Only love can defeat terrorism

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Atheist Ideologies and the Rise of Terrorism

If a sick person is to be treated properly, an accurate diagnosis is essential. Whatever treatment follows that diagnosis must be followed meticulously and decisively, until the sickness is finally expelled from the body. If not, the illness will inevitably recur. The same applies to one of the most serious ills affecting society. One of the chief reasons why we can’t find effective solutions to this century’s social problems is that their causes aren’t properly identified. When dealing with any social problem, the first thing to do is establish what causes give rise to it. Otherwise, whatever measures are taken can only be temporary.

The roots of terrorism are often sought in concrete matters; and thus the fight against it, aimed at these superficial targets, cannot provide lasting results. In order to free the world from terrorism, the principal factors behind it must be identified and eliminated.

The Tangled Web of Terrorists’ Logic

It’s not possible to defeat terrorism by security measures. By itself, military force is only likely to meet with increased violence, producing a vicious circle in which bloodshed continues to be answered with more bloodshed. When embarking on the fight against terrorists, we need to understand–”and then combat–their way of thinking, the way they view life and other human beings, and how they justify their use of violence.

A terrorist believes that he can succeed only by using violence. He wants people around to fear him, and cloaks himself in pitilessness, ruthlessness and aggression to bring that fear about. Anyone opposing his ideas is an enemy, whom he regards as an object that needs to be eliminated. In his article, "Terrorists View us as Targets, not as Humans," psychotherapist and Journal Sentinel writer Philip Chard examines the terrorist mindset and how they justify violent attacks aimed at defenseless people:

"Researchers have glimpsed aspects of [the terrorists’] psyches. Most prominent among these is their capacity to view their victims as things, as objects, as statistics that, they hope, will show up on a casualty list.

"They don’t want to experience their victims as human beings, as they would a friend or loved one. Rather, they strive to view them as pawns on a political chessboard. Consequently, from their own vantage point, terrorists don’t perceive themselves as killing ‘people.’ In order to slaughter with ease and callous indifference, they mentally dehumanize us into ‘targets’ … Their ’cause,’ whatever it may be, is sufficiently sacred, noble or desperate that it justifies the carnage they instigate … For most terrorists, their chief interest resides in effects, not persons … They are after … the impact of the massacre, not the experience of the massacre itself. Terrorists want to murder hope, or a way of life, or the spirit of a group of people or an entire nation. They destroy human beings because they believe doing so is the fastest and most direct route to that goal." [1]

Philip Chard draws our attention to a most important matter: that terrorists feel not the slightest pang of remorse at the death of others. On the contrary, the more they can kill, the more successful they consider themselves to be, and rejoice in that fact. Such minds can quite happily shoot innocent people and bomb small children. For them, shedding blood becomes a source of pleasure. They cease to be human and turn into savage monsters. If one of them does evidence the slightest remorse, he is immediately branded a traitor by his more radical comrades. Being more radical and more bloody is considered to be more devout in the cause, so the zeal to kill increases constantly. Since any dispute can easily be defined as treacher, terrorists invariably use guns against each other, and carry out attacks on other splinter groups within their own ranks.

This passionate attachment to violence goes deeper beyond political ideologies and in fact stems from an underlying misconception about human nature. The terrorist mindset finds its inspiration from the materialist philosophy and Darwinist thought. Darwinism regards human beings as animals and maintains that living things evolve through a struggle for survival in nature. Eliminating the weak, so that the strong can emerge victorious, forms the essence of any terrorist’s twisted thinking.

True Islam

For half a century after the first verse was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and grant him peace), Islam underwent such an expansion as has seldom been seen. It spread from the Arabian Peninsula to the whole of the Middle East, North Africa and even Spain, drawing the attention of many in the West. In the words of the famous Islamic expert John L. Esposito, "What is most striking about the early expansion of Islam is its rapidity and success. Western scholars have marveled at it." [2] Over the next centuries, Islam reached all corners of the world, from Indonesia to Latin America. Today, Islam is accepted as the fastest growing religion, and its roughly one billion followers represent about one-fifth of the world’s population. Interest in Islam particularly increased after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. (For more details, see The Rise of Islam by Harun Yahya).

Looking at today’s Islamic world today, we see a wide range of religious practices, depending on societies’ different customs and traditions, their cultural heritage, and world views. This has led some individuals researching or trying to understand Islam to form mistaken impressions. Those differences may symbolize only the traditional values of the society under examination, but Islam itself. The only way of arriving at an accurate opinion of Islam is to put aside these differences and turn to the Qur’an, where the essence of Islamic morality is set out, and to the actions of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace).

Even if Muslims comprise the majority in a community, that does not mean that community’s behavior, views and judgments will necessarily be Islamic, nor that they need be defended in the name of Islam. When evaluating an individual’s–”or community’s–”view of Islam, that must always be borne in mind. Differences may stem from prevailing conditions. The only way to ascertain whether those views are correct is by turning to the Qur’an, the most accurate source of truth about Islam, and to the actions of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace).

It is most unfair to pass judgment on Islam and Muslims without studying the Qur’an to learn whether a particular practice appears in it. Examining the lifestyle of a single community only can seriously mislead anyone who tries to understand Islam and form opinions about it. First, what needs to be done is to learn about Islam from its true source. Then, once the various models in different parts of the world are considered in the light of those criteria, many who only imagined they knew about Islam will actually come to do so for the first time; and can free themselves from the errors they have been laboring under so far.

Islam Forbids the Killing of Innocents

According to the Qur’an (5:32), it is a great sin to kill an innocent person, and anyone who does so will suffer great torment in the hereafter:

"…If someone kills another person–unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth–it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs, but even after that, many of them committed outrages in the earth."

This verse equals the killing of one innocent to slaughtering all of humanity! Another verse (25:68) expresses the importance that the faithful attach to life:

“Those who do not appeal to any other deity besides God [alone]; nor kill any soul whom God has forbidden [them to] except with the right to do so; nor fornicate. Anyone who does so will incur a penalty.”

Any Muslim who believes in God with a sincere heart, who scrupulously abides by His holy verses and fears suffering in the hereafter, will avoid harming even one other person. He knows that the Lord of Infinite Justice will suitably reward him for all his deeds. In one of the hadiths, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) listed the kinds of people who are not pleasing to God:

"Those who act cruelly and justly in the sacred lands, those who yearn for the ways of the ignorant, and those who wrongly shed human blood." [3]

Islam Commands People to Behave Justly

“Every nation has a Messenger, and when their Messenger comes, everything is decided between them justly. They are not wronged.”

A most important feature of Islamic understanding of justice is that it commands justice at all times, even if one is dealing with a person who is near and dear. As God commands in another verse (4:135):

“You who believe! Be upholders of justice, bearing witness for God alone, even against yourselves or your parents and relatives. Whether they are rich or poor, God is well able to look after them. Do not follow your own desires and deviate from the truth. If you twist or turn away, God is aware of what you do.”

That verse clearly states that to a believer, the wealth or social status of whomever one deals with is of no importance. What is important is fairness–”no one should be treated unjustly–and to scrupulously implement the holy verses of God. In another verse (5:8), it is commanded:

“You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness. Heed God. God is aware of what you do.”

In that verse, God orders the faithful to act justly always, even with their own enemies. No Muslim can make a spontaneous decision, based on the fact that the person he’s dealing with has once harmed him or left him in a difficult situation. Even when he is a personal enemy, if the other side is genuinely in the wrong, any Muslim has the duty to respond with good will and to display the morality God has commanded.

To believers, God has issued the following commandment (60:8):

"God does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just towards them. God loves those who are just."

Here, He informs Muslims how their relationships with other people should be. These verses are the very foundation of a believer’s attitude towards others, formed not by the nature of the people he is dealing with, but by God’s revelations in the Qur’an. That is why Muslims with pure hearts always support what is right. Their determination on this matter is revealed in these terms (Qur’an, 7:181):

"Among those We have created, there is a community who guide by the Truth and act justly according to it."

All over the world, people are subjected to cruel treatment because of their race, language or skin color. Yet according to the view of justice as set out in the Qur’an, a person’s ethnicity, race or gender are of no importance, because Islam maintains that all people are equal. Our Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) words, "All of you belong to one ancestry of Adam, and Adam was created out of clay," [4] stress that there is no difference between people. Skin color, social status and wealth confer no superiority on anyone.

According to the Qur’an, one reason why different tribes, peoples, and nations were created is so that they "might come to know one another." All are servants of God and must come to learn one another’s different cultures, languages, customs and abilities. One intent behind the existence of different nations and races is cultural wealth, not war and conflict. All true believers know that only godliness –in other words, the fear of God and faith in Him–can impart superiority. As God has revealed in the Qur’an (49:13):

“Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God’s sight is that one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”

Islamic morality aims at a society built on brotherhood and peace, freedom and security. That is why all communities that come into contact with Islam have given up their oppressive, cruel and aggressive ways and have, instead, built peaceful and civilized societies. (For further details, see Justice and Tolerance in the Qur’an by Harun Yahya.) In their works, many Western historians have documented Islam’s deep and positive affects on communities that came into contact with it. In The Making of Humanity, Professor Robert Briffault discusses the relationship between Western society and Islam:

The ideas that inspired the French Revolution and the Declaration of Rights, that guided the framing of the American Constitution and inflamed that struggle for independence in the Latin American countries [and elsewhere] were not inventions of the West. They find their ultimate inspiration and source in the Holy Quran. [5]

Down through the centuries, Islamic morality has taught people about peace, tolerance and justice. Nowadays, nearly everyone is seeking just such a model, and there is no reason why such a culture should not come about once again. All that is needed is people’s desire to live by the morality of the Qur’an, starting with themselves and later, making efforts to convey it to others. When everyone, from the highest ranks to the very lowest, begins to implement the morality commanded in the Qur’an, they will become just, compassionate, tolerant, full of love, respectful and forgiving. That, in turn, will bring peace to all of society.

Notes:

[1]. Philip Chard, Journal Sentinel, 24 September 2001, http://tinyurl.com/28qsj9k (emphasis added)

[2]. John L. Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, Oxford : Oxford University, England, 1991, p. 33

[3]. Sahih Bukhari Hadith

[4]. Prophet Muhammed’s Last Sermon

[5]. Prof. Robert Briffault, Insanligin Gelisimi (The Making of Humanity), http://tinyurl.com/298fxqk, Andy Thomas, Islam Insanligin Ruh (Islam is the Spirit of Humanity), Timas Yayinlari, Istanbul, 1997, p. 38

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