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Islam and Terrorism

Michael, Yousef and Rajiv started their usual conversation in the discussion room. Michael began to speak after greeting his two friends:

Michael: I think that what Yousef said in the previous meetings is contrary to what is known about his religion, and needs to be scrutinized. It would appear that only the bright areas of Islam have been highlighted, and the dark ones overlooked. We can see with our own eyes that the terrorism which is rife is Islamically motivated

Rajiv: I agree with you partially, yet I think that terrorism is assumed to be a behavior, not linked to any religion or nationality, and this is what I've suffered from in India, where groups take it in turns to afflict violence on each other for several different reasons. On what then should these observations built, Mr. Michael, so that we might discuss them?

Michael: The point that I actually want to put forward is that Islam was spread by the sword, and that is a well-known fact, for I believe that terrorism is inherent in Islam itself. Do you deny that Mr. Yousef?

Yousef: (Offended) Of course I do!!! And facts deny that too.

Michael: Just what facts do you mean?

Yousef: Religious facts, historical fact and facts on the ground...But let me first say that we should free ourselves from the affect that the propaganda and media have had on our minds, which has been strategically placed by those who have ulterior motives.

Rajiv: I think it’s okay to say that we live in a free society, and that no pressure is exercised on us, nor are there any forces that dictate the formation of our minds.

Yousef: It is true, to some extent, that there are no pressures and that we are free to choose, but we ultimately choose from what is offered to us, by those who control the media, and from what politicians and those who have other interests make available for us. Statements of politicians and Western thinkers come one after the other about terrorism, linking it to Islam and calling for a crusade in the name of “combating terrorism”, and claiming that this campaign aims at protecting the Western civilization, which is characterized by tolerance and openness, as they say.

Michael: I promise you that we'll remain as we were: seeking the truth from whatever the source may be and whatever the truth itself may actually be.

Yousef: If Islam is an aggressive religion in its nature and was spread by the sword, and Christianity is a religion of tolerance, as the West claims, then, my friend, do you know how many times the word sword is mentioned in the Qur'an, and how many times in the Bible?

Michael: No, I do not know exactly, but I am certain that it's mentioned in the Qur’an more than in the Bible.

Yousef: Prepare yourselves for this!! The Holy Qur’an is comprised of 114 chapters, containing 6236 verses and 77,439 words, yet the word sword or its synonyms aren’t mentioned in the Qur’an once, although it has about 60 synonymous in Arabic, while on the other hand it is mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible.

Michael: Wow!!... That is a real surprise. So is this what you meant by religious facts?

Yousef: This is but one fact of the several religious facts that I won't dwell on due to the constraints of time.

Rajiv: Could you please mention what are the most important of these facts?

Yousef: Sure. One of them, which I think you know my friend Rajiv, is that the regions with the highest density of Muslims in the world are in eastern and southern Asia, but no Muslim army even reached these regions., The same is the case for vast areas of Africa.

Related to this historical fact is what unbiased historians have testified to, which is that they did not find any documented proof to indicate that there had been any cases of coercion to convert people to Islam, in any period of Islamic history.

Michael: But regardless of what you've just mentioned concerning the historians, since I can mention what other historians say that indicate otherwise, what proves this claim?

Yousef: There is more than one proof that I can provide:

Firstly, inhabitants of many of the areas conquered by the Muslims through military expeditions continued to practice their religion under Muslim rule, and there are still some who haven’t converted to Islam up until now. This is what happened in countries such as Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Greece and India. This is in contrast with another entirely different picture of what took place when the Christian military dominated Andalusia, Jerusalem and the Philippines. There was overall extermination and coercion to convert into Christianity, as well as forced displacement against all those who didn't believe in Christianity.

Secondly, when the Islamic military control was lifted from the countries that were conquered, and so there was no form of pressure from the Muslims, we didn’t see the people of the country giving up Islam. In fact, we saw Muslims of the former Soviet Union secretly practicing their religion under the yoke of Communistic oppression, impatiently waiting for it to demise in order to return, in full swing, to practicing their religion.

Thirdly, history tells us stories of groups, such as the Tatars and the Turks who invaded Muslim lands, who defeated Muslim military strength and occupied large parts of the land, but then converted to Islam as a result of coexisting with Muslims.

Michael: I will acknowledge for the sake of argument that Islam didn't spread by the sword, but history put aside, let's look at the reality now; don't you agree with me about what I said earlier, that the terrorism that has hit the world today is Islamically motivated ?!

Yousef: No! Let's first define terrorism, and then have a look at the map of terrorism around the world to see who really forms it.

Rajiv: Neither world nations nor international organizations have reached an agreement on the definition of terrorism, but we can agree that it is to "terrorize those living in peace, in any way, to influence their will or for the aggressor to achieve political or economic gains."

Yousef: Of course, this disagreement is created by some countries so that the definition of terrorism remains flexible, so it can be easily manipulated. But I’d like to add to your definition: "whether this aggressor is an individual, a group or a state."

Michael: I do not mind this addition. Accordingly, if we review the global events, we find the bombing of the twin towers of the World Trade in New York in 2001, and the subsequent Madrid train bombings, then the Bali Resorts bombings in Indonesia against Western tourists, as well as operations carried out by Palestinians against Jews. All are terrorist operations carried out by Muslims.

Yousef: (Troubled) Hey, hey, my friend, operations that are carried out by the Palestinians are resistance operations against an occupier who has a black history of terrorism. How can we overlook the occupation of an entire land in which people are living and being expelled from, in addition to being intimidated in various ways? Consider the following:

The massacre of the town of Sheikh, on 31/12/1947 where 600 innocent civilians were killed inside their homes.

The massacre of the Village of Deir Yassin on 10/04/1948 where more than half the population of the village were slaughtered.

And Lod on 11/07/1948 where 426 civilians who had gathered in the mosque of the village were killed. It was stormed by Jews who murdered all those inside.

The massacre of Kafr Qasim in 10/1965 where 94 civilians consisting of women and children were killed.

The massacre of Sabra and Shatila on 18/9/1982 carried out in Lebanon by that war criminal Sharon in collusion with the Christian Phalanges forces in Lebanon. The massacre lasted for 72 hours and 3,500 Palestinians and Lebanese, mostly women and children and elderly men, were slaughtered, for no crime except that they had an Islamic identity.

The massacre of the Ibrahimi Mosque, on 25/4/1994, carried out by an IDF soldier in cooperation with other elements of the army and the settlers. In that massacre, 29 worshipers were killed inside the mosque and 50 outside it, and more than 350 worshipers were wounded.

To make your view more comprehensive, I’ll also add two further incidents: The explosion in the federal building in Oklahoma in 1995, which killed 168 people and injured 500 others, and the twin massacre of Oslo and the Otoya island in 7/2011, where more than 92 were killed and 90 wounded, both of which bore the signature of Christian extremism and racism par excellence.

Moreover, if this discussion we're having is in the context of the relationship of terrorism with a certain religion or civilization, we simply cannot overlook the fact that during the modern era:

No Muslim country has invaded a Western country, while on the other hand history testifies that the old and the new world have always been the target of invasion for the West.

And that Red Indians were subjected to genocide at the hands of those hoisting the flag of Western civilization. The Red Indian population in the New World shrank from 10 million, to 200 thousand, as well as the fact that their continent was looted.

And the West brought to the world the scourge of two major wars, which were described as World Wars, while in fact they were, especially the first, European Wars. In the first of these wars some 20 million people were killed, and there was almost the same number wounded and disabled. In the second, about 55 million were killed, while 53 million were wounded and 3 million went missing. Most of these victims were from the colonies and were civilians, as it was common in the ethics of these belligerents to target civilians to break the will of the enemy.

Though we agree on the principle of criminalizing any assault on the innocent, yet we can't overlook the motives of those who carried out these incidents that you've just mentioned. They claimed that these incidents were carried out to deter the United States and the West from continuing their aggression and terrorism against Muslims, especially in relation to the siege of Iraq at that time, and the support for the Zionist crimes in Palestine.

Rajiv: So, the bottom line is that we can conclude that terrorism does not belong to any religion or culture.

Yousef: Yes, I may agree with you that it does not belong to any religion, but I think that we must consider the springboards of Western civilization, which are built on the principle of conflict and the sanctification of force, and its relationship to its aggressive practices. The modern Western civilization deeply derives its roots and inspires its ideology from the heritage of two civilizations; the Greek and the Roman. Ideas common in these civilizations, such as the superiority complex, the glorification of power, and the inevitability of struggle... such ideas were inherited by the modern and contemporary Western civilization, and the teachings of Christianity couldn't prevent them from being applied as terrible practices, tragedies, and terrorist operations that swept through Europe itself and the world.

Michael: It appears that we have run out of time, so let’s halt here. See you both in our next dialogue.