By Saif Ahmad Khan:
As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, it would be highly uncharitable of me to criticize the Muslim Ummah but nevertheless I consider the time to be most apt for introspection. The decade post 9/11 is going to go down in Islamic history as a period of persecution and stereotyping but the community has managed to get back to its feet with incredible resilience. We need not worry about the Islamophobic intelligentsia of our times and I am confident that their illogical rhetoric will be buried very soon, just like the vitriol of the anti-Semites and anti-Catholics of the 20th century. The Muslim-bashing brigade of Robert Spencer, David Wood, Daniel Pipes, Geert Wilders, Pamela Geller, Pastor Terry Jones, Arun Shourie, Subramanian Swamy etc. has failed miserably at trying to portray the Muslims as a set of people who are perpetually thinking about and obsessed with the idea of resurrecting the Caliphate, imposing Sharia and waging global Jihad, incorrectly perceived as Holy War, to eliminate disbelievers, which is very misleading and laughable.
The only truly valid concern, which no intellectually honest person would contest, raised by such people and others is in relation to the discriminatory practices of religious segregation propounded by the Government in Saudi Arabia. The astonishingly unreasonable embargo placed on the entry of Non Muslims in the Holy City of Mecca not only sabotages Islam’s claims of being a universal religion but also exemplifies the fiercest racism in the history of human civilization. This along with total subjugation of Non Muslims in Saudi Arabia by not giving them the right to proselytize people and build their places of worship makes Saudi Arabia the most intolerant of all places in the whole world. Although Vatican City partners Saudi Arabia in this kind of fanatic fundamentalism but Saudi Arabia’s religious unilateralism has been used to harass Muslims all over the world and has discredited the good work done by a significant number of Muslim Majority countries, especially the liberal regimes of Indonesia, UAE and Turkey.
Islamophobes have done nothing apart from replicating the sickness of the Saudis while dealing with Muslims. When the Cordoba Initiative (An Islamic Centre with a prayer hall to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero) of Imam Rauf ran into trouble, Newt Gingrich famously remarked that the Muslims should not be allowed to build mosques in USA until they allow churches to be built in Saudi Arabia. In India, Sangh Parivar sympathizers like Swamy have asked for a ban on conversions very much similar on the lines of the Saudi Government. Saudi Arabia is in need of a total political re-haul. It’s true that Saudi Arabia happens to be just 1 of the over 50 Muslim-Majority countries and its discriminatory practices don’t warrant others to do the same but the fact remains that Muslims just can’t keep justifying the blatant practices prevalent in Saudi Arabia and other repressive Islamist regimes where minority rights are at an all time low. Islamic scholars in the West have been very vehemently condemning the Islamophobes for their denouncement of the Quran and the Holy Prophet but on the other hand they’ve not shied away from plunging into the defense of the religiously-exclusionary practices in Saudi Arabia by claiming that if we allow Non-Muslims in Mecca they might just spread unislamic activities in our holy land. This is totally unacceptable and unjustifiable. Countries in the Middle East also need to reframe their citizenship laws which have actually accelerated the growing opposition to immigrations in the West. Lastly and most importantly, the Muslim community is in a desperate need of liberals. There are just not enough moderates who are willing to speak up and lead the community into a positive direction. I sincerely hope that this Ramadan leads to the rise of Muslim-moderatism and Muslim-modernism which is the need of the hour.