Online Exclusive: Letter: Muslim feature awesome

By Arthur JC Schmidt

Editor, the Gauntlet,

[Re: “The Muslim,” Sarah Malik, Nov. 9, 16, and 23, 2006]

In her article series, Ms. Malik expresses a feeling of injustice done to her community, and rightly so in a number of cases. One is also made aware that she sees as incorrect the western world’s perception of her faith and Muslim history. To hear a Muslim voice in these matters is invaluable.

Injustices having been acknowledged, I believe it is in the interest of the common good that individuals and leaders of the Islamic community (Ummah) explain to non-Muslims the apparently theocratic political orientation of their faith tradition. Muslims state that Islam is a way of life, not just a religious belief system. One sees in Islam a form of social governance with an established juridical tradition, ‘Sharia Law’ in its various schools of interpretation. Islam is political in the Western sense by its very nature. There can be no firmly supported separation of ‘Mosque and state’ from a Muslim perspective, though some have tried. Many countries with a Muslim majority are self declared Islamic states or republics. The Ummah the world over struggles to introduce Islamic jurisprudence and governance over its own community and others who accept it as we know from Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, the Philippines, and as proposed in Ontario, etc.

Islamic thought, values and forms of governance in various nations across the globe have an approximate 1,300 year history of development. Let us look to respected 20th and 21st century Islamic nations and individuals as windows into the Islamic mind and will for the future of humanity. For the sake of mutual understanding a deeper exposition of orthodox Qur’anic interpretation and Muslim understanding of individual rights and freedoms, the value of human life and human dignity would be beneficial to all. Hearing voices from the heart of the Islamic cultural sphere, ie. Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, et cetera. would be particularly valuable and is indeed necessary.

It is often stated that Islam means peace. Muslims must take responsibility for clarifying to non-Muslims what peace means from an Islamic perspective and Ms. Malik has taken a valuable step. Secular non-Muslims must recognise that the contemporary Western disregard for religious world views, whatever they be, is no longer a viable manner of looking at issues of global importance. All communities of religious faith in the west must be willing to cooperate for peace and the common good. Coexistence is the only option. Universities should be leading the study into these matters through their departments of political science, sociology, philosophy, religion, et cetera. and I commend the Gauntlet on its openness to the debate.

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