September 26, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 579

Reformist Arab Diplomat: 'Are We a Nation that Preaches Morality and Tolerance?'

September 26, 2003
Special Dispatch No. 579

A reformist Arab diplomat who writes under the pseudonym Abu Ahmad Mustafa [1] continued his criticism of Muslim society in a September 13, 2003 article for the London Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. [2] In the article he takes issue with Muslim society's view of life as a transitional stage leading to the hereafter. The following are excerpts from the article:

The Distance Between Words and Deeds

"The religious discourse brainwashing people day and night on the government [and] public... satellite [television] channels is a blatant expression of the backward mentality that does not believe in the other and refuses to coexist with him…

"The calls to hate and kill the other [that come] at the end of each prayer session and at every opportunity are camouflaged with the assertion that we are a tolerant nation that commands promoting virtue and preventing vice. Why then are our deeds so different from our words? In his day, the Saudi philosopher Abdallah Al-Qassimi said many times that 'the greatest distance [between two points] in the world is the distance between an Arab's words and his deeds.'

"We have become accustomed to not asking questions and not searching for the truth, doing so only when this suits our personal desires and motivations. We demand that others adopt the moral standards advocated by Islam, yet we do not implement them at all. We preach love, [yet] we read of a battle waged by a [political] party bearing the name of Allah [against another political party]… The interested parties intervene and call the ones who are killed Shahids. Is there a greater disgrace?

"When someone who murders, spills blood, and slashes the bellies of Palestinian children, women, and the elderly is himself murdered, all lament his death and decorate him with medals of honor and excellence as [a hero] of pan-Arab nationalism. Do we need any more examples?…"

Our Websites Provoke Nausea

"We must examine our history, our books, and our stories with an open mind [and] without hatred of the other. [We] must not refrain from depicting [the other] positively. We have no choice than to do so if we want to create a peaceful society with peace of mind. Anyone who reads with objective eyes our websites, which we have put to such bad use, will be nauseated by the hatred for the other. [These] sites are full of invective and revilement that does not [spare] even the righteous caliphs, who are described with the ugliest of depictions. Under the catchphrase, 'Islam is the solution' [our] websites [are] full of wailing and lamentation for a man killed in a battle that has no connection to religion and whose background has no connection to Islam!"

Islam is Not the Answer

"The answer does not lie in Islam; it is hidden in sick minds brainwashed with hatred for the brethren living nearby and peoples living thousands of miles away.

"What was it that drove a mentally ill man to destroy buildings that housed companies employing people of different religions, among them Muslims, who have no connection whatsoever to his sick ideas and opinions – an act that caused the deaths of some 3,000 innocents?

"[Consider, for example] a country that calls itself Muslim violating the basic rights of its [own] citizens and taking pride in its defense of the rights of Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, and Chechnya! After all, what is the Chechens' story? Didn't we learn [the lesson] from our failure in Afghanistan, and [didn't we] repeat [the failure] yet again in Chechnya?"

Our Battles Are Not the World's Battles

"How can an intelligent person state or assert that we are a nation that preaches love among people [when] in our own home, [we] carry out ugly deeds and are silent about the disgrace?

"Imperialism is not to blame for the contempt for and squandering of our resources on imaginary projects and on compensation for foolish acts. [3] What is to blame is the culture of submission suckled from the clerics of past and from the idols of today. We cannot rid ourselves of [this culture] because our revolutionaries continue to exploit the clerics and use their Fatwasfor their own purposes.

"Throughout the world, people are fighting for [issues such as] improving education, increasing funding for scientific research, and improving infrastructure, while our struggles are connected to the past – not to health, not to education, not to sewage [systems], not to clean water, not to human rights, not to general freedoms, and not to political reform…

"Today's reality is that we live in a situation in which most of our thinking is directed towards what happens after death, [as we] consider [life only] a transitional stage. The importance [of life] is not, in our view, equal to the importance of what [awaits us] in the stage following death. "If that is their solution, may they go in peace..."

[1] For other articles by Mustafa, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 540 "An Arab Diplomat on the Leadership Crisis in the Arab World," and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 377 "An Arab Diplomat on the Need to Replace Jihad With Social Development," An Arab Diplomat on the Need to Replace Jihad With Social Development.

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), September 13, 2003.

[3] A probable reference to the compensation Libya is paying to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie airplane bombing.

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