of things:
1. It should address the entire Islamic
world, and have a firm foundation in basic Islamic values
and principles. It should not be the representative of
a particular sect or school of Islam.
2. It should support human rights, and free
enterprise. The economic, cultural and scientific development
of the Islamic world should be its aim.
3. It should establish peaceful, harmonious
relations with other nations and civilizations. This
Union should work together with the United Nations and the
international community to control weapons of mass destruction,
fight terrorism and international crime, and protect the
4. The rights of minorities living in
Muslim countriessuch as Jews and Christiansshould
be protected, and they should be made to feel both safe
and respected. Inter-faith dialogue and cooperation
should be given priority.
5. Just and peaceful solutions should
be proposed to solve conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim
communities, such as the ones in Palestine, Kashmir and
the Philippines. These solutions should involve both benefits
and concessions for both sides. Such solutions should protect
the rights of Muslims and furthermore prevent the escalation
of conflicts to the point of intractability at the hands
of radical groups.
Bringing such fair, rational leadership to
the Islamic world would be good for both its 1.2 billion
Muslims who face so many problems today and for the world
at large. The world needs such a Union. Muslims, since the
time of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), have led the way forward
for humanity in science, philosophy, art, culture and civilization,
and the masterpieces they created benefitted humanity. While
Europe was still living in the Middle Age, Muslims were
teaching science, medicine, art, rational thinking, hygiene
and many other virtues to the world. Today, just as in the
past, a guiding principle based on Qur'anic morality is
needed to restart this Islamic revival stemming from the
light and wisdom of the Qur'an.
Finally, we must emphasize that this solution
should be realized urgently, because the possibility
of "a conflict of civilizations" between the Islamic world
and the West is growing with each passing day. The possibility
of a war in Iraq is close at hand, and if the current situation
doesn't change, other wars will surely follow. Such conflicts
will claim the lives of many innocent people. Prejudices
and misunderstandings against Muslims and Islam are a persistent
problem, and this is also causing difficulties for Muslims
living in Western countries. Westerners themselves are living
in a state of anxiety due to their fears of terrorism, not
feeling safe even in their own homelands. We need a solution
that would make these problems a thing of the past.
Truly, the founding of an Islamic Union is
such a solution, one that would bring to all these problems
a remedy both permanent and peaceful.