By Kaleem Kawaja
In the sixth century as the mighty Roman empire and its powerful Byzantine kingdom were crumbling with the immoral and often inhuman treatment of the rulers and powerful people towards the ordinary powerless population in the middleast, Islam sprang up in the harsh northwest corner of Hijaz in the Arab peninsula. In those days the rulers and the powerful treated the ordinary powerless men, women and children with utter contempt and brutality.
In that hard scrabble desert where the powerless victims had no recourse against the inhumanity of the powerful, God sent prophet Mohammad to preach the revolutionary faith of Islam, that debunked the mighty and wealthy and invoked the right of every citizen to justice and fairplay. The prophet and most of his companions were poor people with very modest means. They were neither intellectuals nor skilled in military matters nor possessed any wealth.
When people asked prophet Mohammad to show a miracle to prove that God had sent him as the redeemer, he replied that his miracle was the core message of Islam in Quran, the word of God. He asked them to listen to it and reflect upon it to transform the wretched lives they were trapped in. In less than 50 years practicing that powerful message of Quran the then followers of Islam took over the centuries old mighty kingdoms of Romans, Byzantium and Persians. As the Christian Bible had predicted six hundred years ago, the meek did indeed inherit the earth.
Today the tyrants in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and ISI have unleashed a tyranny in the name of Islam to subjugate the population under their control and to claim that they are superior to all other Muslims. They also claim the right to annihilate, torture and treat like animals all who do not follow their brand of Islam. The intense violence on ordinary helpless civilians most of whom are educated professionals, academics and other contributors to society, has forced more than 6 millions of them to leave their homes, jobs and cities and become refugees living in barren and harsh refugee camps. Families with grandparents, women, children are languishing in these camps for over five years with no end of their misery in sight. There are 2 million refugees in Turkey, 1 million in Jordan, 1.5 million in Lebanon, half a million in Iraq, quarter million in Egypt.
Most of these refugees are practicing Muslims and they are being waylaid and persecuted by those who claim to be better Muslims and better rulers. Every day they violate the core message of Islam that forbids such inhuman behaviour, and yet they claim that everything is fine as they are purifying and improving the Islamic governments. They are indifferent to the continuing misery of 6 million fellow Muslims who are their subjects. The messages of Quran and prophet have gone out the window and holding on to power by any means is the only objective irregardless of the atrocious sufferings of so many millions.
Finally starting a year ago the residents of these refugee camps made an effort to move out and move to countries in Europe that have stable governments and stable economies. Lacking any options, as the international community stopped paying attention to their plight, they took huge risks in travelling with illegal groups of international smugglers, traffickers and organized crime syndicates. Crossing the Medeteranian sea in leaky, overcrowded boats they landed on the shores off southern European countries like Greece, Italy and the Balkan countries. They started moving on land towards the countries of northwestern Europe. Many a tragedies happened with many of them including infant children and their mothers getting killed in the perilous journeys by sea and on land.
A week ago the crisis came to a head as about half a million refugees, including many small children under five years of age, young mothers and aged grandparents in wheelchairs started trekking on foot after crossing Greece, Serbia and Macedonia and tried to cross Hungary in their journey to Austria, Germany, Sweeden and Norway. While the right wing government in Hungary tried to harass them with police action on them, Germany and Scandinavian countries offered asylum to them. In France, United Kingdom, Austria and other countries in western Europe ordinary civilians held massive rallies demanding that their governments stop indifference and give asylum to refugees.
In the name of humanity the governments and ordinary people in the economically strong countries of Germany, Sweeden, Norway and Austria, that are inhabited mostly by Christians, have been most generous in giving asylums and help to the refugees from middleeast who are overwhelmingly Muslim. It is a breathtaking phenomenon indeed that despite the protests of a few right winger Christians in those countries, most peoples and governments there have accepted the principle of humanity over all other aspects of life and are granting asylum and help to the mostly Muslim refugees. Scenes of ordinary European citizens standing on the roadside, passing food, drink and other supplies and shouting Welcome slogans to the harried and helpless refugees were unbelievable to witness.
At the same time the super wealthy Muslim Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait etal have behaved with atrocious arrogance and inhumanely by totally declining to accept a single of the refugees who are also Muslim and Arab. Although the rulers and peoples in these countries often pride in being Muslim and as being the cradle of Islam, even after awful tragedies happened to refugees , they have declined to either accept a single refugee or give any other help to them as millions of them are in a life and death struggle to survive. With such a contrast in their callous behavior towards the refugees and considering their high wealth and low populations, the kind and humanitarian behaviour of countries in western Europe, brings a stark contrast between what is good and what is bad.
One does not have to be a rocket scientist to see that these Muslim countries have lowered the name and image of the Muslim community and Islam in the mud. While at the same time the Christian countries of Europe have glorified the name of Christianity and Christians high in the bright sky of planet earth. I am aware that some Muslims may criticise me for making such a remark. But I want them to think and reflect on the core message of Quran and Islam that places huge emphasis on our personal and collective behaviour vis-a-vis the obligations of Muslims towards humanity and our accountability on that score. No amount of prayers compensate for inhuman arrogance and brutality towards our fellow human beings. So many sublime precepts in Islam are for practicing and not for just repeating like euphemisms. In Quran God has clarified that He is the Sustainer and Lord of the entire mankind from the smallest worm to the mightiest being.
The writer is the executive director of the Association of Indian Muslims of America, Washington DC.