If western democracies really intend to engage their Muslim populations in meaningful and fruitful activities they need to combat the negative image of Muslims “as aliens to” western societies.
This perception is wrong that Muslims due to their religion could not be integrated into mainstream society no matter how many incentives are offered to them. Moreover a substantial quantity of western media is intent to see Muslims as extremists.
Because of the lack of understanding of Muslim societies, Islam is being portrayed as an irreconcilable force with democracies. This is a favourite pastime of Western so called specialists of Islam. Islamic terrorists try to prove this through their heinous crimes against innocent civilians. These intellectuals and Islamic extremists share many things concerning Islam, though they both are full of unreasonable hate against each other. The sorry fact is that victims of this imagined paranoid clash of civilization are those whose happiness depends on the satisfying smiles of their beloved people.
For example both of these warring clans think that Islam’s propagation had been possible only through blatant force. They also think that this conflict will end when one party is completely subdued. These ideas are dramatic, simple and full of sound and fury but they are not true. Life is so complicated and cannot be explained in terms of friend or foe, and so are Muslim societies. These false ideas are most cherished pets of these two warring interest groups and are wide spread because through these ideas they portray each other as devils. We all know that devils do not deserve sympathy so we can be cruel to them without any scruples.
On the other hand history tells us Muslims have adopted native cultures, in fact mostly they have trimmed their religion according to native cultural needs. Had it not been a fact there would not be philosophers like Ibn-e-Rushd and ibn-e-Sina who thought reason is a better way than intuition to know the reality of things.
Muslim societies like any other societies have got their moderates, their innovators. But these people are not news worthy because constructive ideas are alien to tabloidization of modern life. It is true that we do not find many Islamic democracies in this world. But we can point our fingers to the self serving ethics of Muslim elite and their easy going masters. I believe progress to democracy has nothing to with Islam. Whenever any Muslim society has been given a fair chance to exercise their right to vote, they have voted in millions. You can see it in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iraq, and Afghanistan and in many other places. There are complications but the potential is overwhelming if we try to seek it.
Islam is not all about fanaticisms. Muslim societies throughout history are fighting with fanaticism. For example, Mughal Empire in India promoted communal harmony; this is why mughal emperor Akbar is a national icon in India. Even in medieval time, mullah was not a figure which represented Islam. To majority of Muslims he was a symbol of bigotry that could be dangerous for peaceful communal life. Instead Muslims loved the mystics who spoke for peace, love and co-existence. There were times when bigots exploited the fear factor but they never lived in the hearts of Indian Muslims. Even in Pakistan, given proper chance democratic leaders will win elections more than convincingly.
Muslim societies are not the only victims of rising extremism in modern times. We can see the examples of this extremism everywhere in this world. Every society has got its extremists. Somewhere they are resourceful somewhere they are not. Up until now Muslims have fought with their extremists because they are major victims of their dangerous creed and atrocious practices. Nobody likes that his son is converted into a weapon of mass destruction instead of leading a good life in spite of all cultural differences. Muslims need assistance not condemnation, if we seriously want to eradicate this unreasonable criminality. The positive side is that these terrorists cannot win the popular mandate because locals know them for what they are. One interesting reason is that in traditional societies Muslims are taught to respect their parents and these guys come up to them and say look your parents are sinners. Most people turn them off. This is because people who enjoy the benefits of cultural happiness would never accept the dominance of a different way willingly. People throw away the bondages at first chance. Anyhow terrorists are also getting enough converts to cause destruction. We should take every necessary precaution to stop them but equally we should try our best to make
Muslims feel that they also belong to world and their religion is not an antithesis to democracy. The more Clintons in the white house the better.
At present Islamic extremists have three most important bases for recruitment. Failed states turned into war zones, traditional tribal societies and dissatisfied youth living in advanced democratic states. Obviously Great Britain falls into third category. There are a variety of reasons of this recruitment but the core problem lies in the inabilities of home, school and mosque to guide young people how to live a good life. Loads of parents failed at home due to lack of education, persecution mania, racism, medieval ways of upbringing siblings in a modern society. Imposition of cruel values and insistence on complete subordination from young people has caused imbalanced personalities who distrust everybody and fall prey to an agonising confusion. This has made it an easier job for extremists to convince people to adopt a way of life which gave them protection against thinking their own solutions. Besides they showed them a way out which promised eternal bliss.
Alongside these reasons they provided a companionship which pretended to cure their soul, purify their lives and make them a special person in the eyes of God. A few vulnerable people were mesmerised and channelled all of their resources to gratify these illusions. All of us aspire to do something special which gives meaning to our lives but these Peoples’ directors were dangerous criminals who were also prisoners of these illusions. I know many people who believe their experiences of British schools have influenced their lives very negatively. Their eyes often tell the tales of discrimination, racism, mistreatment and contempt. No wonder a few individuals developed revenge psychology which terrorists used for their own purposes.
The Mosque continues to play the role of community centre for Muslims in Britain. Its leadership meant the considerable influence on community life. Sadly, it was controlled by community elders who used it as a perpetuation of their perks and privileges, it promoted hatred against western ways and never gave young people a say in the affairs of community life. Most mosques never tried to establish positive relationships within and outside the Muslim communities.
Traditional mosques have become a haven for petty egoistic clan fights. Because of non availability of the secular meeting places for young Muslims, they went to heal their identity crises to Hollywood version of modern foreign funded mosques. Their teachers knew the language of their students knew their vulnerability and used this knowledge to lead them towards an extremist version of Islam. The rest of the society, government, interest groups just ignored what is happening and why is happening in their neighbourhood?