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Nobody is perfect: terrorism, tragedy and religion

by Breonnah Colon - Lifestyles Editor
Wed, Dec 6th 2017 11:35 am

Across the western-world, the term Islam is synonymous with the term terrorist. As a result, when most people think of a Muslim, a wide diaspora of media stories describing suicide bombings and the memory of the September 11 attacks over 15 years ago resurface frequently. Muslims are commonly viewed as dangerous and to a further extent, Islam as a whole is considered a violent religion that promotes extremism.

Now ignorance may very well be bliss, but not when peoples’ lives are at risk. This is precisely the case for many Muslims who, believe it or not, tend to make up the group most impacted by terrorist attacks. Given the media portrayal of Islam, this fact may seem absurd, but that’s because with ignorance of Islam comes ignorance of those who practice Islam in all of its variant ways.

Terrorist  groups established in the name of Islam tend to overemphasize rules they claim are part of Shariah law, such as the use of suicide to kill those who are either opposed to Islam or do not follow the religion “properly”, commonly referred to as jihad by the western world. This sort of association is dangerous because it implies that this is the general understanding and practices integral to Islam, therefore also implying that all Muslims participate in this ideology and manner of practice.

The implications of Shariah law are much too complex to explain thoroughly in this article; however, what can be explained is the fact that ISIS repeatedly skews Islamic teachings and obligations in order to benefit and justify its own agenda.

For example, it is part of Shariah law and a very basic principle of Islam for all Muslims to live as peaceful a life as possible, especially during the holy month of Ramadan. However, this year alone, ISIS participated in several terrorist attacks, specifically targeting Muslims during this holy month — an act strictly and clearly prohibited according to Shariah law.

A CNN article titled “Terrorists have made this a most bloody Ramadan” explains the atrocities committed by  ISIS and another terrorist group known as the Taliban, both of which targeted and killed hundreds of Muslims and non-muslims over the course of the month. These events neither began nor ended with Ramadan this year. Only a week ago, more than 200 people were attacked and killed at a mosque in Egypt during the holy prayer of Jummah according, to a BBC article. Such attacks are not only devastating, but also offensive to the very entity which these groups are claiming to promote. Most of the developed world is unable to understand this.

To be clear, these attacks are not carried out because Islam is so inherently violent that followers are simply bound to take it upon themselves to attack any and everyone, including those who follow the same religion. Like any other religion, Islam has many denominations and sects, each with its own interpretations of the core principles of the religion. Much like how Catholicism has denominations such as Christianity, Pentecostalism and Mormonism, Islam has denominations such as Shia, Sunni and Sufism. Much like how different sects of the Christian faith go against one another or have altering practices, so do Islamic sects. It is frequently on this basis that Muslims tend to be the victims of attacks or extremist rhetoric such as the case with the practices of ISIS.

The way many attackers justify these acts is by denouncing certain sects as non-Islamic. In the case of the mass murder of worshippers at the al-Rawda mosque in Egypt, those attacked were Sufis. Sufism is a more spiritual sect of Islam which recognizes and worships the idea of saints. To extremiss groups, this is a basis for attack, seeing as the absolute main principle of Islam is there is only one God, with no other figure that should be worshiped in a similar fashion.

The moral of the story is this: no one is perfect, regardless of their religious beliefs or practices. That means no one has the right to judge, hurt or kill someone because of their religious beliefs or practices. While the western world can easily condemn the act of terrorism, it may also see fit to condemn the act of blind ignorance. Islam is much more complex than the brutish acts of terrorism too often displayed in mainstream media, and everyday Muslims are too often heavily criticised for their participation in their chosen religion. 

Islam and ISIS are not the same, nor are terrorists and Muslims. It would benefit everyone if the same world which is quick to denounce terrorism is able to identify that such people are not true or proper Muslims.

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