Sunday, July 29, 2007

Islamic Terrorism - A Fundamental Mistake!

The first time I heard terms like 'Islamic terrorist' and 'Islamic terrorism' I got both angry and sad. Angry because the media got it all so wrong and sad because of the amount of bad publicity Islam as a religion received due to it.

The word 'Islam' means "submission or total surrender of oneself to God or Allah." The Oxford dictionary defines 'terrorism' as "the act of using violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims." So the very use of these two words together is fundamentally and factually wrong. Surely the lord doesn't want his own creations to hate, fight and kill each other. Unfortunately this is the sad truth of today. We fight in the name of religion, which we practice according to our convenience. We don’t know our own religion well and we question the faith and beliefs of others.

The holiest book for Muslims – the Qur-án – starts with the verse (or Ayát), "Bismilláh hir rahmán ir rahím." It is very important to reiterate the fact that the first Súra of the holy book (Al-Fátiha) has this as the first verse. It means, "In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful." And this is what the famous translator of Qur-án Abdullah Yusuf Ali has to say about it in his commentary on the holy book:

The Arabic words "Rahmán"and "Rahím" translated "Most Gracious" and "Most Merciful" are both intensive forms referring to different aspects of God's attribute of Mercy. The Arabic intensive is more suited to express God's attributes than the superlative degree in English. The latter implies a comparison with other beings, or with other times or places, while there is no being like unto God, and He is independent of Time and Place. Mercy may imply pity, long-suffering, patience, and forgiveness, all of which the sinner needs and God Most Merciful bestows in abundant measure. But there is a Mercy that goes before even the need arises, the Grace which is ever watchful, and flows from God Most Gracious to all His creatures, protecting them, preserving them, guiding them, and leading them to clearer light and higher life. For this reason the attribute Rahmán (Most Gracious) is not applied to any but God, but the attribute Rahím (Merciful), is a general term, and may also be applied to Men. To make us contemplate these boundless gifts of God, the formula : "In the name of god Most Gracious, Most Merciful" :is placed before every Súra of the Qurán (except the ninth), and repeated at the beginning of every act by the Muslim who dedicates his life to God, and whose hope is in His Mercy.

How can a religion which asks its followers not to forget the lord at any stage of their life teach violence in any form?

The same fact has been stressed upon throughout the book of the lord.
"Let there be no compulsion in religion." 2:255

"Invite (all) to the Way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious." 16:125

"Did not God check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure." 22:40

"Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors." 2:190

I can quote several other verses but the point is God has clearly instructed us to be human first. It’s a pity that the extremist amongst us overlook all these commandments of God and quote certain verses in the wrong context to suit their beliefs. What can one say about a set of people who don’t even fully agree with the book of the lord. They are surely not the Muslims that Qur-án is talking about.

Not just the Qur-án but the life of the Prophet Mohammad [PBUH] is full of respect for others. He always laid stress on the importance of making peace with others, sometimes against the wishes of his ardent supporters. And he was never the first to raise sword against any of his opponents.

Sadly today the extremists in the Muslim world are quoting weak hadiths and misinterpreting Qur-án to justify their stand. Unfortunately, Islam is getting maligned in the process. And this, certainly, is not what the founder of Islam thought when he started his quest 14 centuries back.

We, as Muslims, have to do some serious introspection. And as for the media, every religion of the world came for the good of mankind. They all teach us to be better human beings and to respect each other. Therefore, something which has such moral values fundamental to its very being can never show people the wrong path, let alone a path of violence and terrorism!