There is Islam, and then there is Islamism

Islam is an idea. A philosophy of life and death; of purpose. Like any other religion or belief system, its sanctuary lies in the mind and must be guarded against mind crusaders. Worryingly, a parallel between violence and Islam is crystalizing. Detractors gloat and rave when they stumble upon Koranic verses seemingly condoning violence against the infidel pagans. Islamism is portrayed as a looming affront to Western civilization. They raise their McCarthian daggers and aim at what they believe is the source of the maelstrom: Islam, or more generally religion itself. Even respected scientists as Richard Dawkins see religion as a dangerous faith capable of terrible deeds. “If you are made to believe absurdities, you can be swayed into doing atrocities”, quips the saying. No doubt in the minds of many, Islam today stands in the limelight as the newest religion gone awry. What could explain this sudden perception? Why all this disparaging against a religion only a moment ago lay dormant in the preying eyes of scalding criticism?
In a room fat with people, the yakety-yak wafts up to your ears like a terrific buzzing… until your brain’s receptors kick in, filter out the noise, and catch the words in the haystack your tipsy friend mumbles out. Human beings are exposed every day to an explosion of information, jetting from all cracks and corners. To get the juice out of it, we tune to portraits we believe to be relevant. It is a process of simplification, of classification. When 9/11 happened, the buzzing was drowning our ability to focus on what mattered, namely pin-pointing the root causes of such vehement violence. Our fail-safe kicked in, brushed prejudice over the void and declared the matter settled. Prejudice is thus this: a natural mechanism of coping with the mysterious, the unknown. It is lazy, it is expedient; and in our globalized and complex environment, it is becoming a tempting instrument in prisming what we choose to see and understand. The sound of Islam now echoes a threatening tune, on the same note homosexuality erstwhile echoed AIDS and Africa savagery. Only with resounding effort and comprehension were such prejudice put to sleep. It is Islam’s turn to challenge its greatest deamon: the veiled minds of its faceless doubters. It will be victorious only when we recognize, in the great scheme of life, the innocence of ideas. They could be manipulated righteously and maliciously – like any ideas that humanity has met. Nationalism was a catalyst idea that has freed man from imperialism and oppression. It has also been used to oppress and conquer. The same goes for Christianity, socialism/ capitalism, and even Science. Attacking the idea is not only misguided but tantamount to destroying the very motor of Men’s creativity and progress. What must be guarded against is ideas being hijacked to bankroll the interests of ones over the others. Islamism is Islam taken hostage. Simply put, don’t shoot the hostage!



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