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[By Imam Dr. Zijad Delic - Special to the CIC Friday Magazine]



I deeply wish that the world's self-appointed "sole representatives of true Islam" only knew how much they are damaging the image of Muslims and their faith of Islam by their un-Islamic and self-serving acts.


Is it too much to urge that they might reflect, Insha'Allah (God willing) and stop the dangerous nonsense that has nothing to do with genuine religious life and which makes it so hard for Muslims to live here in Canada and across the globe?


Any caring and faithful Muslim knows what kind of "nonsense" is causing such distress among us -- accusing and punishing people without the evidence and compassion demanded by Islamic formative principles; the abuse meted out to anyone and everyone who does not fit a specific political and cultural mould; taking innocent lives for nothing more than the gross demonstration of power; terrorizing and subjugating others (despite clear Qur'anic teaching against it) in the name of Islam...


I am both saddened and angrily offended when the attribute "Muslim" or "Islamic" is attached to words like "terrorism and terrorists,"

"fundamentalism," or "extremism," to name a few popular favorites. Indeed, I have a right and duty to feel that way and to work toward reversing the offense.


Why? Because terrorists are criminals in the simplest, most basic sense of the word. Acts perpetrated by criminals who might happen to have Muslim names - or worse, even claim Islam as their motive - must not be associated with the real teachings of Islam, which historically abhors such acts.


It is an unfortunate and offensive reality that throughout human history, people of all faiths have manipulated religion (or their interpretation of

it) for their own political and egocentric ends, blatantly crossing the line of what constitutes acceptable and ethical behavior.


In our day and age, however, it seems that Islam and Muslims alone are punished for the misdeeds of delusional and/or criminal individuals who claim to be "true" believers and leaders. Such individuals promote a dangerous and deceptive double standard that is not only irritating, but frightening to all good Canadian citizens of the Muslim faith, as well as their brothers, sisters and non-Muslims friends worldwide.


Let me briefly explain the makeup of those who publicly promote themselves as definitive, or sole representatives of "true" Islam, for they can be very persuasive and charismatic in their demeanor and thus exert a great deal of influence on those who are spiritually immature, emotionally vulnerable, or intellectually uncritical. A key trait of their persona is the oft-repeated assertion that everything they do is 100 percent in accordance with Islam and/or Qur'anic teaching. Furthermore, they tend to emphatically denounce others with differing interpretations of the faith and its religious texts as "un-Islamic" and even "apostate," thus condemning any opposition with an authority they do not have.


The actions and opinions of such individuals are based purely on their own untutored or distorted imaginations of Islam, which are based in turn upon their deeply rooted fear of anything that is new, unknown, modern, or challenging. They forget (or conveniently ignore) the basic Islamic criterion of testing challenges through facts, not unfocused emotion or personal reactivity. When these "sole representatives" act in the fashion I have just described, it is not the teachings of Islam that drive them, but rather the agendas of personality, tribalism, or cultural imperatives - none of which are Islamic in and of themselves.


Muslims, whether in the West or elsewhere, must not let this kind of distortion continue being associated with Islam. In fact, it is our duty - our fard - to denounce it and to stand for truth and justice, even when it means having to go against our own brothers, sisters, relatives, or other followers of Islam for the good of all. If anyone crosses the line of ethical, normal and just conduct, such behavior is incompatible with Islam and it must be identified and corrected. It is as simple as that!


But why should we bother, if God knows all and will ultimately judge everyone individually according to their works? It is because we have the responsibility as Allah's vicegerents on earth to work for the good of all and repair the damage to Islam made by those whose acts go against the basic teachings and logic of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).


Those who commit un-Islamic acts cause harm to Islam and Muslims alike; but so do those who stand by and do nothing. Thus both negative action and apathy undermine the example bequeathed to all of us by the peaceful, loving, caring, and wise life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh); and not only his mission, but that of all the prophets (peace be upon them).


(Imam Dr. Zijad Delic is CIC's National Executive Director in Ottawa. This article was edited for the Canadian Islamic Congress Friday Magazine.)

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