You raised the following issues (See last post). I’ve tried to address some of them (here) below each of your main concerns:
1. With reference to IS (ISIS) and their ilk: “The crazy brigade are growing, and they’re getting crazier.” And “this whole thing is wrong.” And “Personally, I find it quite frightening.” And “I don’t know what the answer is, but these are worrying times imo.”
Although we should try and not be afraid /worried (which, I know, might be tricky) but instead we should try and understand things deeper (as you’re attempting, as am I) in order to be a source of healing (Godwilling) in these troubled times. (Note to self:) Small steps… Patience. Perseverance. Don’t stop… Keep going…
2. “I read newspapers, and watch the news“
The majority of newspapers and TV news is part of the mainstream media, which has no interest in Muslims doing “everyday good-deeds” because such news will not sell papers. Sorry. Reality-check.
(Think of a good story about a Muslim that you’ve read about or seen. And why is there so, so few? Do we assume therefore that there are none? (No good news-stories about Muslims because perhaps there are, in fact, no good Muslims at all… in the whole world…) How realistic is that?) The fact is, there is more demand for Muslims doing “everyday bad-deeds” from the media [regardless of whether any ‘bad’ has actually happened sometimes – i.e. false reporting – check out here, here and for general updates on how Muslims are reported, here]. This is because 1. then the public can have a scapegoat to vent their frustrations upon so that 2. papers can continue to guarantee the sale of their papers. Perfect business sense.
Assuming bad deeds are committed by Muslims from time-to-time (which isn’t being denied, by the way – and IS or ISIS, obviously come to mind) this is nearly always conflated to represent the religion (Islam-in-theory), which is a seriously problematic position. (I’ve said in the previous post that Islam is to be judged by the criterion of what are the Islamic principles (Islam-in-theory) and people to be judged as people – in this sense, how close is the Muslim person following the principles of Islam-in-theory.) Regardless, this approach of conflation is consistently and un-apologetically perpetuated, and even exaggerated by mainstream media companies. Sly.
(Question: What is this tacit willingness (a want, a need) to scapegoat the Muslims all of the time? Answer: 1. There has always been a cultural antipathy to Muslims by (Western) Christians, historically. This is unfortunate. Strangely, this attitude seems to have carried over to secular post-Christians too. 2. Given the above (Answer 1.) as a starting point, some ‘not so clever’ / ill-informed Muslims do often make an easy target by their (un-Islamic) words or actions too, AND – what is fascinating – will ALWAYS find themselves in the paper. So their error (the false representation) ends up representing the entire religion, which is spread and then shared, reposted, reblogged, amplified a zillion times. Oh well… Such is life. 😦
3. “I don’t hear many other Muslims coming out and saying they are wrong“ and “I rarely see news stories of Muslims condemning Muslims.” And (from Peter) “it is very rare to see the Muslim community vilify the fanatics especially after any major incidents.”
I guess, Darryl, this point is probably your real sticking point. Because we don’t see such news stories it follows that no condemnation by Muslims of atrocities by Muslims is taking place, right? Wrong.
You see, you are probably looking in the wrong places.
Would the mainstream media report such condemnation, in any case? In my opinion, they wouldn’t because it is simply not newsworthy for their perceived audience (i.e. people that have a grudge against Muslims [Answer 1, above]). I say ‘perceived’ because I believe a true reflection of the audience is one that is (potentially) open and fair-minded – but the mainstream media (with their own agenda) make assumptions about who they’re pitching to. To a certain extent, they shape the appetites and thereby the nature of the very audience they’re writing for.
I wonder whether Muslims are more reticent to appear on TV, in turn, because they are guaranteed to be berated by media-savvy journalists using soundbites (and carrying chips on their shoulders). Such Muslims will find themselves trying to defend Islam (the theory) from Muslim practice (and often extremist practice) which (regardless of their defence) persists in being conflated despite their input. Who would want to be willingly attacked all the time by ignorance and then not get given the time/scope to respond adequately/justly or heard? Example? Check out the film in the last post.
I recall Professor Akbar Ahmed in his book ‘Postmodernism and Islam’ commenting (in 1992) on how the TV interview process felt like an assault in a space of 5 minutes. He realised there was a ‘science’ in how one ought to respond to questions on the media and that he kept doing it wrong. That is, instead of giving deeper, fuller answers of quality, which he was wont to do, but which was deemed long-winded, where he found himself cut-off, one had to instead give short, snappy, soundbite (superficial) answers. This appears to be the way of modernity. (Isn’t there a better way?) There are not many Muslim interlocutors who are media-savvy in this way. Remember the ratio of Muslims to non-Muslims in the UK; the percentage is pretty low (4.4% 2011 Census). And yet, to be honest, do we want soundbite answers from media-savvy Muslims? Not particularly. We want truthful, prejudice-free reporting. An open-space. But I concede that we don’t live in a world of rainbows and fairies to expect such idealism in the real-world. But at least you have the answer, I hope, you were looking for.
Ironically, the Muslims that use soundbite answers to ‘defend Islam’ by being hateful and obnoxious and who might be deemed by non-Muslims as ‘good’ defenders/representatives of the religion are those from the extremist wing that predictably get to speak for mainstream Muslims by the mainstream media (and who join in conflating Islam-in-theory with the Muslim practice of extremists! Anjam Choudary. comes to mind, whoever he is.)
Now, when we talk about condemnation of Muslims committing atrocities, what are we talking about? When the question arises on ‘who speaks for the Muslims’ do we have a Pope-like figure who can give an authoritative position of the ‘Islamic position’, so such a Muslim can condemn these things all at once? No. There is no Pope in Islam. No one person can claim to be the ‘voice of Islam’ after the Prophet has passed away. This is deliberate and wise – so no one can come along and alter the religion as has happened to every other religion in human history. It is like an inbuilt safety mechanism. Even now, with all the ever-growing ‘crazy-brigade’, we can look to see 1. what did the Prophet actually reveal in truth and 2. find humble, real people, practicing it. Islam – the last, authentically revealed religion – is unique in that we still possess living evidence of people following the religion (in a more complete sense) set by the very founder – unchanged – even now! Pick a religion. Any religion. Which religion can boast this? No other. But this takes us to a different conversation, elsewhere.
(Don’t rely on the mainstream media to find such decent people. They will always go for the loopy ones. Entertainment. Sales.)
Only the scholars of the faith can provide a nuanced opinion of how Islam fits into the context of the times. But this presentation of Islam is always their opinion. This keeps Muslims on their toes and forces them to ‘think through’ answers with reference to Qur’an and Sunnah applied to the context vis-a-vis any specific questions people have. The problem is twofold: a) oftentimes the Muslim scholars of Islam are not necessarily experts of the context of ‘nowadays’ or the elaborate (secular) details of a given scenario and b) Muslim non-scholars of Islam (everyone else) have little knowledge of the depth and complexities of Islam. These are the blind-sides in everyone’s analyses. However, this is fine if we look at it as ‘work-in-progress’. Unfortunately, when journalists pitch issues in sensationalist fashion, as is the modern way, there is no regard for work-in-progress. Only demand for quick answers, quick fixes, quick this, quick that. Lots of ‘experts’ with no expertise. Chill out. Relax. Calm down.
The truth is there is actually much condemnation of Muslim atrocities by Muslims that takes place. And you ought to be shell-shocked if you’re a regular viewer of mainstream media to hear this! Such condemnation does not take place as frequently on the mainstream media for the reasons I’ve given above. Rather they are visible (and common) in the non mainstream (social media) outlets. And this is possibly because these outlets are less controlled by big businesses in a direct way and reflect what real people think. And so, if we look for those few scholars, at least, that have a reasonable knowledge of Islam and reasonable knowledge of the context, we suddenly become aware that there is more condemnation taking place than we thought there was. So the problem is: are we looking in the right place? This is where Tim Bowes‘ article on the Mirror makes sense. We see what we want to see. Where are we looking for the answers? Writers/bloggers are interested in answering the concerns of their audiences and they write to ensure their audiences are updated. If we are genuinely interested to know what’s going on about the range of authentic Muslim responses (I believe) we ought to look at the likes of:
Yasir Qadhi (on ISIS – video supplied, above),
4. “Maybe the press just don’t report it.”
Yup (see above).
5. “The IS almost certainly see themselves as freedom fighters”
The IS is the antithesis of Islam. MUST WATCH: (Watch the video, above)
6. “Two sides to every story, and British/American troops have killed countless civilians out in Iraq and the other countries we are occupying.” And “I’m realistic enough to know that the foreign policy of countries like England and America lead to organisations like IS growing, and the kind of people drawn to this group were always going to find an outlet for their rage at life.”
Yasir Qadhi, in the video, above, makes the point that there are two types of extremism: lackadaisical and fanatical. Both attitudes are wrong. Regardless of what happens in life, there is no excuses to veer in either direction. We will be ALL questioned on the Last Day about our actions. Get ready. The only surest path is the middle path between the two extremes: the Sirat al-Mustaqeem (“the Straight Path,” Qur’an 1:6).
But why would the USA government be maintaining its current Foreign Policy and fund groups in the Middle East? You see this is part of the problem. It doesn’t help. And it keeps happening. Can anyone see a pattern?
(Fund Mujahideen in Afghanistan = Al-Qaeda;
Fund Syrian rebels = IS)
That is the question non Muslims must be demanding from their side. It is harder to control random wacko Muslims from the public from being nutjobs, but we try. But I thought in a democracy (power to the people?) is there no control of nutjobs from positions of power? (In my opinion, nutjobs crave positions of power. But anyway…)
Perhaps the funding of groups in the Middle East (that turn out to be radical) is deliberate. Why? Could it be part of a strategy to destabilise the region indefinitely, so resources can be offloaded to big businesses, whist ensuring there is no resistance from the people when they’re running around for cover, trying to save themselves from civil wars; and meanwhile Islam will be made to look like the global enemy (a neat by-product) by conflating IS (Muslim practice) with the ‘face’ of Islam (theory) in predictable, manipulative fashion. Think ‘Game of Thrones’ of the 21st Century. So blame for all the problems in the world can be scapegoated always to the ‘historical (Muslim) enemy’ and vindicate an Orwellian perpetual ‘war on terror’. Or… I could be wrong.
7.”But the crazies need to go, because that’s where the next war is coming from…“
Agreed. The crazies do need to go. (Seems like the Orwellian plot is coming together, then.) So if the US funded the crazies in order to justify bombing/controlling the region with the excuse of dismantling the crazies, imagine the frustration of the people on the ground. Our wish for better news stories is all well and good – is convenient – for our peace of mind, but ‘the next war’ might have been pre-planned a long time ago by the global elites.
Our fight, I believe, is not with the Muslims per se. It is with the ones pulling the (purse) strings. The Muslims have all been played in my opinion. They’ve lost the plot (by letting go of the Islamic middle-way). They lost (politically) a long time ago, my friend. That should be obvious. If you check your history you’ll see that Muslims have lost precedence from the world stage circa 1750s to the present in ever increasing intensities. And especially if you watch the hit series, ’24’, you’ll know that after defeating the Muslim baddie midway, it is always a homegrown non-Muslim (European? American? Zionist?) that turns out to be the bigger (hidden) baddie in classic Machiavellian fashion.
So what now? Let us try and understand things deeper – together – in order to be a source of healing (Godwilling) in these troubled times. Small steps… Patience. Perseverance. Don’t stop… Keep going…