“A picture is worth a thousand words” is an oft- quoted phrase, but amid recent events, these words hold an unprecedented relevance.
In the aftermath of the latest terrorist attack in London, a photograph emerged of a Muslim woman walking by, seemingly oblivious to the chaos and death around her.
In case this image wasn’t seen when you clicked on this article, here it is again.
Predictably, people who shared this extraordinary image have been denounced as ‘racists’ and ‘Islamophobes’.
But in fairness, this photo is not necessarily about the Muslim woman pictured, or even the London attack specifically.
As for all we know, the camera might have taken the photo at an unlucky moment for the woman pictured. She may indeed be very stressed about the events around her, in ways that a single photograph might not show.
In truth, the reason this photo has gone viral comes down to its semblance to real life, and the systematic, ongoing lack of Muslim involvement in confronting Islamic terror.
While lip- service Islamic apologism is comforting for some, when was the last time any prominent Muslim comprehensively confronted the evils of Islamic terrorism?
It is one thing for Muslims not to engage in acts of terror, be directly connected with terrorists, or to reject acts of terrorism every time they occur.
But it is another thing to fundamentally challenge the theological grounds justifying the global jihad, which currently nil to no Muslims in positions of power are doing.
This is crucial as for terrorism to be defeated in the hearts and minds of Muslims, Islamic leaders need to condemn the causative factors behind such incidents.
These include rejecting large part of the life of Muhammad and his jihadist vision for Islam, as outlined in the Quran and hadiths.
Until Muslim leaders have the courage to pronounce their religious texts incompatible with modern times, Islamic terrorists will continue to hold substantial legitimacy in the face of useless de- radicalization initiatives.
The Muslim community promulgating a false victimhood narrative during times of terrorism is another trend which needs to stop. Of course, no reasonable person wants to see Muslims harassed, persecuted and bullied because of their religion.
But by the same token, there is a tendency among some Islamic circles to purport victimhood, even in the immediate aftermath of vicious brutalities directed against disbelievers.
And even worse than that, is the pattern of likening intellectually- driven critics of Islam to uneducated bigots, via the manipulative slur ‘Islamophobia’.
Of course, not all Muslims are engaging in this type of behaviour, but when Islamophobia is mentioned at current levels the intentions for some appear clear: many mainstream Muslims are more offended by hurtful things crazed individuals might say, than they are by murderous acts of Islamic terrorism.
Put simply, Muslim leaders have been inadequate in countering Islamic extremism, and the incredible photo is a metaphor for this historic incompetence.
Regardless of its size and scope, no problem can ever cease to exist, until the proper causes are identified and the right remedies applied.
Therefore, if mainstream Muslims want the best for themselves and for the non- Muslim world, they will seek alternatives, and discourage literalist interpretations of their own faith.