In light of Friday's arrest and occurrences in the world at large, some tough questions need to be leveled against Islam. These questions should not be addressed to the fringe groups, extremists or individuals, but should be asked of the community at large.
How is it that the individuals who get caught up in this sort of activity are often referred to as being pious, God-fearing people? The ring leader of the group arrested Friday was described as being a community role model. One of the men was described as being very pious. Others were described as being good citizens, despite the fact that at least two had already been arrested on weapons related charges. How do Muslims define the word pious, if one can plot to commit an act of terror and still retain this status within a religious community?
What is it about Islam that has historically made it prone to extremism? Why do so many believe that Jihad really does mean a war against the infidel, and includes terrorist actions? Please note that this is not the first time Islam has suffered such a problem. This sort of radical behaviour has been happening since Sunnis and Shi'ites first split.
Why are community leaders such as Mohammed Elmasry so often racist, anti-Semitic and extreme in their beliefs? If Islam is truly a peaceful religion, would it not be more appropriate to appoint someone to the position of head of the Canadian Islamic Congress who more accurately reflects Muslim values? Or are Elmasry's alarming statements on Israel indicative of the average Muslim's beliefs?
Why is there not even one instance of a peaceful Islamic state? Without exception, every Muslim nation suffers from either war, terrorism, corruption, dictatorship, and a general lack of civil or religious freedom. If Islam is a religion of peace, surely some of its adherents must be able to practice it correctly. If Islam is the best religion for the world, as all Muslims should believe (or why practice it), then why does it not offer a more positive template for future societies? Are we to assume that, should all the world one day come under Muslim rule, we should find ourselves in the condition of Iran?
The Muslim community needs to step up, take ownership of its problems and seek ways to remedy them. Issuing statements condemning certain actions, begging the global community for understanding, sending out pamphlets explaining the religion (of which I received two on Saturday) is insufficient. There is clearly an unnamed problem with the ranks of Islam and it must be addressed. Stop blaming other people.
It is not the fault of the war in Iraq.
It is not the fault of the war in Afghanistan.
It is not the fault of the war on terror.
It is not the fault of the US, Canada, the West, secularism or any other outside influences.
If these men, these terrorists, are usurping the religious authority and are perverting it for their own means, do what the Church has had to do... and more than once, I might add.
Kick them out.
Formally strip them of their authority.
Ban them from preaching.
Ban them from the mosque.
Declare them heretics.
Puny statements with no action against associated with them is meaningless. It gives the impression of apathy, incompetence and dare I say sympathy.
Stop whining about backlash and act!