DR. MUZAMMIL H. SIDDIQI disapproves of George W. Bush’s remarks, argues that Islam and fascism are poles apart, and decries descriptions like Islamofascism as baseless.
In this Section
O you who believe! Be upright for Allah, bearers of witness with justice, and let not hatred of a people incite you not to act equitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Aware of what you do. Allah has promised to those who believe and do good deeds (that) they shall have forgiveness and a mighty reward. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8-9)
Terrible news came on August 10, 2006 that some British-born Muslims were allegedly plotting to blow up with liquid bombs at least 10 airline flights that were scheduled to depart London to the United States. Like 9/11, this horrible news shook the whole world. But thanks are due to Allah that this time it was before the tragedy could happen; the evil plot was discovered and averted.
We Muslims were wiping our tears with the sad news of the death and destruction in Lebanon and Palestine. We were hoping that the world would see the aggressor and the victim in this recent crisis in the Middle East. We hoped for justice for the people of Lebanon and Palestine. Alas, the news of this alleged plot turned the table against us. Now in a few moments the tragedy of Lebanon is out of focus; nobody is talking about the bleeding of the people of Lebanon, the starvation of millions, and the plight of the innocent.
No one exactly knows who made this horrible plot and for whose benefit. It is claimed that some young British-born Muslims were involved. Some point to the terrorists of Al-Qaeda and some mention the names of some other Muslim militant groups. Some jumped to accuse Islam and Muslims in general. Abusive calls are coming, and Islamophobic and anti-Islamic propaganda are on the rise. The Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said, "Some people are keen to portray British Muslims as a fifth column, a mass reservoir of terrorists prepared to slaughter their fellow citizens."
There are also those who are more careful and restrained in their comments. The British Home Secretary John Reid said, "This is not the case of one civilization against another, one religion against another. It is a case, in general terms, of terrorists who wish to use evil methods against the rest. And, therefore, there is common cause in this country among all people of this country, from whatever background, religion or ethnic dimension, because the threat is common to us all" (Los Angeles Times, August 11, 2006).
National Muslim organisations and major Islamic centres and mosques immediately condemned these evil plots and called them un-Islamic and evil. We at the Islamic Society of Orange County and the Shura Council of Southern California gave our statements of condemnation to the media and expressed our outrage against those who made such a plot and thanked Allah for the safety and security of all people. We expressed our gratefulness to the law enforcement authorities who discovered these plots and foiled them in time.
In the wake of this terrible news there will be those who will increase their propaganda against Islam and Muslims. We must be conscious of that, and we should inform and educate our fellow Americans. We have also to be extra conscious of the security of our mosques and other Islamic institutions that might become targets of hate crimes.
We were saddened by the wrong and insensitive remarks of our President Bush. He used the term "Islamic fascists." This is like the terms "Islamic terrorists" or "Islamic militants." We totally reject these terms. There is no fascism, terrorism, or militancy in Islam. Fascism was a political movement that emerged in 1919 in Mussolini’s Italy. It spread in Christian Europe but it was not called "Christian fascism." Hitler was a baptised Christian. He used the New Testament as an inspiration to kill the Jews. His Nazism was a fascist movement, but it was not called "Christian Nazism" or "Christian fascism."
Fascism is defined as —
1. A system of government marked by centralisation of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
2. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
Anyone who has an accurate knowledge of Islam would know that Islam is totally against such philosophy in its beliefs, ethics, and laws in general and in its social, economic, and political teachings in particular. Islam is against dictatorship, against the use of censorship, against nationalism or racism. Islam teaches universal ethics, justice and fair dealings for all people. Islam teaches tolerance of other cultures and religions.
It is true that there are some Muslims who are militants or who have fascist tendencies, but this should not be called Islamic. Not everything that Muslims say or do is Islamic. Islam is not whatever Muslims do; Islam is what Muslims ought to do. Sometimes people argue and say "but the militants use the name of Islam; they use the Qur’an and Islamic slogans." Our answer is that they are misusing Islam. They are a small minority and they do not represent Islam. There are militants Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists but they are not called militants of Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, or Buddhism.
I would like to remind all of us to increase our efforts to remove misinformation about Islam. We should be good examples, avoid any extremism and violence, and live in obedience to our Creator. And we must continue our efforts to bring peace, justice, humanity and morality to this world.
[The writer is the director of the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, California, and member of the Fiqh Council of North America.]