There exist two scenarios where no one can hear you scream. The first is of course, in space because there's no oxygen. And the second is on Earth, but only if you're a global Muslim leader condemning ISIS and promoting universal religious freedom.
Such was the result of the landmark address His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, delivered last week in London before 1000 dignitaries, politicians, faith and thought leaders, and academics at the 2014 Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Symposium.
As British journalist Sunny Hundal tweeted, "Ahmadiyya Muslim community Caliph devotes his speech to condemning ISIS in strongest terms tonight."
Conservative British Parliamentary candidate Dan Watkins called it an "Inspiring speech on working for world peace."
Justine Greening, UK's Secretary of State for Internal Development exclaimed, "His Holiness gave a speech that was incredibly powerful that set out all the claims violent groups like ISIS make and then totally demolished them in terms of what the Qur'an actually says. [His Holiness] helped [us] truly understand what true Islam is actually about, and that peace is at the heart of it."
You can listen to the unending praise from attendees here. So what did His Holiness declare that moved these individuals to offer such profuse praise for him and for Islam? And why didn't it get the attention of major media, major newspapers, or major news anchors. Why didn't anti-Islam critics breath a massive sigh of relief? While the picture seems hazy for the second and third questions above, I can clearly answer the first. At the 2014 Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Symposium His Holiness continued his intellectual Jihad of the pen against extremism and intolerance, declaring,
It is never permissible, in any circumstance, to force another person to accept Islam or indeed any religion... All people are free to believe or not to believe. And so when the Holy Prophet was permitted only to convey the message of Islam and nothing further - how then can the so called Muslim leaders of today go beyond this and think they have more power, authority or rights than the Prophet of Islam?
His Holiness additionally looked deeper than the obvious ISIS atrocity, and called out the groups funding ISIS, demanding they be brought to justice,
I would also hereby like to question those people or organizations who claim that Islam is a religion of violence on the basis of the atrocities of the extremist groups. I would ask them to consider how these groups are able to acquire such funds that allow them to continue their extremist activities and warfare for so long? How do they acquire such sophisticated weapons? Do they have arms industries or factories? It is quite obvious that they are receiving the help and support of certain powers. This could be direct support from very oil-rich states or it could be other major powers covertly providing assistance.
And lest anyone think His Holiness is speaking in reactionary terms, on the contrary, His Holiness and his Caliph predecessors have relentlessly championed absolute justice in a long line of peaceful Islamic worldwide Caliphate spanning over a century. His Holiness has specifically lectured on U.S. Capitol Hill, before the British House of Lords, in front of European Parliament, and with countless heads of state. His Holiness has enacted international humanitarian relief efforts in Syria, Gaza, Pakistan, Kashmir, Liberia, Nigeria, and in hundreds of other nations and war-torn lands. His Holiness leads the world's single largest Muslim community -- spanning 206 countries -- that has existed for over 125 years while abhorring all forms of religious violence and terrorism.
Yet, while His Holiness accomplishes far above and beyond what critics and media alike ask when they complain, "Why aren't Muslims combatting extremism," it appears they have not heard him scream during his decade plus in office. Meanwhile, ISIS leader al-baghdadi makes one virulent unsubstantiated statement about Islam and violence and he garners 24/7 media coverage for the past six months.
The double standard is sickening.
So I suppose maybe I've been looking at this all wrong. It appears major media and critics can in fact hear Muslims scream -- but only when they scream threats and vitriol. Words and acts of altruism, compassion, love, tolerance, and pluralism fall on deaf ears.
The picture should appear clearly now. Muslims for peace threaten not only ISIS, but also the critics and media who make a living off promoting fear of ISIS and other extremist groups ascribing to Islam. The problem, therefore, isn't that Muslim leaders aren't speaking out. It is that critics know their future rests on drowning out Muslims for peace. So the next time you ask why peaceful Muslims aren't speaking out -- know that it's a slanted question. Know that we are speaking and acting out against all terrorism, but unfortunately that's not the narrative your media wants you to hear.
And if you're sick of this slanted narrative, then do something about it. Let the world hear you scream.
Written by Qasim Rashid for the Huffington Post
Photo credit: Charity. The script featured in the painting says 'As Salaam', one of the names of Allah. In English it means the source of all peace.