At the heart of Islamic logic and ethics — a logic and ethics inseparable from true faith — is the sanctity and dignity of human life.  God Almighty says in the Qur’an that to kill one human being (a nafs, or soul) is tantamount in sin to killing all of one’s human brothers and sisters. (Qur’an 5:35) God upholds the sanctity of life as a universal principle, as He says in the Quran: “…and do not kill one another, for God is indeed merciful unto you” (4:29).

Can the Divine voice be any clearer than that?  Any opinion that contradicts this core Qur’anic logic is of no value to Islam whatsoever.

Therefore, it is not the belief system that fuels the terrorists’ horrific plans and decisions to spread fear and murder people. No!  The festering core of their anger, confusion, and frightening behaviour is not rooted in their devotion to Islam (the word itself means to be “in peace”); rather, they do not know what it is to be good Muslims.  Their troubles stem from a stubborn inability to reconcile a distorted worldview of Islam (if they have any) with the challenges — and myriad opportunities — of living as a Muslim in contemporary democratic liberal societies and modern times.

The sad reality is that the terrorists act the way they do because they do not know how to be faithful believers of Islam in the here-and-now.  They defy and defile Islamic logic.  The terrorists we read about in the headlines of so many national papers or hear about on almost every news channel terrorize people and violently lash out at others a response that shows their inability to act properly as Muslims.

The terrorists’ ignorance of the faith they profess (however they describe faith) is clearly seen in their inability to deal properly with challenges and communicate openly with those with whom they disagree.  They utterly fail to grasp the concepts of dialogue, mutual respect, power-sharing, and the loving patience needed to understand the changes and challenges that dominate (for example), conflict, diversity, globalization, or differences.  They simply do not and cannot relate to the dynamics of the twenty-first century.  They do not or cannot imagine, or apparently, even consider, the unholy consequences of their actions.  They live in “safe zones” of outdated, even dangerous, states of mind that helps no one; they deliberately isolate themselves from mainstream society and work against society – the very society that gave them a platform for prosperity and success.

This segregationist mentality not only prevents them from knowing the world around them, but also cuts them off from self-knowledge and self-growth.  Once people choose isolation as a way of life they lose those key opportunities to improve themselves and to grow in strength as moral, intellectual and engaged human beings.

Devotion in Islam is not judged on the basis of appearance and what people say; rather, it is revealed in righteous actions – good deeds – that spring from the depths of one’s faith.  Devotion in Islam does not condone violence and harm; rather, it is reflected in a gentle touch, a loving smile, sincere counsel, trustworthy guidance, and unconditional mercy, forgiveness, love, and justice, at all times. It is all about selflessness and charity in our relationships with other people. It starts with those closest to us and extends to all of our brothers and sisters in humanity – all – inclusively.

It is also important for us all – conscious civilized citizens of the world – to stand together against any terror towards any member of our human family.  It is important that Muslims not be demonized and treated as complicit in terrorists’ plots and actions.  They are not!  The importance of this is not only because it is good for Muslims, but because our future ability to coexist in peace depends on how we collectively cooperate and treat one another in these difficult and testing times.


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