Two Out of Three, Baby!


In the Name of God, Most Compassionate Most Merciful

For the second time in three years*, a Muslim has been awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. Year before last, it was Shirin Ebadi, a human rights lawyer from Iran, someone I consider my hero. This year, Mohamed El Baradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been awarded the Prize. Both will share the $1.3 million. How’s that for a Ramadan gift, eh?

You know, there is not a lot of good news about the Muslim world these days (at least news that the media likes to report). This is an exception. Whatever beefs one may have with Mr. El Baradei and the politics of the IAEA, it is still wonderful to see a Muslim win the Nobel Peace Prize two years in a row. This award flies in the face of the notion that all Muslims are nothing but blood-thirsty terrorists who want to kill all things not Muslim.

Muslims, all across this globe, work hard each and every day to try to make our world a better place. They strive, sweat, and suffer and get no media attention at all. Unfortunately, only when Muslims cause mayhem do they make the front page. This contributes to the perception that Islam is nothing but a religion of terror and death. The truth, however, is quite the opposite, and this Nobel Peace Prize confirms this.

Now, I do not presume that Mr. El Baradei did his work out of religious conviction. I don’t even know whether Mr. El Baradei is religious. Yet, he still represents the Muslim World, and I – for one – am proud to be represented by him. Today, every Muslim won the Nobel Peace Prize along with him.

The same was true last year with Ms. Ebadi. Then, she mentioned Islam outright and said, “There is no contradiction between an Islamic republic, Islam, and human rights. If in many Islamic countries human rights are flouted, this is because of a wrong interpretation of Islam. All I’ve tried to do in the last 20 years was to prove that, with another interpretation of Islam, it would be possible to introduce democracy to Muslim countries.” That statement is why she is my hero.

Yet, truly, the work that the IAEA wholly conforms with Islamic principles. The reason the Nobel Prize Committee gave the Prize to the IAEA is “for their efforts to prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes and to ensure that nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is used in the safest possible way.” Yet, why should the IAEA “prevent nuclear energy from being used for military purposes”? Because it will save human lives. That is exactly in keeping with what the Qur’an says: “…if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people…” (5:32).

So, in a time when everything that is reported about Muslims makes you want to hang your head in shame, this piece of news is something that makes us – all us Muslims – hold our heads up high. May God bless you, Mr. El Baradei. May God bless you for your work, and Ramadan Mubarak to you, sir.

*Thanks to the wonderful reader who pointed out to me my mistake.

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