Muslims must stop blaming others for the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism, according to a column Thursday in The Nation, one of Pakistan's largest English language newspapers. Among other things, it slams the tendency to label any critic who connects radicalism with Islam as an "Islamophobe."
"Instead of realizing the facts and the weaknesses that lie within our doctrine, or in our interpretation, Muslims have started playing the blame game. We have been making excuses in order to prove that Islam has nothing to do with extremism," Ammar Anwer, an 18-year-old Muslim who lives in New Zealand, writes in the column.
Muslims are in denial when it comes to Islamic extremism and become "paranoid" whenever someone highlights points they do not wish to hear, Anwer writes.
He draws the distinction between the religion of Islam and those who follow the political ideology of Islamism.
"Islamism is the ideology that promotes the idea of imposing a particular interpretation of Islam over a community," Anwer writes. "Not all Muslims are Islamists but every Islamist believes in Islam (and hence is a Muslim)."
He notes that Muslim Brotherhood members jailed under Egypt's late President Gamal Abdel Nasser coined the term "Islamist," saying they were the true Muslims and Nasser was a disbeliever.
The Islamist interpretation makes imposing Islam on every corner of the world whenever Muslims have the chance a "prime responsibility," Anwer writes. He traces Islamism back to the 14th century Muslim scholar Ibn Tamiyyah, who has inspired numerous Islamic thinkers ever since. Twentieth Century Islamist thinkers such as Syed Abul Al Mawdudi, Sayyid Qutb and Hasan Al-Banna further refined Islamist thought into its current form.
"This interpretation demands control over the entire world. In the last couple of centuries, this school of thought has come to prominence dominating the intellectual thought process and hence cannot be ignored. Jihad is central to this interpretation and the very purpose of jihad according to this school of thought is to spread the dominance of Islam over the world," Anwer writes.
He dismisses common Islamist arguments that blame other factors, such as poverty, for extremism.
"How can poverty make someone throw gay men off a tall building (like Isis does) or deny women their individual rights and freedom?" Anwer writes.
Meanwhile, prominent Muslim terrorists like Osama bin Laden didn't come from a poor family, neither did Pakistani terrorist Saad Aziz, who was involved in a Karachi bus bombing last year. Aziz was well-educated and wasn't poor, but still was radicalized. He notes the same was true of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, responsible for the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
"I think it's time we Muslims stop playing the blame game and start facing up to harsh realities," Anwer concludes.