“Every Muslim is not a terrorist, but every terrorist is a Muslim”

This statement has become a trademark when it comes to discussions about Terrorism. Now, the western media in its process of not taking a dig at the community has resorted to this mode. But frankly the truth behind the statement is one that brings about a lot of questions.

Honestly I don’t believe in the statement. For me the biggest terrorist till date is Hitler and the Nazis and they were definitely not Muslim.

Born into a Muslim family I have seen the concepts of Islam at a very close distance. The religion as a whole is a way of life. It is among the most peace loving religions in the world. The word ‘Jihad’ has unfortunately become the most misused word in the modern world, where frankly the concept of Jihad is very sacred. Any violence cannot be justified as Jihad. One among many preachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) is that all Muslims should take care of their neighbors.

The words Extremist and Fundamentalist have also found widespread association with the community. Wherein the exact meaning of the word makes every Muslim a Fundamentalist and Extremist. It is not the meaning that has done us bad, but its interpretation. Fundamentalist, is someone who sticks to the fundamentals it can be of Mathematics if he a Mathematician, of Cricket if he is a Cricketer, of Chemistry for Chemists and similarly of Islam for a Muslim. Now, to be a good Muslim you have to stick to the fundamentals of Islam.

The media today has projected a picture of the words in a very different light that has lead most of the people to believe that if a Muslim is Fundamentalist he is a bad person for the world. A fundamentalist Muslim is one who follows the following fundamentals of Islam:- a) Belief in Allah and the day of Judgment b) Prayers (Salat) Five times a day c) Takes out Zakat (charity) d) Keeps Fasts in the month of Ramadan e) Performs/Carry out Hajj ( If he can afford it).

Stated above are the five fundamentals of Islamand every Muslim has to follow them, hence making him a fundamentalist. Failing to do so not only makes him a bad Muslim, but also gets him at cross with Allah.

The killing of innocent people has no place in Islam. The teachings of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and the holy Quran condemn revenge. Allah says in the Quran “Allah is with those who are patient”. Philanthropy is taught in Islam. It is said that when death comes money, power, land, respect all stays behind the things that go with you are your Amal (deeds), the prayers, the good deeds, the bad deeds, the amount- the one money that goes with you is the money you spend in charity, the prayers that your children do for you stick with you.

But the paradox is that with all the teachings of Islam and that of the Prophet the world today is haunted by freaks like the Al-Qaeda or IM or SIMI. Let’s look of answers.

The only cause for terrorism is injustice and oppression. The Muslim population in India, Bangladesh Pakistan and almost every where in the world (except Saudi Arabia and UAE and other subsequent peaceful Gulf countries) is not very well off. Injustice has happened in the past with the Muslims all over the world. Now, in such an environment the mind of the weaker sections can be easily moulded into a violent frame. And frankly that is exactly what has happened.

The situation has become like this because of lack of soothing voices that condemn this path taken by the terrorists and show the world the real beauty of Islam. I am NOT a believer in the “VICTIMIZED” attitude, but I do agree that the media has harmed the image of the religion. For example, lets take the Indian Media for example, the identification of Muslims as terrorists, depiction of Mazars, the inherent association of the Prayer Cap and the Beard with the Muslims, the Sufi strand of Islam. These things and a few more things have created a wrong/ an incorect image/picture of Islam.

Often I am asked as to what do we do in the mosque, is there a Mazar in front of which you do the “Sijdah” (Prostration), why don’t you carry a “Chaddar” to the mosque. A few people have even asked if in the call/ Azan “Allah-ho-Akbar” refers to the King Akbar the great, very conveniently they have ignored a fact that his name was Muhammad Jalaludin and Akbar was just a title. And “Allah- ho-Akbar” simply means Allah is great.

Having said that what has hurt the position of the Muslims in a country like India is the lack of voices that condemn these activities and take productive steps. Whenever the terrorists take the route of terror we should unite and stand denouncing/disapproving the acts.

I believe that the world is a very nice place to live in. But to do so you should be spot on with your fundamentals and beliefs. Religion is among the most important things in the world. It is a system that prevents the evil from taking center stage. It purifies the human mind; it helps in comprehending otherwise incomprehensible situations.

We as people cannot stop terrorism neither can we fight it. But the onus of clearing the haze from the motives is in our hands.

I know my voice might go unheard, but next time the terrorists use Islam to justify their acts I know I will be screaming against it.

Terrorism is not the monopoly of any religion and more unity is required among people who stand up against it than the unity is among the people who carry it out.

Talha Masood Siddiqui

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bricecanonne/2726472040/]