A bomb goes off in a marketplace in Tel Aviv. A suicide bomber launches himself in a bus full of people in the street of Baghdad. Foreign tourists get massacred at a holiday resort in Nairobi, Kenya. This can go on and on. We all have heard this kind of pathetic news in the media. These kinds of incidents are widely known as Islamic terrorism according to the western media. All such incidents have come to be identified with the religion of Islam. Such incidents from past and present have undoubtedly affected Muslims worldwide and more so in the West. Any Muslim, who wants to practice his/her religion and expresses the pious desire to live under the umbrella of Islam, is labeled a fundamentalist or extremist. However, are such beliefs and opinions about Islam really justified? A couple of things we all have to remember: Islam is not an Arab religion, it's a religion of 1.2 billions of people worldwide. Not all of them are involved with terrorism. One of the many shortcomings that have arisen in the West is judging Islam by the conduct of a minority of its people. By doing this, segments of western society have deliberately portrays the desperate actions of many Muslims, and have given it the name of Islam. Such behavior is clearly not objective and seeks to distort the reality of Islam. For if such a thing was done - judge a religion by the conduct of its people - then Muslim too could say that all Christianity is about child molesting and homosexuality whilst Hinduism was all about looting and breaking up mosques. Generalizing in such a manner is not seen as being objective, yet we find that the Western world is foremost in propagating this outlook on Islam. So what is real Islam? How does one dispel the myths, which have been created and spread so viciously? The only way one can examine Islam is to simply examine its belief system, the Qur'an and Sunnah, not on Osama Bin Laden's activities. This is the way to find the truth about what Islam says about terror, terrorism and terrorists. Anybody who is sincerely searching for the truth will do it no other way. The very name Islam comes from the Arabic root word 'salama' that means peace. Islam is a religion that is based upon achieving peace through the submission to the will of Allah (God). Thus, by this very simple linguistic definition, one can ascertain as to what the nature of this religion is. If such a religion is based on the notion of peace, then how is it that so many acts done by its adherents are contrary to peace? The answer is simple. Such actions, if not sanctioned by the religion, have no place in Islam. They are not Islamic and should not be thought of as Islamic. The word jihad sends shivers down the spines of many Westerners. It readily comes to their mind that this term is associated with violence and oppression. However, it must be said that the meaning of jihad, as a 'holy war', is something which is totally foreign and not from Islam. By simply looking into the sources of Islam, one will be able to know that the true meaning of jihad is to strive/make effort in the way of Allah. Thus striving in the way of Allah can be both peaceful and physical. The Prophet Muhammad (saws) said: "The best jihad is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and Majestic" In the Qur'an, Allah also says:
"So obey not the disbelievers, but make a great jihad (effort) against them (by preaching) with it (the Qur'an)" (Surah Al-Furqan 25:52)
By controlling and fighting against ones desires, the Muslims can then also physically exert themselves in the path of Allah. It is this physical or combative jihad, which receives so much criticism. Because of the sheer ignorance of this type of jihad, Islam is regarded as terror, and Muslims are regarded as terrorists. However, the very purpose of this physical jihad is to raise the word of Allah uppermost.
Anyone who knows the early history of Islam will...