I have a habit of burning bridges and sinking boats. My impetuous nature causes me to make hasty decisions. To leave a group suddenly. To delete a hundred files. To speak my mind too freely. To be cynical in the midst of a frenzy of adoration. And ultimately, at my turning away, all my companions turn away too, tired of my abrupt reversals. In the end, there is no love lost: better to abandon the impulsive one and his frequent about-turns, as he burns yet another bridge and puts up another wall. Why invest any more time in our ferocious friend, they ask themselves, when he will ultimately just let us down? My friends have my sympathy: I can barely tolerate myself either.
Page 2 of 59
Eight hundred and thirty years ago to the day, on 2 October 1187, Salah al-Din al-Ayubbi liberated Jerusalem from Crusader forces after an 88 year occupation of the city. Muslims everywhere rejoice, dreaming of such a hero for today. The world is awaiting another Salah al-Din, chant the masses: a great warrior; an honest leader; a brave Muslim!
Whenever any kind of crisis occurs in the Muslim community, it becomes clear almost immediately that we are incapable of responding justly. If the person or group accused of wrongdoing is from our own sect, school, madrassa or tariqah — or is simply our friend — we will give them their seventy excuses without a moment’s pause. If not, then not a moment will be wasted in attacking them. We are uninterested in justice. We are only interested in the dominance of our side.
Nearly four years ago I wrote of a vast and complex edifice I had engineered, which towered high above me; my conscience told me to pull it down, but a battle raged within. Over the years and months that followed, I sent in demolition repeatedly, only to build it back up again within weeks or months. What was once a hideous carbuncle became normalised, pushing me further and further from my Lord.
Leave him alone with his heresies, they say. Banish him; send him away. Ignore him and do not reply. He has gone too far this time. Don’t feed the opinionated troll, who knows not of what he speaks. Yes, it’s lonely being the heretic of your time. Be silent, they demand. Be quiet.
If only I had not opened that door: to possibilities previously ignored.