This was published on The Aussie Mossie blog on 24 February 2006.
No time to whinge ...
My immediate response to the comments on Muslims and Australian values [made by former PM John Howard and former Treasurer Peter Costello] was shock, dismay and disgust. It made me sick in the stomach that 2 prominent political leaders could express such ignorance on fundamental Islamic concepts such as sharia and jihad.
Of course, we all know they are doing this as a diversion to other emerging issues and scandals. But I think Muslims need to also consider why they can get away with expressing such divisive views.
The fact is that probably most Australians agree with the views expressed by Messrs Howard and Costello. Aussie Muslims know that Costello’s remarks on sharia evidenced near-chronic ignorance on his part.
They also illustrate our near-chronic laziness and inability to communicate our values to the broader Australian community. If the broader community understood what sharia really is and what it means to Aussie Muslims, the Howards and Costellos of this world would never be able to use such issues as a successful diversion.
We know that Muslim mobs rioting and burning embassies were being manipulated by their leaders to divert attention away from more pressing issues. Costello and Howard are using the same device in Australia.
Or are they? When was the last time a group of Muslim Australians sat down and explained to Mr Howard what sharia actually means? When was the last time a Muslim group even bothered to invite Mr Costello to one of their functions?
Our disappointment with our political leaders is understandable. But what else can we expect when we allow our fellow Australians to be bombarded with only ignorant views about our faith and cultures?
The time has come for Muslims to come out of the spiritual closet and to be proactive about their religious responsibilities. Our primary religious responsibility in Australia is to inform people about who we are and what we believe.
The Arabic word “dawah” is often used to describe Muslim outreach and educational activities. We know dawah is a religious imperative upon all of us. It is now becoming an imperative for our national security and our social cohesion. We cannot afford to sit back and complain about the ignorance of wedge-creating politicians. Now is not the time to complain. Now is the time to talk and act.
Words © 2006-10 Irfan Yusuf
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