This is a very crucial juncture in the history of mankind and the issues of hatred, extremism and religious animosity need to be addressed and discussed because, in the final analysis, they are among the main contributors to international, racial and social clashes.
In recent months, the world has witnessed a horrific shape of hatred and extremism spread by Isis, the effects of which are not only limited to Arab countries but are being felt across the world.
The West has also started to realise and acknowledge that this is a war that is actually directly affecting it as well. Yet, this too is being underestimated; the truth is that this is a war against the entire world.
Isis is trying to inflame and incite fear and hatred, practising the worse form of violence and extremism and increasing committing vicious atrocities.
The situation is extremely alarming and has now become a cause of major concern for world leaders because the agenda and objectives of Isis and their so-called Caliph are utterly horrific and barbaric.
It is said that they want to take revenge on the world, conquer territories and nations, forcefully convert the entire world to their ideology and make sharia law (according to their understanding) applicable to each person in every land.
They are punishing and killing people as they please and taking many as captives.
Isis is heavily armed with sophisticated weapons, systems and artillery. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that they could eventually even acquire nuclear armaments too.
In brief, the desperate state of affairs brought about by Isis really seems to be leading us down a path to something that would be much bigger and even more devastating.
Is the world ready to let this extremism and hatred spread and ruin its peace and serenity? If not, are people of the world ready to fight back? Can we win this battle?
I believe that, yes, through collective and selfless efforts we can win this battle and, yes, together we can conquer hatred. Together we have the power to defeat the most hateful acts.
We need to be wary of those who seek to split us apart and spread hatred by attempting to blame peaceful Muslims or the Islamic faith for what these terrorists are doing. Islam should not be associated with their barbaric acts and we have to understand that their aim is not to spread Islam or peace in the world. Their sole purpose is to gain power and spread fear and hatred.
I think there is both a short-term and a long-term way to counter this problem.
There is need to make a distinction between the countries where Isis has spread and Isis itself. The Isis issue should be addressed separately and dealt with collectively.
It is important to target the root cause and not only the outcome of this hatred
The Libyan issue could also be treated separately and it is important to give peace another chance there as well as finding a political solution through dialogue and diplomacy. This would be beneficial both to Libya and to the entire region.
With regard to Isis, it is essential that something is urgently done to stop funds reaching it. It should also be resolved that no country would provide or sell them weapons to its elements and if any State breaches this condition it would face the consequences.
Secondly, the narrative of the people of the region needs to be changed and they should be given adequate information to be able to understand what this is all about.
It should be taken very seriously and we must ensure that this is not a war between religion and secularism, between Islam and West or between Muslims and Christians. This is a battle between good and bad, between supporters of humanity and enemies of humanity and between love and hatred.
Thirdly, the affected and neighbouring Arab and African countries should play their role and the Arab League must also use its influence and abilities at this time of real crisis.
Rather than western countries intervening to remove Isis, the United Nations should send a peacekeeping force to the region. This should consist of only Arab soldiers not to make it appear like some kind of western invasion or a sign of imperialism. A similar suggestion had been made by then Israeli President, Shimon Peres, with regard to the Syrian crisis a few years ago.
Fourthly, it is important to target the root cause and not only the outcome of this hatred. The real long-term solution is to replace the guns and the weapons by pens and books in the entire region and, particularly, in Isis-affected areas, because education is key for the peaceful and prosperous existence of any nation.
Fifthly, moderate and peace-loving political and religious leaders should stand up and guide their people. Their voices should be given weight, as President Barak Obama said: “The world must continue to lift up the voices of Muslim clerics and scholars who teach the true peaceful nature of Islam.”
Lastly, the prayers and unity of us all against every kind of hatred and extremism is crucial. Let’s pray to Almighty God to help us make the world a better place and to conquer extremism and hatred.
Laiq Ahmed Atif is president of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Malta.
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