Islamic polarization

Yet another attack on religious minorities in Pakistan. On March 15, 2015, two churches were bombed in the Youhanabad area in Pakistan that left ’17 people dead and more than 70 wounded.’

It’s routine news now and people in Pakistan have accepted such attacks as part of their daily lives. Despite all the hue and cry on social media, the sad reality is that extremism is not going down any time soon. An offshoot of the Pakistan Taliban, calling itself Jamatul Ahrar, has said it carried out the attack.

What can these Islamic militants possibly achieve through such heinous acts? To establish the supremacy of Islam? Clearly that is not happening. Neither do these acts encourage non-Muslims, such as Christians, to embrace Islam. If anything, attacks like these make Islam all the more repulsive as an ideology and way of life.

Of course, the so-called moderates will say, this is not Islam. But what is Islam other than that which is practiced? For sure, Islam is not a monolith. However, these terrorists are as much Muslims as the peace-loving Sufis for they both proclaim the Oneness of Allah and finality of Prophet Muhammad.

It’s always difficult to draw the line. This brings me back to the age-old, fundamental question: who is Muslim and who has the right to decide on who a Muslim is?

For the fundamental fanatics, the mainstream moderates, the superstitious Sufis and the liberal secularists are not Muslims. For the liberal secularists and so-called moderates, the fundamental fanatics aren’t. In a previous post, I talked about the increasing polarization between the Muslim and the non-Muslim world. It is interesting to note that there is a growing polarization amongst the Muslims as well: between the violent and non-violent Muslims.

With the way things are going, I suspect that the Muslims will end up in two major factions. One faction will compose of the sympathizers and supporters of the fundamental fanatics, who would be ready to wage a war against the non-Muslims in general and Westerners in particular.  The other faction will actually be those inclined towards peace and liberty. This faction will ultimately end up being not much different from the peace-loving non-Muslims and Westerners in the eyes of the hard-core fanatics. In other words, Islam would become that which is practiced by the Taliban and ISIS and there will be no room for moderate thought. The moderates would cease to exist and the liberals would be all non-Muslims.

This is an extremely scary scenario and I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen. However, the way things are going, it seems highly probable that such a situation may arise. Let’s see how events unfold.

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