Who speaks for Muslims?
This is a very complex question when you think about it. Sometimes I feel as if me and fellow Muslim bloggers are constantly repeating ourselves because we frequent this topic often and with various approaches.
Most often this discussion comes up as a direct result of comments made by some cleric or some action committed by “radical” Muslims. I guess the part that bothers me most is this idea that somehow all Muslims are responsible.
If a suicide bomber commits an act of terror on the other side of the world, I’m supposed to explain, apologize, etc. When you think about it, this idea isn’t just hypocritical, but foolish and it exposes the truth in the accusers heart.
A couple of months ago, a cleric in Australia referred to women as meat. Some used this as definitive proof that Muslims are against women’s rights. This of course, put Muslims on the defensive yet again.
However I never saw the news report about the anti domestic violence initiatives occurring at the local Mosques here in Northern Virginia. I heard lots of reports about the Iranian Holocaust Conference, yet few about the numerous Imams and Muslim organizations that denounced it.
What is it about us that we are so quick to hold Muslims to standards we don’t want to hold ourselves or other groups to? How many Christians have you seen in the streets protesting people like Robertson, Phelps, Falwell, or Graham Jr. When these people make statements, its easy to shrug them off as not representative of Christians, yet when Muslims say the same about people like Bin Laden, then we are the ones making it up. I have yet to see Christians protest the White Supremacist groups that claim to be Christian. Granted, some do, but since we are using the same standard held to Muslims, I want to see all 2+ billion Christians protest.
Lets be real for a minute. There are not 1.5 billion terrorists that claim Islam in the World. This fact alone, should leave open enough reason to get away from the mindset that all Muslims are terrorists. I mean seriously what do you want us to do? Are you willing to do it yourself?
I am convinced, that no amount of debate will change the hearts of the nay-sayer. They have already made up their minds. If they truly wanted to operate with reason the would have already sought out contrary information to their “ideas”. Objectivity about Islam will not come from sites that are ran by non-Muslims, “former” Muslims, etc. but from the horses mouth. Or do you suggest I learn about Christianity from the Saudi religious police?
How we view and define certain images and statements, really gives an in-depth picture of the nature of the person ascertaining such input. We tend to be products of our environment, and unless we overcome this, then we will be constantly at odds with one another.
I really don’t want to oversimplify the argument, but in principle, its really easy. If your going to hold a standard, apply it equally across the board. If one radical cleric speaks for all Muslims, then Pat Robertson speaks for all Christians. If one anti-west “Muslim” organization speaks for all Muslims, then the Neo Nazi’s speak for all Christians (white ones of course).
As you can see, this can get pretty stupid after awhile. But, if you look at what is thrown at the Muslim community, you will see just how stupid the argument is. As Muslims we have to address this hypocrisy and not waver.
Am I saying that as Muslims we shouldn’t have to better our communities and fight radical ideologies, no. However, I addressing the critics who tell us that every Muslim has to do so. I’m sorry, I’m an American, I don’t have enough time in the day, to address what people on the other side of the globe do, in places I have never been, all the time. Nor should I be expected to, just because we profess the same book.
Make whatever conclusions you must about who speaks for Muslims, but know that you will be scrutinized in return. Personally, I speak for myself, I am responsible for my own soul, and for those of you that can’t handle that, well grow up.