By: Shakiel Humayun
Here are some questions you may encounter when there is a terrorist-related incident. I have added answers that I usually use as a response.
1. Why don’t you call the attacks “Islamic Terrorism”?
Simply because terrorism is un-Islamic. Many Islamic texts clearly forbid terrorism, violence, and ordain the sanctity of life.
The terrorists would like people to see their actions as “Islamic” in order to recruit people from the Muslim world. Calling it “Islamic Terrorism” would be aiding the terrorists in their marketing and recruiting efforts.
2. The attackers did it in the name of Allah and Islam, so why shouldn’t we call them “Islamists” or “Islamic Terrorists”?
Muslims do almost everything in Allah’s name and invoke His name for blessings. Muslims invoke the name of Allah before and after eating, traveling, sleeping, entering a home, embarking on endeavors, opening businesses, purchasing and selling houses, etc. This devotion is mentioned in the Quran: “Say: Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [Quran 6:162]
Misguided people will also do their incorrect actions in the name of Allah. This does not mean their actions are actually condoned by Allah or Islam even if they seemingly perform some of the rites of Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad informed us that there will be people who will display great devotion in prayers and fasting that will surpass that of his own companions, but these people will have nothing to do with Islam:
“They will read the Quran but it will not go beyond their necks, they will leave the religion…they are the worse of people and character…they will call to the Book of Allah, but they will have nothing to do with it.” [Sahih al-Jami]
Muslims open businesses in the name of Allah. Have we heard anyone labeling them “Islamic businesses”? The Syrians and Kurds are fighting ISIS at the frontline in the name of Allah. Why don’t we call them “Islamic Freedom Fighters”? Being selective with the term “Islamic” for violence or a super minority amongst the 1.6 billion Muslims only seems to be an effort to tarnish the image of Islam in favor of the terrorists.
3. What about the term “Islamic Radicalism” or “Islamic Extremism”?
The terms suggest that radicalism or extremism emanate, or come, from Islam where in reality Islam clearly forbids them. The Prophet Muhammad stated, “O Mankind! Beware of extremism in religion. It surely has destroyed those before you- the extremism in religion.” [Ibn Majah].
4. Are these attackers extremists?
Yes, they are extremists. They have left the teachings of Islam to become extremists. Calling them “Islamic extremists” would be an oxymoron, a term that contradicts itself.
5. Why are there so many Muslims as terrorists?
It may seem that way since the media coverage of a Muslim terrorist is much greater and in-depth than the coverage of Christian, Jewish, Atheist, etc. terrorists. The terrorists who are Muslims are only a fraction of the 1.6 billion Muslims.
Data clearly shows that most of the terrorist acts committed on American and European soils are done by Christians, Jews, and others, not by Muslims. Furthermore, 95% of the victims of ISIS terrorist actions are Muslims.
6. This is a fight for the soul of Islam. Why don’t Muslims fix this problem once and for all?
Muslims have been dealing with the concept of extremism for decades. However, this is not just a fight for the soul of Islam. It is also a responsibility of those who have contributed to the creation of these terrorists through misguided foreign policies. Ideologies alone do not create terrorists. Terrorists need the right socio-political environment to sprout. Misguided foreign policies have provided such environments.