Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)
Today, there are more than 50 countries that make up the entire Muslim world. Followers of Islam are not confined to any particular geographical entity. Muslims are found all across the world. Islam is a very simple religion. It is a complete code of life aimed at making its followers a better person. Its teachings govern all aspects of human life. The success of a Muslim in this world and the Hereafter depends on his/her adherence to the five pillars of Islam. Islam is also the world’s fastest growing religion today. Muslims around the world particularly in the West enjoy social equality and freedom of practicing their religion. We see Muslims living in the western societies more united than their brethren in the Muslim world. One fails to understand the root cause of the differences or divisions among Muslims. We believe in the same God and believe in the same Prophet (peace be upon him). This fact should have been enough for us to forge unity among our ranks. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Is it politics that divide us? Or is it mutual mistrust? Surprisingly, Muslims in the West are more tolerant toward others. The teachings of Islam are universal and don’t change with the change of geographical locations. A Muslim living in the Middle East or the subcontinent is supposed to follow the same teachings as the one living in Norway. Why, then, we are witnessing so much violence and killings among Muslims across the Muslim world? Sometimes, while reading such violent reports coming out of the Muslim world one is reminded of Hollywood flicks, even more gruesome at times. The self-ascribed Islamic State (IS) is on a killing spree in the Muslim world. This terrorist organization kills people in the name of Islam! This group does not only kill, it invents the cruelest ways of putting people to death. Groups like the IS are only harming the unity of Muslims. The Muslim world condemns these terrorist organizations and always tries to explain to the world that these groups don’t represent Islam or Muslims. It remains to be seen as to when the outside world gets convinced that the IS does not represent Islam. The name of this terrorist organization is also very confusing. They call themselves the Islamic State and continue to brutally butcher Muslims. It is true that many Muslim countries are not Arab countries but all Arab countries are Muslim countries. The so-called Arab Spring exposed the sorry state of Muslim unity. We see Muslims, from as far away as Australia, joining the ranks of the IS. Many, if not all, of them turned to extreme violence in the name of Islam. Their actions are only deepening the divide among Muslims. Unfortunately, it has become fashionable in the Muslim world to blame the outside world for all the problems facing the Muslims. We seldom engage ourselves in the practice of self-accountability. There is no ambiguity in the teachings of Islam and there is no room for any addition or deletion. Hence, no need for any innovation. The validity of Islamic teachings is not time bound. Islam has the potential to adapt to changes in a very civilized manner. There is no need for resorting to violence against anybody with a different perspective. There is great flexibility in Islam. It is a religion that encourages the culture of dialogue. Unfortunately, we see self-appointed custodians of faith killing people in the name of Islam and attacking mosques to “promote the cause of Islam.” Such elements tend to forget that the very essence of our religion is peace. Individual Muslims and Muslim countries should concentrate on implementing the true teachings of Islam. Islam is all about transparency, social equality, good education, respecting others and eradicating corrupt practices. Muslims are supposed to learn how to live side by side with others but if they can’t live in harmony with each other then they will not be able to live with those of other faiths. In the past, Muslims drew their strength from their unity and tolerance toward others. The world is moving fast and it is the duty of every Muslim to respect everybody. Seeing Muslims killing each other because of minor differences will only bring a bad name to Islam. The Muslim world is divided not because of any outside enemy. We should try to assess ourselves before blaming others. Written by Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim. Time To Stop Blaming Others reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al‐Mulhim.