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Paris attacks have reignited the debate on the role of Islam in spreading terrorism that haunts all of us particularly in the western world. As a Muslim, who lived in Europe through the period of 9/11 attacks, Madrid bombing and London bombing of 2005, I’ve seen it all. It’s almost a ritual for Muslims like me to be expected to apologise every time a handful of lunatics commit such ghastly acts in the name of Islam.
Other day Chetan Bhagat, otherwise a mediocre writer but blessed with incredible luck of success, desperately tried to draw a parallel between Paris massacre and Islam to make his point on the raging debate on India’s religious intolerance.
He tweeted, “Ok,wrong to label Islam as violent after stray terror attack.But why did you label my entire country intolerant after a few stray incidents?”
Mihir Sharma, a fellow journalist, was nimble-footed in rightly reminding Bhagat of the nonsensical comparison drawn by him. Sharma said, “This guy has several advanced degrees and 5 years work-ex in straw-man engineering.”
One reason why Sharma may have been forced to question Bhagat’s intellect was perhaps because the latter appeared to compare a religion with the government. A religion has no power over how its followers wrongly use its teachings to cause violence, while the government has every power at its disposal to control lunatics, who they call fringe elements, causing hatred in the name of the ruling party’s political ideology.
Bhagat’s appear to represent the group, which seek to entertain themselves with constant Islamophobic rants. Often, they are influenced by the twisted ideologies they’ve willfully chosen to practice, profess and propagate. On other occasions, the real purpose behind their involvement in spreading these messages of bigotry is to gain cheap publicity.
And such people exist in every religious group. Testament to this is how some so-called intellectuals or self-appointed leader of the community would always come out from their shell to find a rationale in these attacks.
It’s a no-brainer that no Muslim would ever condone the actions that entail killings of innocent human beings. Anybody, who does so really needs to go back to his Islamic teacher and re-learn Quran and Hadith( narration relating to Prophet Muhammad’s life).
However, organisations such as the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda do cause an unnecessary moral predicament for practicing Muslims such as yours truly. For, there isn’t an aspect of Islam one will find incompatible with modern day life. I consider myself pretty modern and have spent nearly half of my life living abroad in Canada and the United Kingdom. And at no point, have I encountered any clashes in my ability to practice my faith while coexisting with my non-Muslim friends.
Complications arise when one’s sanity is overtaken by radicalism and twisted understanding of the faith he/she is practicing. I find myself in an incredibly awkward situation every time a group of thugs bearing Muslim names cause large-scale mayhem in the name of my religion.
The day Paris was rocked by a series of attacks, a friend of mine asked if the development in the French capital had made my moral high-ground weak to lecture others on bigotry and violence committed in the name of Hinduism or other faiths. And my reply was an emphatic No because I despised bigotry and violence regardless of the religion the perpetrators usually claim to defend through their shameful acts.
That’s precisely what I’m doing here.
The Islam I’ve known and practiced is a religion, whose founder, a man called Muhammad, encouraged his followers to forgive than to take revenge. I draw my inspiration from a Holy book called Quran, whose first verse in the first chapter describes Allah as the God of mercy and the God of Alameen(both the worlds) and not just the God of anger or revenge or the God of only Muslims. The Quran I’ve read and understood has described Prophet Muhammad as a ‘mercy to the whole mankind’ (chapter 21 verse 117) and not just to Muslims.
The Quran, whose teachings determine my lifestyle has 113 out of 114 chapters starting with the God’s description as merciful and benevolent.
My understanding of Quran has also made me learn that ‘whoever kills an innocent person, it is as if he/she has slain the entire humanity. And whoever saves an innocent human being, it is as if he/she has saved the whole of mankind(Chapter 5 verse 32).’
And this verse is not in isolation. Both Quran and Hadith are replete with references and explicit instructions prohibiting a person from waging violence against innocent people.
So, I am not sure which Islam these thugs belonging to the IS, the Al-Qaeda or people killing in secterian violence in Pakistan and elsewhere seem to draw their inspiration from. They are no more than cowards and a bunch of sadists who enjoy causing massacres of innocent human beings and often getting themselves killed in the process. They are medieval barbarians, who have no faith, no compassion for anyone and are bereft of basic understanding of humanity, let alone the religion they claim to follow. The fact that the Paris killers reportedly chanted Allahu Akbar simply was an evidence that they were not one of us Muslims. For Allah stands for mercy and not for mindless violence.
Rifat Jawaid is the editor-in-chief of jantakareporter.com