Sunday, July 24, 2011

Terrorism Is Not A Religion...It Is Not Islam

My heart goes out to all the families of the 77 innocent victims (reportedly killed so far). I watched in pain and dismay the news about the Oslo blast and the Utoya Island shooting as many around the world did. Yet as the news was being reported, fingers were already pointing at Muslims, Islamist militants, al Qaeda...etc. As much as the loss of lives trouble me, so did accusing Muslims.

David Crawford ran an article on the Wall Street Journal where he argues that it was most likely Islamist extremists. Another article ran on the Guardian by the title "Oslo bomb: suspicion falls on Islamist, where Peter Beaumont blatantly accuses al Qaeda and mentions Yemen (my country)! The article was removed the next day, thus the broken link and replaced by this one "Norway attacks suggest political motive".  Jennifer Rubin's article on the Washington Post asserted that Muslims were responsible for the Norway bombing. Yet that article was neither removed, corrected nor updated as James Fallow noted. And this just to cite a few.
As more investigations were made, news unfolded that the suspect was a tall blond male who had Nordic features. Eventually we knew more, that his name is Anders, aged 31, had a  Facebook page with postings, uploaded a disturbing youtube video, has a Twitter account with one tweet (yet keeps piling followers!), that he is Norwegian, a right wing extremist, a conservative Christian and an anti-Islamist.
These were my tweets in the past two days:
 "Terrorism has no religion, race, or country. Terrorism is everyones enemy" and
 "Extremism, Racism & Terrorism is Condemned and Rejected no matter what Race, Religion, Region, Organization or individual is behind it".
I also added: "Norway Oslo blast and Utoya shooting wasn't described as a terrorist act in most media? It seems this label is exclusively given to Muslims."

Some tweeted back that the definition of terrorism is not aplicable in this case because the act was carried out by one individual. Well if killing 77 is not an act of terrorism than what is? And had that one individual been a muslim, wouldn't the term "terrorist" have been flashing all over him? In fact not all terrorists are Muslims.
Why has terrorism become linked to Muslims only? Why are Muslims the first to blame for any terrorist act? Glenn Greenwald  highlighted this point in his article called "The omnipotence of Al-Qaeda and the meaninglessnes of "Terrorism". There is also a hashtag trending on twitter called 

The Norway massacre highlighted the Islamophobia that most people have but don't like to admit. Others like the Norway bomber don't deny it, he actually admits his extreme hatred towards muslims. Islam is not al Qaeda! The vast majority of muslims condemn it and hate it for giving Islam this association, especially after 9/11.
There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, a fifth of the (7 billion) Earth population. The majority of Muslims can not be labelled according to violent actions of a few extremist.
Islam in Arabic means submission to God's will, and derives from a word meaning Peace, "Salam". Islam is a religion of Tolerance, Equality and Compassion. There are a lot of misconceptions about Islam that might lead people to fear it. And hence one should make a little effort to know and learn more about Islam before passing judgment.

There is nothing in the Holy Quran that says one should kill. On the contrary there is a verse in the Quran that explicitly says: "the one who kills a soul not in retaliation for murder or (and) spread of mischief 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" Chapter 5, Verse 12.  Also the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said "The biggest of Al-Kaba'ir (the great sins) are 9, (1) to join others as partners in worship with Allah, (2) to murder a human being, (3) to be undutiful to ones parents,...etc
Islam acknowledges all prophets including Moses and Jesus. Therefore Islam actually encompasses all previous religions (Judaism and Christianity) and does not oppose them. A muslim is not a true believer unless he believes in all of God's Messengers and the sacred scriptures. Virgin Mary is mostly esteemed in Islam and has a status unequal to any woman. An entire chapter (19) in the Quran is named after her "Maryam" and recounts her story.
If only we just make a little effort to accept, understand and respect each other, the world would be a much better place. Peace to all.

For further readings:
The Holy Quran (In many languages)
What is Islam
Understanding Islam 
Understanding Islam and Muslims
Meaning of the word Islam
Meaning of Islam
Islam in Brief (in many languages)
Bridges Foundation: Peace Making Through Education
1001 Inventions and the Library of Secrets (Islamic)

N.B: This post was retweeted and shared by Rachel Maddow on her Facebook page

Understanding Islam and Muslims


  1. You hit the nail on the head there Noon, bravo!

  2. "There is nothing in the Holy Quran that says one should kill"

    Sura 8, verse 12 says otherwise. three interpretations...

    YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

    PICKTHAL: When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

    SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

    Sura 5, verse 33 does too....

    YUSUFALI: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;

    PICKTHAL: The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

    SHAKIR: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement,

    (source is the USC Center for Jewish-Muslim Engagement website)

  3. You have missed the context in which both these verses were cited. The entire surah of Al-Anfal (chapter 8) was specifically in the case of war and in the Battle of Badr in particular i.e it was in the context of self defense.
    Sura 8 verse 5:
    [It is] just as when your Lord brought you out of your home [for the battle of Badr] in truth, while indeed, a party among the believers were unwilling, Arguing with you concerning the truth after it had become clear, as if they were being driven toward death while they were looking on.
    And in the same Sura 8 verse 19:
    If you [disbelievers] seek the victory - the defeat has come to you. And if you desist [from hostilities], it is best for you; but if you return [to war], We will return, and never will you be availed by your [large] company at all, even if it should increase; and [that is] because Allah is with the believers.
    Therefore the choice to stop waging war is always the best choice, and self defense is only a consequence.

    As for the other point you mentioned in sura 5 verse 33 it is also an exception, in case "one waged war and strived to make mischief" as the verse you quoted says, which comes right after verse 32 which I quoted in my post, whereby killing is greatly condemned.
    You also missed the verse that follows which declares should they stop waging war then one should forgive and be merciful.
    Sura 5 verse 34:
    Except for those who return [repenting] before you apprehend them. And know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
    Peace :)

  4. a couple of relevant teachings from Jesus, "You've heard it said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy,' But I tell you: Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven." Matthew 5:6-8

    and, "You have heard it was said, 'Eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Matthew 5:38-42

    Who ever Anders thought he was following, it clearly wasn't Jesus.

  5. Thank you for the post Noon. I have shared it with people in my circle whose hearts aren't as open to truth. It's clear to me how similar "different" religions are. It's also clear that ANY holy teachings can be used in-context for good and out-of-context to justify killing and destruction. Although I don't subscribe to any specific religion, I believe peace is a valid solution (if people would just verbalize it as necessary as they deem war) and most disagreement can be broken down to misunderstandings and miscommunications.
    Keep up the good work Noon, and believe that there are reasonable loving hearts inside the worst of us that just need the right caring attention to become free. Thank you so much.