In March, terrorist attacks in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Turkey, Brussels, Pakistan, Iraq and others continued to horrify the world.
According to Merriam-Webster, terrorism is: “The use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” Terrorism is used by groups with sociopolitical motives to try to force their agenda or bring attention to their cause. Terrorism keeps people in a heightened sense of fear, wondering where/when the next attack will come.
Because perpetrators of recent acts of terrorism are connected with Islam, some people have come to fear all Muslims. Please keep in mind that Muslims are just as, if not more, frightened as anyone else. Muslims living in areas where ISIS has a stronghold are being killed in greater numbers than any other people.
They and/or their families are being forced to join the group or be killed. ISIS is not trying to convert people to their “religion”; they want people to join their “cause.” I don’t know WHAT their cause is. Quite frankly, I’m a little afraid of doing much research for fear my searches might flag me as someone who supports them.
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What I do know is ISIS doesn’t follow what Islam teaches. In 2014 hundreds of Islamic scholars from around the world collaborated to write an open letter to Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, who takes Islamic information out of context for recruitment purposes. For those who don’t know any better, the recruitment claims ISIS makes might look authentic, which is why the letter was written. Along with other aspects, the scholars use Islamic texts to explain how, contrary to what ISIS promotes, the following is forbidden in Islam:
▪ Killing the innocent.
▪ Killing emissaries, ambassadors or diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.
▪ Harming or mistreating – in any way – Christians, Jews or any “People of the Scripture.” (Yazidis are People of the Scripture.)
▪ Re-introducing slavery. It was abolished by universal consensus.
▪ Forcing people to convert.
▪ Denying women their rights.
▪ Torturing people.
Although the letter was addressed to the leader of ISIS, it is aimed at anyone who may fall victim to recruiting propaganda by ISIS or any other terrorist group. It’s imperative that Muslims learn about their faith so as not to be misguided.
Aside from the fear of becoming victims of terrorism, Muslims have the added fear of being accused of being in cahoots with terrorists. Muslims are consistently expected to condemn terrorist acts.
Googling “Muslims condemn Terrorism” gets 500,000 pages in response. I’ve been told that Muslims need to take to the streets waving the American flag to prove their support for America. But none of that seems to be enough.
Although some may say the rise in Islamophobia can be attributed to terrorist activities, the greater problem is when people of influence falsely claim that terrorism is part of the Islamic faith. That’s just not true. Such erroneous proclamations make people fear all Muslims, and fear easily turns to hate.
Muslims are facing increasing cases of discrimination and hate crimes; reports of which are being used by terrorist organizations to add to their ranks. If people want to know about Islam, don’t look to terrorists, look to people who are following the faith.
Most Islamic centers and organizations, such as American Islamic Outreach, periodically offer opportunities for people to learn what Islam really teaches.
Islam is not responsible for terrorism, terrorists are responsible for terrorism. #Terrorism has no religion.
Rose Hamid of Charlotte is president of Muslim Women of the Carolinas. Her website is www.MrsRoseHamid.com