21 March, 2015

Saudi Gazette | Finding composure in confusing times

Finding composure in confusing times
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 17:39:22 AST
Saudi Gazette |
Amal Al-Sibai
Saudi Gazette

If any militant group were to take up arms, harm and scare people, and kill innocent civilians, in the name of a religion, the image of that religion would be marred and tarnished. Even if a violent group clearly misunderstands the religion that they claim to follow, the general public will formulate a negative and incorrect judgment of that religion.

With the atrocities being committed in Iraq and Syria by a group who calls themselves the Islamic State, no doubt Islamophobia is on the rise. Their acts of violence are fueling hate towards Muslims, as is apparent in the statement made by a congressman in the United States, "Islam is a cancer in our nation that needs to be cut out."

In the midst of such confusion and insanity, it is time for Muslims to step up and explain to the world the truth about Islam, which calls for spreading peace and mercy, and uplifting human suffering. And, it is time for non-Muslims to look beyond the actions of the people who misrepresent Islam.

A respected and well-learned Muslim scholar who is the President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, sends this message to ISIS: "This is addressed to the young men who bear arms against their own nations and destroy both country and countrymen. You have abandoned all values and made enemies of the world. We call on you to pause, reflect, and heed this counsel for the sake of all who want good for our community."

For the Muslims and also non-Muslims who allege that Islam encourages violence, they have overlooked the verse in the Holy Qur'an that criticizes men who exercise violence.

{When he is empowered, he sets out to do violence in the land, destroying crops and livestock. But God does not love violence.} (Chapter 2, verse 205)

"Have not crops and livestock, as well as the elderly and women and children, been destroyed? Is this not violence and corruption in the land, which God abhors?" asks Shaykh Bin Bayyah.

The leaders of militant groups often issue fatwas or religious edicts by taking Islamic statements out of context, misquoting certain sayings, misunderstanding, or lack of knowledge.

Shaykh Bin Bayyah said, "These fatwas have justified bloodshed while disregarding Islamic law's mandates of civil obedience, respect for life, and to refrain from divisiveness. This conflict has international implications and tarnishes the image of Islam worldwide. Some might even describe our faith as 'a religion of terrorism'."

"One cannot use genocide, murder, oppression, or vengeance to establish truth and justice," he said.

If any group, or individual, desires to establish Islam as a religion, going about killing people is not the right way.

It is prohibited to kill; God has declared the human soul as sacred. When you must fight back if your life is in immediate threat from a perpetrator, in order to protect your life, honor, or family, the ruling is different.
To go out and kill a journalist or a relief worker, that is clearly wrong.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent as a mercy to all of creation. He said that a woman will be thrown into Hellfire because she trapped a cat and gave it no food or water, until it died. If deliberately torturing a cat is punishable by God, then what is the ruling for torturing fellow human beings?

As for forced conversion to Islam, Shaykh Bin Bayyah said, "Coerced conversion is invalid in Islam law. Islam has nothing to do with this, as the Qur'an states, {There is no compulsion in religion}". (Chapter 2, verse 256)

Islam mandates that Muslim rulers treat religious minorities well, to place them under protection. History shows that in Muslim ruled lands centuries ago, Jews, Christians, and Muslims were living side by side harmoniously. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the four Rightly Guided Caliphs never destroyed a church, synagogue, or temple.

Amidst the tribulations going on in the Muslim world and the defamatory remarks in the media targeting Islam and Muslims, we must sift through the false claims and see the true Islam.

"We cannot control if some group engages in heinous crimes and proclaims that they are Islamic. What we can control are our families, instilling love, faith, morals, and values in their midst. We can control our relationship with our neighbors. We can knock on our neighbor's door and invite them for tea and tell them what Islam is really about. We can control how we present ourselves, how we go out and serve our fellow human beings," said Imam Zaid Shakir.

How many Muslim doctors, engineers, teachers, stay-at-home moms, in the US, UK, Australia, and elsewhere have contributed to the development, safety, and advancement of the nations in which they reside? Has the international media mentioned these Muslims?

"We don't need more weapons, more bombs, and bullets. There is enough violence in the world. Use the weapon of prayer, of supplication, of having trust in Allah, the power of faith, devotional acts of worship, and service to humanity," he added.

For the energetic youth who dream of spreading Islam, here is how: pray to Allah, build mosques, become a doctor, heal the sick, build a hospital, be kind to people, take care of your parents, or serve the elderly in nursing homes. Enhance your education, you faith, and enhance your relationship with God and with those around you.

The best strategy in pushing back against some of the hatred and slander directed towards Muslims, and Islam, is to contribute something beautiful and positive to humanity.

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