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Harsh statements against Islam:

"Maybe you can explain why ISLAM is a source of so much violence in the name of God?"

This person is making a statement that is intended to look like a question. But in fact, it is a statement. After all, he has supposed that Islam is terrorism and war and violence, right. Nothing could be further from the truth.

There is a great deal of misinformation about Islam in the world today. There are several reasons for this. Some myths are centuries old, and are resurrected from time to time by ill-intentioned Islam-haters of various persuasions. Others are due to the media, which for the most part is consistently skewed to show Islam and Muslims in the worst possible light. Unfortunately, a major source of misinformation about Islam are those Muslims who are ignorant about their faith.

This misconception of Islam being all about terrorism and violence is one of the most widely held misconceptions about Islam today. And yet in the Qur'an, the Creator unambiguously states (translation),

[17:33] "Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law)"

Based on this verse, it is Islamically unlawful to murder anyone who is innocent of certain crimes. It is well to remember at this point the distinction made above between Qur'an and Sunnah, and the Muslims: only the Qur'an and Sunnah are guaranteed to be in accordance with what the Creator desires, whereas the Muslims may possibly deviate. Hence, if any Muslim kills an innocent person, that Muslim has committed a grave sin, and certainly the action cannot be claimed to have been done "in the name of Islam."

It should be clear, then, that "Muslim terrorist" is almost an oxymoron: by killing innocent people, a Muslim is committing an awesome sin, and Allah is Justice personified. This phrase is offensive and demeaning of Islam, and it should be avoided. It is hoped that as the general level of public awareness and understanding of Islam increases, people will keep "terrorism" and "Islam" separate from each other, not to be used in the same phrase.

Another reason advanced in support of the misconception is that the Creator has imposed `jihad' on us. The term "holy war" is from the time of the Crusades and originated in Europe as a rallying cry against the Muslims in Jerusalem. Jihad is an Arabic word meaning struggle, but in the context of many verses in the Qur'an, it carries the meaning of military struggle, or war. Allah gradually introduced the obligation of military struggle to the Muslim community at the time of the Messenger (saas). The first verse ever revealed in that connection is as follows (translation),

[22:39] "Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them"

This verse lays down the precondition for all war in Islam: there must exist certain oppressive conditions on the people. The Creator unequivocally orders us to fight oppression and persecution, even at the expense of bloodshed as the following verse shows (translation),

[2:190-192] "And fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque (in Makkah) until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the reward of the unbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors."

As one might imagine, the method of military struggle has been clearly and extensively defined in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Since this subject is a huge one, we simply summarize part of it by noting that it is unlawful to kill women, children, the infirm, the old, and the innocent. From the Sunnah, specifically in the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find:

[4:52:257] Narrated 'Abdullah: During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved the killing of women and children.

A related misconception to jihad is often propagated by Muslims who say that "Jihad is only for self-defense of physical borders." The Qur'an and Sunnah refute this notion categorically. As the verses cited above show, jihad is obligatory wherever there is injustice, and Muslims need not acknowledge imaginary lines around the earth when it comes to upholding this obligation. The Messenger of Allah (saas) has also commented on this extensively in the Sunnah. From the study of the Sunnah called Sahih Bukhari, we find that,

[4:52:65] Narrated Abu Musa: A man came to the Prophet and asked, "A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah's Cause?" The Prophet said, "He who fights that Allah's Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah's Cause."

Hence, the Creator obligates us to fight wherever people are being grossly deprived of freely hearing or practicing the Message of Allah as contained in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Another reason advanced for this prevalent misconception is that Islam `spread by the sword'. It should be clear by now that we must always distinguish between the Qur'an and Sunnah and the Muslims when it comes to determining what the Creator has asked of us. Allah has stated clearly in the Qur'an (translation),

[2:256] "There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever rejects Satan (and what he calls to) and believes in Allah, he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handhold, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."

Hence, it is impossible to accept Islam under duress. Even if misguided Muslims were to try to 'force' Islam somehow on others, it would not be accepted by the Creator based on this verse. Historical arguments that try to demonstrate that Muslims did not ‘convert others by force' are actually secondary to the argument given above. However, it is worth noting that historically, Islam did spread by peaceful means. The Message of the Creator was conveyed to Africa and to southeast Asia by trading Muslims, and today the largest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. The military expeditions that led to the conquest of large swathes of territory in Europe and central Asia were all marked by tolerance of other creeds and faith.

Again, it is important to remember that Allah declares it IMPOSSIBLE that Islam can be forced on a person, hence Muslims find it useless to try!