Islam and Terrorism

In today’s society Islam is often mistakenly associated with terrorism and I aim to show that the assumption that Islam is linked to terrorism is unfounded.

Secret services intelligence has shown that the vast majority of terrorists who carry out heinous acts have not had an Islamic education. Instead it is the lack of traditional Islamic education and an ignorance towards Islamic teachings which leads to terrorist acts being committed. Indeed it is rare to see individuals who are educated in a traditional Islamic manner carrying out terrorists attacks yet it is Islam that is regularly blamed for such occurrences.

Many Muslim scholars both past and present and those trained in Sharia Law, like Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti, have condemned the killing of innocent people on the basis that Prophet Muhammad promoted peace and prohibits the killing of women and children. It is seen that the Prophet showed unmatchable mercy, as he forgave many of those who attacked or plotted to murder him or murdered his son. Subsequently it can be argued that Islam is a religion which professes mercy by example, as Prophet Muhammad showed by giving refuge to the political enemies who continuously launched unjustified wars against him when he conquered Makkah. It is seen therefore that Islam’s preferred state is peace, as shown by the Qur’anic verse “Now if they incline toward peace, then incline to it, and place your trust in God” (al-Anfal, 8:61). Indeed throughout history Islam has maintained this stance and shown a vast amount of clemency which is illustrated by the humility Muslims showed by reconquering Jerusalem without any blood shed under the guidance of Salah ad-Din Ayyubi after the Crusaders ransacked the city and killed over 80,000 innocent people. What’s more, after reconquering Jerusalem, Islam established a climate of tolerance within the city by allowing Christians and Jews to live there and permitting them to visit their holy sites. A little mentioned fact is that the Ottomans, governed by the shari’a, openly invited the Jews who had been persecuted in Spain to live in peace in Muslim land. These events show that Islam has maintained a peaceful stance throughout history and thus the myth that Islam is intolerant to other faiths is undermined.

Every major religion has had its share of fanaticism such as Baruch Goldstein, who belonged to the Jewish Defence League, murdering 29 innocent people due to his intolerance to other faiths. Acts by secular groups have been shown by different Communist regimes like the atheist Stalin, who as one of the most notorious men in history killed many Muslims for practising their faith. Acts of extremism from all types of faiths and non faiths continue until this day and show it is unreasonable to generalise belief systems due to the actions of a few when the vast majority disagree with the actions of these individuals. In case someone retorts that only Islam recently has extremists, I would say that there are also fanatics in other religions, including some Christians who call for the bombing of Makkah.

Now that the Islamic view and the errors in generalisations has been mentioned, we go onto the latest incident of terrorism, the attempt of Umar Farouk to blow up a Detroit flight, an act of terrorism which has shocked and disgusted Muslims throughout the United Kingdom. Some have suggested that he was radicalised at university; however as of yet no evidence exists to confirm or rubbish such a claim, but his university teachers and Muslim friends have stated that he had showed no signs of radicalism. The American and British governments support this conclusion, and instead believe that he was radicalised in Yemen after graduating from University College London.

A recent survey showed that British Muslims were the most loyal community in the UK. Such a fact suggests that it is therefore the responsibility of the government to maintain this loyalty. Therefore I would argue that if this is to remain the case there should be an improvement of measures which promote a level of trust between the Muslim community and the government.

Why not promote a traditional and orthodox education of Islam so that Muslims are not ignorant of Islam’s prohibition of unjustified violence? All of these suggested measures could rid society of the threat a tiny minority of radicals pose.

SOCs have been set up to attempt to reduce the number of radical individuals in society. These organisations aim to establish better relations between religious groups, whilst aiming to promote a truer image of Islam throughout society. Moreover using fun as a key method in their approach, SOCs aim to combat loneliness, which can be a common factor in radical individuals. ISOCs have also been instrumental in humanitarian efforts as shown by Warwick’s ISOC project which has raised over £5000 for orphans and needy children in countries throughout the world.

This term the Warwick ISOC will organise an Experience Islam Week in Week 7 that will seek to show the true meaning of Islam and dispel the myths associated with it. Everyone is invited to learn about the religion and to form their own opinions. Yet I would advise that those who wish to truly understand Islamic beliefs should read the Qur’an, ask Muslims about their beliefs or read books by Muslim scholars as this is the only way you can form an accurate opinion on the religion. For example if one thinks the hijab is oppressive or forced, then why not ask the one who wears it?


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