Ummah: Not in Turmoil but in Struggle for Freedom, Justice and Peace

If the Syrians had accepted Assad’s tyranny, there would not have been a Syrian refugee crisis.

If the Egyptians had accepted Mubarak, there would have been no need for revolution, elections, and then the dismissal of an elected government by the military.

If the Tunisians had accepted corrupt dictators, there would have been no need for an Arab Spring.

If the Afghans had accepted Russian occupation almost 40 years ago, there would not have been 7 million Afghan refugees.

If the Palestinians had just stopped struggling for freedom, Israel would have no problem with them. There would be no bombing of Gaza every two years if there was no threat of the Intifada.

If Kashmiris had accepted the Indian occupation, there would not have been any need for the Indian military to kill 100,000 people.

But Syrians wanted freedom; Egyptians wanted democracy; Tunisians wanted a corruption-free government; Palestinians and Kashmiris want rights of self-determination, and Afghans want to live the way they choose.

That causes “problems”.

That is why foreign armies, dictators, kings, etc. feel forced to fight back against the demands of freedom, liberty, peace and justice.

This is where “turmoil” begins.

They use arms and armies, tear gas, live ammunition against civilians, bombing, drones, spying equipment, indefinite detention without a trial; they arrest relatives, rape political prisoners, shoot without warning, demolish homes, kill journalists, force imams to give government-sanctioned sermons, use minorities against majorities, create torture machines, establish their little Gitmos and black sites, and deny justice and peace to their opposition.

These oppressors dress and behave like old colonial masters, and buy arms from the West. And this is why those fighting for freedom start becoming skeptical of the much-touted Western love for democracy and freedom. They start seeing their governments as a continuity of the older generation of occupying foreign colonial powers in their lands.

This is where the mostly peaceful Arab Spring started becoming violent. Responding to the oppressive state in the same coin.

This is also where a theology of anger takes birth among the terrible terrorists of Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS.  They  use wrongful methods to achieve peace, justice and freedom and then try to justify their wrongful methodology by distorting the Quran and abusing the Prophetic teachings.

And this is where the Western media, which claims to be unbiased, objective, and truthful, then turns around and begins name-calling and labeling those fighting for freedom: Islamists, fundamentalists, extremists, etc., who are trying to destabilize the region. This is where the “impartial” Western media began depicting the struggle as a fight between secularists and Islamists in which corrupt secularists are always the good guys upholding every thing right.

With this information in hand, Islamophobes of the world then spin and spin, weaving a web of deception to cloud the judgment of their own people and everyone else about what is going on. It is, nevertheless, possible that these journalists who have never lived under occupation or war may not understand the depth and severity of either.

This is when even Muslims start seeing these worldwide struggles for freedom, peace and justice in the Islamic world as “turmoil”.

But this is not a turmoil. It is a cry for freedom, which sometimes becomes the struggle of a generation.

The right to self-determination is in the United Nations charter. Let the Palestinians, the Kashmiris, and the Afghans live the way they want to live. Once this is accepted and respected, “turmoil” in those places will eventually disappear.

Let the Syrians, Egyptians, Bahrainis, and the Yemenis choose their governments and “turmoil” will in time lead to stability and security in these countries. 

The Muslim world was under European occupation for 200 years or so. The European colonialists  were then replaced by their lackeys, those who looked like the people but were, in their hearts, more European than the Europeans. These civilizational agents or corrupt bureaucrats were trained to serve their masters[1], ensuring their control behind the scenes, and treating their subject populations as uncivilized ignorant masses or down right savages. They wasted 60 years or so of advancement of democracy and freedom in their countries, some times in the name of development and other times in the name of stability.

Now, Muslims all over the world want to take the reins of their lives in their own hands. They seek justice and freedom from corruption and slavery on their own terms. Not with any strings attached, nor at the hands of those who preach “freedom and democracy”, but whose agendas clearly support neither. And they are even willing to sacrifice peace and security for that goal.

Some of them struggle successfully in non-violent ways, like the successful Tunisian Arab Spring where compromise between Islamic politicians and secularists democrats shared power advancing the cause of freedom and justice, or Morocco where Islamists-Democrats and the King worked with each other to change the government with very little loss of lives. These are the relative success stories which do not get much coverage. The Egyptian revolution was also a successful non-violent change in the right direction until the military regime reversed it once again.

A peaceful Syrian movement started against Assad. But faced with carpet barrel bombing by the regime, it swiftly turned into an armed struggle.

That is the path Kashmiris and Palestinians chose multiple times and abandoned, with hopes that their cries for freedom, the promises of the UN, will be honored.

One day perhaps.

Until then, please don’t call what is happening in the Muslim world “turmoil”. This is turmoil that births a better society.  This is a freedom struggle. And for those who have studied the history of today’s stable, democratic societies, it is part and parcel of the long-term development of democratic ideals that become reality. Countries go through this cycle. Turkey went through decades of military regimes, terrorism, drug crime etc before it turned towards democracy and stability. Pakistan which went through the same cycle is now emerging out of that phase.

God has told us in the Quran that He sent all prophets to help people stand up to establish peace, justice, fairness, and equity, that is Qist. (Quran 57:25)

The struggle for peace, justice and freedom, therefore, is an honorable struggle. The refugee crisis is created by the governments who deny freedom to their people. In a way, it is the price of freedom being extracted by the regimes that want to squelch the cry for freedom and democracy of their own people.

Please pray for the success of those who struggle for peace, justice and freedom by right means. Please pray that God guides those who are using wrong means in struggle harming humanity, Islam and their neighbors. And may God guide all the oppressors to refrain from oppressing those seeking peace, justice and freedom.


[1] Lord Macaulay, the British colonial father of education in India called for an educational system to create a class of anglicised Indians. He claimed that “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia.” http://legacy.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1833macaulay-india.asp

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