The Islamic world’s need for self-criticism - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

The Islamic world’s need for self-criticism

The easy part is: “The imperialists, Zionists, outside forces and the superior mind exploited us, pitted us against each other, left us ignorant and caused wars between us.”

So what is the hard part?

That is to ask, “Do we have no fault in the misery we are in?” and to criticize ourselves even if it hurts.


We are discussing this topic at the annual meeting of the Anadolu Platform, whose works on education and migrant policies I like. I am the speaker, but I am more curious about the views of the nongovernmental organization representatives who came from all corners of Turkey. How do the religious people in Turkey view the misery in which the Islamic world is in, and what kind of a solution do they suggest?

I listened to part of the representatives of the Syrian opposition living abroad, who spoke before me. They were also putting the blame on imperialists, those cooperating with them, and on Israel and the U.S.

I wondered, doesn’t the opposition in Syria, who claim they are fighting against the child murderer Assad, being divided into 60 individual pieces, then starting to kill each other, then some entering U.S. lines, have no fault at all?

The painful truth is that most Muslims around the world, similar to the Syrian opposition, try to cover their own sins by putting the blame and sin on someone else.

The Muslims who point to the Zionists, Imperialists, Communists, secret organizations, foreign powers and the superior mind as the reason for their ignorance, misery and savagery and do nothing, are actually giving at least as much harm to the Islamic world as them.

For years, we have continuously been blaming outside forces, talking about their enmity toward the Islamic world and the harm they have done. They were all true. So, what was the result? They grew bigger in our eyes, became undefeatable and we lost our self-confidence.


The Daesh terrorist organization was founded by external forces, this could be right. But those who chop off people’s heads and brutally burn them are not Jewish or Christian, they are the Muslims in this organization.

The Shiite-Sunni war is fueled by outside forces, I am confident about this. But Muslims are the ones killing each other savagely with pleasure and excitement. Those who pull that trigger, put the knife to Muslims’ throats and say the takbir (Allahu Akbar, meaning God is the greatest) while doing this are the Muslims.

Afghanistan was destroyed first by the Russian invasion, then the U.S. invasion. What did the Afghan fighters who won the war against them, with the help of God, do after that? They killed each other, spread the violence, ignorance and chaos, making the country unlivable.

We can’t confess the painful truth. The Islamic world’s biggest enemy is ignorance, not external powers or invaders. All the troubles we are experiencing today, all the fighting, wars, brutality come from ignorance. The superior mind has a game, it has a plan. But what strategy do Muslims have against this?

Who is responsible for the charlatan hodjas, fake sheikhs, superstitious movements, groups that are deep in ignorance, immoral men of God, Muslims who lie, steal, deceive? It is nothing other than increasing ignorance throughout history.


During the conference, I watched with interest how the audience shared my views. At one stage, the moderator beside me said, “The Islamic world is the sole alternative to the crisis the West is experiencing.” I objected to this view.

Let alone the Islamic world being an alternative to the West’s civilization crisis, it is not an appealing place to live even for an Afghan refugee. They all want to go to Europe.

Islamic countries are drifting and experiencing such disappointment that people are almost ashamed of being Muslim. And to think that we are an alternative to Western civilization!

I personally define it as:

Current Muslim countries and Muslims can never be an alternative to the deep civilization crisis the West is experiencing. However, in its original form, Islamic thought and its social structure is an alternative. Unfortunately there is no Islamic country and community practicing this today, so there are no examples.


 There will be some smarty-pants who interpret what I have written as, “He is whitewashing external forces, he is misleading,” I am sure of it. However, I am calling out to those who are sensible.

Our question is:

What is our blame, our fault in this misery as Muslims? We need people who are going to answer this question bravely.

We need self-criticism strong enough to shake us. The great idea of the Muslims needs change, innovation, reform.

We need brave intelligentsia, intellectuals, scholars, highbrows and men of God.

I can’t bring myself to say it, but Muslims are being dragged toward a medieval atmosphere filled with ignorance. We need to urgently get out of this and wake up from wool-gathering. To achieve this, we first need to begin with ourselves, not external forces.


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