The news from Egypt that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on visiting Alexandria recently, was greeted by a crowd chanting “Monica” while throwing tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade did not come as a surprise.
There is nothing outrageous, atrocious, vulgar and violent done on a regular basis in the name of Islam across the Arab-Muslim world that comes as a surprise anymore.
It is neither the infidels, nor the so-called malicious Jews, fork-tongued “white” folks of former colonial-imperial powers and detestable Hindus, who have conspired together in trampling upon and pulverizing the good name of Islam. They could not have done this and succeeded to the extent Muslims have in successfully wrecking their own faith-tradition and culture.
I write this on the eve of Ramadan, the month of fasting and repentance in the Islamic calendar, knowing well from experience that violence and mayhem in the Arab-Muslim world will likely increase during this period.
The reason for this sad situation is simple, and I have been pointing this out in my columns for sometime now. Instead of striving to disentangle their religion from their politics, Muslims have worked hard to fuse the two even more, to believe even more fanatically in the slogan coined by Ayatollah Khomeini that “Islam is politics.”
The result has been predictable, and the situation across the Arab-Muslim world predictably will get worse.
Those most responsible for this worsening situation are the men of learning among Muslims, primarily the imams or religious leaders in Muslim communities, as was Khomeini.
The Qur’an counsels, “Cultivate tolerance, enjoin justice, and avoid the fools,” or instructs, “Do not revile those who invoke others apart from Allah, lest they begin to revile Allah out of malice and ignorance.”
The religious leaders among Muslims have been at the head of mobs across the Arab-Muslim world doing precisely the opposite of what the Qur’an states.
In other words, contrary to Khomeini’s slogan, Islam is about right conduct since the best of people — as the Qur’an mentions, and this is true in any other faith-tradition — are those who behave rightfully.
What is right conduct? It is following the golden rule, and though it might be differently expressed in different traditions its meaning is true and same everywhere.
This brings me back to Hillary Clinton, and reading her words delivered in Alexandria on the occasion of re-opening a U.S. Consulate in that ancient city.
Clinton spoke about Arab Spring, the American experience, and observed that principles of democracy have “to be enshrined not only in the constitution, not only in the institutions of government, but in the hearts and minds of the people.”
Then she stated, “Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority; it is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”
These were brave and truthful words spoken on the eve of Ramadan to people caught in the delirium of their own fanaticism, as they have turned Islam into a religion of bigots and rendered their culture inhospitable to minorities.
Clinton’s words were also a timely reminder for Muslims who need reminding repeatedly that the Qur’an warns God will do away with people who persist in misconduct towards others.