Donna Miles-Mojab writes in the NZ Herald:
I write this as a Muslim even though being a Muslim does not define me. In fact, I have a very secular outlook to life and last time I knelt down to pray was more to impress my grandmother than Allah – I was 7 or 8.
A useful reminder that for many people their religion does not define them – it is just a part of them. For some people their religious beliefs are the most important and central part of their life. But not for everyone, or even most people.
I have therefore decided that, for the sake of the majority of peaceful Muslims, to embrace my Islamic heritage and to celebrate, build and promote what is good, beautiful and uniting about Islam: think solace, comfort, charity, hospitality, empathy, kindness.
The alternative is to denounce the religion I was born into because of the actions of a minority.
But doing that would only play into the hands of extremists; their goal is to declare themselves as the only true Muslims by dismissing my mother, grandmother and over one billion of other peaceful Muslims as infidels.
Very true. And Islam can only be reformed by those who are within the religion.
It is time for secular Muslims, feminist Muslims, gay Muslims, bisexual Muslims, lesbian Muslims, transsexual Muslims, Marxist Muslims and all the other shades of Muslims to come out, in greater numbers, and proudly say that they are Muslims too. It is also time for Muslims to accept that extremism, violence, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, oppression and patriarchy are rife amongst many Islamic cultures. But Muslims need to talk about these issues in an open and transparent way and acknowledge that the extremists who carry out vile acts of terrorism are Muslims too.
Good to have this acknowledged. Now again this does not mean that all or even most Muslims are anti-Semitic, racist or sexist. They’re not. But in a fair number of Muslim majority countries, these values do hold sway. Women can not vote or drive. Consensual homosexual activity can attract the death penalty. Apostasy is seen as a capital crime.
There is no doubt that the majority of the global terrorism today is carried out by Islamist groups but 50 or 100 years ago, it was communists, anarchists, fascists and others who resorted to terrorism to achieve their goals. Nobody blamed Christianity or atheism then so why are we blaming Islam now?
My view is that communism, fascism and Islamism (not Islam) are incompatible with democracy. Islam as private religious beliefs is fine. Islamism, as the political belief that a country’s laws should reflect the religious beliefs is not.