Addressing Terrorism

Co-authored by Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart, ‘A Guide To Refuting Jihadism: Critiquing Radical Islamist Claims To Theological Authenticity’ is one of the most comprehensive and subsequently heavy texts that I have read on the subject.

Refuting Terrorism Report – Click on the link to download the report.

Delivering the much-needed counter-narrative to popular beliefs held by a slew of terrorist organisations who have cited certain historical texts in an effort to validate their injustices around the world, the publication makes for interesting reading but I fear sadly, will neither be understood by the audience in need of it, nor receive the mainstream coverage it is so deserving of.

Over 90 pages, the report addresses five areas and how they have been misunderstood and misrepresented by terrorists: The Land of Islam, Reclaiming Muslim Land, Peace Treaties, The Caliphate, and Jihad. Moreover it is fully referenced providing any person genuinely interested in understanding more about the subject reference points to investigate further. – One of the most shameful charges amongst Muslims today is ‘daleel,’ ‘evidence’ they cry, show us your evidence. Well here it is.

For the sake of brevity, I am not delving into the substance of the report which can be quite complex, instead, my focus is on the following set of thoughts:

One of the greatest misdirections of modern terrorists is to distinguish the Muslim from non-Muslim identity and land. Imagine the irony, that these terrorists desire to recreate the conditions which existed at the time of Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, all the while, they reference the classifications of the land of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the land of war (dar al-garb), neither of which are actually mentioned in the Quran or hadith. Both of these terms were created in the medieval period, hundreds of years AFTER the time of Prophet Muhammad.

For these terrorist – men and women – who claim to understand the example of Prophet Muhammad, looking to emulate it, their flippancy towards human life which God Almighty has made scared is alarming. Again, instead of relying on specific edicts from the Quran or indeed Hadith, they rely on a body of interpretative opinion across various ages which have gone beyond God’s law, by seeking to rationalise the unjust – that is the murder of innocent civilians. The Quran prohibits this specifically.

Moreover I personally struggle with trying to understand a mindset where hatred of ‘the other’ becomes such a motivator that it supersedes the underlying Identity of God, Al-Adl, meaning, The Just. My only solace is the Prophetic statement that the best of people before Islam will be the best of people after Islam; meaning that the worst of people before Islam will be the worst of people after Islam. It is not faith which determines a person’s behaviour, but the way they choose to think. That is to say that bad people are found in every belief structure. The same shock we hold for Buddhists terrorists should be held for those using Islam to rationalise their injustices.

Some terrorists are ‘converts’ to the faith and in the case of a handful their actions reflect their insecurities and problems before and after accepting Islam. For them, it is not the rational of discovery, dialogue and choice, which drew them to the beauty of the faith; something experienced by millions around the world as Islam remains one of the fastest growing religions in the world.

As for those who were born into Muslim families, the only response to them is through another of Prophet Muhammad’s statements, that the strong person is not the one with physical strength, but the one able to control themselves when they are angry. That is to say that when we see an injustice in this world, if our response is based on anger, if it is reactionary, it will lead to another injustice. Instead, the correct way to respond is to behave in a way which maintains the values and indeed dignity required by Islam.

For me, personally, I have always retained a single measure of character. When a non-Muslim acts unjustly I would say that perhaps the message of kindness and justice has not reached them – even though the vast majority of non-Muslims are like Muslims, inherently good hearted people; whether it is the current Pope all the way down to the everyday person you meet on the street. Most people, are good people.

But when a Muslim acts in an unjust manner, to have read the book of God, and to not come away understanding the message of kindness, mercy, compression, humanity and love. To come away not understanding that ‘the person who takes the life of one unjustly it is as if they have murdered all of humanity.’ To blatantly ignore the specific prescription set by God with regards to the value of human life, this to me demonstrates exactly how far removed such a person is from Islam.

God Almighty sums up terrorists who misrepresent the Quran in the Quran, “And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers. Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they do not understand. (2:11-12).

For any who may feel disenfranchised with society and may find themselves allured to the call of terrorists, the report provides a detailed and referenced response to many claims preached by those who call for division and hatred. For the rest of us, simple humanity and decency is more than sufficient to know that such behaviour is wrong – we do not need such lengthy scholarly texts to know the difference between right and wrong. Common humanity and basic manners are sufficient for so many of us.

And if any of us feel sufficiently motivated to address any particular subject, let us remember that those of us living in developed democracies have the ability to speak up and influence, even change, our representative leaders. So the next time you feel sad because you may disagree with your nation’s foreign policy, blame no-one but yourself for not being more active and engaged in your society, shifting public opinion to facilitate a better, more fair foreign policy.

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