This is the first of the many series of articles where we will try to answer and clear out misconceptions about Islam. Whether by Muslims or non-Muslims. This time, we will address a very hot topic - terrorism.
Why does Islam promote terrorism?
First, this is a false statement. The general rule in Islam is that human lives are sacred and are to be protected. This is stated clearly in the Quran
... whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely... Al-Quran 5-32 (Surah Al-Maidah)
What about the other verses in the Quran that talks about war and killing?
There are verses which address exceptional cases, for example - self-defense, criminal punishment and war. It is only in these extraneous cases is the use of force or even the taking of lives is permitted. It should not be taken out of context or used outside the situational constraint.
And even in these situations, Islam has rules - it has to be justified accordingly, no killing of the innocent, no cutting of trees, no destruction of public buildings like houses of worship, etc.
Still, these verses are in the Quran. Directly or indirectly, is not Islam encouraging violence and terrorism?
Islam does not teach nor condone violence or terrorism. People who do terrorism or violence are usually driven to it out of anger, hatred or desperation. Then they will always justify their actions one way or another, whether due to nationalism, religion or ideology.
These people will resort to anything to suit their agenda. Ironically, those who spread hatred and Islamophobia are similar to the terrorists in this regard - taking verses and interpreting it out of context.
If Islam really opposes terrorism, why do we hear so much about Muslim Terrorism in the media?
Take any sample population large enough, you will have a few bad apples. For example, the estimated number of ISIS members is about 100,000 while the Muslim population around the world is over 1.6 billion. Percentage wise, that is less than 0.01%.
Unfortunately, media feeds the Islamophobic narrative. Positive, mundane news about normal Muslims living their lives in peace is usually not in the headlines.
Maybe it is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, but all (or most) terrorists are Muslims, right?
This argument unfortunately is becoming more common, inciting even more hatred and Islamophobic sentiment. Unfortunately, it is not true.
Most Muslims are not terrorists. Most are peace loving people leading normal lives. While all terrorist come from varied backgrounds.
Statistically and historically, it can be shown that terrorism and violence comes from all kinds of groups. And Islam condemns all of them equally.
Why are the Muslims not saying anything or doing anything against terrorism if Islam is truly against it?
This is another untrue accusation. Many Muslims scholars and Muslims in general have spoken out against terrorism. However, these are not reported much in the media. And some people make the above statement perhaps because they do not interact much with the Muslim minority in their society. Or they have not even looked into it.
Easy question. Have they Googled "Muslims against terrorism" or "Islam against terrorism"? Do so.
I still do not feel safe from Muslims. In the name of freedom & security, should we not monitor and curtail them more?
Realistically speaking, if Islam really taught violence and evil, the world would be in chaos since about one-fifth of the world population are Muslims. Statistically speaking, depending on where you are, the probability of you being harmed by a terrorist attack is much lower than being involved in an automotive accident or criminal incident.
Fear is necessary. It ensures our survival and security. But, unjustified fear paralyzes the individual and takes the mind away from the real danger and priorities. Do not give in to the hatred and propaganda. Talk to your Muslim friends and neighbors - we are not your enemy.
Lastly, what can we actually do about terrorism?
Many of the places where extremism arise are impoverished - torn by war or corruption. If your leaders are involved in initiating war or corruption, use your power through the process available (e.g. democracy, voting, free press) to ensure that they know that the people are against it.
At a societal level, understand that hatred breeds more hatred. We need to break the cycle. Extend your hand to each other, try to learn and understand one another better. Perhaps then, together we can make the world a better place.