Your Home in Their Hands? Renovating the Muslim world

Is it not time to accept the fact that within Islam itself there is a mountain of scientific theological work that needs to be climbed?

Bakir Oweida
Bakir Oweida
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They are in their youth, creative, hopeful, but amateur. You hand them your house keys and leave it in their hands, hoping to come back a few days later to find it redesigned, becoming the sort of dream home you have longed for in many years.

A risk? Of course, a big one. It's a jump to the unknown.

Last Thursday evening I watched an episode of the entertaining and informative show "Your Home in Their Hands" on BBC – which is now chaired by Rona Fairhead, the first woman to head the BBC Trust.

As I followed elegant presenter Celia Sawyer while she eagerly waited for the home owners’ reaction to the new look of their house, and as she explained to the amateur designers employed by the show if they were successful in meeting the family’s expectations, I found myself particularly attentive to the interests of a Muslim family featured in the episode.

The family was made up of a man and his wife in their twenties, their two children, and the grandparents, who took part in the show by giving their opinions on the home’s new look.

There they were, a family of three generations looking for a new and nicer interior design to their home, and taking a risk by handing over this huge responsibility to the amateur designers.

Is it not time to accept the fact that within Islam itself there is a mountain of scientific theological work that needs to be climbed?

Bakir Oweida

Was it possible to allow imagination to go beyond what I was watching on the television screen? Indeed, why not bring the Muslim world into the picture?

I pictured the suite in which the Arab World dwells, neighbouring the eastern world. Over in the front yard is the Far East courtyards, while the Central Asia rooms rest between the two. But what about the Muslim communities scattered all over the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Europe?

They wait in areas designed by extremely regressive designers who want to confine them within their walls, while they breed and supply more amateur volunteers, used when needed to take part in the chaos that is redesigning the Muslim home.

Indeed, this perhaps sounds like a Samuel Becket theater scene, but it would be no fantasy to say that most of the Muslim world, home to more than one billion people, had been in the hands of many amateur revolutionaries whose different ideologies in the 1960s and early 1970s led Muslim societies into political, economic and societal earthquakes, several times.

But in the last four years, the Muslim world has gone through what was once unimaginable. With the arrival of what was called the Arab Spring, it seemed that many had cheerfully welcomed and embraced the winds of change. Yet as it went on to produce new generation of Islamic extremism, no one seemed ready to face the music. No party proved to have an alternative or an exit plan to help put chaotic countries back on a balanced track.

That failure facilitated the breeding of what is called “jihadist” groups which have now taken control of more territory forcing their rule onto millions of people, from Libya to Iraq, Somalia to Syria and all the way to Yemen, where the Houthis have taken over the country’s capital city of Sanaa.

A point of no return

It is now clear that many Muslim countries have reached a point of no return. People are facing a choice between handing the keys of their home to the new amateur generation of extreme revolutionaries, this time with extreme Islamic ideologies which call for waging wars against the home owners themselves in the name of Islamic sharia, or to keep resisting all attempts terrorist groups have taken to force their will and ideology upon the majority of real, simple, and ordinary believers who do love, respect, and observe their religion.

As well as fighting it militarily, standing up for Islamic extremism requires a courage step that reopens the door to “Ijtihad” (independent reasoning). This is a very sensitive and important area which must be dealt with, especially during this much confusing era the Muslim world is going through.

For Islam to stand up to be able to stand against extremism that produces terrorism and the 21st century challenges faced in all walks of life, it does need a form of reforms.

Those needed reforms does not necessarily mean, nor it must lead to changes in any part of holy texts, however, they may lead to a more updated explanation of certain verses and Hadiths being misused by terrorist groups to excuse and execute terror in the name of Islam.

Without such a courageous step, extreme organizations will carry on with their hard work, brain washing young Muslims all over the globe using certain verses in the Holy Quran, and Noble Hadith they falsely claim allow holding hostages, taking prisoners, killing, beheading, stealing, destroying, and whatever else there is on the terror menu.

Is it not time to accept the fact that within Islam itself there is a mountain of scientific theological work that needs to be climbed? I personally hope so, to at least make sure that no more amateurs hijack the task of redesigning our societies in an extremely backward taste, not like the designers on the BBC show who do impress most of the anxious homeowners, including the Muslim family, and their viewers, with their bright and modern views of the present and a projection into the future.

Bakir Oweida is a journalist who has worked as Managing Editor, and written for several Arab publications based in London. His last executive post was Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, responsible for the Opinions section, until December 2003. He can be reached on [email protected] and [email protected]

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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