Adel Al-Moawdah is down on his luck these days. He has been sidelined by the organisation he led, the Salafist Al-Islah Society when he was removed from heading it, he was not given the guaranteed 2nd Deputy Speaker’s seat in this parliament – while he occupied the 1st Deputy’s seat during the last term, and now he has been branded an apostate by a new group in Bahrain calling itself Ansar Al-Khulafaa (Champions of the Rightly Guided, the 4 who ruled after the Prophet – pbuh).

Weird.

MP Adel Al-Moawdah

Apart from my differences with the good MP, he does not deserve to be branded a “kaffir” – an apostate – by anyone, for if he – a man of religion – is branded so, how would the rest of us be counted?

This of course is a very dangerous situation and it shows that our society – or at least elements in it – have descended to a very dangerous level in which death is their game, and that they happily and lightly apply to anyone who differs with them on opinion or thought.

This phenomenon is what started various wars and tore whole societies asunder, this is what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is what happened too in countries like Saudi, Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, Egypt, India, the Philippines and even the UK with the end result is the disruption of a way of life for the individual and communities because of these very grievous accusations.

This is a dire sickness which must be immediately treated. It is a cancer that should the community and authority leave unchecked, will lead to suicide murderers, bombs and strife to grip our country with untold innocent lives lost. It will completely remove any hope of progress and windows of opportunities from our future.

All for a difference of opinion.

We have a duty now more than ever to propagate the idea of tolerism in our society and that we can do by unashamedly standing up to those who condone violence as a way of life and who are so close-minded that they believe that it is them only who have the exclusive keys to Heaven. Their ideas are not inclusive, but exclusive and based on marginalising everyone else as unworthy; to them if you do not share their particularly thwarted view of life, then you just don’t deserve it.

Is it not high time – as Muslim countries and communities – that we rid ourselves of this mentality of cultural and religious terrorism, should there not be very stringent laws which criminalise this practice and punish those who choose that extremely dangerous weapon against dialogue and cultural understanding?

What does this mentality serve anyway? Accusing people of apostasy because they have “insulted Islam” only proves one thing and one thing only: that Islam is a weak religion that even a personal insult can bring it tumbling down. I don’t think it is, I think that Islam is a great religion which survived for more than 1,400 years and will continue to grow much beyond our own lifetimes – but only if we look at it with fresh eyes and seek the beauty within it and ostracize the violence.

It would not have survived this long had it been “defended” by the wholesale fatwas of apostasy against thinkers, writers and philosophers or even normal individuals. Islam does not need that kind of protection.

And every time we get a furore like this one, or like the wave of objections against the author Salman Rushdie being knighted or a scientist asserting that Earth is actually a sphere or any number of issues deemed “offensive” by the takfiris, Islam does get perceived to be a weak and ailing religion, one whose only method of survival is the killing of its critics!

It’s time for Muslims – in all their guises, disciplines and interpretations – to grow up and stop these continuous unnecessary temper tantrums and their idea of “protecting our noble religion”. It doesn’t need protection. What it needs are courageous people who could re-interpret ancient texts and try to punch holes in it without the fear or death – literally – hanging over their heads.

Our prophet said that a Muslim’s main facet is his mind, which he deemed much more important than all other rituals; isn’t it high time that we engaged ours then?

In closing, I offer my full support to Adel Al-Moawdah against the takfiris in Bahrain and call upon everyone to stand firm against those criminals.

It is high time to reclaim our community and religion back.