Among Muslims and non-Muslims, there is an urgent need to address those obsolete and problematic elements of Islamic orthodoxy that underlie the Islamist worldview, fuelling violence on both sides. The world’s largest Muslim organisation, Indonesia’s Nahdlatul Ulama, of which I am General Secretary, has begun to do exactly that.
The truth, we recognise, is that jihadist doctrine, goals and strategy can be traced to specific tenets of orthodox, authoritative Islam and its historic practice. This includes those portions of Shariah that promote Islamic supremacy, encourage enmity towards non-Muslims and It is these elements – still taught by most Sunni and Shiite institutions – that constitute a summons to perpetual conflict.
It is our firm view that, if Muslims do not address the key tenets of Islamic tradition that encourage this violence, anyone – at any time – can harness them to defy what they claim to be illegitimate laws and butcher their fellow citizens, whether they live in the Islamic world or the West. This is what links so many current events, from Syria to the streets of London. There is a desperate need for honest discussion of these matters. This is why it worries me to see Western political and intellectual elites weaponise the term “Islamophobia,” to short-circuit analysis of a complex phenomenon that threatens all humanity. For example, it is factually incorrect and counter-productive to define Islamophobia as “rooted in racism,” as proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims. In reality, it is the spread of Islamist extremism and terror that primarily contributes to the rise of Islamophobia throughout the non-Muslim world. That is why it is vital to challenge the prevailing “Muslim mindset,” which is predicated upon enmity and suspicion towards non-Muslims, and often rationalises perpetrating violence in the name of Islam. Otherwise, non-Muslims will continue to be radicalised by Islamist attacks and by large-scale Muslim migration to the West.
where this article appeared in the UK press.