From Jihadis to Pioneers

The Flammarion Engraving (Artist Unknown)
The Flammarion Engraving (Artist Unknown)

The Jihadis have given all leaders in the West an excuse to examine developments in our region from the narrow angle of security. But does anyone in his right mind really believe that Jihadis pose an existential threat to anyone, be it Israel, Europe or America? Does the fight against Jihadis truly justify ignoring, if not downright stomping on, the aspirations of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world for freedom, justice and dignity? Apparently it does.

But more than coming as an expression of the global malaise of indifference and parochialism, the Jihadis of today are primarily an expression of a malaise still buried deep within the Muslim psyche. For their presence comes as a testament to our inability as peoples to look more towards the future than the past, and to seek guidance more in the dictates of their minds than in the minds of their ancestors.

To us, remaining true to ourselves continues to tempt us to fall back on traditional ways and values, rather than serving to inspire us to tap into our creative potential. But authenticity is to be found in creativity and originality, not in remaining faithful to a sanctified heritage. The solution we need for our contemporary problems lies in our ability to interact confidently and effectively with the world, finding inspiration in our raw abilities as human beings to come up with original answers and ideas, while stopping our continued reliance on the readymade answers of the yesteryears. The main challenge currently confronting us is to start anew as peoples fearing neither the journey nor the change that comes with it. We need to explore the world again. We need to become pioneers again, pioneers relying solely on their ability to learn on the go to survive and prosper.

We need to start anew. We need less fighting and more learning in our lives. In this day and age, the fight for freedom and justice is synonymous with learning, not Jihad. In doing this, we should be aware that people rarely learn from the past, no matter how hard they try. At best, they can learn the wrong lessons. The real learning process happens when people, eventually, learn from each other, and, more importantly, from their experiences and their mistakes. Indeed, the real lasting lessons that really shape our lives and thinking are the ones we learn from our experiences, and our observations. We need to start experiencing things for ourselves again. We need to bring about an enlightenment of our own.