By Dr Alhagi Manta Drammeh
In the wake of the terrific multiple terrorist attacks in France, proponents of the inevitable clash of civilisations were quick to claim that Muslims cannot coexist peacefully with others. They claim that Islam is inherently violent, aggressive and cannot adapt to the so-called “Western” values.
I would like to make it categorically clear that Islam as a divine religion cannot be equated with the barbaric criminality of some who subscribe themselves to Islam. Terrorism from Iraq to Mali and from America to France has probably claimed the lives of more Muslims than any other religious community in recent times. The recent attacks on France are indeed against the universal human values enshrined in the teachings of Islam that the Prophet of Islam was sent as a mercy to the entire humanity and universe in that sense. It is not a clash of civilisations, but a clash of ignorance according to the late Palestinian literary luminary Edward Said put it succinctly.
There is an urgent need for us to redress the menace of terrorism beyond the security and military prism. I remember a week ago whilst on a public transport, a Scottish woman reading loudly a caption from a metro newspaper “We will destroy IS”. She said as a lay person “that is not the solution”. I think that was precisely an expression of frustration with half-baked solutions to a highly complex issue in which politics and religion have been wrongly and ignorantly mixed up.
I think there is a need to confront this phenomenon of terror on the ideological, juristic, theological and intellectual levels in order to create a new narrative and discourse far from polemics and political correctness. Muslim organisations should continuously play a pivotal role in educating our young Muslims values of diversity and Islamic universal ethical values. They can be empowered by organising workshops, seminars and conferences tailored according to the needs of such Muslim organisations.
Another crucial point is in my opinion the need to promote good governance in those countries and giving voice to the voiceless instead of being on the side of dictatorship for pure short-term geopolitical and economic interests.
Apart from the theological and ideological engagement with some of these misguided young Muslims, there is a need to intensify the diplomatic and political tracks regarding the Syrian crisis. It is very sad and unfortunate that the Syrian crisis has dragged on so long because of political calculations far from moral considerations. The dilemma of whether to fight ISIL or the brutal Syrian dictatorship has to be transcended. They are both a threat to international peace and security.
About Dr Manta Drammeh: MD Timbuktu International Research Centre, Associate Professor of Islamic Philosophy and Theology at the Muslim College London and also consultant/researcher at Islamic Cultural Centre London.