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Why Islam?
Nawwaf Kharma, Ph.D.

It is self-evident that Islam is going through a major if not existential crisis. But why should we care? Why should Arabs who after all, are not all Muslim, are not all religious, and have not always been Muslim, care? The answer to this question depends a lot on how one perceives ones Islam. If Islam is perceived as simply a part of ones traditions, traditions that are often, but not always, irrelevant to the advancement of ones life, then in that case, Islam will inevitably get neglected. On the other hand, if one perceives Islam as the main component of the Arabs and the Muslims ethical and spiritual heritage, then Islam becomes very relevant. For, I argue, that life without ethics and morality is unliveable even by the most ardent atheist.

Religion, and Islam is the religion of the Arabs, is not only about prayer, piety, and hijab (the veil); Islam is a fearsome force for social solidarity and cooperation. Can you imagine what the world would be like if people went about persuing their own selfish interests without regard to any social responsibility. It would be chaos, and the powerful would simply devour (i.e. exploit and oppress) the weak which is not very far off from what the situation is like now, in the Arab & Muslim worlds!

If one were among the powerful, then he/she would not need to care, for life is good- for those 10 or 15% of the population. However, a) good things dont last forever, and b) 85-90% of the population is languishing behind. Hence: Morality. If Islam, or rather Muslims, can reinvigorate Islams moral core, and develop concrete tools inspired by its own history (as well as other histories), to make the world a fairer place, then people (or at least 90% of them!) will benefit, materially as well as spiritually.

What does this mean in practical terms? I hear you say. Well, it means that Muslims (Arab & non-Arab alike) need to: a) rediscover the essential purposes of Islam, and this does not happen except through study, and reflection, and b) practice: not only via prayer & hajj (pilgrimage), but also, and most crucially: communal and social action. Actions such as giving sadaqah (alms), speaking the truth, supporting unjustly imprisoned people, participating in cooperatives, and so on. For Islam to live, Muslims must live Islam. And I hold that that is a mutually beneficial cycle.