How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam, what can we do?

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Here is my response to Friedman’s article appended below.

Muslim majority nations have had Sharia laws to govern throughout their history, and that is the only system they are familiar with. They simply cannot imagine governance without it and will continue to resist it.

We the people, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike have a responsibility to understand this, we cannot force our ways onto others overnight, we cannot even talk about stripping Sharia Laws they are used to however wrong they may be. We have to find a way for transition without violent overthrow of the existing systems that would bring more chaos than they have now. Iraq is the best example.  Insha Allah, time permitting, I will write a full paper on it if I decide to go full time service.

I have challenged the Pew Survey for their thoughtless methodology of asking people if they want Sharia Laws, the results were an eye opener. Nations like Indonesia, Albania, Kazakhstan and others showed less than 10% of the population wanting it, whereas Egypt, Pakistan and other nations were going over 75%. The difference is crystal clear for a genuine analyst – Where people are familiar with other laws, they opted for that, and where they knew nothing about other laws, they stuck with the only thing they knew; Sharia.

Hold your prejudice, Sharia is not the problem, it was designed to serve justice, the intent was good. However, flaws have crept into the system, directly going against the Quran’s wisdom, instead of justice; injustice is meted out to women in case of rape and adultery, divorce, apostasy, blasphemy and other ills.  You don’t throw your computer away because of malfunctioning; you isolate the problem and fix it. The same applies to Sharia. I have put together a precise paper on the topic.
The Western world has seen governance by the people for the people in the last 250 years after ravaging conflicts among different denominations. Muslims have lived under the thumb of colonialism, and when the colonists start giving up in the last 100 years, they left this to the damned monarchs, tyrants and dictators.  Muslims never had the freedom to self-govern with the exception of a few nations including Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan to an extent. If not the dictators, they had authoritative figures popped up like Banna, Maududi and their ilk who made themselves to be God like figures beyond questioning.

A majority of Muslims understand freedom; they live in democracies like Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Turkey and some of the central Asian Nations and to a greater extent Pakistan and Bangladesh constitute over 2/3rds of Muslims. We can hope for and count on them to fight for sanity and freedom to prevail.

However 40% of Muslims live in dictatorships – nearly 45 out of 57 Muslim majority nations are not democracies. Thanks to the internet, they can see what freedom is and hope they will see how to manage. Egypt failed and resorted to authoritarianism again. Tunisia is a shining example of that struggle.

My suggestion; Let people have the freedom to choose. Instead of goddamned “telling” others, let’s learn to “suggest” and show them the benefits of democracy.  Disgusted with dictatorial religious nuts and monarchs, more and more people are choosing to walk away from Islam, I have no problem with that, Quran’s wisdom and the prophet believed in free will, there is no compulsion, let you be who you are, and I am who I am, and let’s figure out how to live and function together with least problems
As a pluralist Muslim committed to cohesive societies, I believe no human has to live in fear of the other, which is the inherent purpose of all religions. If it is their choice to leave Islam, they should exercise their free will with no consequence, but if it’s driven by disgust against Islam by misunderstanding it, then we have to find means to clarify that. Islam is not the problem and don’t blame the bad governance and dictatorial religious leadership on Islam. Knowledge leads to understanding and understanding to acceptance of the uniqueness of each one of us.

Mike Ghouse, a Muslim speaker, activist and thinker committed to a cohesive world and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.

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How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam
Courtesy New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman

THE Islamic State has visibly attracted young Muslims from all over the world to its violent movement to build a caliphate in Iraq and Syria. But here’s what’s less visible — the online backlash against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by young Muslims declaring their opposition to rule by Islamic law, or Shariah, and even proudly avowing their atheism. Nadia Oweidat, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, who tracks how Arab youths use the Internet, says the phenomenon “is mushrooming — the brutality of the Islamic State is exacerbating the issue and even pushing some young Muslims away from Islam.”

On Nov. 24, published a piece on what was trending on Twitter. It began: “A growing social media conversation in Arabic is calling for the implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law, to be abandoned. Discussing religious law is a sensitive topic in many Muslim countries. But on Twitter, a hashtag which translates as ‘why we reject implementing Shariah’ has been used 5,000 times in 24 hours. The conversation is mainly taking place in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The debate is about whether religious law is suitable for the needs of Arab countries and modern legal systems. Dr. Alyaa Gad, an Egyptian doctor living in Switzerland, started the hashtag. ‘I have nothing against religion,’ she tells BBC Trending, but says she is against ‘using it as a political system.’ ”

The BBC added that “many others joined in the conversation, using the hashtag, listing reasons why Arabs and Muslims should abandon Shariah. ‘Because there’s not a single positive example of it bringing justice and equality,’ one man tweeted. … A Saudi woman commented: ‘By adhering to Shariah we are adhering to inhumane laws. Saudi Arabia is saturated with the blood of those executed by Sharia.’ ”

Ismail Mohamed, an Egyptian on a mission to create freedom of conscience there, started a program called “Black Ducks” to offer a space where agnostic and atheist Arabs can speak freely about their right to choose what they believe and resist coercion and misogyny from religious authorities. He is part of a growing Arab Atheists Network. For Arab news written by Arabs that gets right in the face of autocrats and religious extremists also check out

Another voice getting attention is Brother Rachid, a Moroccan who created his own YouTube network to deliver his message of tolerance and to expose examples of intolerance within his former Muslim faith community. (He told me he’s converted to Christianity, preferring its “God of love.”)

In this recent segment on YouTube, which has been viewed 500,000 times, Brother Rachid addressed President Obama:

“Dear Mr. President, I must tell you that you are wrong about ISIL. You said ISIL speaks for no religion. I am a former Muslim. My dad is an imam. I have spent more than 20 years studying Islam. … I can tell you with confidence that ISIL speaks for Islam. … ISIL’s 10,000 members are all Muslims. … They come from different countries and have one common denominator: Islam. They are following Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in every detail. … They have called for a caliphate, which is a central doctrine in Sunni Islam.”

He continued: “I ask you, Mr. President, to stop being politically correct — to call things by their names. ISIL, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Taliban, and their sister brand names, are all made in Islam. Unless the Muslim world deals with Islam and separates religion from state, we will never end this cycle. … If Islam is not the problem, then why is it there are millions of Christians in the Middle East and yet none of them has ever blown up himself to become a martyr, even though they live under the same economic and political circumstances and even worse? … Mr. President, if you really want to fight terrorism, then fight it at the roots. How many Saudi sheikhs are preaching hatred? How many Islamic channels are indoctrinating people and teaching them violence from the Quran and the hadith? … How many Islamic schools are producing generations of teachers and students who believe in jihad and martyrdom and fighting the infidels?”

ISIS, by claiming to speak for all Muslims — and by promoting a puritanical form of Islam that takes present-day, Saudi-funded, madrassa indoctrination to its logical political conclusion — has blown the lid off some long simmering frustrations in the Arab Muslim world.

As an outsider, I can’t say how widespread this is. But clearly there is a significant group of Muslims who feel that their government-backed preachers and religious hierarchies have handed them a brand of Islam that does not speak to them. These same authorities have also denied them the critical thinking tools and religious space to imagine new interpretations. So a few, like Brother Rachid, leave Islam for a different faith and invite others to come along. And some seem to be quietly detaching from religion entirely — fed up with being patronized by politically correct Westerners telling them what Islam is not and with being tyrannized by self-appointed Islamist authoritarians telling them what Islam is. Now that the Internet has created free, safe, alternative spaces and platforms to discuss these issues, outside the mosques and government-owned media, this war of ideas is on.

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