ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ISLAMIC TERRORISM
Dr. Ishanand Vempeny
(Published in Jeevadhara, Vol.XLVI, No.273, May 2016, pp.66-85)
We began writing this article in the context of the contagious disease of Islamophobia spreading far and wide and of the ever increasing number of Islamic terrorist attacks like the sporadic invasions of a powerful enemy as though a premonition to a Third World War. Our article is a wake-up call to all and sundry and the powers to be.
In the first part we have described rather extensively the disease of Islamophobia which is victimizing thousands of innocent Muslims and which has the potential to victimize millions more all over the world. The fact that the Muslim refugees are flooding the Western countries and the rumors that this flood contains large number of Islamic terrorists make the host nations overcome with anger and fear. While the Western nations show their unwillingness to welcome any more of the stranded refugees the rich Muslim Arab nations refuse to accept them. The continued Islamic terrorism is not helping to arrest this world wide tension and fear.
In the third and fourth parts of this article our effort has been to analyze this deteriorating situation. As in other religions, in Islam too there are seeds of fundamentalism, exclusivism and terrorism. We have seen also the numerous seeds in the Quran that promote inter-religious openness and dialogue. We have been critical of the Western liberal and Islamic self-righteous attitudes which put blame on individuals or group of individuals rather than on some of the Islamic teachings and structures. We do agree with Thomas Friedman that we have to call this phenomenon with its right name rather than ignoring the challenging reality.
We have pointed out how this situation especially of fundamentalism and exclusivism existed in Christianity and to some extent in Hinduism. We gave these two religions as samples. Though Islam had a tradition of interpretation and re-interpretation of the Quran until quite recently, influenced by petrol rich Wahhabis and other fundamentalists, this re-reading of the texts are neglected.
To respond to the crying need of reform in Islam, a hermeneutical re-interpretation of the Holy Quran is the need of the day. The Islamic tradition has many examples of re-interpretation and reform as in the cases of Avicenna and Al-Ghazālī who were real Mujaddids. Such a reform should not be left to the fundamentalistic groups like the Wahhabis, supported by Saudi Arabian petro-dollars. It needs a council of scholars both in religious and secular matters. Today’s Islam does not lack Mujaddids, Imams of the like of the Imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar Mosque connected with the university. It could be somewhat like the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council which saved to a great extent Christianity from fundamentalism and exclusivism. For reform the principle that the context changes the text has to be studied deeply in the Islamic context. The principle of re-reading the scriptures have to be followed taking seriously the contextual challenges of universally growing Islamophobia and irrepressibly growing Islamic terrorism. Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim. - - - Om Shanti Shanti Shantihi.