Munazzah Chou, London
My father would always advise us as young children to self-reflect at the end of each day. The purpose was to judge our spiritual progress over the last 24 hours and identify areas and avenues for improvement. Whilst I may not have been particularly assiduous in this task as a young child, the passing of 365 days undeniably warrants a degree of introspection. Legitimising one’s personal shortcomings by public airing is not encouraged, but the very public profile of Islam over the year is ripe for analysis.
What would Islam personified reflect on this year? Quite a lot.
On self-reflection Islam might be proud of what 99.9% of its adherents aspired and strove to achieve. Islam has shown people the straightest path to righteousness; by fulfilling a dual obligation to God and fellow beings. It has instilled a desire to treat others with love, and to always treat others with justice as a minimum standard. Islam can be pleased that this has led to countless acts of charity, kindness and love that may not have emanated from these seekers of the path of righteousness. Islam can be confident that countless followers have excelled in worship and attained spiritual heights that they could not have hoped for in 2014.
However, events throughout the world this year involving those that profess to follow Islam would leave it shocked in terms of their depravity and brutality, acts which are unrecognisable as any that Islam condones. These aggressors haven’t simply lost their way- they have carved out a track diametrically opposed to the Islamic way and have dragged others with them with the hope of disguising their greed with a religious smokescreen.
Instead of winning over non-Muslims, and enlightening people with the true and beautiful teachings of Islam, the name of Islam continues to be associated to evil perpetrated the world over from North America, to Europe, Africa, crossing as far East as Thailand and China. Murder in the name of Islam in 2015 showed no abatement.
Muslim governments continue to be a source of misery and danger for their own people, forcing millions to seek refuge. The behaviour of Muslim leaders suggest that they have forgotten the emphasis on good treatment of all those you are granted leadership over, and that they will be called to account for it.
Other Muslim countries continue with a political game, killing, shirking responsibility and adding to disorder. In 2015 when Muslims of Saudi Arabia launched attacks on Muslim Yemen they forget the principle that when two Muslims fight to the death of one, both are punished with hell as both harboured the intention to kill.
Renewed attacks on places of education in Kenya are to everyone’s dismay, and that group of bandits with a very un-Islamic title have chosen to ignore the emphasis on learning and education which led to the golden age in Islam, the world’s first university and a basis of much of today’s scientific understanding made by Muslims in early Islam. All wisdom is said to be the lost property of a believer.
The actions of some Muslims have facilitated attempts to displace true Islam with a new ideology whose distinction is savagery rather than spirituality.
But we have hope and we pray that 2016 heralds an end to the suffering of millions and the start of a life of fulfilment. I pray that all stakeholders are enabled to adhere to the Islamic principles of absolute justice, kindness and kinship.