As a visiting student to the UK from Kuwait in 1994 I was extremely impressed with the multiculturalism and freedom of faith that I experienced here, unmatched by anywhere else in the world. Indeed, the multi-faith societies that live in respect and dignity in the UK reminds me of the time when Jerusalem was under Islamic rule. The second successor to Prophet Muhammad, Omar, addressed the people of Jerusalem upon entering it as a conqueror, he said: “In the name of Allah (God All-mighty, in Arabic) the Most Merciful and Most Compassionate, the following is the pledge of allegiance from the servant of God, Omar, commander of the faithful, to the people of Aelia [Jerusalem] for their souls, their property, their wealth, their churches, their crosses, the sick and the healthy, and their whole community are secured. None of them should be forced to leave their faith. None of them is to be hurt."
I left the UK in 1998 and when I returned in 2003, it seemed that things had changed and Islam-phobia had taken over. People were scared and suspicious of Muslims, with constant portrayal of so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorists in the media in the aftermath of 9/11 and now 7/7. This led me to question, what do we know about Islam? I mean what do we “really” know about Islam? Do we only know what was delivered to us from the media? Or have we studied its teachings from its original sources?
From my point of view, terrorism is a concept
alien to Islam, which is identifiable with Peace. The word Islam literally means peace (in Arabic) which implies the total submission to the Lord of all the Worlds. “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.” [Quran, 60:8]
Can we indict Islam to be the religion of terrorism by taking a verse from the Quran out of context? I would ‘not’ indict the Bible nor the beloved Prophet and great Messenger Jesus Christ because of the verse: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” [Matthew 10:34]. Can we indict Islam to be the source of terrorism because of the actions of some foolish and ignorant individuals? I would ‘not’ indict Christianity for the terrorism that some Christians have carried out i.e. the Oklahoma and abortion clinics bombing etc. I once heard the English saying: “Don’t judge a car by its driver”.
Recently, in Bath, I met four native Englishmen who embraced Islam, and I asked myself: what is the reason behind their conversion and of many others all over the world, especially when Islam is constantly accused of being a religion of terrorism? Is it not the honesty, the clarity, the simplicity, the openness, the logical concepts that an individual finds in Islam? Is it not that when a person inspects Islam with sincerity and from its authentic sources he/she would find that Islam and terrorism are two concepts which contradict each other?
“And We have sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the 'Alamîn” (mankind, jinns and all that exists) [Quran 21:107]. The mercy that has been sent to us from our Lord and Creator can’t be in any way a source of terrorism. This mercy, love, passion, harmony, etc is not only to our fellow humans it also extends to the entire environment (i.e. animals, plants etc).
The Prophet of mercy and peace mentioned this interesting story: [A man walking along a path felt very thirsty. Reaching a well, he descended into it, drank his fill, and came up. Then he saw a dog with its tongue hanging out, trying to lick up mud to quench its thirst. The man said, “This dog is feeling the same thirst that I felt.” So he went down into the well again, filled his shoe with water, and gave the dog a drink. So, God thanked him and forgave his sins. The Prophet was asked, “Messenger of God, are we rewarded for kindness towards animals?” He said: “There is a reward for kindness to every living creature”].
With all this in mind, you can understand how
I felt that other day when I was returning home to my dear wife and daughter, and a man shouted at me: “ARE YOU GONNA KILL US ALL?” I turned my face away and didn’t reply. I have nothing to feel guilty for and I excused his ignorance and his lack of education. I just hope that some day, this gentleman and others, would open their hearts and minds and read, examine, and inspect Islam from its authoritative sources (The Noble Quran and the life and teachings of Prophet ‘Muhammad’). Consequently they will not find anything except the beauty, tolerance, justice, compassion and universal brotherhood that Islam offers.