By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Terrorism is obviously very wrong, as well as being a very primitive way of trying to champion a cause. However, Islam is not terrorism! Orthodox Islam never has been and never has promoted terrorism!
Today’s problems in the Middle East and elsewhere, started with groups of disenfranchised people, from within these countries. They went on to start political movements to champion their causes. In much the same way, as fascists and communists have done in the past within Europe. The ideologies of these people, have little in common with orthodox branches of Islam. Back in the Cold War era, with the exception of Iran, many didn’t even claim to be standing up for Islam or Muslims, but rather anti-imperialism, people’s rights and communism! In more recent times, with many of the same problems unresolved and festering, the same types now claim to be freedom fighters and mujahideen “those who struggle”, which the likes of Al-Qaeda, Hamas and the Taliban, claim to be soldiers and martyrs for Islam. But titles do not necessarily denote the true nature of those who use them!
The orthodox branches of Islam, both the majority Sunni as well as the Shia denominations, have extensive literature and historical records, that prove they do not produce terrorists. In fact, they produced some of the greatest civilisations in human history! Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians and others, used to live side by side their Muslim neighbours in peace and harmony. Many of our modern sciences and technologies have their roots in these Islamic civilisations. Not only Muslims, but Jews also look back to the Golden Age of Islam, between the 8th and 11th centuries, which was their Golden Age too!
The basis in theology, terrorist and fascist organisations are using, is instead the extreme puritanical, sectarian ideas of people like Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab and Said Qutb. People discredited as fanatical heretics by orthodox scholars of Islam. Other trouble makers, take on nationalistic agendas, based on tribe and ethnicity. Nationalism and tribalism were things strongly condemned in the Holy Qur’an and even by Prophet Muhammad himself! So they certainly have no place in Islam.
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” Holy Qur’an 49:13 (Yusuf Ali)
To create a united front against these terrorist and fascist agendas, we first need to recognise Islam is not at fault, and to be careful how we approach the threat. So we do not inadvertently make it appear as though we are attacking innocent Muslims, their religion and their way of life! Clearly, that is not an appropriate way of building bridges, with the allies needed to help put an end to this threat. If innocent Muslims feel threatened by what they perceive to be imperialist or Zionist threats, whether genuine or only appearing as such, it’s possible they themselves would become radicalised, which would only compound the problem! There is no need for this!
We need to focus on challenging the dangerous ideologies that are a threat to all civilisations, including Islamic ones! By building constructive relations with Muslims and giving due respect to orthodox Islam, we can make good progress. There is not that big a gulf between us! Giving support to those who need it, helping them to pick themselves up after terrorist strikes. Ensuring more airtime to those peaceful, constructive voices from within the Muslim community. While discouraging the media from giving free promotions for extremist voices. Unfortunately, media channels have a lot to answer for in this respect…
If these steps are taken, we will certainly make good progress and diminish the influence of extremism. If the Western world is sincere about their war on terrorism and fascist types, they will succeed, but only in partnership with Islam. Nobody has ever won a war through demonising potentially their greatest ally in the process! Islam is part of the solution, not part the problem!