Written by Nusrat Qadir Chaudhry. She is a national spokeswoman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
Jerusalem. A legendary city anchored in all three of the Abrahamic faiths. A city that unites us spiritually yet sadly divides us politically.
On the heels of the approval of the Travel Ban for six majority Muslim countries to America and a highly controversial display on social media supporting an anti-Muslim group, President Trump’s recent declaration in shifting the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem is needlessly provocative and increases the risk of instability based on perceived injustice. Mr. Trump’s statements, while wearing the colors of the Israeli flag, seemed deliberately rooted in further inflaming an already volatile situation in the Middle East. And with his past demonstration of hostility as his form of diplomacy for countries such as Iran and North Korea, the announcement is suggestive of continued belligerence and desire for warfare.
World leaders should lead efforts towards peace through diplomacy, yet what we are witnessing instead is a path towards destruction with divisive rhetoric so routinely delivered by this current administration. It is common knowledge that Middle East conflict has led to deadly violence and rather than prevent such an action from occurring Mr. Trump has dangerously and recklessly lit the fuse enabling extremists on both sides of the dispute to promote their violent agendas.
Mr. Trump failed to recognize the two-state solution as one that should include Palestine also having Jerusalem as its capital and he has now further distanced the Palestine and Israel peace process with his unilateral statement. His declaration was short on substance lacking a request to end the illegal settlements and void of a concrete plan for the creation of a Palestinian state. Rather than hold out on the move for the embassy until a Palestinian state is created, Mr. Trump carelessly plows forward risking innocent American, Israeli and Palestinian lives should extremists choose to target sensitive locations that could provoke a political warfare response.
Until a proper Middle East peace deal is reached, the status quo should have been maintained in order to keep America as an honest broker in this peace process. Instead, the USA’s declaration has emboldened continued illegal Israeli settlements to be established within Jerusalem and other disputed areas. No one wants any form of extremism to rise from this, yet those inclined towards such actions may now use this declaration as a means to recruit others with a like-mindedness that violence is a solution. The American focus should have been the use of wisdom, fairness, and justice rather than increasing tensions and hatred.
The path towards peace isn’t through provocation nor with a violent response. Muslim nations must also do their part to unite and bring forward true diplomatic relationships with, not only each other but with all governments in power. Muslim division has allowed for those who wish to provoke to succeed and further promote their political agenda with war often their only solution. Those opposing diplomacy will not have a stance if unity is present to demand a peaceful solution.
The current U.S. administration has clearly outlined its bias so it essential that all remaining sensible governments inclusive of Muslim countries, merge and build a path to peace that restricts the use of violence from extremists or any government inhibiting diplomacy. Muslim leadership must not allow emotionally charged Muslims to be held by the reigns of power-hungry clerics who keep the masses ignited with rhetoric that incites violent retaliation and goes against the teachings of True Islam. Despite this antagonistic declaration, Muslims must respond in full accordance with the peaceful teachings of Islam and not allow politics to tip them into acting against their faith’s guidance.
America should reconsider its position to allow an opportunity for fairness in negotiations and the application of justice to occur. This can occur by insisting that the settlements cease in order for the U.S. embassy shift to proceed and that a two-state shared Jerusalem capital will ultimately be the best home for the American embassy.
Mr. Trump should get beyond a five-minute political victory that solely rallies his base and instead promote a victory that leads to everlasting peace. Listening to American allies as well as prominent spiritual leaders would give him the guidance needed to reach the Middle East harmony we all desire. The Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad has wisely stated that “governments should be careful because the world is extremely volatile and so they should not make any policy that can inflame the situation. The key is to act with justice and fairness.”
His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad has also keenly reminded the world that “Muslims believe that prophets of God were sent to all nations and peoples and as Muslims believe in the truth of them all. Given that prophets were sent by God, how could it be possible that He desired for conflicts and wars between the people of different faiths and beliefs?”
Members of all the Abrahamic faiths should not be persuaded by the passions of politics and hold steadfast to the belief in one God that unites us all as a humanity and live accordingly. A sacred city to three major faiths was never intended to create division. Rather this symbolic city was meant to unite us and we cannot let politics completely abolish any hopes for an amicable Middle East. It is the hope of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as well as peaceful people everywhere that we act on this wisdom and choose the path that leads to peace, not provocation.