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Self-inflicted wounds of Islam?

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By Rushdi Siddiqui

“The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men.” — Navy SEAL Creed

Islam is a religion of peace, but do Muslims need anger management therapy?

We talk about brotherhood, but, say, Muslim Brotherhood, and it evokes more negative images rather than positive perceptions.

We talk about the Ummah, Muslim community, but it seems more like organised gangs along tribal lines?

A common punchline linked to Muslims is “.. put four Muslims in a room and you get five opinions...”

Many of the Friday sermons (Khutbaahs) are often “fire and brimstone” in a loud tone (even with microphone), and more about the wrath of the Creator rather than His mercy and compassion.
The trailer of the anti-Muslim/Islam video, “Innocence of Muslims”, caused much expected uproar and ensuing violence but it had an “interesting comment.” Some said the “movie” was the actual reaction in the Muslim world to the trailer. Put differently, is it easy to inflame the passions of Muslims, which raises interest in something that is/was of poor quality and incorrect, and propganda oriented?

Then you have security (suicide bombings at mosques) and safety challenges in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, etc, Muslim on Muslim killing, maiming, fear-mongering, and so on.
The world’s most popular Muslim footballer, Algeria’s Zinedine Zidane, with an outstanding international career will be immortalised with a statute of his infamous headbutt at the 2006 World Cup final on Italy’s Marco Materazzi.

The Arab Spring youth movement against entrenched leaders was actually a trailer of a work in progress movie about a revolution of enfranchisment and dignity. In it, Tunisia buckled, Yemen thundered, Libya splintered, Egypt shattered, Syria burned, Bahrain yearned, and so on.

Forget this clash of civilizations! The pre-requisite for civilized people is being civil on both sides, correct? If not, then another term needs to be introduced, say, “the best of the West versus the Beast of the East?”

It seems these challenges are a common occurrence in many of Muslim countries. Why?
Why so serious (angry)?

So, what does Islam say about anger?

In Surah Al-Imran 3:134, it states, “…those who control their anger and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loves those who do good.”

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “The best of you are those who are slow to anger and swift to cool down... Beware of anger, for it is a live coal on the heart of the descendants of Adam.”—Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 133.

“When one of you becomes angry while standing he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.” Prophet Muhammed (SAW) quoted from Al-Tirmidhi Hadith 5114 narrated by Abu Dharr.

Finally, the Prophet (SAW) stated, “Anger comes from the Shaitan. The Shaitan was created from fire and fire is extinguished only with water. So when one of you becomes angry, he should perform wudu.”—Abu Dawud.

Thus, is there a divergence between words and deeds?

Expectations not met

Where is the resentment coming from?

Today, most of the world’s reported conflicts are generally not between countries over lines of demarcations, resources below the surface like the flow of water, and so on. The disturbances-cum-conflict-cum-civil war (for regime change) are linked to various “debilitating illnesses and bone diseases” of corruption, unemployment and underemployment, inflation for basic staples, political disenfranchisement, etc.

The raw numbers of Muslim youth, meaning those under the age of 25, in the 57 Muslim countries, hovers around 60 per cent, and the unemployment rate is over the average age of youth, and, in some countries double. Combine the restless youth pool (rightfully) wanting opportunities that they see their counter-parts having in other countries, via the traditional and connected social media, is the powder keg needing a spark for implosion.

The spark comes from wholesale corruption that prevents allotted moneys not reaching its destination of opportunity development. The spark comes from political and financial disenfranchisement. The spark comes form white elephant projects that benefit the accessible. The spark comes from unavailability of basic necessities resulting in deaths and illnesses.
Thus, the Arab Spring, combining the demographic bomb with communication connectivity in real time, is not an unexpected end result.

Freedom indexes

There is link between high income economies and development, and the various freedoms. I’ve taken the liberty (pun intended) of pasting from Wikipedia, the aggregation of various freedom indexes, with focus on selected Muslim countries and Israel.

The reader can make their own conclusions on:

Methodology and its robustness

Do the low numbers and “not/partly free” status means anything for almost all of the Muslim countries? Interesting to note the categorization of the three G-20 Muslim countries as “not free” (Saudi Arabia), “partly free” (Turkey) and “free” (Indonesia).

Is there a need to have a “new” freedom index to take into account the peculiarities of the Muslim country’s history, culture, religion, etc. Put differently, should there be a different definition of, say, corruption, freedoms, etc., for Muslim countries? If so, what would it be? Who would put together the methodology?

I have not included Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for countries, as the reader is suggested to make their own links and conclusions between corruption and competitiveness and development for Muslim countries.

Conclusion

Are Muslims like Russia as stated by Winston Churchill: Russia (Muslims) is (are) a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

There is link between anger (common), corruption (leading), freedoms (work in progress) and development (lacking) in the Muslim world. Yes, it also exists in the non-Muslim (more secular oriented) world, but are standards higher for Muslims?

Today, are Muslims respected ambassadors for tolerance, compassion, and mercy towards each other and non-Muslims?

If not (yet), what is the next step to address the above question in the positive?

(Courtesy: The Malaysian Insider)
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