Let us be honest about this. When the World Trade Centre towers went down, even Building Seven which did not have any airliner smash against it, much of the Muslim world cheered and followed the TV news videos again and again.
It did not matter that the collapse of Building Seven immediately called the source of the entire scenario into question. It did not matter that George Bush was very aggressive in discriminating the “hate America” Muslim splinter group from the Islamic mainstream, as President Obama tries to do today.
Indeed, President Obama has endorsed the building of an Islamic Centre in Manhattan nearby “ground zero” of the WTC disaster (named Cordoba Center), saying in public that he wishes to support Muslims as a world community of peace-loving and civilized worshippers.
According to his short talk at the annual Iftar dinner with Muslims at the White House, Muslims MUST enjoy the full freedoms and protection accorded to all major religious groups under the American secular ideology.
America certainly has its Satanic elements. Some of these elements have violently opposed President Obama’s brave stand. His re-election could even be compromised by his moral support of the Cordoba Centre project in New York. Sad to say, a few days after this Iftar talk, he issued a statement saying that he did not mean to say the Cordoba Center had to be at that particular location.
Time magazine published a story recently, on the topic of Islamophobia in America. In this story, a photo was published of the prayer area of the building that has now been purchased and designated for the future Cordoba Center. How could anybody see any malevolent elements in the clean and peaceful scene of a few good Muslims praying and reading Qur’an in this space?
And yet the younger Muslims in most Muslim countries seemed enthralled with the 9/11 wreckage. They treated the matter as if it had been some universal videogame in which the unlikely good guys – i.e., Muslims – had won against the well-known “Great Satan”. From these days has emerged a disturbing heresy among Muslims, especially the under-educated ones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, in which America is cast in the role of deadly enemy to the Muslim Ummah.
It is clear that there are two types of hatred against America. One is the undeniable fact that the personal freedoms which the American Revolution secured are not 100% endorsed by any religious teaching, including Islam. We cannot say, as many westerners do, that no one should practice a religious commitment to Islam or any other religion, until they are eighteen years of age. Or that the world is in fact a sort of ideological supermarket, in which “free men” have a choice of any or none of the religions on offer on the supermarket shelves.
What has happened to the original intention of securing individual freedom by the American founding documents? The Americans may have originally intended merely to guarantee the free access of its population to their chosen worship, yet this ideology has recently become a sort of “killing field” for traditional and family values that had been held sacrosanct by virtually all members of the human community. And it is this ravaging of traditional values, shared until very recently by the Americans themselves, that makes people begin to hate them.
Another basis for hating Americans is the ferocity with which they demand their right to a standard-of-living that seems now to be threatening the entire race with global disaster. The Americans’ “carbon footprint” seems to be tromping down upon all of us everywhere, and yet they remain intransigent. As their previous vice-president stated categorically, “The American lifestyle is not negotiable”.
Where are all these weekly or even daily floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and other extremes we see every night on TV, coming from if not the global warming which the Americans refuse to back away from or moderate by allowing any decline of their fabulous lifestyle? Could Osama bin Laden have had a point when he said that this fabulous western world will inevitably be driven bankrupt, as the Soviet communists have now been?
Even a cursory reading of Al Qur’an makes it clear that the earth’s environs are most delicately and precisely balanced, and appreciation of these balances and beauties must be exercized as a form of praise for Allah swt, not exploited for the greed and profit of certain, mainly white (or now, yellow), people.
Still, where is the real basis of hatred for the white man or any other racial group in our Islam? American Muslims in particular have a good point when they question whether America, as such, deserves the widespread opprobrium that she now faces.
In fact, one of the major tactics now being used against American influence and hegemony, in Palestine and elsewhere, is “the suicide bomber” who was brought into prominence by the 9/11 Arabs. Is suicide not a terrible corruption of our Islamic belief? Unfortunately, Muslim scholars and leaders do not seem very strong in asking this question, or providing the ONLY POSSIBLE ANSWER, namely, that NOTHING so-called Muslims do by means of suicide can further the Islamic agenda in any way.
The Prophet’s Companions (peace to them) did not commit, or even discuss, suicide. Is modern suffering any more severe than theirs, that suicide somehow becomes permitted only now in Muslim history? There is an appalling arrogance that Muslim suffering now is any more than it was in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him) or his Companions.
Observe those who rant and rave against the USA. Do we not sense this as a corruption in their so-called Islam? Isn’t their religion really “hate America”, such that they are willing to change the very face of their Islam in order to fight some sort of “false jihad” against the West?
That is our position. Hating America may be justified in some important ways, however, it should be no part of our Islam as such. America was given the TRUST for the progress of knowledge in all fields after the Muslims had lost that trust, more or less when Columbus sailed and Granada simultaneously fell in Spain, in 1492. And now we must regain that trust, and certainly not by trying to destroy what the Americans have achieved on our behalf.
AZRIL MOHD AMIN is vice president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.