As I watch the US election campaign unfolding from my home in Somalia, I see Donald Trump spewing out his very consequential language, lashing out American minorities and threatening to ban future immigrants of Muslim heritage. At this point, many of his own Republican Party’s respected politicians have opposed these views and policies. For the greater good, some have revoked their endorsement of Donald for he may not be the right person for the White House. At the same time, never in the history of Islam has the faith looked so disintegrated and gloomy than in post-9-11 world. But Muslim ‘leadership’ not only did nothing to save Islam from a minority of killers whose actions have now more or less come to define the outside perspective of our peaceful faith.
The truth is our leaders even agreed with the Islamists and terrorists’ initial intentions, provoking other non-Muslim nations militarily, only to condemn the terrorists when consequences go wrong. The Muslim leadership for a century has paid lip service to their faith, for political reasons. But now we need them to denounce the rhetoric of what many Muslim scholars call “Islam hijackers’. So why is it that these Muslim leaders don’t shout as loudly as the Republican Party leaders to disavow Islamists?
Republican Party officials are only a few thousand strong yet have responded to what they see as their society’s moral crisis with strength. Meanwhile there are more than a billion Sunnis without any internal connectivity. I couldn’t reconcile the two issues? Is my Islam less important than the American equivalent? I found it shocking.
Donald Trump is a successful tycoon who says what many American voters wanted to hear: re-Americanizing of jobs by deporting foreigners, ‘reinstalling’ the faith of the land, and turning American war failures abroad into ‘manly’ victory by “Making America Great Again”. Had I been American, I could see nothing wrong with these goals. When Islam, however, was on the line, the great names of Muslim leadership didn’t raise their fingers to stop mobs from beheading people and tarnishing the faith.
Since Second World War, the Americans practically persuaded themselves and the outside world that they are the perfect society and that the race to the White House is the battleground for the philosopher kings of the globe, a place where only people with a modicum of thinking have access. Of course, that story doesn’t hold water. There are plenty of crazy people in America. Yet also there, offsetting the crazy and curbing figures of poor ethical behavior, those with integrity whose love for Americanism has no match even God. The champions of American democracy including former GOP presidents, security experts, military planners, and policymakers have recommended Hillary Clinton for the presidency.
“Democracy has to be both structural, that is elections, but also functional”
– Alan Dershowitz
But in Islam, when Wahhabism of Jihadism invaded seeking to alter the religion’s fundamentals and to redefine the scripture, Muslim ‘leaders’ never united to de-escalate the confusion of Muslim youth and let them know which oath is right to follow. I myself, a native Arabic speaker, remember influential Egyptian Islamic theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi implicitly permitted suicide bombing to be a weapon of the Palestinians against Israelis in saying, “What else can they use to defend themselves when Israeli firepower sweeps?”, only after he was rhetorically asked about the Quran verse banning suicide.
Twisting Quran verses to fit your interest is a mockery of Islam’s special characteristic of immutability. If Islam is rigid, let’s stick to it needless of any explanation of why Allah said this or that, neither from the Saudis or from Syrian Muftis.
Saudi Arabia, thoroughly inoculated from the worst of the violence, publicly denounced the suicides out of one side of its mouth while shipping leaflets worldwide glorifying the violence. Contemporary Saudi scholars consider all Salafi ‘puritan’ sects to be correct as long as they make Jihad with sword or finance or provide support to Jihadists worldwide.
Women who convert non-Muslims with their private parts perform the noblest Jihad, they claim. That’s why sex slaves are mushrooming in ISIS occupied territory: they want to fuel Jihad with plenty of mortal comforts. Desecrating tombs of old saints can be a virtue today according to this cult Islam. Many Islamic Presidents can’t say even say the cult ISIS is the wrong path to Heaven. Ambiguity is their norm.
In countries like Somaliland and Afghanistan, an extremist message resonated with some of the uneducated masses who had no jobs. The great oil fortunes of the Gulf were used in poorer Muslim countries to build hardline mosques as national infrastructure instead of hospitals or engineering colleges. They built an infrastructure of terror. And poor nations became terror incubators.
We have now arrived at a state of blowback upon where Muslims are suicide bombing other Muslims, especially in the poorest Muslim countries. The damage ISIS, Al-Shabab and their kind has done to Islam continues to worsen. Our scholars’ silence has been an approval of the multiple cults that now compete for the chance to establish themselves as true face of our faith in 21 century, all the while they undermine the consensus of Islam.
So maybe after all, Donald isn’t that bad of a choice for America, at least compared to what’s out there. His political policies do have his nation’s interest at heart and the GOP is not completely rudderless yet. However, to be on the safe side, some former Republican governors and presidents have called for others not to vote for him, fearing his suitability and limitations.
That’s the only difference between Islam of today and Christian America where there are still sane people still left in power. American leaders seem to have the courage to oppose anyone, even a billionaire. Muslim perception is marked by non-interventionist ugliness in times when they needed to help to their own brethren.
Theocrats in the Muslim world need to engage in intellectually challenging and theological debate so that their massive support help this practice seep to the mainstream religious narrative now dominated by Saudi jihad bankrollers. Before the internet was jihadized like it is today, had Muslim youth watched their leaders speak out against the messages of Osama bin Laden and his ilk, as much as GOP leaders have done, they could have been enlightened and dissuaded before the situation lost control.
Islam was a lively civilization open for critical discussion but this was deactivated when its followers were blindfolded by radical Imams. Critical thinking and sound judgment became equated with a taboo for elites and mobs alike. Today, the imams play to the terrorist tune, “the West messed up the Muslim World”, avoiding their own leadership failures.
Most Muslims leaders condemn acts of terror only when at their doorstep. In Somalia, anyone who criticizes Al-Shabab’s “actions-endorsed-from-Allah” puts himself in harm’s way. Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother was killed in the Entebbe hostage crisis of 1976, but has there ever been a terror causality from the royal families in the Gulf? Instead it is the poorer countries of Pakistan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Nigeria that have paid a heavy price for embracing violent jihadism. Will Muslims ever have leaders like Desmond Tutu? Will they ever reset the pace of their suffering people? Not at the moment it seems.