It is not possible to disregard Muslims or ignore the importance of Islam as a widespread and influential religion. There are 1.5 billion Muslims spread around the world, and there are 57 countries with a Muslim majority.
Islam, like other major religions i.e. Christianity and Judaism, is divided into sects and schools and differs from the other religions. Despite these differences, Muslims in the modern history have not faced crises like the ones they are facing today. The most dangerous problem is that their reputation has been tarnished.
There are large numbers of people everywhere, who now consider that Muslims represent a big problem on the security, political and cultural level; based on this new conviction, there are public calls now to clamp down on Muslims and consider them as an undesirable community.
This restlessness is the hallmark of some politicians and racist people. If they succeed in what they are doing to Muslims, we will embark on a new journey tormented by a crisis that is bigger than what we are witnessing now.
In my opinion, it is wrong to disregard the image that has emerged of Islam and Muslims, as well as the anger against them. It is also wrong to label it as racism; instead, we should try to understand its origins and deal with it. Before that, it is necessary to stop denying the problem within the Muslim communities and we should stop considering that the reactions to Islam and Muslim are just racist. Of course, this does not negate the role of racist and opportunist people in fueling the bad image and hatred against Islam.
The problem of Muslims in the world begun with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and movementsAbdulrahman al-Rashed
The Iranian revolution
The problem of Muslims in the world begun with the Iranian revolution that claimed that its project is to defend Islam and Muslims around the world, using violence, mobilization, plots and movements. Prior to all that, Muslims were only minding their own affairs and were dealing with other communities in peace; they were only following their doctrines and practicing their religion.
However, the Tehran regime wanted to exploit Islam and Muslims in the world. They started to chant “Allahu Akbar” with their bands on their heads, on which religious and political slogans like “I am at your service Khomeini” were written.
This is an ugly exposure that reflects a new Islam that has nothing to do with Muslims. These horrible stained faces have taken diplomats as hostages, defying all norms, ethics and religions of course. This scene was the new title for a different Islam and new Muslims. They started to come up with problems that would serve their political conflicts, such as converting an unknown story that was published in Britain to fuel the hatred of Muslims toward Britain, despite the fact that Iran has printed books and novels that are more blaspheming against the beliefs of Muslims and other religions.
The incitement and putting a financial reward to kill author Salman Rushdie was a political act plotted by the Iranian regime. Hence, prosecutions against intellectuals, cartoonists and leaders of other religions have started and for many years now; Tehran has been compulsorily leading Muslims like sheep, claiming that it is defending their religion, causes, communities and cultures. Later one, al-Qaeda has risen and followed Tehran’s approach. This is how they distorted Islam and generated a bad image about Islam that is now hated by the whole world.
Dragged to extremism
We have been dragged into a big hole dug by a group of extremists in Iran and elsewhere. This is not our Islam and we should not be defending their Islam, their ideas and their cases. There are two Islams in the world: the Islam of Iran and other extremists, and moderate Islam and Muslims. The two have nothing to do with each other. We should stand with those who are against the tarnished Islam and extremist Muslims because we (moderate Muslims) are the first to be affected by this Islam and Islamic regimes and groups.
This is a perfect time to denounce the Islam of Iran, al-Qaeda, ISIS and the organizations that are forcibly involving religion in politics. Denouncing them is for the sake of Islam, individual faith and all the Muslims in different countries.
The conflicts of the world and its governments are mostly political and have nothing to do with religion; governments that want to intellectually exploit Muslims should not be supported, because they do not care about the relations between nations or about what is happening to the majority and minority of peaceful Muslims in their countries.
They only want to emerge victorious from the ashes of chaos. They know that they will lose once peace and moderation prevails.
This article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat on March 10, 2017.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today. He tweets @aalrashed