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Islam Vs. Perceived Terrorism

Updated on May 9, 2013

Currently, the negative perception of Islam that prevails in the West is of concerns to many Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists & others as it is creating havoc, misunderstanding, divisions and obstacles in our day to day life, especially in the West.

Recent, on going acts of terrorism seem to have persuaded people of the West to blame Islam and Muslims in general to be responsible for the terrorist activities around the world, irrespective of religious or political agendas. Whenever there is a blast anywhere in the world, the first thing that comes to mind is possible involvement of Muslim extremist group, namely Taliban, Al-Qaeda or other Muslim Organizations. Reason behind the attacks, mostly encircle around religious perception/objectives or Western Foreign Policies and its implication on certain communities or groups.

Though the history of mankind is full of confrontation between the followers of monotheistic faiths i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam; each considering the others as a threat for centuries for the propagation of respective faith or acquisition of land & countries etc. but it had not reached the climax of hate, that exists today, against each other in 21st century.

Consequently, there is a dire need to revisit the issues and find possible resolutions collectively to defuse & eradicate applicable causes that may promote terrorist activities. This is not an easy task to deal with for favourable outcome but people of all faith have responsibility to strive hard for a positive resolution by evaluating, what prompts terrorist activities around the world and what is the root cause of segregation between Muslim and Western world as well as what religious and secular thoughts contribute toward terrorism.

Western Stand

The Western Media seems to propagate the negative image of Islam, especially after the following incidents viz.

  1. Iranian Hostage taking of 1979, followed by subsequent attacks on US Embassies in Africa, Middle East, 9/11 attack on World Trade Centre in New York, 26/11 Mumbai attack on Taj Mahal Hotel, the Wall Street Bombing, London Bombings (7/7) of 2005 and others by a handful of alleged Muslim radical militants and extremists.
  2. The events listed above gave an edge to the West in proclaiming that slam is the most misunderstood, misrepresented and aggressive religion in the world that promotes terrorism in the name of Jihad among its followers,
  3. Followers of Islam are very intolerant, barbaric & biased people on the planet.
  4. Islam is a faith of fundamentalists, extremists and radical Muslims who pose threat to the western security as they are at the forefront of killing innocent people through suicide bombings and other terrorist activities.
  5. Islam is bloodiest religion that teach Muslims to fight against the non-believers until they accept Islam and if not kill them.

Conspicuously, people of the West have reasons to criticize Islam due to the on going terrorist activities mostly against US, mind set of terrorists and increased visibility of Islam in the West. Often, questions are asked, why Muslims are against Christian and Jews and why the radical Muslims hate them so much that some extremists would like to scarify their own lives in committing atrocities in the name of Jihad?

Western Responsibilities

In response, one may like to know what the West is doing and contributing towards instigating terrorism. West does not seem to investigate, neutrally, probable causes of attacks but often jump to conclude & label Muslims behind the attacks without doing forensic analysis to conclude firmly regarding what prompted terrorists to commit the heinous crimes, scarifying their own lives too. No one will dispute that, suicide operational tactics are extremely condemnable & regrettable heinous crime that not only kills innocent people but defame Islam creating doubts about the peaceful stature of Muslims in general.

Suicide attacks based on political objectives or deprivation of certain segment of human race, should be addressed for resolution, by the concerned parties.

The West has taken a united front to fight alleged Muslim groups in the name of "war on terror", rather than addressing their actions and foreign policies that alienate and label Muslims, solely responsible for the attacks. This attitude does not solves the problem for a positive outcome rather provoke all those who are deprived of their genuine rights, to take retaliatory actions that may include suicide bombing etc.

The West can contribute effectively to eliminate terrorism instigated by political conflicts by adopting unbiased and transparent foreign policies towards all nations and especially towards Muslims. Imperialist & capitalists contributions toward humanity be questioned to rectify loop-holes and lapses. Morality and social ethics should be the same for all across the human spectrum. Justifying retention of nuclear arsenals by the nuclear states to ensure safe security and denying the right of non-nuclear states who are in pursuit of acquiring the same as deterunt are out of phase and absurd. All nuclear states should disarm nuclear stocks first before asking other to refrain from acquiring WMD including nuclear arsenals.

Palestine & Kashmir issues are in pending for decades and the West is doing nothing concrete except lip service to oppose new establishment but in reality supporting Israel wholeheartedly in its pursuit of building establishment and denying full autonomy to the Palestinians. This on going struggle for freedom with no positive outcome is causing frustration and promoting terrorist activities to convey their demand for resolution. Political issues like Palestine, Kashmir and others need to be resolved at the earliest to defuse upsurge of terrorist activities.

Re-structuring UNO

UNO that came into existence for resolving political disputes among nations but has failed to resolve on going issues like Palestine, Kashmir and many other, which are still in pending causing on going problem disturbing peace.

UNO should be restructured to abolish right of veto that some founding members have to avoid defeating critical resolution and all political conflicts be resolved on the basis of majority vote.

Muslims Prospective

Islam is a religion of peace and it has nothing to do with these malicious, barbaric and rebellious acts that kill innocent people. Islam forbid and consider killing of innocent person a great sin and those involved will face great torment in the hereafter. God says killing an innocent person is equivalent of killing all of mankind. God in Quran says “Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense (in the Hereafter) is Hell, therein to abide; and God has utterly condemned him, excluded him from His mercy, and prepared for him a tremendous punishment.” (Nisa 4:93). Islam commands believers to behave justly in all area of their lives & Islamic morality is based on peace & brotherhood

However, Muslims in general view the West as an immoral society which is obsessed with sex, drug and alcohol etc. The western life style and cultural promiscuity is not acceptable to the Muslim clergy & they oppose and warn Muslims not only to refrain amalgamating with the western lifestyle but also strive hard to stop the infiltration of western influence into Muslim cultures. This Western Image is generally propagated by Muslim media and Muslim clerics based on their views of the western societies, western movies, US foreign policies towards Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan wars and treatment & segregations of Muslims in the western societies. Muslims also feel that their cultural identity will be distorted by the influence of secular west.

Obviously, the responsibilities for this perception seems to fall on the shoulders of Muslim clerics who got misguided in understanding the concept & purpose of Jihad, got threatened and persuaded some in their influence to do Jihad against the western cultural promiscuity, same sex marriages, alcoholism and other abnormal behaviours of the West that could possibly corrupt and diverge Muslims away from their religious paths as well as for the propagation of Islam in compliance with the obligatory religious duty.

The Western Foreign policies had also been a contributory factor in Muslim alienation and frustration during last few decades. People of the world have seen how US had been blind supporter of Israel on many issues, be it Palestine or relations with its neighbours.

Consequently, The West has lost its credibility due to its lip service for the Muslim world, lacking corrective actions. This is the cause of hate against the west & US alienation in the Muslim world. They do not consider the West as trustworthy.

Though 9/11 is a decade old event, a vast majority of Muslims still do not believe that Arab Muslims were behind the attack. Many believe that it was a conspiracy of US to prepare moral grounds for the invasion of Iraq and then occupation of Afghanistan in the name of war on terrors. The events of 9/11 and others attacks are being used by the West to capitalize political gain.

Terrorist activities, surfaced as 'Muslim religious terrorism' are labelled as an act of obligatory Jihad and one has to analyse if it is true or false assumption of those committing atrocities in the name of jihad.

Miss-Conception of jihad - Probable Instigator

The concept of Jihad had been known to the Muslims as obligatory duty to propagate Islam inviting people to accept Islam and in pursuit of that invite non-beliers toward Islam. If the offer is rejected, ask them to surrender and pay Jasiya (tax) in lieu of social and religious protection. Failure to this will compel Muslims to fight with the non-believers.

Jihad was also considered an obligatory duty to protect Muslim areas/territories as well as to strive and suppress one's ill intention, greediness and wrong doing and non ethical desires. This understanding continued till the 19th century till it was amended by few Muslim Scholars who were influenced by Wahhabi-movement and by the writing and opinion of Sayyyid Qutb, an Egyptian Islamist theorist & leading member of "Muslim Brotherhood" in Egypt during 60's . Muslims of African region seem to have influenced more comparatively and this shaped the ideas of Islamists and created group like Al Qaida. The emergence Islamic terrorism has its root in this movement.

Qutb's had criticized American individual freedoms, materialism, racism, sexual life and cultural promiscuity etc. arguing, that anything non-Islamic is inappropriate and evil that needs to the eliminated as it will influence & corrupt Muslims way of life. Fighting against these social evils for eradication is incumbent upon all Muslims to establish Sharia laws which should be the sole basis of governance and everything in life as it would bring every kind of benefit to humanity, including personal and social peace.

Initially this struggle was regarded as defensive Jihad, Islam's campaign to protect itself but later on this belief changed into offensive Jihad. He emphasized that Jihad (struggle) would eliminate all wrong doing of non-Muslim. Qutb's contention was to use physical power and jihad to overthrow governments and attack societies, institutes and traditions. Many thought his line of action is appropriate and opted to use his concept of jihad to establish Sharia and got evolved into terrorist activities, hoping that they will find salvation in the hereafter.

Muslims committing terrorist attacks on people of other faith group under the influence of Jihad as an obligatory act are totally ignorant of the true concept of Jihad and are causing atrocities, being totally out of phase with the real instructions of God and his last messenger. Muslim clerics who support and instigate terrorist activities in the name of jihad are wrong and ill informed. They seem to be narrow minded conservative people who need to revisit Islam and understand the meaning of jihad in proper perspective.

Responsibilitiies of Muslim Clerics

Some ignorant people of African & south east Asian origin seem to have this ferocious habit of killing innocent people due to being inspired by the call/sermons of Muslim clerics who fail to have wrong concept of Jihad in advising people that Jihad is obligatory in Islam and killing people of other faith, especially Jews and Christian carries great divine reward and entitlement of becoming Ghazi (Muslim warier).

Members of Taliban, Al Qaeda, Their-i-Taliban Pakistan often claim responsibility for the terrorist attack they carry out saying, they oppose those who have secular views or alliance with secular state trying to bring system of the infidel in Pakistan and else where. apparently, the extremists seem to have different agenda but using wrong perception of the faith as scapegoat to accomplish their objective. So it is not the religion that advocate terrorist activities but the understanding of the followers and their ignorance about the true doctrine of faith.

If the reasons behind terrorist attacks are due to wrong religious perception like ' Jihad', that presumably ensures salvation and reward in the hereafter, then it is incumbent upon Muslim clergy has to address the concept of Jihad and educate the ignorant for rectification of this mind set for resolution.

Bridging the gap for reconciliation.

Pre-requisite to reduce terrorism is to address those grey areas which are causes of conflicts by both West and the Muslims and take responsibly for rectification. Both side should educate the masses , revisit respective sacred texts with open and receptive mind to rectify prevailing misunderstandings & use rational wisdom to bridge gaps created due to misunderstanding the doctrine of faith.

Jews, Christians & Muslims worship the same creator and seem to have the same purpose of life, same objective of finding salvation in the hereafter, same reward or punishment depending on good or bad deeds and as such supposed to have better cohesiveness towards each other, living in peace and harmony.

All sacred scriptures ask the followers to live in peace and harmony, forgive each other and adopt a policy of reconciliation rather than that of vengeance or grudge. As such, we all have to promote reconciliation between Muslims, Christians & Jews by building new foundations to help understand each other empathetically for resolving differences.

Frequent inter-faith discourses between high level clergy may help to bring harmony between targeted faith groups. Residential fellows program if implemented for people of each group to spend time in residential area, may promote better understanding initiating long-term reconciliation. A success in this endure will enable us to live together in peace and failure will ensure continuation hostilities and fighting forever.

Mohammad Ashraf

Winnipeg, Manitoba


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