Waleed Aly - Do not let the injustice of others lead you into an injustice, says the Koran. With every terrorist attack attributed to Muslims over the past four years, I have witnessed a community shifting more and more into outrage at the barbarism done in its name. Reason and coherence are products of distinction and discernment rather than crude generalization. But terrorism is about the most sinister of generalizations, where a whole nation, a people, a planet is essentialised and deemed indiscriminately unfit for human existence. There are no people any more. There are only causes. In this way, terrorism is itself what it begets: the suspension of reason, the annihilation of coherence. And without reason, we become like cattle.
Omayma Abdel-Latif - The West explains everything happening in Muslim countries by use of an ideological construct of cultural and religious difference. Hence its obsession with ideas that if democracy cannot take root then it is because of Islam or Arab tribalism; if men and women are not provided with equal opportunities it is because Islam has decreed it; if there is violence and conflict it is a result of the fanatic tendencies that exist among Muslims, etc. And, as if the effect were mirrored, we are told that Muslims reject our culture and hate us because of our values. Yet opinion polls carried out in the Middle East repeatedly show that any negative sentiments harboured towards the West have a basically political foundation, alongside which there is an enormous desire for liberty, for a democratisation process and for states governed by law, none of which are perceived as incompatible with Islam.
Do those who think that Islamists attacked the USA because they hate our freedoms, think that they would scrap their terrorist campaign if the USA turns into a fascist state or - try to imagine this - if America’s elites convert to Islam, but continue their present policies towards the Islamic world? Would the course of Palestinian resistance be any different if we could replace the colonial-settler Jews with colonial-settler Germans, colonial-settler Chinese or even colonial-settler Pakistanis? The Islamist resistance does not stem from differences of race or religion that divide Muslims from Americans or Jews. It is a response to US-Israeli violence, systematic and longstanding, that seeks to divide, undermine, control and humiliate Islamic societies.
In 20 years of studying and teaching philosophy, I have learned to appreciate the inherent difficulty in defining the truth. Descartes put it simply: “A clear and distinct idea is true,” while Kant aptly added the needed word “consistency.” Over the years, I have also learned that in the world of the mass media, truth is not based on clarity but on frequency. Repeated suspicions become a truth; an assumption said three times imperceptibly becomes a fact. There is no need to check because “it is obvious” - after all, “it is being said everywhere.” I was reminded of this lesson during the past few weeks, when, after having been granted a visa to teach at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana, by the U.S. government, it was revoked without explanation at the last minute, causing grief for my family and me.
Abid Ullah Jan
We need to understand the “-ism” and “ists” in simple words before we apply these suffixes to the complex issues. Margaret H. Parkinson, an expatriate New Zealander associated with Dunedin Methodists, has defined “ists” and “-ism” in a beautiful way. She gave the example of the enormous stretches of tulip fields, spreading like a carpet with rows of different colors. There are the occasional yellow tulip scattered among the red or stray pinks and reds among the yellows - apparently “out of sync.” These stray colors are invisible until we focus and specifically look for them. The question that strikes the mind is: Were they accidents or simply “the way things are”? It is very easy to think of differences as mistakes, and even crimes, when we further zoom into some serious issues. A yellow tulip among a sea of red?
Dr. Mohamed Khodr
Tragically, in today?s world, humanity has surrendered its faculty of reason and independent thought to the monopolizers of images, sound bytes, and crass commercialism. Materialism for the “me” has supplanted the morality for the “us”. As the philosopher Bertrand Russell eloquently stated: “Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.” Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, taught that “God hath not created anything better than Reason, or anything more perfect, or more beautiful than Reason. God?s wrath is caused by disregard of it.” Yet, ignorance of one?s faith, as well as the faith of the “other”, blankets the majority of the followers of the three Abrahamic faiths. Religious scholarship, like political policies, have been left in the hands of the “few”.
A close study of Islamic history contradicts the popular myth that Muslims are bloodthirsty people anxious to wipe out the rest of mankind in the name of Islam. The same however, cannot be said about the West. The West, armed with its secular doctrine and materialistic world-view exploited, plundered and colonised vast populations in order to control resources and maximise wealth. In pursuit of these newfound riches the West succeeded in destroying civilisation after civilisation. Those who survived were forcibly converted to Christianity, stripped of their heritage, and sold into bondage to western companies. Rather than show remorse towards such atrocities, the West could only gloat at its achievements.
There may not be agreement in every detailed aspect of morality within and across the various human civilisations, given the diverse beliefs and philosophies of life that exist. However, one can certainly observe a level of concurrence at a more general level. For example, very few would dispute the depravity of deliberately killing a defenceless child. Similarly, the immorality of committing armed robbery motivated by sheer greed, rather than seeking to satisfy basic human needs for survival. Therefore, such actions are classified as crimes in almost every part of the world. Nevertheless, in this scientific, technological and rational era, the scale of morality often tends to be lopsided. Take Janet Jackson, for example?
Wahida C. Valiante
February is Black History month in Canada. During this month, Canadian children will learn about the indomitable human spirit of an enslaved people who refused to surrender and went on to win hard-fought battles for their equality, freedom and liberty. Sadly however, those milestones have yet to materialize into a permanent victory for their descendents, who even to this day continue to suffer from the deep-seated malady of racial prejudice that festers in the soul of America. It is a malady fed by power, arrogance and greed, a malady that undermines human ideals and potential, spreading discord, destruction, and hate among countless people of different races, colors and nations.
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