One would have thought after all the negative media and rhetoric Muslims have had to suffer, especially in this election cycle, the barbaric group ISIS will spare the humiliation of Muslims in the west. That is if the so-called organization is not truly motivated by political ambitions but has the interest of Muslims at heart as its members claim, they will not exacerbate the Islamophobia in the West. American-Muslims since 9/11 have had to bear the brunt of negative stereotypes, and the latest attack in Brussels will add fuel to the already deep-seated mistrust of Muslims in the country.
How could indiscriminate killing of innocent people constitute a defense of Islam if not for political ambitions? Tragically, innocent people are lying in a pool of blood in Brussels and last week in Turkey, just because of a twisted and politically motivated group with little knowledge of Islam.
Since last year, ISIS has shown its intent to cause mayhem in the west, and we ought to start a very deep conversation to find a lasting solution to this menace. Since these attackers claim to be Muslims, the conversation should start from Muslims themselves.
The actions of ISIS have nothing to do with the true teachings of Islam, which in no uncertain terms condemn the taking of innocent lives (Quran 5:33). Muslims across the globe need to reflect deeply about the havoc the misinterpretation of the word “jihad” in the era of non-religious wars has allowed. This misinterpretation has enabled a group like ISIS to flourish and to sell its ideology to young and ignorant people, who in turn commit such heinous crimes as in Brussels, Turkey, San Bernardino and Paris.
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There is no doubt that ISIS has perverted the verses of the Holy Quran and some hadiths to suit its evil agenda, but the truth is that we will be fighting a losing battle if we do not admit that central to ISIS growth has been our inability to clearly explain the true meaning of jihad in an era when Islam is under serious attack from an intellectual perspective.
I know a lot of Muslims groups are reaching out to young vulnerable Muslims who are at risk to fall prey to ISIS doctrine. If the Muslim community does not coalesce around the true interpretation of jihad as given by the founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian more than a century ago, that jihad in this day and age is via the pen and not with the sword, our effort will be futile.
The actions of ISIS are the antithesis to the true teachings of Islam, and it is time to stop the constant humiliation by this group.
We live in an era where Islam is viewed by some as an enemy to all due to the actions of terror groups with political agendas, and thus the more we could demystify all these notions through the pen the more the general public would appreciate the value of Islam for the moral uplifting of society.
Seidu Malik is the publication secretary for the RTP Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Chapel Hill.