Even though modern man faces many serious challenges including, among many others, economic, environmental, political and social challenges which are all devastating, terrorism is viewed by most of the world countries as the most serious ever, as it increasingly threatens their existence. Terrorism has its roots that vary and correlate to other areas including, but not limited to, social, political and economic factors.
Given the fact that terrorism may be religiously driven, international media, unfortunately, links terrorism to Islam in particular. In fact, it cannot be denied that one reason for this is the distorted understanding of Islam by some radical groups who wrongly claim defending Islam or applying it. But the question here is how much is Islam, true Islam I mean, responsible for such terrorist actions and radical ideologies?
Muslim scholars and intellectuals as well as moderate non-Muslims researchers argue strongly that Islam cannot have any connection with terrorism. The following points can support this idea:
First: The Sacredness of One’s Soul in Islam
The careful, deep and total examination of the texts of Islam led Muslim scholars to state that Islam came to preserve five key values, traditionally known as the Five Necessities, namely, faith, soul, mind, dignity and property. Thus the preservation of one’s soul is a priority or even the top priority in Islam. It may be claimed that the soul that should be preserved, according to Islam, is that of Muslims alone. This may seem –apparently speaking- logic and gives sense; however, one verse in the Qur’an totally undermines and falsifies this claim. The Qur’an reads, “We decreed to the Children of Israel that if anyone kills a person- unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land- it is as if he kills all mankind, while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind.” (Qur’an 5: 32). The Qur’an tells us that this Divine Decree had been issued to the Children of Israel; yet it addresses Muslims too, which is a point of consensus among Muslim scholars and jurists.
The point now is a religion that equates killing one innocent person to killing all humanity can never call for terrorism.
Second: Supporting and Securing Freedom of Religion
One of the fallacies attributed to Islam is that it is a religion that calls its adherents to force people to accept it. However, this claim cannot be substantiated from the texts of the Shari‘ah, which clearly states, “There shall be no compulsion in religion". (Qur’an 2: 256) Also, the Qur’an puts a golden rule for how should Muslims treat non-Muslims when it states, “Allah does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just.” (Qur’an 60: 8)
Thus, fighting with non-Muslims is not at all a matter of difference of religion. If this is clear in our minds, then any claim that Muslims kill non-Muslims because of the latter's different religions is entirely unfounded. Therefore, Muslims do believe that fighting against civilians is not permissible in Islam. The commandments of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for his Companions in war included: “Do not kill a child, a woman, or an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire…You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone!”
Now, is it conceivable that a religion of such commands may call for killing people who do not accept it?!
Third: Islam calls for Civilization
When the Almighty Allah created man, He distinguished him with intellect, and this distinction should have actually been for a purpose. Allah made it clear in the Qur’an that one of the purposes of creating man on earth is to develop it. He, Most High, says, “It was He who brought you into being from the earth and made you thrive thereon.” (Qur’an 11: 61). Thus man is commanded to develop this land and to create civilization on it. If we understand this, we shall not believe that Islam calls for the destruction of civilization or for backwardness. It is easy to discover how terrorist groups, like ISIS, have nothing to do with civilization. The Islamic History proves how the early Muslim understood these commands of the Qur’an to create outstanding civilization, which is crystal clear in the once flourishing Civilization of Andalusia, the Abbasid Civilization, etc.
Fourth: Islam promotes the Principle of Dialogue
When directing Muslims to the best way of dealing with those of different faiths, the Qur’an opts for dialogue. The Qur’an says, “[Believers], argue only in the best way with the People of the Book, except with those of them who act unjustly. Say, We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you; our God and your God are one [and the same]; we are devoted to Him.’” (Qur’an 29: 46) The verse focuses on the common grounds with others to create a sense of familiarity and affinity. It therefore stresses arguing only in the best way, not just a good way.
Thus, had Islam been a religion of terrorism, it wouldn’t have called its adherents to argue with those of other different religions “in the best way”.
Fifth: Islam prohibits terrifying Animals and Birds, what about terrifying Man!
It is common in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad that he was so merciful towards all the creatures, including animals. A Companion of the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, “We were with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) during a journey. He went to ease himself. We saw a bird with her two young ones and we captured her young ones. The bird came and began to spread its wings. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came and said: 'Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it.' He also saw an ant village that we had burnt. He asked: 'Who has burnt this?' We replied: 'We'. He said: "It is not proper to punish with fire except the Lord of fire."
If we take these points into consideration, it will be logical to conclude that Islam cannot be a religion of terrorism, and that any manifestations of terrorism committed by some Muslims are based on their own personal, deviated understanding of the instructions of Islam, which should in no way be linked to Islam itself.