This year again, a call for reformation and self-edification has been made but what will come out of it? Clearly depressed at the ill-piloted wreck the entire Muslim world has become, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al Sheikh dissuaded followers of Islam as strongly as he could from terrorism and sectarianism and related ills. The question is will the Muslims, specifically those who have gone astray, ever look inwards, or worse do they even realise the need for soul-searching?

Any Muslim who knows the basics of religion knows that slaying one human amounts to slaying a hundred; and so the debate whether Islam is a religion of peace or war is not in doubt. The real problem is how badly and in how many different ways it has been misinterpreted. So far as the stature of Grand Mufti is concerned, who carries out the sacred duty of conducting prayers at the Grand mosque in Mecca, his exhortation favouring peace and shunning terrorism ought to be given preference over those voices relying on hate speech. But such is the extent of sects and schisms that such voices rarely find receptive ears, especially when people are naturally given to seeing rather than listening.

The Grand Mufti also spoke against Western media for corrupting the morals of the faithful. One only hopes this was not an attempt to shrug from the responsibility of the mess the Muslims should themselves accept. He also did not approve of Muslim women espousing women rights and emancipation, as he cautioned that this was a lost path. Aversion to women standing up for their rights is but a cause for concern because at the end of the day, the modern world cannot accept the shackling of women to the condition that they have been bearing for ages, or for that matter the revisionist interpretation of Sharia the Taliban slapped on them during their couple of years’ rule in Kandahar.

This being the 21st century, it will not help drag the world fourteen hundred years back, as many claim to be doing in the name of religion. Simply put, sectarianism means a ‘My Islam is better than yours’ kind of mentality. Maulvis and madrassas who sell hate speech and false teachings, though diametrically opposed to the substance of Islam as once again reiterated by the Grand Mufti, continue to be in vogue. Hope is further shattered when the division is not just confined at the individuals’ personal level, but is also evidenced in Muslims states that brag about belonging to this brand of religion or that. The Muslim world is desperately in need of some self-analysis to set it on a right course. Sadly, for the time being this looks like it is some time away.