Should Muslims also be considered as Terrorist?
With the very significant events that had happened in the past few years of modern human history involving Muslims, when talking about these large group of people, immediately what comes directly to anyone’s mind? Is it right to conclude or accept a general view that all Muslims are also terrorists and that it runs in their blood to act in such violent ways? A lot of publications, such as newspapers, magazines, articles and journals over the internet and even on television shows, are involved in portraying that Muslims are violent people. When involving Muslims as subjects in every story, it simply refers to each and every Muslim in any part of the world. There also some who carefully explains that not all Muslims are terrorists. Before proceeding to the main argument of this paper, it is best to know some important details regarding who are these Muslim people, who started Islam, their culture and religious beliefs, and the influences of their learnings (whether religious aspect or not) largely affecting the way they relate, with other societies.
Muslims also spelled as Moslems, are people who practice the religion of Islam, preached by Muhammad in the A.D. 600’s. Muslim is an Arabic word that means one who submits (to God). There are Muslim communities throughout the world today. They form the majority of the population in the Middle East, North Africa, and such south and southeast-Asian nations as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan. The first Muslims, the Arabs, began in the 600’s to set up an empire that eventually stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of China. This empire absorbed many peoples and their cultures. The Muslims have been called the standard bearers of learning during the Middle Ages. They transmitted much of the knowledge of the ancient world, and helped lay the foundations for Western culture. Arab Muslims made such an impact on the Middle East that today much of the area is known as the Arab world, Arabic as its major language, and Islam its chief religion. Much has already evolved and changed since that time in 632 when the Muslim prophet and leader Muhammad died. There were several separate groups competed for leadership among the Muslims. Overthrowing and quarreling among different sectors existed for power and domination over all Muslim people. There was the rise of Muslim learning when they first into contact with Greek science and philosophy, Persian history and literature as a result of their conquests. The spreading of Islam throughout the Middle East and North Africa began with conquests launched from Mecca and Medina. After Muhammad died in A.D. 632, Abu Bakr, his close companion, was elected caliph (successor). He and later caliphs encouraged the “jihad” (holy war) against the Sassanid Empire of Iran and the Christian Byzantine Empire. Within a hundred years the Muslims had an empire from Spain to India. Muslims united millions of different people socially and culturally into one great empire. They established a splendid civilization in Iraq, Persia (now Iran), Syria, North Africa, and Spain. They encouraged learning as part of religious duty and preserved much of the classical knowledge of the ancient world, translating it from Greek , Syriac, and Persian into Arabic. Muslim scholars also developed new ideas, notably in sciences such as astronomy, medicine, philosophy, mathematics and chemistry. This work was later transmitted through Muslim Spain into Europe and translated into Latin. The Muslims also built magnificent mosques and other structures, such as the Alhambra in Spain and the Taj Mahal in India. When most Muslims gained independence in the 1900’s, they formed a highly important group of nations that stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Philippines. Some of the world’s busiest trade and communications routes cross their territories. The chief problems of the newly independent Muslim countries have been to achieve stable governments and to feed their people. Some Muslim nations, such as Bangladesh, Egypt, and Sudan, have too many people living on too little land. Other countries lack the moisture and fertile soil needed to produce food. None is truly industrialized yet. Old quarrels and conflicting interests keep the Muslim peoples from being united. But they are bound by religious and cultural ties and a determination to resist colonialism (Haneef, 1995).
Prophet Muhammad, in the A.D. 600’s, brought Islam into the world. Islam is the Arabic word for “submission”. It is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing religions. There are about one billion Muslims in the world today. The largest Muslim communities exist in the Middle East, North Africa, India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, the Soviet Union and China. In Europe, Islam is the principal religion in western Turkey and Albania (Haneef, 1995).
Ethics and Morals are one of the most important concepts in Islam through the Quran. The Quran denounces usury (money lending for profit), gambling, and drinking of alcohol. Like the Bible, it forbids lying, stealing, adultery, and murder. Punishment for some offences, such as theft or adultery, can be severe. However, the Quran softens the ancient Jewish law of retaliation in cases of homicide or injury (“an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” Exodus 21:23) by permitting the payment of blood money and by urging for forgiveness. The Quran lays down measures to restrict slavery. Masters are asked to allow their slaves to draw up a document to purchase their own freedom through paid labour. The freeing of slaves is recommended as a charitable deed or an atonement for certain sins. In addition, the Prophet Muhammad was insistent that slaves should be well treated. The Quran does not ban marriage to more than one wife, but limits the maximum number of wives to four. It also asks men to limit themselves to one wife if they feel they really cannot give fair and equal treatment to more than one wife. The Quran teaches respect for parents, protection for orphans and windows, and charity to the poor. God will reward the giver of charity both in this life and in the next. It reaches the virtues of faith in God, kindness, honesty, industry, honour, courage, and generosity (Haneef, 1995).
Two of the most essential beliefs of a Muslim that are based on what is contained in the Quran are the “belief in God” and the “hereafter”. Belief in God is explained as, Muslims believe that there is only one God and that the proper name of God, as He has called Himself in the Quran, is “Allah.” He is the same God who is worshipped by Christians and Jews. Many qualities of God are described in the Quran, the most prominent of them being His mercy. The Quran asks Muslims to remember God often. It says that He answers people’s benefit. The Quran frequently reminds Muslim’s of God’s bounty to human beings. It is God who sends down rain and causes vegetation to grow. God made men and women His representatives on earth, and gave them mastery over the beasts and over nature. According to the Quran, the worst sin a person can commit is that of ingratitude to God, by worshipping beings other than Him. Hereafter is explained as, Islam teaches that life on earth is a period of testing and preparation for the life to come. God, who is able to see all things, witnesses, all a person’s good and bad deeds and these are recorded by the angels. Muslims believe in a last day, or judgment day, when everyone will receive the record of his or her deeds on earth. Their deeds will be weighed in the scales, and those whose bad deeds outweigh their good deeds will go to hell, while those whose scales are heavy with good deeds will go to heaven. The sorrows and tortures of hell described in the Quran resemble those described in the Bible, with images of fire and extreme heat. As for heaven, this is described as a beautiful garden with rivers flowing through it and delicious fruit growing trees, luxurious couches and beautiful maidens. But the Quran says that we cannot appreciate the joys of heaven, for they are incomparably greater than the pleasures of this life (Haneef, 1995).
The background of Muslims that have just been presented will serve as a foundation of this argument paper where two variations will be based, whether to consider Muslims as terrorists or not all Muslims should be involved as terrorists in this literary dispute.
Terrorism, according to Becker (2006), was falsely believed to be started by Muslims, has been used by the modern ally between the American and Israel people as their main reason in promoting and engaging into wars against the people and the state of Islamic regions all over the world. Such terrorism acts are used to produce violence threats and create fear and alarm. It involves, murdering and kidnapping people, setting off bombs, hijacking airplanes, starting fires and committing other serious crimes. But terrorists’ goals are different from the goals of the ordinary criminals. Most criminals want money or some other form of personal gain. But most terrorists commit crimes to support political and religious causes.
Generally, terrorists attack people who oppose their cause or objects that symbolize such opposition. Common victims of terrorist kidnappings and assassinations include diplomats, business executives, political leaders, judges and police. They also attach churches, synagogues and other places of worship, oil refineries, and government offices. At other times, terrorists simply choose any target certain to attract newspaper or TV coverage. Some terrorists hijack airplanes or seize public buildings. Then they hold the passengers, or occupants, hostage and make demands to further their cause. They often threaten to kill the hostages if their demands are not met. Bombings make up about half of all terrorist acts (Becker, 2006). With knowing how terrorism works and is continuously existing, why are Muslims considered to be playing a big part on this? In the article written by Abd al-Rahman al-Rashid (2004), he clearly emphasized the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists but rather, majority of those engaged in terrorism acts are Muslims. In kowing such facts, it is very sad and depressing especially to the part of all Muslim communities. He even illustrated some example scenarios of these. Students being kidnapped in Beslan city (Ossetia State in Russia) were done by people who were identified Muslims. Identified Muslims were also responsible for killing chefs in Nepal and Iraq laborers. Perpetrators of murder and rape of victims (also Muslims) in Darfur were also identified as Muslims. Blowing up of housing complexes of civilians of Khobar and Riyadh were also identified as Muslims. Two reporters in Iraq, who are French and have been kidnapped, were also identified as Muslims. Bin Laden and al-Hawthi are Muslims including those prominent suspects for the past ten years, who violently conducted suicidal acts in different scenarios such as schools, buses, houses, buildings, were identified as Muslims. There is also the name of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim religious scholar who has two daughters studying under a British protection unit in United Kingdom, is also permitting at the same time the fatwa or allowing the elimination of civilian Americans in Iraq. He was also the one whose influence in Islam is that it is a religion of having mercy and tolerating well in fact they are just words that are not put into actions.
These kinds of violence are so opposite of what we know originally about Muslims. They are the ones who, we know, value life so much but why it appears so disturbing now, knowing that almost all terrorists are Muslims? Reasons behind these rooted from two factors largely affecting human evolution: political and religious. Political reasons, according to Alam (2006), started when allies among United States, Israel and Zionists inflicted this fear. It was not hard on their part when they brought up again the issues of Western’s being obsessed with the idea that Muslims are highly and strictly imposing their religion to most parts of all the world. Neoconservative thinkers and Zionists continued promoting and regarding that Islam is anti-modernist, against freedom and unfavorable of the rights of minorities and women. They see Muslims, until now, as the only remaining hindrance to Western domination. The slow destruction of the reputation of Muslims did not just stop there. Zionists even pointed out by arguing that the uprising and the expansion of Muslim sects are considered to be threats to the developments of the Westerns. As very dangerous threats, they were to attack Israel first and then proceed with destroying Europe and the United States. They were really into imposing their religion globally no matter what it takes. Moreover, the Zionists made warnings over and over again that Muslim sects would settle in using terror as their best strategy in imposing what they wanted to happen. They used this in destroying Israel before and they are going to use it again in destroying target Western culture. When that certain fear started, smaller groups started to be formed separating from the majority of Muslims who also fight against their government’s corruption acts. Those who separated had their major goal and that is attacking the one behind helping out Israel, and that is the United States. There they have already started their terrorism attacks. When the Twin Towers were attacked by nineteen Al-Quidan hi-jackers, the global view about Muslims became worst. They have all been regarded as terrorists by some and that most of them can be potential terrorists, those who have the right sets of motivation in doing such killings. This further promoted a raging war against the territories of Muslims but not on Islam directly. Charging Muslims as terrorists by those American and Western countries who see them as a threat to their own global developments is highly considered to be reason in promoting and encouraging nationalists to engage in war against Islam and its people. Seeing Muslims as threats to modern globalization, Americans, Westerns and other countries who are against Muslims, will do everything in their best power to eliminate such Islamic threats, afterwhich, they will be the only ones to remain in enjoying the benefits of modern globalization and will flourish more than any other countries all over the world (Alam, 2006).
When it comes to religion, this has been the most controversial and the most influential in some Muslims’ act of terrorism (Johnson, 2002). He was emphasizing, in the article that he wrote, the confusing situations of the “suicide bombers”. It was considered to be confusing because Muslims are believed to value life more than anything else in the world but then these Muslim “suicide bombers”, it was just easy on their parts to blew their body parts into pieces. What motivated them to do such violent missions actually came from what they have learned from their religious mentors. Around the year 1970, it was known that a small starting group of anomalous Muslims were teaching and interpreting the words from the Quran the wrong way. Muslims were made to believe that the Quran are words which came directly from Allah. This small groups have found the right words to wrongly persuade the believers and made them understood the Quran the other way, the negative way. They were made to believe and follow that they are highly required to do such acts of terrorism against their enemies Israel, United States and other Western countries who are opposing their wills. They were highly convinced that upon doing suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism, they will inherit Heaven or be in Paradise after their purposeful deaths. It was not also considered to be an act of committing suicide. This idea was based from cited words from the Quran which was misinterpreted by the group, “It is not for any soul to die, by God’s permission written down for an appointed time… (Sura 3, Imram’s Family 3.139)”. In addition to this are more words from the Quran that were considered to be the main roots of the problem. From Chapter 47 of Sura, paragraph 4 says, “And when ye meet those who misbelieve then striking off heads until ye have massacred them, and bind fast the bonds!”, and paragraph 5 says, “Then either a free grant of liberty or a ransom until the war shall have laid down its burdens. That! But if God please He would conquer them but it is that He may try some of you by the others. And those who are slain in God’s cause, their works shall not go wrong; He will guide them and set right their mind; and will make them enter into Paradise which He has told them of.” According to the group that misinterprets words from the Quran, these paragraphs mean that only those who died as holy warriors who fought for their belief in God Himself can be saved and can be with Him in Heaven or in Paradise. They even included in their persuasion additional incentives, especially to youthful men, that they will be able to meet 70 virgin maidens when they reached Paradise or Heaven after their purposeful death. Furthermore, the Koran were also the Muslims’ basis for their understanding that believers of the book should be treated with honor and respect. But the anomalous Muslims who were making such interpretations took advantage of such words by creating a different meaning to it that motivated more the urge of some Muslims to spread terrorism. They interpreted it, as also emphasized by Muhammad, that “believers of the book” only refers to Muslims and not to Christians and Jews so these non-believers like them should be eliminated. The moment they have done that then they are promised to go to Heaven (Johnson, 2002). Why do some Muslims let themselves be persuaded with such misinterpretations which make them kill even their own lives? This is because lives in the slum areas and cities are so difficult. Food supply is not enough for everybody. They get depressed because of so much little happiness around. With the persuasions being fed into their hungry minds, they have been convinced that they can have the easiest possible solution in achieving eternal happiness, and that is to fight for what they believe is right and die as holy warriors. In such ways, they will not be able to undergo the difficulties of being depressed, hungry and misfortunate for a long time. They were made to believe that all that they need to do is kill their enemies by blowing themselves in public places.
As to my understanding to this whole argument, Muslims should not be generalized and be considered to be terrorists. Not all Muslims should be regarded as terror-spreaders. There are only some who have been misled by politically-inclined leaders who only think of global domination and elimination of possible threats to their plans as leaders of Muslim sects and communities. These several Muslims who continuously express their unwavering faith by spreading terrorism, lack the proper education. Their undying faith with Allah has been taken advantage by those who rule over them. They were led to believe that the easiest possible way of getting away from the difficulties and trials they are experiencing is already their best solution. They have been taught to use that strong urge to fulfill their dreams to have an easy life the fast way.
I think that the best solution to these disputes is for all Muslim leaders come to a common understanding that the people they are leading and representing are deeply affected by these issues. They can only solve this by bringing back the old teachings of Quran, correct all misinterpretations and be able to teach the proper meanings to the words of Allah. This might not be an easy task to accomplish but taking it step by step will not only lead all Muslims to a peaceful living but also all other countries all over the world that are involved.
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Becker, T. Terrorism and the State: Rethinking the Rules of State Responsibility. Hart Publishin, Ltd. 2006.
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Johnson, A. “Motivation of the Islamic Terrorists.” January 2002. 11 May 2008 <http://www.mb-soft.com/public/terroris.html>.
Alam, S.A. “Muslims=Terrorists.” 21 October 2006. 11 May 2008 <http://www.amin.org/look/amin/en.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=7&NrArticle=37591&NrIssue=1&NrSection=3>.
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