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Do the Teachings of Islam Promote Extremism?

16/12/2015 12:42 GMT | Updated 15/12/2016 10:12 GMT

The rise in Islamophobia has become more prevalent recently. By way of example, a newspaper columnist recently wrote and an Australian politician also said that Muslims become terrorists because of the Islamic teaching of Jihad and other commandments of Islam.

IS has captured regions of Iraq and Syria and have created their own state. They threaten the Western world and have also attacked it in a barbaric way killing innocent people. This has frightened people and has given some leaders, owing to their lack of knowledge or anti-Muslim views, the chance to speak against Islam. It is being written that other religions also had some harsh teachings but their adherents either do not follow those teachings or they have changed them in keeping with the times. They call for the Qur'an to also undergo changes in accordance with the times. This shows/proves that these people admit that the teaching they follow is no more from God but is now man-made. Muslims would argue that this was destined to happen because there was no Divine promise for these teaching to last till the end. When God stated about the Holy Qur'an 'Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.' (15:10) He also arranged for its safeguard.

In his various commentaries of this verse the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Promised Messiah, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (on whom be peace) has said the following:

'It has been the way of Allah the Exalted from time immemorial that when He forbids a people from an act it is definitely in the destiny of those people that some among them will perpetrate that act. Just as He forbade the Jews in the Torah not to interpolate Torah and other Divine Books. Ultimately, some of them interpolated these Books. However, the Holy Qur'an does not state that it should not be interpolated. Rather, it states: 'Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian.' (15:10) (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 769)

'It is clear [from this verse] that when a people will be raised to eliminate this Exhortation from the world, God will safeguard it from the heavens through one of His elect.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 768)

Those who are ill-informed or ignorant object about the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and try to obliterate it because their own teachings have either been obliterated or only remain in books.

Recently a short video has been circulating about the 'Bible experiment'. Two young men where showing people passages from a book which said Qur'an on its cover. They read out the passages to people on the street and everyone agreed that it was such harsh teaching of Islam that led Muslims to extremism. After a while the young men removed the cover of the book to reveal that it was in fact the Bible they were quoting from. No one said anything negative and simply laughed it off, both men and women. Someone said it was surprising because she had been to a Christian school and had read the Bible but had no idea about those passages. However, if a Muslim does something wrong it is linked to his religion but if a person of another religious does something wrong a different set of standards is applied and the religion not questioned.

At the same time it has to be acknowledged that erroneous actions of some Muslim groups has given Islam a bad name. However, it is malicious and spiteful to target teachings of the Holy Qur'an on the back of it and to get carried away in doing so. One such extreme case of anti-Islam rhetoric these days is coming from a presidential candidate in USA, Donald Trump. This does not help matters and creates uncertainty and divisions in our society.

Ahmadi Muslims believe that in accordance with Divine promise an elect was sent in this age to safeguard the teaching of Islam and he made us aware of its beauties. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) says:

'The Holy Qur'an which is also known as Dikr (Exhortation) was sent down in the early days to remind of the truths and verities which are inherent in man but had been forgotten. By virtue of the firm promise of Allah the Exalted '...most surely We will be its Guardian' a teacher came down from the heavens in this age as well. He is a manifestation of 'And among others from among them who have not yet joined them...' (62:4) and his coming was promised. And it is him who now speaks among you.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 770)

'Allah the Exalted promises 'Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian' and assumes the responsibility of safeguarding Islam and the Qur'an Himself. He thus saved Muslims from trouble and did not let them get embroiled in perversion. Fortunate are those who value this movement and derive benefit from it.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 770)

'In accordance with His promise 'Verily, We Ourself have sent down this Exhortation, and most surely We will be its Guardian' Allah the Exalted has sent me at the start of the fourteenth century to establish the greatness of the Holy Qur'an.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 770)

'No other religious leader today enjoys the Divine succour and support that is with us.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. II, p. 770)

These are some of the answers to the objections raised against Islam. The acknowledgement of people of other religions that they have changed their teachings to suit the times is an admission that their religions are but lifeless. But the words of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) are for the Muslim world. They should connect with him so they can show to others that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.

And those who claim to spread Islam through use of force are in fact tools of anti-Muslim powers. The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) elucidated that this is not the age of Jihad of the sword. Permission for Jihad of the sword was only granted under the specific conditions of early Islam when the enemy wanted to obliterate Islam with the use of the sword. Islam is replete with the teaching of love and peace and today this teaching needs to be propagated.

Muslims need to understand and practice this teaching and forge a living connection with God. The teaching of Islam is that of peace and security and Muslims have a duty to impart this teaching in light of the Holy Qur'an. We have to ask others how they could say that Islam is a violent religion while having no knowledge of Islam. Muslims need to be told that by killing each other and through sectarian strife they are bringing Islam in disrepute.

It is extremely important to inform the world of the true picture of Islam. Recently an MP from Glasgow spoke in the UK Parliament about the reality of Islam with reference to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. She said Ahmadi Muslims practiced the teachings of Islam. She said she had attended a peace symposium in Glasgow and was full of praise. The Home Secretary who was also in the House responded by saying that the Islam practised by Ahmadi Muslims was indeed different from the one acted upon by the extremists. She added that Ahmadis were peaceful citizens. Of course the fact is that Ahmadis do not represent any new teaching but only present the teachings of the Holy Qur'an.

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) wrote about the peaceful teaching of Islam:

'For a fact, Islam has never advocated compulsion in religion. If you closely study the Holy Quran, books of Hadith and historical records, and examine them and reflect upon them as far as possible, you will realize that the charge that Islam every used force and wielded the sword to spread the faith is an utterly unfounded and shameless allegation. Such charges are levelled against Islam by people who have not been able to read the Qur'an, Hadith and the authentic chronicles in an objective and impartial spirit, and have made free use of slander and falsehood. I know this time is approaching fast when those who are hungry and thirsty for truth will come to know the reality of these slanderous charges. How can we describe Islam as a religion of compulsion, when its Holy Book, the Holy Quran, unequivocally commands: 'There should be no compulsion in religion...' 2:257)

This means that you are simply not allowed to convert people by force. Can we ever accuse the great Prophet Muhammadsa of using force, while, for thirteen long years of his Meccan life, he continued to exhort his companions not to return evil for evil, but to forbear and forgive? When mischief exceeded all limits, and everyone joined hands to try to obliterate Islam, God's wrath required that those who kill by the sword should be killed by the sword. Except for this, the Holy Quran does not at all approve of compulsion. Were it so, the companions of our Holy Prophetsa, in moments of trial, would not have succeeded in proving their sincerity as true believers. While the loyalty of the companions of the Holy Prophetsa, is a matter upon which I hardly need to dwell...' (Jesus in India, pp. 10-11)

'Wars in Islam fall under three categories: i. Defensive wars - war by way of self-protection. ii. Punitive war - blood for blood. iii. War to establish freedom - to break the hold of those who kill converts to Islam.' (Jesus in India, p. 11)

'The Qur'an clearly commands not to raise the sword in order to spread Islam and that the innate qualities of the religion should be presented and that others should be attracted through pious models. Do not think that in the early days of Islam use of the sword was commanded, because the sword was never wielded to spread Islam. Quite the contrary, it was drawn in self-defence against enemy attacks or in order to establish peace.' (Star Of The Empress, p. 11)

'Those who are known as Muslims and only know that Islam should be spread by the use of force are not cognizant of the inherent qualities of Islam and their ways are the ways of beasts.' (Tafseer Hazrat Masih e Maud, Vol. I, p. 747)

The Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) has thus drawn our attention to present the inherent beauties of Islam by increasing our own knowledge and then attract people through good practice. It is indeed a huge responsibility on every Ahmadi to increase their knowledge of the Qur'an, present good models and attract the world.

The Qur'an states about those who do not accept its message: 'And they say, 'If we were to follow the guidance with thee, we should be snatched away from our land'...' (28:58) Here the teaching of Islam is not being criticised on grounds of being violent. Those who do not accept it are being critical that if they abide by teaching of peace and security, people around them will ruin them! Islam teaches peace, if some Muslim groups do not abide by it, is their misfortune. Indeed, they are not safeguarding the commandments of the Holy Qur'an.

Muslims have to show the world and those against Islam with our word and practice that Islam is not dangerous. As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said it is the falsehood and slander of anti-Islam elements that is putting the world in danger. Big powers also have a hand in the chaotic state of affairs in Muslim countries. Some of them now admit that the Muslim extremists are a product of the situation created by Western governments in Iraq. Those who perpetrate terrorism in the name of Islam are certainly not exempt but the big world powers played a role in stoking the fire. All this has come to pass because justice and fairness was not followed.

Times have changed and now a statement given by a big power is not quietly accepted by the world. Through various means of communications every analyst can reach out to the world and express views. On one hand is talk of eliminating terrorists through air strikes and on the other hand those who arm them or carry out illegal financial transactions with them are completely disregarded. World peace is not only being destroyed by the Muslim extremist groups, who are of course creating havoc by going against the teachings of Islam. Rather, big world powers are also involved in this. Self-interest is paramount for them while world peace is incidental and secondary.

A true Muslim knows that God is Salam (the Source of Peace) and wishes security for His creation. Among true Muslims certainly Ahmadis have the insight of the commandments and guidance of God regarding giving peace and security to humanity and to establish peace in the world. He states: 'I swear by his repeated cry 'O my Lord! That these are a people who will not believe. Therefore, turn aside from them, and say, 'Peace'; and soon they shall know.' (43:89-90) This is the teaching of the Holy Qur'an. When the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) called people to God, they rejected his message. Not only did they reject his message of peace, they tried to ruin his peace. Yet God commanded to excuse them because they did not have sense and were foolish and asked the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to continue to tell them that his message was of peace and security. Seeing that this is what God instructed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) in the face of persecution of the opponents, how much more important it becomes for every Muslim to follow suit in today's climate and take the message of Islam to others in this manner.

Muslims need to disseminate the message of peace and security. As the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said if ever force was used in Islam it was in self-defence and to establish peace, never to perpetrate cruelty. It is out of the question that the Holy Qur'an would ever, anywhere command to raise the sword/use force against those who do not accept what we say.

If Muslim groups or Muslim leaders are contradicting this with their practice, it is not borne of Islam, it is borne of self-interest or the interests of big world powers who have made these people their tools. On top of this Islam is alleged to have violent teachings!

It is Islam and only Islam that guarantees peace in the world today and the Holy Qur'an gives the teaching to end extremism. We all need to gain insight of this teaching and to put it in practice and just as the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said show the world with our practice that today God has enabled us to safeguard the Qur'an and it is God's grace. Correct interpretation and commentary of the Holy Qur'an is safeguarding its meanings and God has sent the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) for this.

The world is teetering on the edge of a fire pit. The situation can arise anytime that would plunge it in the pit of fire. It is the responsibility of all like minded people to try to save the world from falling in fire and to work towards peace and security and Ahmadis alone can do this task. Effort is needed for this task.