President of Pakistan is spot on when he says that War On Terror is now Pakistan's war. We do not need threats of attack from US presidential candidate, Barack Obama, because we know that Pakistan is the victim and not perpetuator of terrorism and it is Pakistanis and Pakistanis alone, who have to deal with this matter to save our beloved country. Our policy in this regard, as I often repeated, has to be tailor made to suit our own peculiar circumstances and cannot be dictated by others. Use of force has to be the last resort, must be tempered with dialogue and the strategy has to focus on eliminating breeding grounds for recruitment of terrorists by providing better living opportunities and conditions to people, due education, adaptation of madarssa system with western education and ready access and availability of justice. It is indeed a landmark, not only in terms of strengthening parliamentary democracy, but also in the fight against terrorism that the armed forces are making in camera debriefing to parliamentarians. It is hoped that Parliament as a collective body can now set aside their inherent political differences and party politics and agree on the overall terrorism combating strategy on the basis of a democratic and collective decision. To me one of the major factors of rise in terrorism across the world is the ascendancy of the influence of a large body of intellectuals, also called warriors, who believe that West and Islam are enemies and that a clash between the two is inevitable hence in order to save the west the enemy must be destroyed. People like Bernard Louis, Daniel Pipes, Krawter Kramer and Samuel Huntington urge US to confront Islam now and contain it militarily. The second major reason is admittedly and an inherent fault with Muslim societies including Pakistan in failing to carry out an internal reform and giving up the concept of Ijtihad. On the other hand the majority are of the view that both worlds need to understand and reconcile with each other and if only US and West play a more just role in world politics and impartially resolve issues like those of Palestinians, Kashmiris, Chechens and ratify the wrongs of the past like invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, apologise for allowing atrocities in places like Bosnia, collaborate with Muslim populations rather than their rulers, particularly in economic and educational fields and promote democracy, then the so-called "clash" can be avoided. It is correctly pointed out that after all it was in the days of Islamic Empire that principles of tolerance and living with harmony with all cultures and religions were established. All this may be very true but the fact of the matter remains that the warriors have much more political and media clout in the world and hence the gap between the western and Muslim worlds continues to grow. It is a sad fact however that all is not only the fault of West alone. One key factor which contributes, in my opinion, in a very negative way is not only creating more misunderstanding between the two worlds, but also within the Muslim community itself, is the confusion and lack of clarity on most issues that are modern and relevant to today's age. Muslim societies are in a state of mystification and hence it is difficult not only to build that essential understanding between the two communities, but also as a result of lack of clear guidance, there is ample opportunity for ill-motivated and the wrong kind of people to easily brainwash segments of the society and make them commit acts of terrorism against mankind, all in the name of Islam. One of the most overlooked areas of activity that can play a major role not only in building bridges between Muslim and Western worlds but which is an essential factor for enabling Pakistan to effectively work against terrorism is to carry out Ijtihad of a grand scale within the Muslim community. Ijtihad is the intellectual endeavour to seek solutions of day-to-day matters and in the context of Islamic law, an attempt to interpret sacred tax of Quran and Sunnah and apply them to day-to-day working, akin to the concept of Jihad (physical struggle against aggression) and is the fourth source of commands of Islam. When Muaz Bin Jabal was going to Yemen as Hakim, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) asked him how he will make his decisions: "by the book of God," Jabal replied. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him how will you judge if you don't find the concerned matter there. He replied, "By traditions of the Prophet." Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) then asked him and if you don't find it there. Jabal replied, "Then I will judge by Ijtihad (by my own understanding)." Upon this Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) praised Allah and showed his appreciation for Muaz. This established the basis of Ijtihad in Islam. Clearly under this concept one cannot make new laws contrary to what is in the Holy Quran but at the same time there is no prohibition and in fact only encouragement for innovation and reinterpretation. One of the key reasons for Islamic societies' rise to power was this development of the civilisation through reasoning and a major cause for the fall from great heights was when Muslim societies closed the gates of Ijtihad. Ijtihad fell out of practice mainly due to the efforts of the Ashrite Theologians from the 12th century who saw it as "leading to errors of over confidence in judgements" since the time of Al-Ghazali. In the words of Joseph Schacht, Professor of Islamics at Columbia University, New York: "A consensus gradually established itself to the effect that from that time onwards no one could be deemed to have the necessary qualifications for independent reasoning in religious law, and that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation, application, and, at the most, interpretation of the doctrine as it had been laid down once and for all." The decline in Islamic societies was of course augmented by the concept that science, reasoning, poetry, architecture and other educational pursuits were necessarily anti-Islamic. Progress began to be viewed as something contrary to Islam. Over time practices and procedures unconnected with Islam started acquiring status equivalent to principles of Islam and the lack of education, in particular the lack of discussion on issues, led to different anti-Islamic practices being followed by Muslim societies all over the world. Take the example of Pakistan, honour killings and traditions like Vani have acquired almost religious sanctity. As a result of confusions even dealings with the West are considered and believed by many to be contrary to the principles of Islam. It is therefore extremely necessary to go back to the drawing board and differentiate between the behaviour that Islam propagates and practices followed by some Muslims. It is correctly said, "Every human being views things differently and differences get resolved through discourse. If there is only one interpretation, it results in dictatorship, dogmatism and monism. Divergence is in fact a mercy from God." There is immense room for Muslims to interpret the Holy Quran and apply it on different situations. Tis surely is the right way to ensure that Islam and Muslim communities reform with the times in a positive way which augments rather than diminishes the spirit of Islam. Clearly modernity does not mean adopting Western culture and habits but what is proposed is adoption of same spirit of enquiry and zest for knowledge. It is correctly said that Ijtihad is about "freedom of thought, rational thinking and the quest for truth through an epistemology covering science, rationalism, human experience, critical thinking and so on." It is time to allow Ibn-e-Sina, Ibn-e-Rushad, Al-Farabi, Al-Baruni and Al-Haytham, scientists, philosophers and jurists of Islam's golden age to be allowed to work with freedom and revive, revitalise and restore Islamic civilisation. According to Mr M A M Khan, "Islamic modernists have been trying, since the time of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the great Muslim reformer of the 19th century, to re-instill a sense of the value of knowledge and an appreciation for science and philosophical inquiry. There is no research institution worthy of recognition in this way in the entire Muslim world." Muslims must learn that science and religion can be bridged and that Islam has nothing to fear from reason and therefore Ijtihad is the only option which will open the hearts and minds of the Muslims. According to Ibn Khaldun, the great 14th century Arab historian and philosopher, "Ijtihad indeed is the engine of civilisation." Mr M.A.M. Khan in his theory has also puts it well that "Islamic reformation can be understood into two different ways. It can mean a reform of society to bring it back to what have been considered Islamic norms and values...the other reform strategy is to question the existing understanding of Muslims and seek to articulate a reformed understanding...." With these two kinds of Islamic reforms it is clear that Muslims can indeed modernise without in any manner "de-Islamising" or losing their traditions and cultures. Indeed culture and Islam are distinguishable and Muslim societies will retain their Islamic essence and can reform "dysfunctional cultural habits that hinder development, progress, equality and prosperity." The challenges for Muslims today are to adopt whole-heartedly the concepts of "democracy, modernity and globalisation" without cutting the "umbilical cord to the heavens." Indeed the Holy Quran's principles of consultation add to the democratic traditions of the Islamic world. The western warriors have at least in the case of Pakistan been proved wrong when they said that democracy and Islam are incompatible. Let Pakistan now be the first one to go back to the drawing board and carry out the exercise of Ijtihad and become the beacon light for the Muslim Ummah. Let us prove to the world that Islam is not about the three Ss. It is not "stayed, stale or static." Indeed Ijtihad is the method through which the gap between message and meaning is closed. Indeed it is only through this method of Ijtihad that the gap between message and meaning in today's world can be closed. The writer is an advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan E-mail: mnz@nexlinx.net.pk