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How to fight terror

Jan 22,2015 - Last updated at Jan 22,2015

Whenever an act of terror is committed in the name of Islam or attributed to “Islamists”, the first to feel both hurt and upset are Muslims themselves.

Islam never sanctions or condones hurting or killing innocent people. Islam is clear on this. Killings happen only in the battlefield, when soldier are openly and directly firing at each other.

I still distinctly remember a religious lesson we took in fifth grade, in which it was explicitly stated that when a soldier drops his arms even in the battlefield, not only should his life be spared, but he should be treated civilly and humanely.

This is the Islam we know and cherish. And this is why we, Muslims, feel hurt and upset when we see or hear the so-called “radical Islamists” killing innocent people, kidnapping civilians, raping “infidels” or executing suicide bombings.

Islam condones none of these acts, which are all alien to it. And there is no radicalism in Islam.

Those who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are murderers, outcasts, mercenaries, opportunists or misguided individuals.

Like any other religion, Islam, alas, gets manipulated and abused by both “Muslims” and others.

The only Muslims who abuse Islam today are the perverse ideologues who politicise it, which means those who are using religion for political gain. And, naturally, mercenary or gullible individuals whom the former employ to achieve their goals.

Any mainstream Muslim scholar asked about Islam and violence would say that Islam does neither condone nor in any way abet violence.

The Prophet Mohammad is an example to all Muslims. He never preached or acted violently and he always forgave even those who ridiculed and harmed him.

The war in the Islamic world today is between the true scholars and followers of Islam who have the apt, correct understanding of it as a religion of love, tolerance, coexistence and advancement of human learning, and the politicised ideologues who use, and abuse, Islam in order to further their political ambitions.

The sad fact is that ideologues are more powerful than the scholars and the innocent believers because they have the full backing and support of some mighty countries in both the region and abroad, and they have full control of some major media outlets which propagate their ideas, in addition, of course, to the fact that they dominate and hijack the mosque pulpit.

The faithful among the people follow what the scholars say, in addition to their own common sense, but because of the power and visibility of ideologues, and the relative weakness and invisibility of the scholars, people mistake the ideologues for scholars and thus fall prey to their deviant schemes.

Until Islamic countries make it clear to their citizens who the true representatives of Islam are, Islam will continue to be manipulated and abused, and some gullible Muslims will be tools in the hands of ideologues.

What complicates the picture is that these radicals or ideologues get a lot of support not just from countries in the region, but from some heavyweight world powers.

It is no secret that the US and some European countries did (perhaps still do) support and abet some of these radicals, formerly in the war against the defunct Soviet Union and recently during the Arab Spring uprisings against some regimes in the Arab world.

The so-called Islamic State, which is everybody’s declared enemy and nightmare now, has itself been created and supported, both directly and indirectly, by regional and international powers seeking to overthrow dictatorial regimes in the region.

IS and others like it are the skeleton in the closet for several regional and world powers. It is they who bear the blame for its existence and power today — perhaps even for its sustenance.

IS and other radical jihadist movements are first and foremost a curse to countries in the region; i.e., a curse to Arabs and Muslims. 

Naturally, they are also — to a lesser but growing extent — becoming a curse to Western countries. Two things need to be done to fight and eliminate terror, in addition to the current military campaign.

The first, which pertains to Arab and Muslim countries, is to empower mainstream, enlightened Muslim scholars and disempower, control and even prosecute the radical ideologues who instigate and cause violence and terror.

The second, pertaining to all players in the region, is for both the Middle-Eastern countries and world powers to sit down in earnest and agree on a clear plan to stop aiding, abetting, harbouring, sponsoring or giving refuge to radicals and ideologues.

If this is not done, and speedily, we will continue to be both witnesses and objects of the horrors that radical “Islamists” are committing in the region and abroad.

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