An interesting piece in Asharq Alawsat today, doubtlessly written to address the matter of Hamza Kashghari.
The writer, identified as a writer and expert on Islamic affairs, starts out with a call to moderate opinion. He states, correctly, that what goes on in the heart of man is unknowable to other men; only God knows what truly is to be found there. He wastes little time, however, in jumping to the fact that once a person – atheist, apostate, doubter – opens his mouth or acts upon his inner belief, he becomes responsible for people’s reaction to his words or deeds and accountable for them. This, too, is mostly true. If words offend, then words can certainly be used to defend or push back or even severely criticize. Words are not so special that they are immune to other, critical words.
The writer is coming from an intellectual plane where the truth of Islam is obvious, that any questions about it must be for reasons of some sort of enmity. He doesn’t entertain the idea that questions about religion have existed as long as religions have existed. But even here, as long as one keeps one’s mouth shut and fingers off the keyboard, that’s sort of okay; it’s between you and God.
But what, beyond criticism, social opprobrium, and shunning is the ‘correct’ response from society? Here, he doesn’t really venture. Are calls for Kashghari’s death appropriate? If Kashghari repents, and he says that he did err in posting what he did, who is to gainsay him? Wouldn’t it require ‘looking into his heart’ to determine whether his contrition was real? Or here, for this particular sin, does that not matter? Having sinned, he must pay the consequences, never mind what Islam says about forgiveness?
Dr. Al Rekabi errs himself, however, in the conclusion to his piece. He asserts that over the centuries, ‘Islam has only grown stronger.’ Is that actually the case? It’s clear that the number of Muslims has grown around the world, but is that the right measure to use when assessing the ‘strength’ of a religion? I could argue that respect might be a better measure. The actions and deeds of extremists, acting in the name of Islam, whether terrorists or narrow-minded judges have actually damaged Islam, have weakened the respect it has had over the centuries. Showing harsh reaction to things most – or at least much – of the world considers minor, even inconsequential, does not demonstrate the ‘strength’ of Islam. It only shows that it can be used to intimidate and create fear. The ability to create fear is considered strength only in the hands of people like Syria’s Al Assad or the Soviet Union’s Stalin. Maybe they were/are strong? But that kind of strength is not and should not be a goal for people who seek peace in this world or the next.
Atheists must assume their intellectual and social responsibility
Dr. Zein Al Abdeen Al Rekabi
Why do we see the obstinate persistence in reviving the tendency towards atheism? Why is there a drive to resurrect this trend from its grave, after it had been killed and buried by scientific fact, particularly the science of physics?
Before answering this question, I call upon the readers to reflect deeply and intelligently on the following facts:
Firstly, a person’s mind – according to Islam – is safeguarded from inspection and incrimination, for what is in one’s mind always remains “concealed”.