By Harris Raja, Baltimore, USA
Whether it is Mr. Huckabee blaming Islam for “promoting murderous mayhem on the planet”, or Peter Bergen linking the terror alert to Muslims night of power, or Congressman Peter King’s “radical Islam” hearings, all have one thing in common—they all fear Islam.
Either because of violence or because of so called Sharia Law.
Al-Qaeda and Taliban branded versions of Islam fuel these concerns and we find ourselves in a predicament where one group creates terror in the name of Islam and the other feels threatened by Islam.
Both groups have got it wrong. Al-Qaeda and Taliban are not helping Islam, they are hurting Islam. Al-Qaeda not only hijacked airplanes on 9/11, but it also hijacked Islamic teachings. Similarly, Taliban’s coercive approach and irrational opinion about education and women are not Islamic tenets. On the other hand, Islamic critics fear the wrong thing. They are arguably justified to fear terrorism and extremism, but no justification exists to fear Islam.
The notion that somehow Islam, terrorism, and extremism are synonymous is factually not true. Thus, both terrorists and Islamic critics paint a gory picture of Islam—one through its violent actions and the other through its uninformed objections.
Islam only permits fighting in self-defense. According to the Quran, the permission to fight is given only to those who have been wronged [22:40]. Even in this case, Muslims are commanded not to transgress [2:191]. The Quran rejects taking innocent lives and clearly states, “Whosoever took one life…it is as if he has killed the whole mankind” [5:33]. Muslims are commanded not to create disorder in society and be obedient to the law of the land in which they reside [7:57, 4:60]. Prophet Muhammad emphasized this point by saying that loyalty to one’s homeland is part of one’s faith. Islam puts emphasis on education and establishes the high status of women. According to Prophet Muhammad, if a daughter is born to a person and he brings her up, gives her good education, and trains her in the arts of life, such a person would be rewarded with paradise.
The essence of Islam is in attaining nearness to God and serving His creation. The Quran encourages believers to strive in spirituality and inspires them to vie with each other in good works [29:70, 2:149]. For the propagation of Islam’s message, the Quran forbids force (2:257), and instead advises believers to do so with wisdom, goodly exhortation, and by employing reason and argument [16:126]. The Quran clearly states that good and evil are not alike and that believers should repel evil with goodness [41:35]. This is what the millions of American-Muslims and billions of Muslims worldwide believe and practice in their lives everyday. In a recent White House Iftar (opening of Muslim fast), President Obama said that he was proud to spend time with some of the many American Muslims whose contributions had enriched America’s democracy and strengthened its economy.
Governor Huckabee and Chairman King: there is nothing in Islam to be fearful of. You don’t need to look far. Just visit www.muslimsforpeace.org and you will find that American Muslims are the first ones to stand up for peace and harmony—because that’s what Islam stands for.