It’s very common to hear, whenever a terrorist incident happens that bears the hallmarks of Al-Qa’ida, calls for the Muslims to control extremist elements in their own community. I read an article on a UK Usenet forum today, claiming that “the peace loving Muslims throughout the world really need to bring some real pressure to bear on their albeit small minority of fanatical zealots calling for Holy War against The West”. The fact is, the overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose actions like the Madrid bombings. Muslims were killed in that incident and in the Sept 11 attacks, and the people who carry them out clearly don’t care if they kill Muslims. The problem is that the extremists get the most publicity, as when a couple of imams somewhere in Saudi tried to justify the 9/11 attacks. But all Islamic scholars of note condemned them. They were completely against the principles of Islam.
The truth is that Muslims have generally done an awful lot to distance themselves from these people. In some mosques (though not all) membership and meeting rights are restricted to certain sections of the community which works to keep these sorts of people out. Most of the ‘Salafi’ (Wahhabi) mosques in the UK are run by people who are against al-Qa’ida. You can read reams of denunciations of the terrorists on websites like Salafi Publications.
In the Muslim world, most of the governments are anti-Islamic. Islamic teaching and preaching is restricted and this affects both mainstream Muslims and extremists. In fact, the mainstream scholars are often caught in the security clampdowns; the Deoband university in India was reported to have been prohibited from taking on foreign students for ‘security’ reasons, and foreign students were banned from private religious schools in Syria after the Tel Aviv bombings last year. Such clampdowns actually cut off the routes to the genuine scholarship which keeps the youth away from extremists.
On top of this, we have no control over the youths who preach about Khilaafa in the streets in London and elsewhere in the UK. Our imams can stop them preaching in the mosques, but they cannot stop them in the streets (although they can challenge them).
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