Friday, June 2, 2017

Perspective: Seeing the forest for the trees in the fight against ISIS | Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar


It’s a wonder God puts up with us at all, given our frequent disobedience, arrogance, and outright disbelief in Him and His prophets and His Teachings. But all that is on us, not God.

File photo: Men, women and children from the Yazidi sect walk towards the
Syrian border on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain to escape the Islamic State
Times of Ahmad | News Watch | US Desk
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By Jonathan M.A. Ghaffar | June 1, 2017

Pres. Trump has returned home from his first tour of the  Middle-East and Europe, evoking praise and vitriol here and abroad, depending on whether you view the world and its myriad, interconnected complexities through Trump's myopic green-colored glasses or not. What is painfully obvious is that Trump is woefully ignorant of, and thus completely unprepared to handle, the realities of statecraft on today's world stage with its many volatile players.

Just look at his visit with the Saudis. With one hand he gestures for peace across the Middle-East while calling for a crackdown on Sunni Jihadist extremism, yet with his other hand, he shields his eyes from five decades of Saudi-funded and exported Sunni Jihadist extremism while handing the Saudis $110-billion in US-made weapons. (This is like hiring a known pedophile to run your daycare center!) And these weapons will inevitably be used against Shia (read: Iran-friendly) factions in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen -- which means some of that $110-billion in bombs and bullets will end up in the hands of ISIS.

This will result in even more death and destruction and even more refugees seeking escape to anywhere safe. So it understandably angers and amazes me how some people can raise the alarm over an influx of Muslim refugees -- created by the instability of their war-torn countries -- and signal the doom and downfall of their own countries while doing nothing to help prevent the death and destruction in Muslim countries which produce these unwanted refugees in the first place.

Go back a decade or so before Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen were embroiled in their political and military upheavals and you'll see tens of millions of Muslims living relatively peacefully in relatively stable societies. True, most were ruled by iron-fisted dictators, but the reality is that America and other Western nations, as well as Russia, were often instrumental in putting those dictators in power and were more than happy to turn a blind eye to these dictators' evils and repression of their respective populations.

So it's hardly a surprise when these same populations rise up and demand their freedoms the first chance they get. Sadly, power vacuums are rarely, if ever, filled by altruistic, kind-hearted, benevolent statesmen who love their countries, but usually by murderous tyrants and despots who only crave self-enrichment and power.

The answer to this whole debacle is simple: the US and all those who seek to end the problem of radical Islam need to empower the reformist and moderate forms of Islam such as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (visit Alislam.org, MuslimsForPeace.org, KhalifaofIslam.com) and also work to re-educate the Muslim world that, for the past half-century, has been fed a steady diet of hate and ignorance from the Saudi-funded madrasas (Islamic schools) teaching their radical Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines and intolerant, violent Jihadist version of Islam. (I know, easier said than done, but that’s the real solution in a nutshell.)

Then, at the same time, the US and her allies must stop supporting -- with their dollars, guns, and silence -- the root sponsors of this self-destructive interpretation of Islam. Then, after a generation of Muslims has been raised without this Saudi-financed Wahhabi-Salafi doctrinal cancer in Islam, you will see the Islam that existed for at least a millennia after the birth of Islam in the 7th century AD.

History is the best barometer of what is actually true -- be it in a culture, a philosophy, a religion or a civilization. Barbarism never produces civilization. Even a cursory review of Islamic history demonstrates a worldview and reality where education, literacy, science, freedom of religion and interfaith tolerance, freedom to dissent, and technological advancements were all in evidence for well over a thousand years. This was not the result of the absence of true Islamic thinking and government in the world, but the presence of true Islamic thinking and government in the world.

Of course, Islamic history is not pristine, let alone perfect. As I often remark, “Religion would be great if there were no people in it.” But because people are often driven by fear, greed, insecurity and hate, it is no surprise that you have in a religion’s Holy Book all the good things it commands its followers to do and live by, and then you have the lives they often choose to live according to their own lower, animalistic natures instead of their own higher, moral and spiritual selves. It’s a wonder God puts up with us at all, given our frequent disobedience, arrogance, and outright disbelief in Him and His prophets and His Teachings. But all that is on us, not God.

All Holy Scriptures give the same core of ethical and moral tenets so we can freely choose to strive to better ourselves instead of butcher each other. Thank God I believe in a God Who is Patient and Forgiving or we would all be doomed and in deep spiritual trouble. The liability and responsibility, of course, are still firmly and entirely laid upon our shoulders. And this goes for the believers in any Faith, or for atheists who believe in no god but subscribe nonetheless to an ethical code and the sense of having an innate moral compass to be adhered to and not ignored.

For those who do believe in a Higher Power, God never forces us to do or be good. If He did, we would be little more than meat puppets. God gives us the freedom of choice and also the responsibility for the consequences of our choices. It is the key moral and spiritual arrangement between God and mankind that validates our purpose in this life.

The downside of this is that it does not remove evil from the world. But that, in fact, is also the upside as well and the main point of our existence. In whatever form evil takes and in whatever religious garb evil people seek to cloak themselves in, combating and defeating evil is our job, not God’s. That is why Islam clearly states that it is a Muslim’s duty to stand up to and fight against tyranny and evil – especially when it hides behind the name of Islam.

It would be nice to believe that Muslims can and will do this by and for themselves, but the reality, like the reality of Hitler and Nazi Germany, forebodes otherwise. When someone is dying from cancer – one they may vociferously deny is afflicting them in the first place – it becomes incumbent on others to do whatever they can to help affect a cure. The silent majority on every side of the issue needs to step up and speak out and be proactive and not just reactive. As the famous adage goes, “All that is required for the triumph of evil is for the good to do nothing.”

So decrying a “problem” is good in that you call attention to it, but unless you understand the problem and how it came to be and what you can actually do about it, you will find yourself woefully ill-equipped to solve it. This is the case with almost all the articles and essays and blogs and videos out there calling Islam a “terrorist religion” out to destroy the West.

The “solutions” presented are usually knee-jerk, reactionary, emotionally or religiously biased, and they invariably suffer from faulty and misinformed perspectives mired in fear and ignorance that only exacerbate the situation, making real, substantive and effective responses nearly impossible to achieve. The danger of this is obvious and often lost in the din of alarm bell rhetoric and the stampede of the frightened herd.

And it is this danger of rushing headlong into a hasty and flawed reaction to the very real problem of ”Islamist” terrorism that will doom the fight against it from the very start. As in any battle with an unpredictable opponent, the secret to winning depends on understanding your adversary, knowing the geography and pitfalls of the battlefield, and having the knowledge and resources to thoroughly defeat your enemy.

In this battle, the weaponry is overwhelmingly ideological and not military. The physical fight is always the “Lesser Jihad” – while the “Greater Jihad” is the much more difficult challenge to heal the hearts and minds of those infected with the deadly myopia of extremist, radical Islam. But that battle can be won. It must be won. The consequences are too dire to contemplate if we – Muslims and our religious and secular allies – fail to act. There is no room anymore for a “silent majority” on either side. It is high time for Muslims especially to step up and deal with this cancer of deadly extremism in the body of Islam.


*This essay is an excerpt from blogpost titled: My Answer to 'A German's View on Islam' at: http://jonathanmaghaffar.blogspot.com/2016/10/my-answer-to-germans-view-on-islam.html

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Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar is a member of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (Alislam.org). He lives in Chino and can be reached via email at: JonathanMAG@Gmail.com. He blogs at: JonathanMAGhaffar.blogspot.com.


-- Perspective: Seeing the forest for the trees in the fight against ISIS | Jonathan M.A.Ghaffar


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