Is it a Muslim Problem?

After the London blasts, Jeff Jarvis said he is not sure if the Western world is dealing with the problem of terrorism directly. However, he thinks that Tom Friedman has made it clearer when he said, “it's a Muslim problem, it needs a Muslim solution.” Humoud Abu-Talib, writing for Al-Watan daily, has quoted these words of Friedman:

Either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists – if it turns out that they are behind the London bombings – or the West is going to do it for them. And the West will do it in a rough, crude way – by simply shutting them out, denying them visas and making every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent.

Abu-Talib wrote: “It is sad that Friedman said ‘every Muslim in its midst guilty until proven innocent’, and it seems that this is what is going to happen.” He also blames the British authorities for being indulgent with the extremists. Abdul Rahman al-Rashed expressed the same idea. “Not only are they admitted to the country, they are also provided with accommodation, a monthly salary, and free legal advice for those who want to prosecute the British government,” he wrote for the English edition of Asharq al-Awsat.

Abu-Talib thinks that what happened will open the gates of hell on Muslims, especially Arab Muslims. “Muslims in Europe will pay the price for the idiocy of lunatics who commit crimes in the name of Islam.”

Is it a Muslim problem so Muslims have to solve it themselves, or is it a global problem and the whole world is responsible to find the solution?


  • […] d home The Mother Earth. Amen. As we’ve been experiencing in our comments threads here , here, here, and here, emotions on the issue of religion and terrorism run very […]

  • I’m quite taken aback, and frankly stupefied as to how to convey my opinion regarding such biased puzzlements. Nonetheless, I give you my humble attempt.. ..

    I as a Muslim myself am beyond appalled at such an inquiry. An immense slice of humanity follows the religion of Islam. This may strike many of you as tired and cliché, however, is it by any means impartial to embark on such horrid criticisms of such a big slice of humanity? Is it by any means fair to refer such a hot and current event to a peaceful and serene way of life that dates all the way back to 1400 years ago?
    Could it possibly not have hit the likes of Thomas Friedman that this could be the effect of a certain cause? While I certainly do not sympathize with those who have made the killing of innocent beings a living duty, I can understand the anger and frustration they had been equipped with. Take it as a golden rule, as long as injustice prevails, so will crime. If Islam is the problem why hadn’t this kind of fundamentalist mentality showed up earlier? The world had been in constant wars since 1918 to the 40’s and beyond, and all the while the Muslim world silently watched and did nothing. And please, I kindly request of you not to recite the worn-out “But Islam has a bloody history” speech. I beg for your retort, what religion is without its dark past? For a long period of time the notion that “the rise to glory and power requires bloodshed” was predominant, be it for an Islamic, Jewish, or Christian cause.

    What is shocking, however, is that such a reputable journalist; a man known for his objective reporting, has fallen prey to such ignorance. Would the claim that “the war in Iraq is a problem of Christianity” and that the Christians have got to let go of their crusad-esque mentalities, be in any way justifiable? Of course not. We would laugh at such a claim, and call whoever may believe in it one who lives in an age of bloodshed for God, who belongs to the medieval times, who is in short “so naïve”. Well, then, bingo, it isn’t a holy war as much as it is the reaction of some very angry folk whose anger strips them of whatever sanity and mercy they once had.

    “Either the Muslim world begins to really restrain, inhibit and denounce its own extremists,” this only further fumes those with such rebellious streaks to do more. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the situation here in Saudi Arabia. It is not getting any better but only from bad to worse. This with the Saudi authorities doing everything they can. The kingdom had just gotten rid of every single member of the 26 terrorist they had issued in the first list, only to find another 36, younger, newer, and fresher terrorists popping up.
    If they don’t handle it from its roots, it’s never going to be solved. The only way to handle it is to stop the injustice globally and locally.

    Anyhow, now that we are on the subject and Ahmed here asks the immortal question: “is it a Muslim Problem?” allow me to answer it for him.

    It is, my dear Ahmed, an American and Saud problem. (note: I refuse to call it a Saudi problem, because that would then include the good, oblivious people of Saudi Arabia) It is the problem of America; who had at once encouraged this mentality. (Need I remind everybody of the Arab-Afghanis who were used in order to defeat America’s Soviet opponent. America used the Jihadist militants when they needed them and dropped them like hot potatoes as soon as their task was over and is now complaining when it bit back.
    It is a House of Saud problem because they allowed the Wahabist ideology to dominate in Najd and later in the rest of the Kingdome , to ofcourse, secure their monarchy, nothing more. Little did they know that such an ideology (read: NOT Islam) allows such evil-doings to brew.
    And are now also complaining when it came and bit them in the back.

    I’m no political expert, but that was my, a Saudi girl’s, couple of cents.

    Thank you, and good bye.

  • If Islam is the problem why hadn’t this kind of fundamentalist mentality showed up earlier? The world had been in constant wars since 1918 to the 40’s and beyond, and all the while the Muslim world silently watched and did nothing. And please, I kindly request of you not to recite the worn-out “But Islam has a bloody history” speech. I beg for your retort, what religion is without its dark past? For a long period of time the notion that “the rise to glory and power requires bloodshed” was predominant, be it for an Islamic, Jewish, or Christian cause.

    Islam since it’s inception has been an aggressive, conquering, supremecist ideology. It’s followers have to look no further than the Koran to justify their actions. In contrast, while European Christians may have conquered others, and may have even done it in the name of Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no justification for this in the New Testament. Islam is unique in it’s fusion of religion, politics, and lifestyle and as such has a unique history. You’d have to be a fool to ignore the 1300 years of Islamic aggression towards everyone in the name of God. I’m always amused at Muslim cries of anguish over the Crusades, when the Crusades were a reaction, a response to please for help from the Byzantine Christians who being attacked by Muslim invaders. That isn’t to say that Islam hasn’t had its voluntary converts, such as the Mongols( nominal muslims ) or the people of Indonesia.

    The problem *is* Islam, no matter how many people try to avoid saying it. Muslims who don’t chop off heads, slay infidels, or treat non-muslims as dhimmis do so because they ignore what’s in the Koran and hadith. They are the radicals. They people who do these things are simply being traditional.

    Charles Moore has an excellent piece in the Daily Telegraph highlighting this point:

    “But it is an important fact about Christianity in the past two or three centuries that it has conducted a great reinterpretation of these texts and of how the faithful should follow them. The struggle against the enemy in the Book of Joshua, say, or in Judges is now seen as a strictly spiritual one. The idea that these are divine 007 licences to kill has been explicitly repudiated.

    Has the equivalent happened in Islam? Certainly, most Muslim leaders advocate peace and most are surely sincere in doing so. But push a bit harder, and you encounter some interesting problems.

  • Zaid Hassan

    How is it a Muslim problem that the US and European powers have been using force in the Middle East for 50 years?

  • Rufus Lee King

    I am afraid it is more specific than a Muslim problem. It is a Muhammed problem. The man behind this vast religion dictated death and deceit for his nonbelievers and death for any of his believers who try and change his edicts.

    So the Muslim violence, which some say has only recently emerged, but in fact has flourished throughout the life of Islam, albeit on a local scale until now technologically feasible to export, will not be the subject of any Muslim solution. Violence and repression are the essence of Islam. As Islam stands, the holy lies and destruction will stand.

  • Zaid Hassan

    I find it amazing that people can make these grand statements about Islam – when Islam has not been responsible for genocides at the scale that the Europeans perpetrated in the New World and then against the Jewish people in WW2?. I also find it amazing since today the US has a military base on every continent in the planet…and people talk as if Islam is uniquely militaristic. If Islam is going to be judged according to such terms then lets be consistent.

    I also find it telling that the tone people use in claiming Islam to be a religion of violence is one which brooks no argument. It almost seems that they cannot cope it being any other way and Islam serves as the bogeyman in their psyches.

    Dig “a little deeper” into any culture and you will find a history of warfare and violence.

  • william

    On the subway when an apparent muslim gets on I want to give them the universial “I am watching you” sign (two fingers pointed at your own eyes and then one finger at them). All the PC talk does not relive us of the fact that those who are killing innocents are not Christmas Catholics. (insert Hyperbolic moral equivelency about Iraq here and sleep safe in your deluded liberal self-rightiousness)

  • Zaid,

    Islam is both a religion of violence and of peace, no? I would never say soley one or the other, for the Koran exhorts its follower to both. But what is telling is the Muslims always want to deflect the attention away from their shortcomings or criticism of Islam to other subjects, and say “SEE!”.

    That misses the point. Currently, there is no doubt that Muslim societies are at conflict with just about everyone. Be it Christian, Hindu, European, Chinese Han, Thailand, etc. If there were a spate of Hindu suicide bombers, who carried pictures of Vishnu in one hand and a veta in the other, then I’m sure as much scrutiny would be placed on Hinduism as well.

    The only boogyman being produced is by Arabs and Muslims. If it’s not the Jews, then it’s someone else. You yourself have said this in your previous posts with your canards about ‘force’ being used over the last 50 years in the Middle East. Fine, but then explain India. Force was used for well over one hundred years there by Europeans. Yet, they don’t exhibit the same problems. In fact, colonialism touched just about every country on the planet, yet the Muslim world is unique in it’s response.

  • […] From Global Voices Online: Is it a Muslim Problem? Maybe it’s a “Muslim” problem in the sense that it would work far better if, as Tom Friedman suggests, those in the Muslim world would “restrain, inhibit, and denounce its own extremists.”  On the other hand, it is a problem for everyone else when the extremists don’t stay restrained.  […]

  • Rufus Lee King

    I’m trying to think of how many other religions say that God’s only messenger commands the decapitation of all, well…nonadherants and have a large curved sword as their insignia?

    But isn’t just asking such a presumptuous question perpetrating another vile Western contextual injustice upon the good denizens of the Koran?

    I suppose the dizzying numbers of victims of skyscraper, plane, train, bus, and birthday party annihilations, combined with shamefully ceaseless revelations by the press and police that mosque-based networks of fundraising are behind these spiritual achievements, have just distorted my humanistic tolerance of the nuances of religious diversity. I lost my head. (Figuratively)

    And I hope the participants in what more of us now see as an open global conspiracy of violence, even those most peripherally involved, don’t so badly judge the “context” of being placed for safekeeping in wartime detention centers for the duration of this misunderstanding.

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