With so many voices stating that the religion advocates violence, Islam is today under the scanner. Not all of them can be wrong ' people judge by what they see and today these terrorists speak and act violently in the name of Islam.
The familiar drill after every terror attack was repeated last month after the twin Hyderabad blasts killing about 50 people ' the government passing the buck to foreign involvement, the announcement of compensation to the dead and news updates that normalcy has been restored and, finally, the worn out clich' that terrorist designs to upset peace are defeated.
More Muslims need to realise that Islamist terrorists are not simply "misguided" individuals acting on a whim but are people who know what they are doing and are doing it deliberately in the name of Islam. It is simply not enough just to condemn their demoniac acts without actually doing something as observed by London-based journalist, Hasan Suroor. Islamic terrorism hasn't descended from another galaxy, rather it breeds within the community and is a result of a particular mindset that misinterprets Islam.
These suicide bombers - criminals against humanity - often invoke Islam for their dirty criminal deeds and assume Arabic sounding names and call themselves mujahids (holy warriors) to pass their misdeeds as an act of jehad. Muslims must come out openly on the streets against terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT), Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islam (HuJi), Al Qaeda, Sipah-e-Sahaba and other.
Many of the terrorists acting in the name of Islam cite Palestine, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan to justify their killings. They have lost their moral compass. For them anyone who does not agree with their point of view is an infidel and can be eliminated. From 9/11 to 25/8 Hyderabad now, theirs is a bloody tale of hate and retribution.
The word jehad comes from its Arabic root jahada meaning 'to struggle'. The word jehad has been so badly misused both by wayward Muslim terrorists and Islam-baiters that it has completely lost its meaning. The term jehad has been misinterpreted to conjure up bizarre images of violent Muslims forcing people to submit under duress. Islam rejects violence in all its forms but the jehadis take that path without caring as to what impact it can have on a common Muslim by making him a usual suspect. According to Prophet Mohammed, jehad is the inner struggle for virtue to submit to god in all walks of life.
Do these jehadis know that murder is prohibited by the Quran and that during fighting non-combatants are guaranteed security of life if the state is at war? They don't read those verses that declare that taking the life of one innocent individual means killing the whole humanity. They have a skewed vision. They are able to misinterpret verses from the Quran to justify their heinous and horrendous designs of killing innocent people.
According to Prophet Mohammed, "Indeed whoever intentionally kills, himself will be punished in the fire of hell, wherein he shall dwell forever." Regardless of how legitimate the cause may be, the Quran does not condone killing of innocent people. Terrorising defenceless civilians, bombing, killing and maiming of innocent men, women and children are most abhorred by Islam and those who indulge in these in the name of religion are not to be termed as Muslims.
Frankly speaking, this is not the time to quote from the Quran on peace, but to act. Truly, those who have killed innocents, have nothing to do with Islam. Sura Al-Baqr (Verse: 114) in the Quran states that Allah dislikes those who indulge in arson, loot and killings. Sura Al-Kafirun (Chapter: 30) mentions: Lakum dinokum waley yadeen (You follow your religion; let them follow theirs). Islam's very meaning is submission.
As a long term strategy of dealing with the menace of terrorism, the government should absorb patriotic Muslims in their departments to spy upon their fanatical co-religionists -- as we see in the role of Zaid Khan, a devoted ACP in the Mumbai police force in Mahesh Bhatt's latest film "Dhokha" that goes into the roots of terrorism and aims at finding a solution based on reason and sanity.
The SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India), Shahi Imam Bukhari, fanatics in Coimbatore and Maharashtra, the calls for jehad and the distribution of inflammatory posters have enraged middle class Hindus. Minor issues like a few Muslim leaders opposing the singing of Vande Mataram on national occasions add fuel to the fire increasing animosity between the two communities over the years.
Also, a large majority of Muslims remain isolated from people belonging to other faiths. During these times, there's a distinct divide between Islam and the West that is the worst thing to happen. Muslims should interact with people of other faiths. Interaction and dialogue inculcates tolerance in one's self. Isolation will deprive the world from getting to know the true spirit of Islam and will let all the stereotypes keep getting reinforced.
The Muslim clergy, on its part, must get involved in weaning away the obdurate followers of Islam, following the message from the Quran that killing innocent people is a sin. Let us not wage a war of religion but one of reason and tolerance. Let us engage in a dialogue. Let us prove all those who link Islam with violence wrong.
The need of the hour in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and other cities is that the moment the community observes any suspicious person living in their neighbourhood, they must without ado inform the local police. These jehadis prefer Muslim ghettoes, as nobody is bothered what activities are going on.
It is also important that the Muslim community itself develops a broad range of tactics - from traditional counter-terrorist methods to softer more sophisticated strategies - to destroy this jehadi trend.
Jehadi groups are relentlessly pursuing their roadmap to extremism in their effort to establish Dar-ul-Islam (land of Islam) in India that is already Dar-ul-Aman (land of peace) by brainwashing and inciting innocent youth. What is lamentable is that there is no sign of a debate in the community. This is a matter of serious concern.
A liberal Muslim must check a communalist Muslim and a communal Hindu should be checked by a liberal Hindu. Muslim voices of sanity aren't loudly heard. There shouldn't be "ifs" and "buts" while condemning terror acts. We have to agree to the principle that the killing of innocents cannot be justified irrespective of race, religion, place or ethnicity.
(Firoz Bakht Ahmed is a commentator on social and educational issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)