The Ummah Dilemma
by Hisham Zoubeir, 25 December 1997

Each day that I live in the West, there are two issues that constantly make themselves apparent to me. Firstly, that Islam is becoming more and more a topic of interest among the people of the West. This can be both a good and a bad thing; the good being that more and more people are appreciating Islam, and more and more people are actually accepting the Quran as a divine revelation.

Secondly, that 'Islamist' terrorists are doing very little good for Islam.

I am partly Egyptian, but I would (and do) feel the same about any country. When I heard of the 'Islamic' massacres in Luxor, I was horrified. It is not enough that the Ummah faces so many external conflicts, that it must create them within? I am sure that the people who organised that little 'demonstration' were certain that they were fighting in the cause of Islam against a corrupt government. And all Muslims can and should sympathise with that. But their methods, and the ideology of their fight is false. They cannot claim to be followers of Islam and do what they did. Very little good came out of that massacre.

Firstly, it caused more distrust of Egyptians and Muslims everywhere. Unlike members of other faiths, when people are shot by Muslims in one part of the world, Muslims EVERYWHERE feel the repercussions. And in the Western world, the repercussions are usually quite unpleasant. Already, women who wear the hijab are discriminated against. Men who have beards are thought of as terrorists. Even students in Western universities, who are Arab-looking and have beards are suspected of having links to arms dealers!!!

Secondly, it contributed to the falsehood that Islam is a religion of violence and terrorism. Need I elaborate how this is not good for the Ummah?

Lastly, and this is the most important aspect; people died. Innocent people died. The terrorists can justify it all they want, but in the end, INNOCENT PEOPLE WERE KILLED.

As a nation in decline (not in number, masha'allah) we seem to often ignore that other human beings that are non-Muslims, are in fact human beings as well. And those people that died on that fateful day in Luxor, had they been Christian, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, atheist, or agnostic were first and foremost HUMAN BEINGS. And all human life is precious in Islam.

What has happened to the Muslim nation? We were founded on principles of peace and tolerance. We were founded on principles of morality and righteousness. Today, we have no right to call any government an Islamic one or any organisation an Islamic one, or even ourselves Islamic if we do not at least try to leave out lives according to Islam.

On the one hand, we have almost one and a half BILLION followers of Islam. That is truly magnificent. But although we are arguably the largest population on earth, or at the very least, the second largest, the morals of our faith have not perservered in the world. Least of all in our own countries.

If the entire Ummah had united in the past and declared, "Israel, you are not legitimate and we refuse to allow your existence to destroy our brothers and sisters," the Zionists the world over would have cried for mercy and instead asked for permission to come into Palestine. And, the Ummah, in its mercy, may have permitted some of them to come because of the terrible persecution that so many of their number had suffered in Europe.... but never at the expense of other human beings.

Oh, but woe to our Ummah. It has become a stage for formalism, and an Islam without spirit. All the problems that faced and face the Ummah today could and can be solved with Islam. The struggle for Palestine. The internal struggles against governments in and out of the Arab world. The rest of the world would be at a loss! For only in a real Islamic society would the principles that the West glorify themselves upon be realised. Human rights. Equal rights for all people. The supression of crime. Freedom of thought.

But instead, Islam is glorified in the West, and has begun in the East, as the religion of violence. Both non-Muslims and Muslims have accepted this view. Both the supporters of organisations such as HAMAS and the enemies of such organisations.

Violence is not our way. The Ummah has indeed a great many struggles to fight, and force may be the way in some of them. In some cases, it is unavoidable. But if we are to fight, then we are to fight with honour and nobility. In the spirit laid down in the Quran. Not as transgressors or murderers.

But as righteous human beings.

When this article was written] Hisham Zoubeir is at the University of Sheffield undertaking a multi-disciplinary degree in law. He has lived in Abu Dhabi, Cairo and London. His main interests delves into peace, equality, righteousness and spirituality.

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