Monday, 5 May 2014

An open letter to my educated Muslim friends

My dear educated Muslim friends,

Why are you so quiet? Yes you – the educated Muslim? Why do you let your extremist counterparts create such fear, distrust and misunderstanding about your religion? Why? Why is it so difficult for you to speak up? Support your girls? Dispel myths about Islam? Help your community progress? It’s all very nice of you to ‘like’ pictures of Allah and praying kids on Facebook, but why do I never see you supporting a cause? What stops you?

This letter comes in the wake of the kidnapping of over 200 young Nigerian girls from a boarding school, reportedly by a radical Islamic group Boko Haram, that opposes western education, particularly education of women, who they believe are meant to stay at home and raise children. These ambitious young women, if not rescued, might end up working as sex slaves for militants, sold for less than $12 each.

But it’s not this incident alone that causes me to question you. I have had this question for very long now. Why is it that Taliban is allowed to grow, and proliferate and terrorise your youth? Thank God Malala is still alive, and fighting for her cause. But why do you allow such atrocities to happen?  Why were women’s faces disfigured for wearing make-up? Why is education such a bane? Why is progress seen as a threat? Why do Muslim nations have terrorist camps? Why do these states protect and hide militants like Bin-Laden? Why is there no outrage among you when extremists carry out such heinous crimes and violations of basic human rights? Does your blood not boil? Don’t you want to protect your children, your sisters, your mothers?

It’s no secret that the whole world fears and distrusts the Muslim community. Ask any parent, and they will say, ‘marry anyone but a Muslim’. Why do you let this happen to your community?

I was brought up in a Sikh household, schooled in a Convent, and married in a Hindu household. I have grown up with a very high tolerance and acceptance of people of all the religions, caste, colour and kinds. Some of my best friends have been Muslims. And all of them, mostly girls, have gone on to complete Masters, PhD’s and medical studies. You guys are awesome. Your etiquette, your language, manners, food, spirituality, everything is impeccable. I find it hard to believe that a religion that has such polite, gentle and nice people could preach so much violence.

It is out of this great concern for you that I write this letter. I have grown up believing that all religions teach us the same thing. Being human, just and fair. That we must do good, and love everyone. And that’s the only path to salvation. And I believe that Islam must do the same - please tell me if I’m wrong.

You are educated. And your education empowers you. Please use this power. Read the Holy Quran yourself. Understand. Teach it to the others. Preach the message of love that you carry in your hearts. Educate your girls. Empower them. Emancipate them. Stop the consanguineous marriages, the polygamy, the exploitation of young girls. Dress modestly, but don’t bind your women. Don’t punish them for wanting to look good. Bring healthcare to your people’s doorstep. Dispel the myth and superstition that abounds your community. Build schools. Teach science, math, philosophy, arts, music, technology. Chuck the jihadists. And the clerics who preach hatred.

Please build the trust that the world has lost in you. You are responsible for the progress of your community, not the extremist that kills thousands after being brainwashed. The onus lies on you – the educated Muslim.

Yours sincerely,

A concerned friend

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