[Published 14 October 2015]
Australia was introduced to a high school chaplain and Muslim community leader Sheikh Wesam Charkawi on one of Australia’s most widely viewed TV shows - Q and A - last Monday evening.
Australians were still trying to come to terms with the shooting murder of a 58- year-old police department accountant by a 15-year-old Muslim youth dressed in black robes shouting “Allahu Akbar” outside NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta some 10 days earlier.
Indeed the Parramatta murder was the third such instance involving Muslims in Australia in the last year - culminating in the loss of three innocent lives and the deaths of the three perpetrators.
Yet Sheikh Charkawi told his audience:
"Our faith teaches to withhold our hands from the breaking the branch of a tree, let alone taking the life of a human being, which equates to taking the life of humanity and saving the life of one amounts to saving the life of all. These are bedrock principles"
The Sheikh’s viewpoint was a revelation - considering the widely held belief that Islam with its Koranic concepts of jihad, martyrdom and forced conversion of non-Muslims was anything but the sanctity-of-life faith portrayed by him.
Sheikh Charkawi in seeking to explain the circumstances of the Parramatta murderer opined:
"I’m seeing a lot of identity issues with the young men and women and I keep hearing from many on the streets and in the schools that I visit that they tell us that we don’t belong. They say that we’re not part of the Australian society, we’re not part of the Australian community, that we’re terrorists, that we’re extremists, that our religion is one that is of destruction and loss of life and so on and so forth. Now, you’ve got to remember that these people were born into the age of terror and they’re being told that they don’t belong. What that leads to is to marginalisation and isolation, and if you add that to the mix of the propaganda that is being put forward by the groups like ISIS, it’s a very dangerous mix and so you see that it requires a whole of society effort and that’s the reality of it."
Left unanswered by the Sheikh was why such marginalisation, isolation and propaganda could lead a 15-year-old Muslim boy to take the life of another human being had he been properly instructed in the bedrock principles of Islam as enunciated by the Sheikh.
Instead the Sheikh tried to pass the buck - stating:
"If we take this issue and we restrict it to the Muslim narrative and we say that this is a Muslim problem, what happens is you can’t then step back and look for other empirical evidence as to any underpinning or driving forces that may be at hand here."
With the greatest respect to the Sheikh it is indeed a Muslim problem resulting from failing to properly educate its adherents from an early age that:
1. the taking of life is contrary to the principles of IslamLet the Australian Muslim community condemn those who seek to violate the sanctity of life in mosques and madrassas as this video recently taken in a mosque in Gaza so chillingly demonstrates.
2. negative attitudes or grievances held by a Muslim cannot be resolved by taking the lives of other Muslims or non-Muslims
3. If the religious instruction afforded Muslims is faith-based on the bedrock principles espoused by the Sheikh — then attempts by Islamic State or other groups to recruit Muslims to their murderous ranks will surely fail.
The silence so far has been deafening.