I get this question a lot from my friends back in America. My time there was split between pre and post 9’11, which means that I have spent some time where people didn’t care about the stuff going on in this part of the world, and then time where people wanted to know every detail. I noticed that my friends in America and elsewhere in the West now know a lot about the politics of this world, but still lack complete understanding on what is Islam.
I recently saw on CNN, and read many articles online discussions and talks about why those crazy people violently running around the world are somehow all Muslims. It is hard to counter the argument and say that those locos are indeed claiming that their actions are in defense of Islam, because they clearly do. What’s going on here?
Allow me to shed light into something many have not noticed. Hear this, last week at Friday prayers, the “Khateeb” (Preacher) said that it is extremely important for us all to raise our children to become the best Muslims they can be. Did he mean that we should all brainwash our kids to become jihadist and bomb America when they grow up? Actually, the exact opposite. He said that if parents don’t raise their kids to become good Muslims, extremists and criminals would find them easy target recruits for groups like ISIS. If they don’t spend the early years of their lives learning about the history of Islam and how it only spread around the world through peace, then if they become young adults, their empty conscious becomes a magnet to action-style religion. Then it hit me. What is also common about all these criminals claiming to belong to Islam is that they all grew up without proper knowledge about Islam. They only learned Islam 101 through online videos that other extremists themselves posted, or through watching the news about the abuse Sunnis face by the Syrian and the Iraqi government.
When the second Caliphate Umar was given the keys of Jerusalem 1400 years ago by Patriarch Sophronius, a representative of the Byzantine government, as well as a leader in the Christian Church, he “was given a tour of the city, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. When the time for prayer came, Sophronius invited Umar to pray inside the Church, but Umar refused. He insisted that if he prayed there, later Muslims would use it as an excuse to convert it into a mosque – thereby depriving Christendom of one of its holiest sites. Instead, Umar prayed outside the Church, where a mosque (called Masjid Umar – the Mosque of Umar) was later built.”
Did Umar kill, burn, torture, or disrespect people of other faiths? He did not, and keeping in mind he is one of the closest people to the Prophet, peace and prayers upon him.
The Salafis are Sunni Muslims who use cases like the one above to understand more on how to go about explaining the right way to act and react in moments of difficult choices and decisions people have to make today. Thus, the first people who apposed everything about ISIS et al are indeed the Muslims themselves who have studied great historical stories like the one mentioned above on how to win friendship and cooperation through creating a society that attracts the good and detracts the bad.
Islam is a very simple and easy religion. The basics of it are about acknowledging that there is one God, and that we will all return to him to be judged on how well or not we have spent the years of our lives. The Prophet, peace and prayers upon him, delivered a message to teach us how to live with each other in peace and how to spread the message of Islam to the rest of the world, helping each other use this life as a mean to reach the desired end, eternity in heaven.
ISIS unfortunately use the wrong flag and the wrong name, but we should judge them on the way they act, and their actions has absolutely nothing to do with Islam. If they claim that they follow the Prophet’s message, then would our dear Prophet, peace and prayers upon him, do doughnuts in a tank? A bunch of idiots…