We admire the initiative by the Khatib of Sholakia Eidgah to collect 100,000 signatures in support of an edict against terrorism and militancy.
This will send out an important message through mosques, madrasas, and social media — that Islam does not endorse killing, and that those who engage in terror activities in the name of religion are misguided.
Enlightened religious leaders, by taking a strong stance against militancy, can help make the distinction between religion and extremism, a line which has gotten blurred in the perceptions of many in recent times.
Bangladesh is a secular country, and as such, legal pronouncements should take place in law courts — they should not be in the hands of religious clerics.
Nevertheless, we also value the freedom to practice religion, and the freedom to publicly pronounce religious opinions.
Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, and there is no denying that the opinions of high-ranking Islamic clerics matter, and can influence the ideologies of many.
Many religious leaders across the country are opposed to the ideologies of influential and vocally Islamist political parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami and other even more extreme organisations that purport to speak in the name of Islam, but are often lumped along with them in public perception.
Imams and clerics should rise up and publicly denounce all extremist and intolerant statements, ideologies, and activities of narrow-minded and retrogressive Islamist groups, and take a hard line against all activities that threaten any of our secular freedoms.
The battle against extremism will need allies from all sectors. It won’t do harm if those with religious authority preach democratic and progressive values to move the country forward.
Source: Dhaka Tribune