Muslims in today’s world are seen as an alien, hateful and violent people. The hatred might be historical however, the violence and alienation has been developed by none other than us (Muslims). Anti-Islamic sentiments have been around since the dawn of this great religion, first in Arabia then across the world.
‘Islamophobia’ is a relatively new term taking its roots among the new generation. Muslims are being discriminated against in non-Muslim countries (especially in the West). Even in Muslim countries, Muslims themselves discriminate on the basis of “sects” which is a very sorry sight. However, we have to understand that this Islamophobia is not something that abruptly started spreading. It took years to spread and some effort (made easy by Muslims themselves).
Although Muslims are divided in sects, there is a further division within Muslims which are classified as “moderate” and “extremists / fundamentalists / radicals”, though the rest of the world sees them as one. The reason for that is that Muslims (altogether normally) are hot-blooded. Then there is hypocrisy, Muslims will protest when Palestine is bombed by Israel, but they will be unaware of the massacres in Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan or in any other country carried out by (what the world know as) Islamists.
Theory of Islamists: Most of these ‘Islamists’ believe that infidels must be killed without regard. As time passes by, the definition of infidel for them has changed to “anyone who don’t believe in what they believe”. Hence they will kill regardless of religion or status. The most common word for this act (for them) is ‘Jihad’. These interest groups have their own agenda (which is power obviously) and to fulfill that, they go as far as to distort the Holy Book of Islam and use it in their favor.
Absurd as it seems, it also in total contradictions with the teachings of Islam. The Holy Book clearly lays out guidelines to a perfect and flawless society. Islam stands for peace and the well-being of each and every living creature on earth. But some elements withing Islam have deformed the script with their own interpretations, taking some part of verses and disregarding others all together.
Islam is for tolerance
There should be no compulsion in religion
(Al-Quraa’n chapter 2 verse 257)
This is what the Holy Quraa’n teaches us. As Muslims, we should tolerate each and everyone without judging their actions. History shows that the colonies of Mecca and Medina after the advent of Islam were an emblem of peace and tolerance. While that must be in distant past, a more recent example is that of Jerusalem when it was ruled by Saladin.
What about Jihad and fighting?
If one has read Quraa’n, it is evident that it doesn’t speak of fighting endlessly. Even in times of war Allah (God in Arabic) has commanded Muslims not to be aggressors. The verses about war in Quraa’n are often mistaken for senseless killings, the truth however, is that Allah doesn’t want senseless bloodshed and violence is strictly forbidden.
The verses which permit fighting when read with former context reveal the true picture.
22:40 Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged — and Allah indeed has power to help them.
22: 41 Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated.
(Al-Quraa’n chapter 22 verses 40-41)
Hence, the permission to take up arms is only to those who are either at war and weren’t the aggressors. They can fight if and only if they are being driven out of their homes just because of their difference of belief.
2:191 And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely, Allah loves NOT the transgressors.
2:192 And kill them wherever you meet them and drive them out from where they have driven you out; for persecution is worse than killing. And fight them not in, and near, the Sacred Mosque until they fight you therein. But if they fight you, then fight them: such is the requital for the disbelievers.
2:193 But if they desist, then surely Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (hence show mercy to them)
2:194 And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.
(Al-Quraa’n chapter 2 verses 191-194)
Muslims are to fight those who fight them as aggressors (i.e. they can defend themselves). If the enemy seizes to fight, then Muslims aren’t prohibited to fight them. Then there are verses which speak of the ‘infidels’
9:4 Excepting those of the idolaters with whom you have entered into a treaty and who have not subsequently failed you in anything nor aided anyone against you. So fulfill to these the treaty you have made with them till their term. Surely, Allah loves those who are righteous.
9:5 And when the forbidden months have passed, kill the idolaters wherever you find them and take them prisoners, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat, then leave their way free. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.
9:6 And if anyone of the idolaters ask protection of thee, grant him protection so that he may hear the word of Allah; then convey him to his place of security. That is because they are a people who have no knowledge.
(Al-Quraa’n chapter 9 verses 4-6)
Even here Allah is commanding the Muslims to fulfill their treaties with the ‘infidels’ and if they seek protection, it is binding to a Muslim to give them protection. How much more specific can one get to understand that Allah is asking to avoid bloodshed and violence from Muslims, time and again it speaks of making peace, avoiding violence and yet today they are feared the most.
It isn’t Allah, it isn’t Islam and it isn’t Quraa’n that is radical or evil, but the intentions and goals of certain group of people who dub themselves Muslims. Equally responsible are those moderates (Muslims) who do not come forward to challenge these destructive individuals who have mutilated the image of a great religion, Islam.