Islam and Terrorism: Compatible or Incompatible ?


Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely (Al-Quran, Chapter5, Verse 32).


This article has been jotted down in response and not in reaction to an Anti-Terrorism Day (ATD) speech in India.

Main kis ke hath pe apna lahu (blood) talash karun, Tamam sheher ne pehnay hue hain dastanay (gloves).

Banay hain ahl-e-hawas (lustful people) muddaee (complainant) bhi, munsif (judge) bhi, Kisay wakeel (lawyer) karen, kis se munsifee (justice) chaahen.                                                (Faiz Ahmad Faiz)

It was Friday 19th of May 2017, following the routine I hurried early in the morning from my temporary cottage to feed my never-ending hunger in the canteen of my summer training institute before 9:00 a.m. As after 9:00 a.m. you can only quench your thirst with pristine water and nothing solid, because canteen won’t welcome you thereafter! After breakfast, as usual I switched on the HPxw4600 Workstation, amidst of our work affair, a sudden flash of broadcast message from LAN disturbed this routine work affair and then Alas! The charm was lost. The broadcast message from LAN read “Please assemble at the auditorium for pledge taking ceremony on ATD (Anti-Terrorism Day). I stepped towards auditorium and seated myself in the last row, only to come out soon after pledge was over. Longing of meeting back my computer system was a bit prolonged as ATD speech was also supposed to be delivered by the security chief of the institute.

The honorable speaker started by truthfully admitting that terrorism had no single definition and then categorised terrorism into some 5 odd type’s viz., state terrorism, religious terrorism, left and right-wing terrorism etc. My apprehension was proven right when the speaker like many other corporate media followers finally declared Islamic terrorism as the biggest threat facing humanity at this juncture. The term Islamic terrorism is a misnomer and is the brain child of corporate media (mind controlling machine owned by big shots) who are always hell-bent to tarnish the image of Islam.  Corporate and paid Media is like “Joseph Goebbels”, Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, as Hitler believed that “if a lie is said hundred times repeatedly, masses will accept it as truth”. Islam and terrorism are mutually exclusive and both can’t coexist in any space and time. I think all rationalists will agree with me that terrorism has no religion. In 2008, a leaked report by researchers for MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, found that “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice their faith regularly,” according to the Guardian’s Alan Travis, who obtained, revealed and reported on the classified document, which is based on “hundreds of case studies” by the security service (The Intercept, Mehdi Hassan, 2017). Terrorists are a meager percentage of the human lot who only care for their self motivated and self designed wishes and ideologies. The biggest threat facing humanity in contemporary world is politico-economic terrorism and market extremism unleashed at all levels of social setup by so-called super-powers who claim to be saviours of humanity. Read “Confessions of an Ecocnomic Hitman”, a book by CIA agent, John Perkins.

The terms like Islamism, Radical/Extremist Islam, Fundamentalist Islam, and Jihadism hide the primarily political motivations around much of the religiously named violence. Moreover, it unifies often very different agendas and motivations. While not ignoring the religious dimension, we should not use headline names for these militants and terrorists using any claimed religious motivation. While studying religion and ideology plays an important part in the analysis, the currently used terms give pseudo-legitimacy, hide the complexity of factors (land, identity, oppression, etc.) behind events, and help fuel Islamophobia (Paul Hedges, 2015). On this note let me remind my fellow brethren that more the islamophobes try to defame Islam the more it spreads, that is why Islam is the fastest growing religion with 1.8 billion (24.1% of the global population) followers in 2015 (Pew Research Center), despite being the major threat to humanity as quoted by respected speaker.

Indeed, no clear evidence suggests religion is more likely to incite violence than other ideologies or worldviews; nevertheless, in the current geopolitical environment it often provides a claimed motivation or seeming explanation – both for actors and commentators (Paul Hedges, 2015). “Terrorism is really political violence, first and foremost,” “If you dialogue with these people, if you look at how they actually move into ‘jihad’ … there is very little discussion of religion.” (The Intercept, Mehdi Hassan, 2017). By the way, I used word “jihad” which again is a misnomer for terrorism. Jihad means struggling or striving  and the concept of jihad is in all major religions of the world. I may explain Jihad some other day; here it will take some extra pages to discuss.

Respected speaker blamed Boko haram (which according to him is another Islamic terrorist organisation) for kidnapping of girls and held whole Muslims responsible for not denouncing such heinous acts of terrorism. “Why aren’t Muslims condemning bokoharam?” Well, there are two problems with the questions itself – and both are based on false premises. First is the assumption that Muslims have not, in fact, condemned other violent extremist Muslims. This is simply untrue. Muslim religious scholars, intellectuals, activists, organizations, and countries have all condemned Boko Haram and the kidnappings in unison. All you have to do to know this is type in google search “Muslims condemn Boko Haram” and articles will abound. The second problem with the question of why Muslims, supposedly, don’t condemn evil actions from other Muslims requires a bit more explanation. The problem with it is this inherent assumption that somehow radical violent extremist cults can legitimately speak for Islam – one of the great world religions whose contributions to civilization over the course of fourteen-hundred plus years speaks for itself (Just browse through 1001 Muslim Inventions online if you have your doubts). And, that if Muslims don’t come out and spend all of their remaining days on earth condemning evil at the hand of other so-called Muslims, then somehow this inherent assumption becomes true (Sohaib N. Sultan, 2014). Condemning acts of terrorism won’t suffice as one has to think where do all these terrorist organisations get this modern weaponry; where from these bad guys get these weapons. Ironically, only those who claim to be good guys are the major arms exporters. Yes US is the major arms exporter with 80% of global exports annually and to add an economic tinge to this, weapon industry is a billion dollar industry ($85 billion). Lockheed Martin and Boeing sold more than $ 23.7 billion in arms in 2014 to almost 100 countries (IHS, 2014), and exports had increased by more than 23% under Obama, the most of any administration since World War 2. Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson said in her 27 Jan 2015 interview that the company is looking at “volatility” in both Middle East and Asia-Pacific as a way to increase their sales internationally.

From the beginning of time, people have perverted religions to justify the worst possible behaviors imaginable. Murder of innocent women and children, is forbidden in Islam. The likes of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) who claim to fight in the name of Islam not only violate the letter of Qur’an, but violate the spirit of it as well. Their acts are fundamentally un-Islamic. Least to mention bomb blasts by Hindu named terrorists and recent lynchings and mob violence by saffron brigades are also fundamentally anti-hinduism acts, with no evidence from religious scriptures. Religion is what lies in Holy Scriptures, not what few mad people propagate by quoting out of context verses from holy book(s).

This bastardization of Islam is not unique. One of the early ships in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was actually known as the “Good Ship Jesus.” The very people who were capturing, chaining, and then selling human beings for a life of slavery saw absolutely no conflict of interest between such actions with their Christianity. For that matter Gujarat Pogrom was also politically motivated and religiously meticulated, but being an educated person I won’t blame Hinduism for such dastardly act. However, it’s an easy temptation to oversimplify our emotions into dangerous generalizations, but we must resist such urges.

To sum up the case of Islamic terrorism, let us check facts. On the FBI’s official website, there exists a chronological list of all terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil from the year 1980 all the way to 2005. According to this data, the group wise contribution is; Latino (42%), Extreme Left Wing groups (24%), Jewish Extremists (7%), Islamic Extremists (6%), Communists (5%) and others (16%). While in India most violent activities are carried out by Maoists as admitted by the speaker. In Europe the data gathered by Europol strengthens my argument even further. Europol publishes an annual report entitled EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report.  On their official website, you can access the reports from 2007, 2008, and 2009. The results are stark, and prove decisively that not all terrorists are Muslims! As opposite to the myth “All Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims”. A Muslim cannot be a terrorist; if he is then he seizes to be a Muslim anymore. In fact, a whopping 99.6% of terrorist attacks in Europe were by non-Muslim groups; a good 84.8% of attacks were from separatist groups completely unrelated to Islam. Leftist groups accounted for over sixteen times as much terrorism as radical Islamic groups.  Only a measly 0.4% of terrorist attacks from 2006 to 2008 could be attributed to extremist Muslims.

According to the Counter Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Al-Qaeda kills over seven times more Muslims than non-Muslims. According to the UN, Muslims are the largest victims of ISIS. According to the State Department, Muslims are the largest victims of terrorism in general (huffpost, Omar Alnatour). ISIS is responsible for more Muslim deaths than western victims (Independent, 2015). Yet Islam and Muslims are doubted for terrorism and this is where my Agony lies. Now why an Islamic terrorist would kill his fellow religious companions? Einstein once joked? “If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts.” Or deploy “alternative” ones, maybe. Such an approach makes sense if your aim is to demonize Islam and Muslims, no matter the cost. And one thing is common between islamophobes and ISIS that is they both agree Islam is violent religion, which it is not, not even in any slightest way. And what a bad generalization it is to call Islamic terrorism a biggest threat when 99.99% Muslims round the world aren’t involved in any terror activities.

Middle East was called as the most affected part of the world by quoting examples of Libya, Syria and Yemen without uttering a word on role of  NATO allies in this undeclared third world war, where western world has united to kill innocent people in these Muslim majority nations. Ironically, Syrian Kids were blamed for taking guns and resorting to violence instead of taking pen to go to schools, when every literate person on this planet knows there aren’t any schools left in Syria. To talk on Middle East crisis one should go through the history of Western intervention in this part of world. US declared war on Iraq in 2003 on the pretext of “Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)” which Saddam was hiding, and ironically no WMD were found till date. This prompts one to delve deeper in the issue, and once you dive in you will find it was all oil and economic supremacy which US wanted to maintain after cold war. From 2003 to 2007 1 million people (Muslims) were killed in Iraq on the pretext of finding WMD. Since 1991 Gulf war 4-8 million people have been massacred by western powers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. There is an Islamic meltdown currently going on as Muslim world is being depopulated at an alarming rate. In Syrian War, under the garb of killing dreaded ISIS (which according to US officials are not more than 10,000 and still exist despite all advanced weaponry NATO and Russia has)  more than 2,50,000 non combatants have been eliminated and out of 22 million Syrian residents 11 million are displaced (Statistics are from year 2015). Then there is another side of the story, imagine that your whole family, I mean all your cousins and uncles and aunts are killed by a single drone attack, won’t you join any orgainsation (be that ISIS or anything), that will provide you a way to vent your anger against those flying devils. 1 million dead in Iraq from 2003-2007 by US hegemony will have affected 1 million families that is how these kids get frustrated and join cults like ISIS. Thus religion is nowhere in the scene. We the people living in our cosy and luxurious apartments in peaceful environment cannot empathise with the situation these oppressed people go on daily basis. And who knows such radical groups may be remotely controlled by some masterminds sitting as good guys and delivering lectures of peace to the world as late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro hinted about ISIS. The world is full of secret history and shadow boxing of intelligence agencies and no government has remained away from it, rest is all facade. I would like to conclude by quoting Edward Snowden, a dissident whose disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy. In his TED Talk of Mar, 2014 Ed rightly said and I quote “Terrorism has always been what we in intelligence proverbial call, ‘a cover for action’. Terrorism is something that provokes an emotional response that allows people to rationalize authorizing powers of programs that they wouldn’t give otherwise”.

I believe most of the audience seated in the auditorium on that fateful day would have got a negative impression of Islam. I consider this as my obligation to put forth this piece of write up and let the readers decide.

P.S: Terrorism is too complex a topic to be discussed about and needs a lot of research with authentic sources. To speak on terrorism is not everybody cup of tea, but yes you can conclude it intellectually by putting all blame on Islam as it is the soft target. I beg you to read and believe in Islam of Quran not that of ISIS. Islam and terrorism have severe incompatibility with one another.

Junaid Mushtaq Lone, M.Tech Geoinformatics. Feedback at [email protected]


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