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Since the September 11 attacks and the invasion by the US of Afghanistan and Iraq, a new world has emerged for Muslims. We have been forcefully exposed to our own slumber and paralysis.

The Muslim world is still not in the mood to realise its own drawbacks and has not yet diagnosed the real ailment – its malignant self-conceit and self-deception.

We still harp the slogan of Islam and Muslims being representative of the Truth, that in the world we live in, falsehood dominates over Truth and we, as Muslims, are compelled to lose in this life whilst gaining victory in the next.

We must, however, learn from history and that history has been repeated. In 1258, seven and a half centuries ago, a Mongol army of over 200,000 soldiers led by Halaku Khan conquered and raped Baghdad, bringing down the Abbasid Caliphate and ending the golden age of Islam. “Men, women and children were slaughtered by the thousands and the butchery did not stop till the murderers’ thirst for blood and rape was sated and their swords blunt.” And, like today, the Muslim world’s head was hung in shame, guilty and helpless in their inability to defend fellow Muslims.

That episode of total blackout generated fear and contempt for others and walls were built between Muslim and non-Muslim rulers. Since then, the broad division of humanity, instead of being based on the validity of ideologies, was established on the apparent and deceptive birth-inherited right to Islam.

The trauma of invasion and defeat engrained the fear and loathing of alt____ and otherness so much that Muslim thinkers and intellectuals developed a persecution psychopathology that entrenched trepidation of the outside world.

Realisation of the multitudes of enemies of Muslims (as opposed to enemies of Islam), the majority of the Ulema developed a reactionary philosophy and defensive approach to Islam. Consequently, the Muslim Ummah formulated a defensive and confrontational approach to Islamic philosophy and understanding.

This defensive policy is now inherent in the Muslim relationship to outsiders where it is in vogue to defend the integrity and purity of Islam and normative Muslim life at all costs. The collective Muslim consciousness has blocked fresh ideas and innovations for so long that we have made Islam incapable of taking part in the race for development and progress in order to lead the world on Islamic lines. Taqleed has very strongly superseded the Ijtehad - the dynamic essence of Islam.

The climax of the tragedy is that the normative Islam today has been arrested by political elites – many of whom are really nothing more than cronies to their paymasters in Washington, who have likewise adapted and utilised this conservative interpretation of Islam to suit their own ends.

The challenge today before the Muslim Ummah is how to rise above in the wake of our modern day calamity.

We have to learn to fight for peace, equality and the rule of law both domestically and internationally in this Hobbesian globe, which is bereft of ethics and morality in the socio-political frame of reference.

What Muslims, and Muslims only, can offer to the world is the emancipatory and transformative message of Islam itself, which we all carry in our hearts.

Islam is a message of peace but Islam is not a ‘passively pacifistic’ religion. Peace cannot come by itself, it has to be fought and struggled for. Islam calls for social transformation, emancipation and harmonisation of human existence to higher universal laws that transcend the boundaries of race, gender, class and politics.

Islam has the agenda to place human beings as rational agents bearing the mark of their Creator as the primary force of change in the world.

Islam seeks to unite rather than divide. It aims to bring harmony and balance where chaos reigns supreme.

The international financial system is in tatters and the developing economies of the world are held hostage by bandit-kings who run the financial houses and banks of the world. Human beings have been reduced to the status of passive consumers rather than creative agents.

Amidst all the darkness and frustration let us remember that the true spirit of the followers of Islam came forward during the darkest of hours.

Remember that the Muslim Ummah managed to raise itself and put its brave face forward: the lesson of the Battle of Badr, when the Muslims managed to defend themselves against opponents who outnumbered them, should be repeated again.

Remember that we are not alone in this world. There are real allies, true friends of Muslims – the millions of Europeans, Americans, Australians and others who stood up against the aggression of the US Administration in Iraq and defied their own governments in order to stand up for justice and common humanity.

We need to come forward and put ourselves at the centre of the societal advancement and progress – the just and good willing to combat the evil and unjust from both the inside and outside.

Let us form a new global coalition for justice, peace and equality. Let us stir ourselves from our paralysis and slumber. Let us perform our fard-e-kifayah (social obligation) of removing the imbalances of the world.

"(Allah) said: "Get you down from this: it is not for you to be arrogant here: get out, for you are of the meanest (of creatures)". He said: " Give me respite till the day they are raised up.""

(Quran; 7: 13,14).

In summary we, as Muslims, have to strive for the following pertinent change:

  1. No superiority of Muslim over non-Muslim (and vice-versa) especially in the current atmosphere where Muslims themselves have little knowledge of and do not follow Islam.
  2. Isolation from the broader community should be removed.
  3. Fiqh should be readjusted in the contemporary world.
  4. Every intellectual person should learn religion and Islam should not be the monopoly of the Ulema.
  5. Muslims should have comprehensive and complete participation in Ijtehad.

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