Pakistan attack merits outcry from Muslim leaders.
Summary: The twin suicide blasts that rocked a Pakistani university campus this week are the latest in a series of comparable incidents attributed to Islamic fundamentalists that have again and again claimed innocent lives throughout the Muslim world in recent years. In Iraq, Somalia, and in other parts of the world in which a peaceful Islam once thrived, the raw cruelty of those attacks, which are undoubtedly contrary to the principles of Islam.
The twin suicide blasts that rocked a Pakistani university campus this week are the latest in a series of comparable incidents attributed to Islamic fundamentalists that have again and again claimed innocent lives throughout the Muslim world in recent years.
In Iraq, Somalia, and in other parts of the world in which a peaceful Islam once thrived, the raw cruelty of those attacks, which are undoubtedly contrary to the principles of Islam, regularly remind us that confronting the radical elements within the Muslim community is an urgent necessity.
In this case, the specific targeting of an academic institution strikes a severe blow to a central pillar of Islam: education.
Despite the efforts of many Islamic radicals to disrupt educational institutions in scores of societies, it is widely accepted that Islam sanctions the importance of education; the prophet famously called on the religion's followers to seek knowledge even if that journey brought them as far as China.
The legacy of Islam, which brought together the right conditions for the members of those societies to develop knowledge, also serves as a witness to the importance of this belief for Muslims historically. At a time when much of the world lived in darkness, it was Islamic tenets that enlightened it by making discoveries in the fields of science and literature.
Islam calls for the best in each of its followers. Yet, as hundreds of thousands of Pakistani students are forced out of their schools and universities -- they are now closed nationwide as a result of Tuesday's attacks -- an entire generation of students suffers from the concrete consequences of Islam's misinterpretation by a handful of individuals.
Islam is undoubtedly a religion of forgiveness and tolerance, but the actions of the few extremists that struck in Pakistan on Tuesday give a smear to the entirety of its community.
Tuesday's attacks call for a widespread outcry from Muslim leaders worldwide. But objecting with words is not enough; those leaders must also engage in an active reversal of the deterioration of the values they profess in the name of Islam.
As they have fought to eradicate radical mantras, governments have unfortunately too often relied on force. But force can only address flagrant symptoms.
Muslim leaders are also burdened with the obligation to fight radicalism by spreading Islam's true sense. Their sustained dialogue should be given an equal importance as coercive measures, if not more.
Short of these measures, the achievements of the peaceful majority will constantly be undermined by the fanaticism of the few.
Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.
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|Publication:||The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)|
|Date:||Oct 22, 2009|
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