Exclusive Interview - Prof Ebrahim Moosa (2014)
Date: Sunday, 7 December 2014
Venue: Nottingham University, Level 2, Chulan Tower, Kuala Lumpur
The insurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or simply the Islamic State (IS) group in the Middle East has spurred many discussions in the West about the nature of Islam. Bill Maher’s bright statement that Islam has a problem instantly caused a reaction from academicians like Reza Aslan, journalists like Fareed Zakaria or even celebrities like Ben Affleck. Sadly, the presence of the terrorist group operating mainly in the volatile Middle East and the violent methods of its expansion enticed a new wave of Islamophobia and put Muslims in a defensive position.
However judgments based on expressions of certain individuals about the ways they see Islam are at times far from being just to the original spirit of the religion. There can be manifold interpretations and manifestations of faith, and there can be attempts to disqualify those without degrees in Islamic theology from offering their opinions about Islam, but the message of all universal religions will remain the same – peace.
This is basically peace for the communal living, peace in relations between human and nature, peace of soul and mind. Therefore, it is not an issue if Islam or any other universal religion targets peace as its main destination. The problem seems to lie in the psychological, ideological or political deviations that pushed different actors to justify violence while using religion as a tool.
This roundtable discussion will seek to look into the premises of Islam that manifest peace. It will also discuss on whether the sacred texts offer a freedom of interpretation, which allows application the Qur’anic norms in the name of violence. If Islam is a religion of peace, then how could its tenets be interpreted so ugly to justify beheadings of innocent people? The main thing though is what Muslim intellectuals have to offer to counter not only Islamophobic picture but to make changes from within the Muslim society to prevent extremism and promote peace.