March 26, 2016
JAKIM, PAS, and Najib’s UMNO: They make us sick
by Farouk A. Peru
There was a nauseous feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read reports of the Brussels attacks. In 2013, I was feeling quite buoyant after a jog when the 6 o’clock news announced the shocking report of the Woolwich attacks.
Even though there was only one casualty, that attack was particularly vicious and the murderer actually spoke to a camera justifying his evil. That made me sick to my stomach. Naturally, the backlash against the Muslim community was brutal and severe.
The terror attacks in Brussels which have so far left 31 dead and scores more injured were not even confirmed as Jihadi attacks when I detected Islamophobic remarks on social media.
The world is already attuned to that mode of thinking. After all, Turkey suffered attacks only last week by what officials claimed to be ISIS. Who are these ISIS people? Does it even matter? We now have an “admission” from ISIS, behind the curtain of obfuscation and really, that’s all that’s needed.
The fact that they are claiming to be Islamic is already enough for Islamophobes to make Islam culpable and thus incriminate Muslims. In this climate of suspicion, even people who look like Muslims (read: racial features) have already been attacked!
No Change when we have idiots in Malaysia
I believe in being proactive though. Muslims are in the best position to prevent these attacks from happening simply because these terrorists are hiding in our midst. They could be our friends and family who have been radicalised or some mysterious stranger who suddenly appeared recently.
Whoever they are, we will encounter them more than any other people. After all, Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect of the Paris attacks late last year, hid for four months in his old hometown without being detected. He must have had some help. Hence, we are in the best position to recognise and prevent them from carrying out their heinous activities. The question is how?
The first thing I would recommend is keeping one’s eyes and ears open. Watch out for suspicious activities. Terrorist attacks, at least ones which meet their goals, are not the result of the lack of planning and haphazard execution. Much time and effort will need to be invested.
This is how we can detect the possibility of these attacks. In the movie Four Lions which satirises Islamic terrorism, the lead terrorist Omar had to go for training in Pakistan before he could be “authorised” for such an attack. Such an absence would be very obvious to those close to him.
This brings us to the next point ― recruitment. Thanks to the dark, shadowy anonymity of the internet, ISIS recruiters have managed to succeed in gaining recruits using social media. Reports have said that they even use attractive operatives to lure Muslims of the opposite sex through promises of marriage!
Of course, they also do so through direct propaganda. Malaysian ISIS recruiters probably also use the same method. One can easily find profiles in social media which echo ISIS sentiments. They may be fake ones, simply pranksters wasting people’s time or they may actually be ISIS recruiters.
In any case, I advise Muslims to block these profiles straight away. Deny the troll his oxygen and he will be done.
A Message from Mr. Trump–This is not the solution either
My final point is the prerequisite to making the first two points justifiable ― ideology. In my observation, Muslims are ill-equipped to handle ISIS rhetoric. This is because of two things. One, our traditional education system is not of a dialectical model. It shies away from dialogue and even attempts to repress it. JAKIM is a clear example of this policy. So when ISIS tells Muslims that Islam demands they join the Islamic State, they are unable to answer.
Secondly, conservative traditional Islam is still not willing to reform its tradition. Although we will find dozens of Muslims scholars and luminaries loudly condemning ISIS time and again, none of them will actually step up and reform the Islamic tradition.
The tradition has many narrations and interpretations of the Quran which echo the sentiments of ISIS. Unless these books are edited, Muslims will continue to be held hostage by them and worse still, think the Quran actually teaches this evil. The soul of our faith is at stake here.
To me, the greatest solution to these attacks and Islamophobia lies in social activism. A group of Muslims here in London aptly named the Children of Adam feed the homeless every Sunday. In doing so, they are simultaneous fulfilling the key tenet of Islam as well as showing the world what we’re really about.
The problem is, their numbers are about one hundredth of a typical Friday congregation. We do have a long way to go.