Islamic Reformation and the Southern Poverty Law Center

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Reformation in Islam has become a growing debate in the West. It seems to be the only solution to halt the growth of radical Islam and limit its effects on Western civilization.

Great efforts are being made on both the state and community levels to curb extremism and communal hatred. But only a little progress has been seen so far.

Instead we see the rising shadow of Western right-wing radicalism and the rise of the same demon of radicalism across the globe. Mankind is stuck on the brink of another great war.

There are certainly many factors which are being big obstacles in the way of cooperation. Broadly speaking, the Muslim and Western worlds are poles apart on the key values like violence against women and children, gay rights, absolutism, child marriages and discrimination against minorities.

One can safely say that ignorance and radicalization during the post-World-Wars era, exacerbated by the actions of neo-colonial powers, have given birth to the monster of terrorism tagged with the religion of Islam. This radicalism is a modern phenomenon not in tune with Islam’s past golden age, when the West was going through the Dark Ages and the Middle Eastern and Asian civilizations were the beacons of human development.

It was America and Britain that created the modern state of Saudi Arabia and empowered its theocratic monarchy. It was America and Britain who backed the dictatorial shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, paving the way for the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Today, modern Islamic radicalization in Europe is invented and imported by fanatic states like Iran and Saudi Arabia and their allies.

One might not like to move the world to campaign for Russia’s presence in the United Nations human rights council after what Russian forces were doing in Syria. But how can any sane brain accept Saudi Arabia’s presence in that same UN body considering their brutalities against their adversaries in Yemen?

This kind of duplicity among nations has put a big question mark on the impartiality of the biggest consortium in the world, the UN, established to avoid another world war after the utter havoc unleashed on mankind last century.

One goes through a similar phenomenon of duplicity when considering the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Once a bastion of American liberalism that won many laurels struggling against the KKK decades ago, the Alabama-based organization targeted anti-Islamist individuals and organizations such as the Clarion Project and their national security analyst Ryan Mauro for their work fighting against Muslim extremists.

But not content with tarring the work of non-Muslim organizations, the SPLC has included Muslim reformists like Maajid Nawaz in their so-called list of anti-Muslim extremists.

Despite being an ex-jihadist himself, Nawaz represents the face of modern Muslims who desperately want to get free from the clutches of extremist states and versions of Islam. He is an ardent campaigner for peace and integration for the communities across the world and believes in respecting everybody’s dignity.

Yet precisely because he does not fit the mold of how people want to perceive Muslims, he is branded as anti-Muslim by the very people who ought to be supporting him.

This kind of statement against Nawaz is nothing less than good news for those who are spreading terror in the name of Islam as a loss of any liberal voice in society is their gain. Publishing such lists seems to be an integral part of the appeasement policy among Western apologists who think peace can be achieved only by keeping their eyes shut or chanting mantras to keep them calm.

During such hard times, liberals like Nawaz are playing an important role in stopping the world from falling apart once again. Such rational voices among Muslims are trying to annul the hijacking of Islam into the hands of the maniacs despite themselves (i.e., Muslim liberals) being a soft target for both extremists and their Western counterparts (right-wing fanatics).

Organizations like SPLC either represent extremist Islam, or are simply apologists who, on the one hand, think they are fighting racism against minorities in West but on the other, are not willing to act to curb what is happening to the marginalized communities in the East or developing part of the world.

Such organizations and their sympathizers seem pretty quick in criticizing the moderate minds among Muslims for rightfully pointing out the problematic areas within Muslim communities.

But they seem less interested in making a list of actual predators (violent and non-violent extremists) that are destroying the body and soul of the Muslim world.

To my surprise such folks are not bothered by those who are killing Muslims and non-Muslims alike but rather by those who are trying to convince the world that Islam is a religion of peace. Why such hypocrisy?

On the other hand, to justify their position fundamentalists among Muslims keep the waters murky and hate Americans for carrying out indiscriminate killing of innocents Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and now in Syria. They abhor European countries for not letting Muslims refugees to cross their borders and treating them inhumanely.

They bluntly make you realize that criticizing their religion offends them and reject the idea of banning burka as infringement on somebody’s human rights.

But they are still unable and perhaps unwilling to resolve the issues and get hold of the black sheep (non-violent extremists) within the Muslim societies, which are undermining the very spirit of their own faith.

More over it would be both just and healthy for the planet if the world focused on highlighting shortcomings in these societies so we can work to improve the situation. We should be also talking about Saudi war crimes, their treatment of women, homosexuals, minorities and their exploitation of workers.

We should also be talking about the war crimes committed by Bashar al Assad and his Russian overlords.

Ironically those who are being offended by all these atrocities are considered to be anti-Muslim bigots by both conservatives Muslims as well as the regressive left in the West.

Despite the fact that, for living in self-made ghettos apart from the rest of the society, the very concept of integration is becoming out of question for the majority of Western Muslims.

Muslim youth is being alienated from the rest of the society. Hence they find themselves compelled to affiliate with the extremist thoughts which are being propagated in the name of discrimination against Muslims.

The case of three innocent British Muslim girls Shamima Begum, 16, Kadiza Sultana, 17, and Amira Abase, 16, who ran away from home just to prove themselves loyal to their rigid thoughts, to seek paradise in a barren land and ended up grieving for what brought them there, is certainly a wakeup call for all of us.

Kadiza Sultana called her sister Halima Khanom many times from the ISIS capital of Raqqa to express repentance for her decision to join the terror group and travel to Syria for jihad. The same teenage girl was later reported killed in an alleged Russian air strike a few months back.

It is said that her best friend Amira Abbas inspired her to become a terrorist in school and led her down the path of destruction. God knows how many more were later inspired by ISIS selling the recruitment of these three British girls as a marketing tactic. 

That’s how the whole process of radicalization functions and triggers a snowball effect.

One girl (Amira Abbas) whose father is a disciple of extremists like Anjem Chaudhry, preached the importance of piety and the path that leads to paradise, and the descendants of liberal Bengalis like Kadiza felt compelled to join the flow while the whole society, in peace, watches the show.  

These apparently non-violent extremist are more harmful because they maintained their hold within the Muslim community. This non-violent extremism is the epicenter of this explosively growing problem which is largely being ignored by the Muslims and regressive left in West.

Practically speaking if we Muslims will avoid confrontation with extremists who are toying with the lives of innocent children, we will all end up sacrificing our generations to this dogmatism.

Khadija Khan is a Pakistan based journalist and activist, who has worked with various print and electronic media outlets as a reporter and a commentator. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Clarion Project. 


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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