Turns out there have been many nonviolent campaigns and leaders in the Muslim world. Shh! What if word gets out?
Stephen Zunes, et al., (1999) chronicled several such movements, Maria Stephan (2009) edited a book about such struggles, and many have written volumes about Badshah Khan, the great Islamic Pashtun leader whose campaigns were founded in Quranic teachings and whose 100,000 Servants of God were sworn to nonviolence. Michael Shank (2011) writes about several Islamic nonviolent movements and notes this about Khan in particular:
Khan was intentional about sourcing his nonviolent teachings and inspiration in the Koran, a practice his grandson Asfandyar Wali Khan continues to this day as head of the Awami National Party in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier (recently renamed Khyber- Pakhtunkwa). The preamble to the party’s platform, in fact, is an unequivocal commitment to the principles of nonviolence, the teachings of Khan and the cause of the Khidmatgars.
Why is it so imperative to keep these Muslims marginalized? Several related reasons:
1. It is confusing to the American people, since our tax dollars largely go to making war on Muslims these days, and our cooperation at some level is required.
2. The most grotesquely profitable industry is the conflict industry, which is reliant upon the enemy image of Islam.
3. If it bleeds, it leads. Peaceful Muslims are boring. Fanatical fundies with suicidal mania are great press.
4. Much of the world's oil is inconveniently under Muslim countries and we cannot be soft and sympathetic toward people whose resources we need to exploit and extract, with or without their consent.
So, when we grow up as a culture, we can get past all these reasons and think a bit more critically. But, like the daily reports from DoD on the young US members of the armed forces who are killed in these wars, civilizations who make poor choices about what they are willing to do can fail to survive. Our immaturity about all this is literally an existential threat. Will we address it in time?
Shank, M. (2011). Islam's Nonviolent Tradition. Nation, 292(20), 24-25. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
Stephan, Maria J. (Ed.) (2009). Civilian jihad: Nonviolent struggle, democratization, and governance in the Middle East. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Zunes, Stephen, Kurtz, Lester R., & Asher Sarah B. (1999). Nonviolent social movements: A geographical perspective. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers.