It is time for us Muslims to take ownership of our faith by moving beyond empty condemnations and ensuring that Islamo-fascists--those who seek to create an Islamic totalitarian theocracy through the use of any and all means--have no place in our world. These fascists are Muslims who have hijacked and twisted our faith. They subscribe to a medieval code where the ends justify the means. And you can hear their rhetoric not only in the Middle East; radical imams preach in London and in many cities in the U.S. Cutting off this lifeblood and its ideology should be the focus of our collective Muslim response.
Many well-meaning Muslims react to news about Muslim terrorists by insisting that anyone who commits violent acts is, by definition, not part of Islam. But who are we fooling? The Islamo-fascists did not come out of thin air. They use our scripture, our prayers, our language, and our tradition--and they come from somewhere within our community. These killers are doing incomprehensibly evil actions across the world in the name of our religion, and because of that, my fellow Muslims and I should act now--decisively, publicly, and in tandem with our leadership--against Islamo-fascism. To argue whether they are Muslims or not--and what is a 'true' Islamic society--is only deflection and denial.
Every time I experience the joy and spirituality of joining with my Muslim brothers and sisters in devotional prayer, I feel a perfect harmony of thought and movement as we bow and say God's praises together. Islam is a religion of community, and I know I can walk into any mosque in the world and join the congregation in reciting the same prayers I say at home. While my faith is very personal, without that communal energy, my religion is not complete.
But with spiritual fulfillment and community connection come responsibility. Moderate, moral Muslims--that is to say, the vast majority of the world's Muslims--may see these Islamo-fascists as far removed from our reality; however the unforgiving truth is that we are responsible as a group for our weakest and also for our most corrupt and deranged. Islam has no formal clergy, and so it falls to the community as a whole, all of us, to take on this challenge. Denial serves nothing but the empty ego and is destined to fail. As Muslims we must help bring these barbaric Islamists to justice and assist in dismantling the systems that create them.
How many wake-up calls do we need? Most faith groups have at some point in their histories seen their compasses falter, as deviants exploited their altars. However, those same faith groups have also eventually assumed responsibility for exposing, exterminating, and marginalizing the cancers who are their own. The need for Muslims to act now cannot be overstated, for it becomes exponentially more difficult after each horrific bombing. My fellow Muslims must immediately--and in large numbers--become proactive in the war against militant Islamists, or soon it may be too late. We owe it to the nations in which we live, as well as to our truly pluralistic faith.
Many people ask what they or their communities could possibly do to counter a cancer like Islamo-fascism. But all Muslims--and all Muslim organizations--can play an active role in this battle.