Once again Muslims are bracing for the possibility that our religion will be sullied by an act of nihilistic violence. It is not the least ironic that the terrible incident occurring yesterday on the iconic London Bridge took place on the date that marks the departure of Muhammad Ali from the world. It could well be that this incident is in no way connected to anyone claiming an affiliation with Islam. Even so, the ever increasing number of murders of unsuspecting civilians in western cities, to say nothing of the wholesale slaughter of innocent Muslims in their own lands, by killers claiming affiliations to Muslim organizations forces us to question the kind of Islam these criminals represent?
At this time when we commemorate Ali’s passing from the world, we would do well to contrast these barbarous acts with the Islam Ali came to both embrace and exemplify. Ali’s Islam is not the empty caricature guiding the desperate violence of misguided miscreants whose foul deeds only tear down the edifice they claim to be erecting. Ali’s Islam is not the straw man so easily knocked down and then torn asunder by the burgeoning legions of pseudo-Islamic scholars and self-proclaimed Shariah experts. Ali’s Islam is not the perverse interpretation of small cells of frothing losers waiting for the most opportune inopportune time to “avenge” the deaths of Muslims, killed in far off places by the merchants of mechanized slaughter, by bombing, shooting and now mowing down with motor vehicles, unsuspecting men, women and children in Western metropolises.
Ali’s Islam is the Islam of lofty principles. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of brotherhood. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of charity. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of love. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of peace. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of the vast majority of Muslims who while suffering some of the worst injustices imaginable are still able to smile. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of the multitudes of Muslim poor who can still scrape together a meal to honor their guests, no matter how affluent those guests themselves might be. Ali’s Islam is the Islam of the millions who are fleeing their beloved homelands because they refuse to raise a gun against their fellow human beings. At this time of numbing polarization, rabid hatred, and deadly misunderstandings of Islam and Muslim teachings, it is high time that Ali’s Islam becomes our Islam. This is the need of the hour.