Once again the streets of Kabul reverberate with the rancorous cries of bearded men demanding death for an Afghan convert to Christianity from Islam. Not too long ago, violent riots broke out in the Muslim world over objectionable cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, causing the deaths of several protesters, considerable destruction of property and widespread pillage. Before this, Muslims had yet again taken to the streets, protesting the alleged desecration of copies of the Holy Quran.
Although one can understand Muslim grievances, it is quite lamentable that similar protests never occur when innocent civilians, sometimes Muslim, die as a result of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in the ongoing conflicts in Palestine, Iraq and Kashmir. The daily reports of Taliban brutalizing local populations under their control, through draconian rules, go unnoticed by the majority. Honor killings and rapes of young Muslim women are dismissed as well deserved justice for alleged acts of promiscuity. Not as much as a squeak is uttered in protest to such skewed ethics.
Governed by a twisted ideology, militants in Iraq kill other Muslims with impunity over sectarian differences. Churches, mosques and temples are torched. Recently a Hindu Temple in Varanasi, India was attacked by terrorists but again no Muslim protests condemning the barbarism followed.
Added to the mayhem are the repressive laws in Muslim countries that victimize the victim. Iranian Nazneen, convicted of killing her assailants in self-defense now awaits execution in a prison and still no riots to save this young woman's life. On the other hand, the crowds would certainly emerge on the streets over the slightest perceived affront to Islam.
Needless to say, Muslims have become desensitized and immune to the ills pervading the Muslim world. This apathy stemming from phantasmagoria notions of conspiracies against Islam and Muslims is commonplace among Muslims. Rarely is the disarray ascribed to internal forces resulting from intolerance, ignorance and intransigence.
Muslims continue to revel in a false sense of security. They continue asserting that their understanding of their faith is beyond reproach, that Muslim women enjoy privileges under Shariah law, that only external factors are responsible for the current turmoil in the Muslim world.
Delusional thinking such as the above leads to further decline of Muslim culture, psyche and sensibilities.
The first step toward a solution requires an unequivocal ownership of our actions. It is only then that Muslims can find a solution or hope to be on the path to recovery and prosperity.
Muslims often speak nostalgically of their past glory but fail to recognize that Islamic civilization was at its peak only when Muslims were the most tolerant, humane honest and erudite. We must uphold these values again if we wish to recover some of that bygone glory.
[Farzana Hassan-Shahid is President of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Freelance writer, public speaker and author of "Prophecy and the Fundamentalist Quest" and host of the radio program Islam: Faith and Culture.]