In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
Ever since the attacks of September 11, I have not shied away from calling a spade a spade and pointing out when my community does wrong. In fact, some of my harshest criticisms have been directed toward my co-religionists, and many people have taken me to task for it.
“Why don’t you criticize all the faults of the West,” they ask me. “Why do you always point out the problems of the Muslims,” ask others. In fact, some have suggested: “Why don’t you just form your own religion?” Why? Because I criticize the Muslim community at times?
The reason I am so harsh on Muslims is because they should know better. If Muslims say that Islam is a “religion of peace,” then I will take them to task if they use Islam to justify cold-blooded murder. If Muslims say that Islam promotes gender equality, then I will take them to task if they use the Qur’an to further entrench the utter debasement of women. If Muslims say Islam upholds justice, then I will take them to task when they use Islamic law to commit horrific injustice. Muslims have to be consistent. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong, and it does not matter who is doing said wrong.
The Qur’an told me to “stand up for justice” even if it be against myself or my kin. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told me that if I saw an evil being committed, then I must try to physically stop it. If I am unable to do so, then I should speak out against it. If I am unable even to do this, then I should at least hate it with my heart, this being the weakest level of faith. Nowhere did he say for me to stay silent when Muslims are doing wrong.
After the Battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were defeated and the Prophet was nearly killed, a number of verses were revealed commenting on what just took place. They laid the blame for their defeat completely at the Muslims’ own feet:
“And indeed, God made good His promise unto you when, by His leave, you were about to destroy your foes until the moment when you lost heart and acted contrary to the [Prophet’s] command and disobeyed after He had brought you within view of that [victory] for which you were longing. There were among you such as cared for this world [alone], just as there were among you such as cared for the life to come. Whereupon, in order that He might put you to a test, He prevented you from defeating your foes. But now, He has effaced your sin: for God is limitless in His bounty unto the believers” (3:152)
Even though the Muslims were devastated at this first-ever defeat, God did not shy away from criticizing them as they recovered from their wounds. He did this for a very important reason: so that the Muslims can learn from their mistakes and become better human beings. That is the whole purpose of critically examining one’s own faults and shortcomings: so that he or she may become a better person. It may not be easy to hear about one’s own shortcomings, but it is extremely important for continual self-development and self-enhancement.
This is not saying that I am perfect and thus have the exclusive right to criticize everybody else. Far from it. But, I don’t have to be perfect in order to stand upon firm ground and decry the cold-blooded murder that is committed in the name of Islam. I don’t have to be perfect in order to point out that Islam does not call for the murder of “infidels.” I don’t have to be the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be able to say that strapping a bomb on one’s chest and killing innocent men, women, and children is completely against the letter and spirit of Islam.
When I point out when Muslims do something wrong, the retort frequently hurled my way is: “Yeah it’s wrong, but look at what the West has done!” This is a morally pathetic argument. Never let the hatred of a people toward you move you to commit injustice. That’s what God says. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I don’t have to be perfect to know that.