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Critical look at the past is an absolute must

Mohammed Al Shaikh

Published: Updated:

It is said that if the Europeans hadn’t subjected their legacies, which they inherited from the Middle Ages, to scientific and logical criticism, they would still be repeating priestly statements that call for violence and base them on sectarian and religious pillars. Criticism based on reason does not care about emotions as much about logic and facts.

Criticism cannot be scientific unless it is logical and emotions and wishful thinking should have nothing to do with criticism. I am completely convinced that as Arabs and Muslims we will not exit the whirlpool we are living in and will continue to suffer unless we adopt the same critical approach.

Yes, we will eliminate ISIS and al-Qaeda, and perhaps also the Muslim Brotherhood. However, parts of our legacy, which led to the rise of these terrorist groups, is greatly capable of producing another ISIS, al-Qaeda or Muslim Brotherhood.

The situation will continue unless we address the roots of this legacy, and criticize and analyze them in a way that has been done before. I know giving up emotions is very difficult especially if the matter is intertwined with identity but it is critical that we do so. There is no cure to the underdevelopment which bred terrorism unless through this painful confrontation.

I am of a firm belief that if we do not address our situation, renew our true cultural beliefs and not tackle the reasons that resulted in this culture of hate, the future of Arabs and Muslims will remain dark

Mohammed Al Shaikh

A necessary condition

I believe that this is a necessary condition to survive in this era and co-exist. I am also aware there are “traders” in underdevelopment and parties, which thrive on keeping this legacy and presenting it as a sacred territory that cannot be touched. Those who observe the catastrophic consequences the Arab region is witnessing will inevitably reach the conclusion I am talking about.

The second point we must note, particularly these days, is summed up by this law of physics – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The rise of extremist right-wing was a reaction to Islamic extremism which became a reality by importing past concepts and culture and imposing it via violence and the power of weapons. This made the West and East fear us, and our cultural heritage.

They began to think of ways to protect their people of this lurking beast called “Islamic terrorism” and this is what pushed communities, particularly in the West, to gather around right-wing politicians whose rhetoric is based on hostility toward foreigners and on restraining immigrants, particularly those form Muslim countries.

I am of a firm belief that if we do not address our situation, renew our true cultural beliefs and not tackle the reasons that resulted in this culture of hate, the future of Arabs and Muslims will remain dark.

There is no other solution but to renew the legacy and differentiate between what is sacred and untouchable, like the Quran, and what is capable of being developed. We can either take the path to harmony with the modern times or wait for the downfall.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper. He tweets @alshaikhmhmd.

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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