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The world’s two Islams

Ignoring Muslims and the spreading influential religion of Islam is impossible, particularly with the existence of 1.5 billion Muslims and 57 Muslim-majority countries.
Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is divided into sectors and currents, and is at odds with other religions. Despite that, in modern history Muslims have never faced crises like the ones they are confronting now, the most dangerous being their reputation.
A large percentage of people everywhere has started considering Muslims a security, political and cultural problem. As such, demands have evolved from whisperings, to blunt statements, to restrictions on Muslims and considering them undesirable. This is being adopted by politicians and racists, and if they have their way, we will witness an even greater crisis.
It is wrong to ignore the stereotypical image of Islam and Muslims, and the ramifications of public and governmental anger against them.
This needs to be understood and dealt with. Above all, Muslim communities must stop denying the problem and considering reactions as mere prejudice against Islam and Muslims.
Muslims’ real external problems started with Iran’s 1979 revolution, which claimed to defend Islam and Muslims, but with violence, lobbying and crowds.
Before that, Muslims were integrating with other communities in peace, while maintaining their faith and practicing their rituals. However, Tehran wanted to use Islam for its own political gain.

Muslims’ real external problems started with Iran’s 1979 revolution, which claimed to defend Islam and Muslims, but with violence, lobbying and crowds. Before that, Muslims were integrating with other communities in peace, while maintaining their faith and practicing their rituals.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

The ugly images of men wearing turbans, bearing political and religious slogans, and chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Here I come O Khomeini,” are far from the image the world knew of Islam. These stained, scary faces used to hold diplomats hostage against all morals, norms and religions.
This developed a new image of Islam and Muslims as they started to come up with issues that benefit their political struggles, such as transforming an unknown novel published in Britain as a reason to feed hatred against Muslims, despite Iran itself publishing novels and books that have more blasphemy against other Muslims and religions.
Inciting against writer Salman Rushdi, and offering financial rewards to kill him, were part of Iran’s politics. Fabricated events of tracking cartoonists, intellectuals and leaders of other religions started when Iran led crowds like herds while pretending it was defending Islam and Muslim issues, as Al-Qaeda tried to do, giving birth to a bad image of Islam that the world hates today.
A group of extremists in Iran and elsewhere has dug a hole and pushed us into it. That is not our Islam, and we are not expected to defend their Islam, ideologies or issues.
In today’s world there are two Islams: That of Iran and other extremists, and moderate Islam. There is a big difference between the two. We should stand by those who fight the forged Islam and extreme Muslims, as we are the first victims of this “Islam” and “Islamic regimes.”
Now is the time to disown Iran’s Islam, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and all groups that politicize religion. This will benefit Islam and all Muslims. Conflicts between countries and governments of the world are mostly political and nothing to do with religion. We cannot let governments recruit Muslims ideologically for their own political gain, uncaring about the damage this causes. They seek chaos because they know they will lose when peace prevails.

• Abdulrahman Al-Rashed, a veteran columnist, is former general manager of Al Arabiya News Channel and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, where this article was originally published.