November 16, 2015

O Muslims, you are late

Ekrem Dumanlı

The legitimacy of terrorist acts was raised by the Muslim world first with respect to the Palestinian issue.

Some endorsed suicide attacks by young Palestinians who failed to come up with a solution against Israel and who were moved by despair and defeatism. According to this religious endorsement (fatwa), a "mujahid" could conduct a suicide attack and would be rewarded in Paradise.

How could suicide attacks be justified in religious terms? Why did the Muslim world fail to raise a total objection to this fatwa? Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of the Muslim world didn't have the mindset to disown those bloody massacres. Today, there are many Muslims who cannot condemn terrorism without any reservation... Many Islamic scholars have been unable to say that suicide attacks are not Islamic.

It must be noted with emphasis that no one has rejected the fatwa for waging a holy war through terrorist methods as harshly as Fethullah Gülen has done. Gülen uses the basic principles of Islam for his objections. For Gülen, if a person carries out a suicide attack, then she/he is a murderer. Thus, he argued, a suicide bomber not only dies on this Earth, but also will be punished in the Hereafter for mass-murder.

When Gülen expressed this clear attitude, the Muslim world was not aware of the problem this terrorist method would cause. At that time, he was harshly criticized and faced unthinkable allegations. Today's political Islamists who say that it is wrong to associate Islam with terrorism now hurl the most severe criticism and charges at Gülen, declaring him as the enemy of the jihad. Unfortunately, the Muslim world didn't condemn the terrorist acts that started in the mid-1990s, and Gülen was alone then.

Speaking to Nuriye Akman in 2004, Gülen said, "I hate Osama bin Laden because he has stained Islam's luminous face." Gülen's attitude was very clear. He implied that by killing innocent civilians through terrorist acts and violating human rights, bin Laden and his organization caused Islam to be identified with terrorism.

To our dismay, many Islamic movements failed to take heed of Gülen's concerns. In particular, political Islamists were always sympathetic toward radical groups. On the right-wing, there were occasional but weak reactions to radicalism. The clearest and strongest reaction came from Gülen.

In fact, the 9/11 attacks were a serious test for the Muslim world. The attacks on the World Trade Center killed thousands of civilians. And the opinion leaders of the Muslim world, again, failed to raise sufficient strong reactions. Gülen, on the other hand, published a letter of condolences in many prestigious US newspapers, condemning terrorism. The majority of political Islamists disapproved of Gülen's move, as usual. If the political Islamists and their opinion leaders had given support to Gülen at the time, the Paris massacre could have been averted, and Muslims would not be treated as terrorists collectively. The ongoing sympathy toward radical organizations translated into a potential danger for the entire Muslim world. Too bad!

In the mid-1990s, Gülen made another move to lend clear and strong support to democracy. For political Islamists, this meant a terrible crime, amounting to a betrayal of Islam. However, this was just what was needed to be done: Stand up for democracy and against all kinds of terrorism...

But ironically enough, the knights of political Islam have come to power and now accuse Gülen of leading a terrorist organization. Who would believe this nonsense? Then people will ask: Why did political Islamists fail to raise objections to violent acts by radical Islamists? And they still refuse to raise their objections to violence in a sincere manner. Of course, their libel will be foiled.

Published on Today's Zaman, 16 November 2015, Monday