A prominent Islamic scholar has said that Muslims around the world are looking up to Turkey for role of a leader, even though it is facing its own challenges.
“Turkey is strategically positioned. It has its own challenges. But at the moment, a lot of people look up to Turkey and they would expect it to take some role of leadership,” well-known cleric from Zimbabwe, Mufti Menk told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
Referring to situation in Syria, Yemen and Libya, he said the help is not coming to the extent to satisfy the hearts.
Menk, who is also Grand Mufti of Zimbabwe, described Daesh, a terror group, whose actions have harmed Muslims.
“The terror group is not made up of scholars... They think the best way to help is to go and blow themselves up, not realizing that every time it has happened, it has affected the Muslims negatively,” he added.
Referring to Easter bombings in Sri Lanka, Menk said it was after all the Muslim community in the island country that got affected badly. “Every time something like this happens, few people die. But thousands of Muslims get affected. Laws are changed, niqab, hijab is banned, people cannot go to offer prayers,” he added. He described the phenomenon as reverse extremism.
“Unfortunately, the spotlight is on the scholars of Islam. People are trying to blame them for bad things. But I tell you, majority of these extremist elements are not scholars,” Menk stressed.
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Use education to fight hate
Warning against hate-mongering and promotion of fear, the Islamic scholar said, “we need to educate [people]. Even in the West, there are people who think that all Muslims are bad. That is as bad as saying all humanity is bad.”
"Everyone needs to make it his/her business to educate others to reach out to people, to be kind, so that we can break the bricks with which a wrong wall [of hate] is being built,” he said.
Killings breed more killers
“They think by killing, they will get peace. They do not actually realize that by killing, they breed more killers. This is a fact. If you want to make peace, you need to make it in a beautiful way. It is not going to come by killing, destruction. When you destroy a nation, generations for hundreds of years are not going to forgive you. It is going to cause bigger issues,” he explained.
The prominent cleric, who was in Ankara at the invitation of an NGO -- the Asma Kopru International Students Association, also delivered a lecture on the topic: “The key to brotherhood is love”.
Islam not an intolerant religion
Menk also attempted to reject the growing perception in the West that Islam was an intolerant religion. “Christianity, Islam and Judaism, all share quite a similar set of morals and so on,” the cleric added.
Describing extremism, a menace, he said it exists in other religions, too, and even among those, who do not have faiths.
“There are white extremists, right wings and certain group of Muslim, Christians and Jews. It does not make all the Muslims bad,” he argued.
He also dispelled the notion to blame Muslims for all the crimes.
“If anyone thinks the Muslims alone are guilty, they are not right. If anyone thinks Islam is bad, they don’t know what Islam stands for… there are so many crimes and murders at global level that is committed by lot of countries and not by the Muslims,” Menk argued.
Intra-faith dialogue among Muslims necessary
Menk advised Muslims to attend to their intra-faith matters as well and also desist pointing fingers at other sects. He said respecting freedoms of other sects was utmost necessary.
“People are intolerant as they think they are the only ones, who exist and thus, do not respect others. I do not know any sect that does not have an element of extremism in it,” he said.
He said that many sects were guilty of expelling almost everybody else from Islam. “So they are the only ones left in Islam, thereby shrinking Muslim community to few thousands or few millions,” he added.