By Aslam Shah
Featured image by Aslam Shah
On 6th July 2016, 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide welcomed Eid al-Fitr as Ramadan drew to a close.
Signifying the end of Ramadan, the month when Muslims practise abstinence from dawn to dusk, it was a day of victory commonly felt by Muslims, a day they honoured their Creator by reciting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) as they gathered and celebrated with their loved ones at home and in mosques. Don’t be alarmed by this common recital, for it is not half as baleful as we think it out to be; reflected in it is purely a well-intentioned wish among Muslims to express their gratitude to God in humility and peace.
But this year, the occasion came with a tinge of sadness. As many Muslims donned their new clothes and decorated their houses with colour, plenty of others could not celebrate what would have been a joyous day for them. The children of Baghdad looked to their homes and wondered where their parents had gone. Istanbul, the city which breathes centuries of history and culture, is worrying which iconic landmark is next to come under threat. And those in Dhaka fear even leaving their homes for the nearby provision store or bakery. Most recently, there were even alarm bells ringing in Malaysia and Indonesia. Much as we would like to avoid it, a question that has reared its ugly head and become impossible to ignore is this:
Would Singapore one day be stricken with such a reality too?
Let’s take a look at Medina, the second holiest site in Islam. Though the number of casualties pales in comparison to the rest, the attacks that were launched might actually prove to be the most significant. And dare I say, they may be the start of a positive transformative period.
The wave of attacks in Medina invaded the personal sacred space of Muslims, and is a reality difficult and painful for many – regardless of proximity – to bear. However, like all significant devastation, embedded in it is an important message and perhaps even a comforting possibility – It draws a clear line and marks a new dawn.
With every hardship comes relief, eventually. If it hadn’t come, it is now finally making its appearance.
Evidently, they are adversaries of the Muslims as much as they are enemies of humanity. It is no longer a debate of whether it is a battle between radicalised Muslims and others. There is nothing ‘holy’ about war. There is no need for guns in true ‘jihad’, a commonly misappropriated term that actually means nothing more than the person battle to prevent the commitment of sins.
There is no jihad in mass murder, but there is jihad in resisting the urge to speak ill of others, vent one’s frustration on their loved ones, and cause conflict amongst people; the list goes on. Islam also has its own rules on war. It includes that one cannot attack unless it is in the name of self-defence. Second, women, children, the elderly and the sick should not be attacked. Third, villages, cultivated fields and towns must not be destroyed. Fourth, the use of fire armoury is prohibited.
The rules of war are so strict that it is almost impossible to wage any war in today’s world in the name of Islam. They have deviated from almost every single Islamic rule on war. Logically, there should not be any more question if their agenda is in line with the intended message of the Holy Book. It has never been. The line has been drawn, and it is now clearer than ever.
It’s them against the rest of the world. A battle of good versus evil. As we look at significant political victories in human history, evil has never triumphed over peace. Since the turning point on September 11 in 2011 , views on terrorism have radically evolved, and this Eid al-Fitr perfectly marks that transformation. And this aptly coincides with the Muslims’ day of victory. Because it is not lives that is their goal. 4 dead, 178 dead, 44 dead – these are not their goals. Their goal is to disunite, to instil fear in minds. Humanity has to be strong in siding good until the bad weakens and fails. They want the world to change and Man to submit to their causes, but they are failing and they know it. Because the majority will always strive for peaceful solutions and the beauty of life is this: It will go on in spite of how many ‘turning’ points they threaten to disrupt and ultimately wreck the world with.
As this evolution takes place, one must ask important questions to understand the source of their existence and identity. Are they really who we think they are or what they are being portrayed as?
Let’s be realistic and ask important, pivotal questions about them, the terrorists. How are they being trained and who funds them? How do they trespass political boundaries and highly secure areas? Who supplies their arsenal and how do they recruit? Is it in their capacity to act independently?
As much as the matter is complex, our modern world allows and encourages varied perspectives. As the war on terror continues to evolve, are we still talking about the same things we did 15 years ago when the twin towers collapsed? After 15 years worth of events and information gathered, particularly in this ever-changing and globalising climate, are we still thinking the same way?
Perhaps, to embrace a new dawn in this evolution, we should not forget to evolve ourselves.