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Removing the ‘Radical’ From Islam

By Nikos Barbaressos

23 October 2016

Within a very short amount of time, we witnessed three horrifying attacks from individuals and groups who claim to be Muslim. These attacks were the shooting on a gay bar in Orlando, Florida, the suicide bombings in Ataturk International Airport, in Istanbul, Turkey and most recently the attack on a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The last two carried out by ISIS, and the first by an individual who allegedly pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS during the attack.

As expected, the media and our politicians brought up the term ‘radical Islam’ again and again and somehow tried to affiliate Islam with these groups. Of course, this is not something new; however, what the media and our politicians do not understand is the implications caused by affiliating Islam with these people.

Thanks to individuals such as Donald Trump, amongst others, the words ‘radical Islam and Islamic terrorists’ are tossed around without a single thought on how this affects the millions of Muslims who live in the United States or Europe, those who have absolutely nothing to do with this kind of ideology.

Within my own and surrounding communities, I’ve heard of attacks against Muslims. Individuals opening fire at local mosques, two college students being chased down for being Muslims, a Muslim woman in Chicago being harassed by police, a man being beat up on the way out of his mosque in New York, a man who was stabbed and shot outside his Mosque in Houston, Texas, a 60-year-old Muslim woman who was stabbed to death in New York… the list of events is actually endless. The question is, what causes such catastrophic violence against these innocent civilians?

Just turn on the TV and watch the news for a few minutes or watch a political speech, or even a movie. You will find the answer there; politicians speaking about eradicating radical Islam and how we need to protect our country from those “Islamic” terrorists, Hollywood movies always depicting people of Arab, or Pakistani origins as terrorists and nothing more, Western Feminists with their obsession over the Hijab and somehow view it as a symbol of oppression, without knowing a thing about the women who wear the Hijab, or what it represents for them.

As someone who has studied Islam and a Muslim myself, I will tell you that there is remotely nothing Islamic about these groups. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam and if we want to stop dividing our country and igniting more hate, the media, and our politicians need to stop using the words ‘radical Islam’ when referring to ISIS or any acts of terror caused by an “Islamic” group. These groups are filled with blood-thirsty individuals who have absolutely no morals, feelings, nor any sort of remorse and could not possibly quote you one verse from the Quran if you asked them to.

Of course one can make the argument that ISIS’ main goal is to create an Islamic Caliphate and thus somehow, it makes them “Islamic” but I argue that there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people, or their sick ideology.

“If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.” (Qur’an 5:32)

In the Quran, it is clearly stated that killing innocent people is prohibited. Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) protected the Jews and the Christians and asked all Muslims to do so; hence, when Salahaddin entered Jerusalem during the Crusades, he allowed the Christians and other inhabitants of Jerusalem safe passage out of the city. He was following Islamic teachings and the example of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Islamic history has many examples of coexistence and acts of compassion and here is why we need to ask ourselves, why are we allowing the media and other sources to state things which hold no truth and which can be debunked with just a few minutes of research?

I understand that some are afraid of the unknown, but Islam is not unknown to the United States. Muslims have been living in peace in the United States for decades, so why is there this sudden idea that Muslims hate the United States or do not abide by its values. Muslim Americans are proud of their identity and have assimilated here very well and in my opinion, I do not think groups like ISIS hate America as much as Americans think they do. After all, the largest group affected from the terror acts caused by ISIS are Muslims themselves.

Islam is nothing that ISIS represents it to be, or what the media, Hollywood and certain politicians portray it to be. Muslims have coexisted with other people for centuries; Cordoba, Sicily, the Ottoman Empire are some of the older examples and the United States is the most recent one. Muslim Americans are normal people like everyone else; we are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, cousins, students, doctors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, teachers, amongst many other things. We have hopes, dreams and goals. We have so much to give to this nation, which prides itself for its diversity but it seems as though this diversity can be so easily shaken due to the many acts of violence from individuals or groups who have nothing to do with Islam.

Only together are we stronger.

We must not let hate prevail and divide us. We can, and must do better, as a community, and as a nation and we owe it to ourselves and future generations to not grow up with fear or hate. The first step towards that direction is by removing ‘radical’ and ‘terrorism’ from Islam and call it what it is: heinous acts by Godless people and something Islam would never justify or accept.



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Total Comments (14)

  • 14 .
    How many times have I said that taking the best meaning, re-interpreting and re-contextualization are some of the ways of dealing with the texts. Ignoring some of the verses or surahs, just as the Jews and Christians have done with their texts, may also be necessary. The intent has to be to affirm Islam as a theology of freedom, rationality, morality and righteousness, rather than trying to find justifications for each and every line in a book that was compiled 20 years after the Prophet's death by people who had no expertise either in compilation or in separating the wheat from the chaff.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 05/11/2016 16:05:59
  • 13 .
    There is a distinction between broadminded atheists and Islamophobic atheists. The former accept enlightened Muslims as they are. The latter are keen to embarrass enlightened Muslims, telling them that al-Baghdadi's version of Islam is the true Islam. Islamophobic atheists are mirror images of intolerant Wahhabis.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 05/11/2016 15:38:47
  • 12 .
    how quickly mr ghulam mohiyuddin brings in an accusation of islamophobia!

    never mind that he protested when he was similarly accused! islamophobia is the new code word.

    hateful texts are hateful. whether they are divine or satanic.

    friendly texts are irrelevant - not irrelevant as in 'unnecessary', but merely that no one is going to quarrel with friendly texts (from whatever religion). in other words they don't make the headlines. in yet other words they do not give rise to hidden resentment or open conflict.
    By hats off! 05/11/2016 09:16:07
  • 11 .
    Pardon my intrusion, but it is not a question of taking the best meaning or worst meaning. Religious texts are neither apologetic nor roundabout, nor politically correct in what they say. They are quite clear. It is to the credit of the goodness and rationality of all hues of people that they wish to only take what is good in a particular verse or text and ignore what has become redundant or is not in keeping with modern notions of living in harmony with plurality of religions. But when one is basing an argument on only half verses and cherry picked verses to claim something, to exonerate something, to reform by stealth and lies, this approach needs to be called out. Because if anyone wants to change the nature of the beast, one has to truthfully accept the nature of the beast first. People talk unendingly about truth, truth, truth. And when the truth is spoken, they get uncomfortable and want to retreat to half truths. 

    I have always maintained that there is hardly any need for anyone to be ashamed, or feel accountable for what has been written by somebody in the distant past. What we need to be accountable for is how we chart our present and our future. There is no need for me to defend Sati and the Caste system or to plead that people do not refer to it, just as there is no need for any Muslim to defend what is so clearly wrong with the Quran. For we have all moved on, and those who havn't - they are the ones we all must pull out of the religious quicksand they insist on remaining in.
    By secularlogic 05/11/2016 01:45:07
  • 10 .
    Can an atheist be a literalist?
    An enlightened believer may try to take the best meaning from a verse but an Islamophobe will insist on taking the worst meaning from it, as if to hold the feet of the enlightened believer on fire. Some of the worst literalists on the internet are Sanghis, Zionists, other Islamophobes and  (no surprise) Salafists.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin 04/11/2016 13:45:40