Muslim Americans’ jihad against terrorism
Wed, 10 Feb 2010 15:48:18 GMT
Muslim Americans are finding themselves these days between a huge rock and a hard place. On one hand their faith is hijacked by brain-washed extremists who are trying to blow themselves up, killing innocent lives and killing with them the true essence of their religion. On the other hand they are facing huge challenges trying to integrate within a society that is looking at them with suspicion and sometimes hostility.
Muslim youth, in particular, have been under tremendous pressure and some feel alienated because of the relentless attacks on their religion and their values. Whether by the media following a terrorist attack or at their schools by their fellow students, their loyalty to their country is being questioned and the peaceful nature of their faith is suspected. Some react by isolating themselves from the society and some may become radicals.
The anti-Islam industry is flourishing, since bashing Islam sells and improves ratings. Books about jihadism, terrorism, extremism and Islam are flying off the shelves. The so called "terrorism" experts (strangely enough none of them are Muslim scholars) are flocking to media outlets to analyze the signs of radicalism among Muslims and to discuss the inherent violent qualities of Islam. The Homeland Security Department has used the Christmas Eve airline incident to move its profiling policy up one notch by scrutinizing screening visitors from 14 predominantly Muslim countries and requiring more passengers to go through a total body scan. There have been reports of the FBI recruiting individuals with criminal records from the Muslim community and entrapping foolish individuals using questionable and unethical tactics.
Muslims are often asked by the media and the public: What are you doing to fight terrorism? And why are you not condemning terrorism?
The fact of the matter is that Muslim Americans and Muslims throughout the world are doing a lot but their contributions to the fight against terrorism is often going unnoticed or they are completely ignored by the media, policy makers and the general public.
All major Islamic organizations have condemned terrorist acts committed by Muslims and all violence against civilians not only in the United States but anywhere in the world. The websites of national and local Islamic organizations like ISNA, CIOGC and MPAC are crowded with statements and press releases against terrorism. The highest scholarly authority of Muslim Americans, the Fiqh Council of North America, has issued many fatwas, or religious edicts, unequivocally prohibiting suicide bombing and all terrorist acts or violence against civilians stating:
"Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is prohibited in Islam - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not "martyrs."
God says in the Quran: "Whoever kills a person, unless it is for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a person, it is as though he had saved all mankind." (Quran-5:32).
The real problem is not the lack of condemnation but the lack of noticing. Condemning terrorism is not news-worthy, which means that the moderate mainstream Muslim voice does not reach the general public and the policy makers. In contrast, the loud voice of few extremists resonates in our ears day and night. It is not surprising that the perception of Islam is becoming increasingly negative since 9/11, as it is often elicited by the opinion polls.
The public gets to hear the Muslim voice of angry, irrational and violent extremists. However, the peaceful, rational and mainstream voice of the majority is nearly completely muted. This is translated into the absurd notion that somehow Islam, which literally and practically means peace, condones violence.
Even noble Islamic words like jihad are abused by the media to become the equivalent to terrorism or "holy war." The real meaning is conveniently ignored. Jihad means exerting maximum effort to change self or society for the better by perfecting personal values and promoting common good.
Muslim Americans have been waging several jihads since September 11, 2001, to protect our national security, reclaim our faith from the hands of extremists, provide education, social services and civic engagement to Muslim families and youth while striving to prevent a small number of alienated and confused Muslim youth from falling victim to extremist and radical ideologies, now rampant and readily available online.
Muslims have been doing all of that because they believe in a better future for their families and for their communities and because it is part of the Islamic tradition to always strive to do good. They have done this in spite of limited resources, political naivety, young infrastructure and legal challenges with their organizations like Islamic charities and other major national organizations.
Like other people of faith, Muslims believe that with hardship comes ease and with perseverance comes success. For now jihad will have to continue until we win the battle of hearts and minds over extremism and until the aspirations of Muslim Americans of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness become an American reality.
Back to top