Why Should Islam Be Used As A Whipping Stick For Global Terrorism?



al-qaedaBut for the unhealthy religious debate that took centre stage within a section of the media in the aftermath of the recent Kenya shopping mall attack that left more than 70 people dead including Ghana’s former Chairman of Council of State, there was absolutely no need for this piece.

The attempt to cast aspersions on Ghanaian Muslims, because of the perceived Islamic background of the assailants was most unfortunate to say the least.

Yes, the debate was so thought provoking and cannot pass without making a comment. There is no denying the fact that militancy and terrorism are real global issues which antidote requires a multidisciplinary approach rather than whipping up religious sentiments.

In fact my blood boils with indignation the pace with which a section of the Ghanaian media is being carried away by the west’s Islamic phobia taking into account the vast Islamic literature that paints the true picture of Islam.

 

AL-QAEDA

 

As a nation, our attention should focus more on peace that binds us together as a prerequisite to national development and refrain from provocative debates that could engender our peaceful coexistence.

Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, Islamic scholars had explored opportunities to educate the world on the teachings of Islam and how it enjoins its followers to interrelate with other religious sects. Unfortunately the   crusade to explain the true message of Islam did not see    the light of day as the western media continue to soil the image of Islam.

Simply put, Islam is indelibly injured by the western media and the earlier an attempt is advanced to give accurate reportage about the religion, the   better the approach to win the war against global terrorism.

The tendency where the media continued to sensationalise Islamic stories with horrifying   headlines such as “Islamist Terrorists” and a host of other derogatory terms cannot bring terrorism to an end.

Lest I am misconstrued, my position is not to justify the appalling atrocities caused by the pseudo-Islamist groups but to condemn unreservedly the attempt by any group of persons to equate their actions to Islam.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that no  Muslim worth their  faith would jettison the claim that militant groups like Boko Haram, Alshabab and Al-Qaeda professed Islamic faith, except to say  their justification for killing and maiming innocent souls is a complete departure from Islamic principles.

And for  a section of the media to single out Islam as a religion that encourages terrorism is plain bias and irresponsibility.

It is extremely important to understand that doctrines such as fundamentalism and extremism are asymmetrical and senseless methodologies to addressing misunderstandings in any part of the world. Therefore, the move to ascribe those dispositions to Islam leaves some of us with no other option than to revisit the chronological antecedent of terrorism.

What must be noted is that Islam specifically prohibits any form of extremism. The Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was reported to have said those who go to the extreme in practicing their religion will not be favoured by Allah.

It is sad that the media today hardly distinguishes between the Islamic religion and political affairs in most countries.

On July 22, 2011,  Anders Behring Breivik, a Norwegian, who attacked and killed 77 teenagers at Utoya Island, outside  Oslo was hardly referred to as a Christian terrorist or a Norwergian militant. Interestingly the two prosecutors who handled the case, Svein Holden and Inga Bejer Engh asked the Norwegian court to declare the “mass murderer” and not terrorist, as insane and commit him to a mental institution in line with their original indictment. Although he Breivik said he carried the attack in defence of the Norwegian people by fighting Muslim immigration.

In 1995, Timothy Mc Veigh committed what at the time was referred to as the “worst terrorist act in American history by bombing the Oklahoma City Federal building and killing 167 people. Reporters did not sensationalise the story by referring to the perpetrator as a Christian terrorist.

Similarly, the members of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerilla group in Uganda is rarely referred to as Christian militants.

The assassin of former US President John F. Kennedy, was never referred to as a Jew, Hindu or Christian assassin.

Again, the ideas of war, violence and terrorism have become synonymous with Islam and wrongly so, Jihad is often misinterpreted to mean holy war or violence. On the contrary, Muslims are only permitted to fight in self defence after all forms of diplomacy and dialogue have failed.

However, sections of the media and anti- Islamists often abuse the noble meaning of Jihad by referring to it as a holy war where Muslims unreasonably kill non-Muslims.

 

SHAMEFUL

 

To put matters in proper perspective Jihad encapsulates the little sacrifices one makes in life. Advocating peace, economic, political and social rights constitute Jihad. Respect for one’s parents and obedience to authority is an act of jihad.

Ghana can be a safe haven for its inhabitants if painstaking efforts are taken to assist the security agencies to forestall a replica of the Kenya situation.

There is also the need for us to thorough examine the modus operandi of such shameful terrorist groups, their mode of recruitment and source of funding being mindful of the age long adage that “if your neighbours beared is on fire you keep a barrel full of water by your beard.”

God forbid, but it should  happen here, its repercussions on the nations acclaimed reputation will be very awful.

Let us not be deceived into thinking that terrorism is limited to some selected countries and downplay the possibility of it happening in Ghana. Civil society organizations, government agencies and religious bodies must put their shoulders to the wheel in ensuring that terrorism did not rear its ugly head in the country. That is certainly the way we can win the battle against the menace and not stereotyping Islam.

My humble appeal to the Muslim community in Ghana is to continue to demonstrate the virtues which the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH) stood for and shun the company of movements that perpetrate violence and terror on innocent people under the cloak of Islam.  - Malik Sullemana     

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