In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the facts were clear: Charlie was irreverent in its treatment of all that is allegedly holy. If some of its critics thought that its editors and cartoonists were motivated by hate and that they have singled out Islam, a close examination of Charlie’s coverage over the years unequivocally fails to bear out this claim.
- All so-called Abrahamic religions have an embedded element of disdain towards all other faith systems, one that has been clearly and unambiguously articulated in their various holy books as well as by a huge assortment of their favorite scholars and clerics, one that colors popular attitudes and feeds popular stereotypes, even among the self-declared secular segments, and inspires rejection, condescension and downright hate among a select few.
Indeed, no modern reformation can be said to be the real thing unless it tackled the thorny issue of holy texts and infallible figures, and came to terms at one point with their historicity and fallibility. Presently, there are only few works by Muslim authors that have gone down that road, which is why we need to examine the Islamic Reformation as a phenomenon that is still in its preliminary phase.
Neither Arabs nor Muslims have ever constituted an Ummah, nor will they. In itself, that’s not a bad thing. It’s our inability to accept this reality and our insistence on believing in the illusion of Ummah-hood that is the essence of the problem. We desperately need new thinking. Meanwhile, Arab and Muslim majority states and communities will always different priorities that reflect the local socioeconomic realities with which they have to contend, and the political ideologies they espouse. We are not One. We never were. We will never be. Perish the illusion.