I don’t know if these activists and imams, with their tens of thousands of online followers, are truly serious. Everywhere, without fail, they see a grand conspiracy, ordinary men and women deprived of all agency to affect their own destiny.
Perhaps it is because of my intimate familiarity with my lower self that I assume all humans are weak and compromised like me: a complex concoction of emotions and thoughts and behaviours, capable of both immense good and unspeakable evil. Perhaps it is because of my perpetual battle between sincerity and hypocrisy, good and bad, truth and dishonesty, that I assume others are engaged in similar battles. Perhaps it is due to my wrestling with addictions, with the ebbing and flowing of faith, with the deceit of the soul, that I assume that this is just the nature of man: imperfect, complicated, imperilled souls. Perhaps that is why I believe that a good man could be so bad, or that a respectful man could be so disrespectful.
But it is clear now that I walk alone, for the masses are being mobilised to believe in an awful conspiracy, established to discredit a holy saviour and innocent man. Leaders, activists and imams are closing ranks, behaving like pious mafia to defend their own, lecturing their followers with definitive knowledge that the truth is clear and doubtless, that they know the intimate secrets of another, and that they can vouch without the slightest misgiving for every act of their companion whether in public or private.
I entertain too at times the possibility or probability of another’s innocence — it always pays to hold a good opinion of your companions — but I don’t for a minute claim to know without a shadow of doubt the facts, reality or certain truth of what they did in private, away from the public gaze. But it is not so for these leaders of men, leading the thousands who refuse to look beyond pious propaganda, to investigate for themselves, research, probe, read widely and ponder deeply. For these leaders and their followers, the answer is always easy: a truly awful conspiracy perpetuated by our enemies, designed to bring down not just one man, but the entire project of Islam in the West.
And perhaps these religious guides are right: after all, their faith is far more impressive than mine, their religious knowledge far more insightful, while I am but a dreadful sinner. Perhaps it is an awful conspiracy, and my probing and research and investigation has simply led me astray. Perhaps it is just as they say, and it is simply the duty of the true Muslim to believe, have faith and trust their leaders’ diagnosis. Perhaps it is so. But I guess I am just too compromised to adopt these simple binaries, that don’t mirror the experience of the life that I live. Too compromised to give myself over to pious propaganda and join the righteous mafia.
If it is true that these perfect men exist, ever living an upright life, may my Lord make me one of them. But, if not, grant that I may return to Him in repentance, taking myself to account for the evil it puts forth, without appealing to the cover of the evil prejudices and machinations of others. May He enable me to hold myself to account, before I am taken to account. May my Lord reform my soul.