The enemy within and without
By : Sabria S. Jawhar
All too often many Muslims lose their way when passing judgment on individuals stricken by tragedy. And Twitter only seems to exacerbate their eagerness to abandon the teachings of Islam by setting the morality bar impossibly high for women.
With the single-mindedness of zealots, these lost souls rip apart a woman’s reputation based on zero evidence of wrongdoing to assert their superiority, yet only to expose their darker impulses. It’s more or less terrorism on Twitter.
Female journalists and female subjects of news articles — whether Muslim or non-Muslim — can speak with authority about the online abused leveled at them from men who have an overdeveloped sense of morality. And this could not be truer than the recent case of a young Saudi woman scholarship student who was stabbed to death in England.
The student was walking to her English-language classes when a knife-wielding man attacked and fatally stabbed her. Police arrested a suspect, but it’s unknown whether the attack was motived by race or religion. Any death such as this is shocking, especially to Saudis who have little experience in random killings or targeted hate crimes in Saudi Arabia. I spent five years in England as a scholarship student and have nothing but good memories of my hosts, but I also fear for the safety of Saudis in England, as the anti-immigration sentiment among the British seems to be growing daily. I am unsure whether England is as safe today as it was when I was there.
But what is truly troubling about this murder is the online fallout among so-called Muslims. As Muslims we must consider that the murder was her fate, her destiny and she is now in a better place. And we can’t deny that she died a martyr because she was performing jihad by taking her journey for knowledge. Seeking knowledge is the cornerstone of Islam.
But many commenters reading the Arabic-language news story reporting the student’s death seemed to have forgotten the basics of their own religion. One young man wrote, “I’m not going to pray for her soul because that’s what happens when you go the West for immorality.” Another said, “May Allah not have mercy on you.”
To these Islamic posers, seeking knowledge and taking the path to self-improvement, and doing so with a brother at her side as a mahram, is not evidence of a good Muslim. Instead, she dared to seek knowledge in a western country, which makes her immoral.
Where do these dark thoughts come from? How do we pass judgment on people we don’t know, and what makes us write comments that are so un-Islamic that one can only blush at the arrogance and ignorance?
We are a religion in crisis and a region in crisis. The online terrorists share the same ideology as their armed brothers in Iraq and Syria. We see some militants lose their moral compass by killing innocents. They kill children. They kill their fellow Muslims and they kill non-Muslims. They destroy mosques and churches. The online cowards hiding behind their avatars engage in the same behavior. If they had a gun and passage to a combat zone, they would happily participate in the slaughter. If one wishes and speaks ill of the dead — a direct contravention of Islam — then they would have no problem leaving the righteous path for a little blood sport.
I fear for the young Saudis abroad because the hijab, carrying soobha or entering mosques makes them easy targets for the Islamophobes. But I fear more the Muslims who are so wrong in their self-righteousness. Those are the ones destroying our religion from the inside.