LONDON – A thought occurred to me as our train en route to Brussels with a group of journalists to cover a new arts program turned around at Lille and we made our way back to London.
To understand the tragedy which has befallen the Belgians, indeed much of the rest of the world, where different groups of individuals are responsible for causing harm while insisting that their objective is to establish good, I am reminded of the absoluteness of faith so many have. But as events have shown lately, such arrogance is often a reflection more of their individual personalities than anything holy.
Our failing as Muslims is simply that we are not aware of our own rich theological traditions. The dialogue and discourse which took place before, over hundreds of years has been lost to a particular brand of Islam which has been exported around the world as a result of the oil boom.
All Muslims insist that Prophet Muhammad was the best example, but most Muslims know only a selective part of his behavior which like all things in popular culture, are glamorized; ignoring the rest.
The most relevant to the recent bombing is Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) definition of his ‘Ummah’ as a community of people who help one another – irrespective of faith – to ensure safety for each other and the freedom to practice their own religion. All the while most Muslims interpret the word ‘Ummah’ to simply mean a ‘community of Muslims.’
Our dishonesty with our own Prophet (PBUH) and his wisdom is one of the lead contributors to the growth of injustice by these small groups around the world, who murder indiscriminately.
In the content of any of these bombings around the world, I am reminded of two statements from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The first, when asked, ‘O Messenger of God, there is a person who prays, who gives charity, fasts regularly, but they harm their neighbors.’ He responded, ‘They will go to hell.’
The second, Prophet Muhammad once said:
‘By God, he is not a believer.
By God, he is not a believer.
By God, he is not a believer.’
When asked who? He replied,
‘One whose neighbor does not feel safe from his evil.’
We live in one world, which is a small world, and our neighbors – like Prophet Muhammad’s neighbors – are often non-Muslim.
By shifting the focus away from Muslim privilege to being just to every person, irrespective of faith, we reflect better the values which Islam teaches; but that is a jihad (struggle) that many Muslims have yet to overcome.