SHAFAQNA – Question: Islam is often called by Muslims a ‘religion of peace’ – but how can this be the case when so many terrible acts in the world today are being committed by Muslims?
Answer: It is easy to fall into the trap of Fox news and other mainstream news outlets to blame Islam and Muslims for terrorist crimes. However, I believe terrorism is a disease; a fatal and mental disease, which requires professional diagnosis and treatment. In your quest to diagnose the causes of contemporary terrorism please consider the following facts:
1. Islam is NOT the cause of most wars!
In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified as involving a religious cause, accounting for less than 7% of all wars and less than 2% of all people killed in warfare. According to the authors, when one subtracts out those waged in the name of Islam (66), the percentage is cut by more than half to 3.23%. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/book/10.1002/9781444338232)
2. Islam explicitly condemns terrorism
Numerous traditions from Shi`a and Sunni narrations quoted from the Prophet of Islam (s) state that terrorist activities are contrary to the Islamic faith. In a famous hadith narrated by Shi`a and Sunni narrators, it is quoted from the Prophet of Islam (s) to have said, “The faith (i.e. Islam) has handcuffed assassination, a believer does not get involved in terrorist activities.” [Al-Majlesi, Beharul-Anwaar, vol.28, p.359, Abu-Dawood, al-Sonan, Hadith 2388]. The practical life of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his pure progeny, and even his companions and the companions of the companions, clearly prove that terrorism has been practically and theoretically denounced in Islam. Perhaps the tragedy of Karbala would not have occurred if the ambassador of Imam Husain (a.s) in Kufa had assassinated Ibn Ziad!
3. Under the guise of a religion!
I acknowledge that Islam as a faith is a powerful tool, like science for instance. However, just as the abuse of science does not justify condemning science, similarly it is unfair to blame Islam and mainstream Muslims for the insane acts of a group who act violently under the guise of Islam! Indeed, what right do we have to blame an entire religion of over 1.6 billion peaceful people because of the actions of a terrorist group who have hijacked Islam?
Let us not forget that the Crusaders of the past and present claimed ‘In God We Trust’! Even the Nazis had ‘God With Us’ on their belts!
4. Violence begets violence
Unlike the claim of President Bush in 2005 that the Iraq war will make the world safer, new studies have found that the number of fatal terrorist attacks have skyrocketed by over 600% since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Under no circumstances do I mean to justify the terrorist attacks. Nonetheless, let us not forget what Jesus said: “all who draw the sword will die by it”. (Matthew 26:52)
5. Political Agenda
A fair definition of terrorism might be one that describes it as violence against civilians irrespective of the terrorists’ cultural background. But that’s not what you hear on mainstream media. A few days ago a man named Larry Dawson opened fire in the Visitor Centre of the US Capitol. He was a pastor who called himself ‘a prophet of God’! But he was not called a terrorist because his name was ‘Larry’, not ‘Muhammad’! Do you ever wonder why Western media deliberately repeat the term ‘Islamic State’ instead of using the abbreviation ‘ISIS’, despite the fact that it is common in the English language to use acronyms? I believe this is part of their agenda to constantly sync Islam and even (the idea of an) Islamic state with terrorism, to detest people from Islam or any thought of creating an Islamic state. The media’s double standards confirm their political agendas of portraying Islam and Muslims as dangerous!
Please always cross examine the news. For example, in the most recent tragic terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, at least 70 people were reportedly killed, most of them women and children. Here, CNN portrayed the atrocity as ‘a religious war against Christians celebrating Easter’, whereas according to a Lahore Police statement; most of the 70 victims were Muslims, while only 14 have been identified as Christians. The Associated Press also reported that among the victims “10 members of one family were killed, all Muslims”.
6. Main victims of terrorism
Both in the past and the present Muslims have been the main victims of terrorist attacks. The mobilisation of more than 80 wars against the Prophet Muhammad (s) in less than a decade, the raiding of Muslims day and night, and the atrocities committed against all the noble family members of the Holy Prophet (s), are ample historical evidences that Muslim leaders have been the victims of terrorism.
According to a new report from the Institute of Economics and Peace, acts of terrorism killed over 32,000 people in the year 2014 -78% of all deaths and 57% of all attacks occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria, countries where the absolute majority of the populations are Muslim! (http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/our-gti-findings)
According to the British Daily Mail, in September 2015 ISIS executed more than 10,000 men, women and children in Iraq and Syria, people who were mainly identified as Muslims!
Finally, I urge you to carry out an independent research to find out who created al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, who trained them, and who has been arming them, and where their wounded are being treated?!
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei