Islamic militant terrorism is a Muslim problem. American military and diplomatic efforts, while necessary, will not succeed. Even now American forces, Nato troops and Pakistani soldiers are chasing down militant types with great determination. Most of the time, the hunted extremists disperse and disappear in a very cockroach like manner. Hiding amongst the population (or in caves) they simply wait for further opportunities to pursue their agenda. In some cases wrongheaded military action like the invasion of Iraq actually makes things worse. (In September of 2006 a combined National Intelligence Estimate by 16 US intelligence services concluded that the invasion of Iraq has led to an increase in global terrorism.) In the long run western involvement will probably make things worse. A long term significant solution must come from the ranks of the Islamic. Furthermore, this solution will have to be spiritual if not religious in scope.
The beauty of Islam is that at its heart, it is a peace loving and devotional religion. Consider this important quote from their scripture, “Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if one has killed all humankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if one has saved the life of all humankind.”(Al-Ma’idah 5:32)
Islam is also a deeply ingrained culture. The nature of Islam as religion and culture dictates that the solution and leadership needed to solve this problem come from one of their own. For this a new Muslim hero is needed. One who will champion the ideals of Islam and will fearlessly denounce those would selectively abrogate the true teachings and goals of Islam. The Muslim nations need a kind and courageous hero who is willing to describe those killers of innocents as traitors and offenders to the great Mohamed.
As frustrating and scary as the recent New York near misses are if we want to see the terroristic chicanery cease and desist then we should hope and pray that some brave new hero emerges from the millions of intelligent and peace seeking true believers of Islam.
Is there anything we can do besides hope and pray? Sure! Step out of your culture and get to know the Muslims in your community. Dialoguing, sharing life experiences, just getting to know one another is a valuable step. Another important way non-Muslims can encourage an outcome-where any sign of direct involvement can be construed as a tainting influence-is by setting the example. When any one person acts with kindness and courage in their culture it will have an impact on the consciousness of others. This is the legacy of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Elie Wiesel, Aung San Suu Kyi…
We have ample opportunity these days to stand up to intolerance, exploitation, and ignorance.
What ideas do you have for exemplifying courage and kindness?