ISLAM-OPED: A Word of Truth on Jihad and Islam
ISLAM-OPED is a syndication service of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) designed to offer an American Muslim perspective on current political, social and religious issues. ISLAM-OPED commentaries are offered free-of-charge to one media outlet in each market area. Permission for publication will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.
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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISLAM-OPED: A Word of Truth on Jihad and Islam
By Nihad Awad
Word Count: 810
[Nihad Awad is national executive director for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at: email@example.com ]
There is a growing attempt by some commentators to label the recent bombings in Boston as "jihad" and to blame the deadly blasts on a non-existent concept they call "radical Islam."
I call "radical Islam" non-existent because radicalism or extremism is not permissible in Islam. Islam prohibits extremism and an essential part of the faith is moderation. A more accurate term might be "Al-Qaeda ideology."
The Quran, Islam's foundational holy text, states clearly: "We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind." (Quran, 2:143)
The Quran also states: "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both." (Quran, 4:35)
There is no such thing as radical Islam, but there are radical Muslims -- just as there are extremists of every other religion or belief.
But there's a huge difference between the existence of radical individuals and a religion that permits radical beliefs or actions. These radicals certainly do not represent the teachings of Islam or the behavior or beliefs of mainstream Muslims.
In one Islamic tradition, called a "hadith," the Prophet Muhammad said: "Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the nights."
In recent years, we have seen the term "jihadist" come to be used as if it means a person who kills people out of a religious motivation, but this is terribly inaccurate.
"Jihad" does not mean "holy war." Literally, jihad means to "struggle," strive and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression.
For the sake of accuracy and to avoid spreading false information about a major world religion, extremist Muslims who commit crimes should be called criminals or, in cases where the definition fits, terrorists. We should not legitimize their actions by calling them jihadists, even if they attempt to call themselves by that label and seek a false religious connection or justification. These criminals should not be honored with a religious label.
Islam allows legitimate self defense, but prohibits the killing of innocent people, even in times of war or conflict. Aggression is never permitted.
"And fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, and do not commit aggression. Indeed God does not love those who are aggressors," (The Quran, 2:190).
So yes, there are some Muslims who have extreme views, or mental illnesses, or political grievances, or a host of other reasons that lead them to kill people, and this is not only a tragedy and a crime but an egregious violation of the principles of Islam.
The difference between Muslim killers and killers from other backgrounds is often the way they are described by the media and viewed by the public: with Muslim killers, the crime is almost always attributed to their religion.
Because the word "terrorism" is used almost exclusively to describe crimes whose perpetrators are Muslims, you might think that a majority of mass killings and acts of terrorism in the U.S. were committed by Muslims. But when we look at the facts, that perception does not hold up.
In a well-known hadith, a man asked the Prophet Muhammad, "What is the best jihad?" to which Prophet Muhammad replied, "Speaking a word of truth to an oppressive ruler."
The constant misuse of terms like "jihad" and "radical Islam" is offensive to the truth and is counterproductive to our nation's efforts to achieve security.It is time we all speak a word of truth by applying the proper labels to criminals and their acts of violence, no matter their religious background.
Muslims have interacted with the Roman Catholic Church and its leaders -- sometimes negatively and sometimes positively -- for hundreds of years. These interactions have included negative periods of needless and counterproductive conflict, as well as positive cooperation on issues of importance to families of all faiths.
By Gadeir Abbas and Adam Soltani
Published in The Oklahoman on February 13, 2013.
Years ago, Saadiq Long — an American citizen born in Oklahoma — served in our Air Force with distinction. For a time, he even provided technical support to military aircraft destined for combat. Who could have guessed that such a man would be deemed too dangerous to board commercial aircraft?
Nihad Awad: American Muslims Are Indebted to Dr. King
By Nihad Awad
In my position as the leader of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest American Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I am eternally grateful for the vision, struggle and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
He did not struggle only to free his own generation, and his work will continue to bless many generations to come in America and around the world.
ISLAM-OPED: Dr. King's Legacy Mandates Respect for Due Process, End to Drone Killings and Warrantless Surveillance
By: Dawud Walid
Word count: 626
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day symbolizes many important moral and ethical principles, including the citizenry's responsibility to end the federal government's abuses of civil and human rights, both at home and abroad.
By: Ibrahim Hooper
WORD COUNT: 489
As many people make promises to themselves to improve their lives or their societies in the coming year, here is a suggested New Year's resolution for media outlets in America and worldwide: Drop the term "Islamist."
By Ibrahim Hooper
Word Count: 520
During the Christmas season, Christian families seek to maintain a focus on Jesus and his legacy.
Many of our Christian brothers and sisters may be surprised to know that Muslims love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest messengers to mankind, just as we love and revere the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon them both.
American Muslims May Decide Who Becomes President
By: Nihad Awad
Word Count: 686
[Nihad Awad is national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil liberties organization. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org]
In this close election, it is a small voting bloc that will decide the outcome. On November 6, American Muslims are in a position to determine which presidential candidate will win in key swing states such as Ohio, Virginia and Florida.
By Nihad Awad
WORD COUNT: 611
During our nation's current economic downturn, and in the wake of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, many of our fellow Americans are suffering.
That is why it is so important this Thanksgiving to show thanks for all the blessings we have by reaching out to those in need.
I hope that someday we will all look back in shame at how routinely the United States once barred traveling American Muslims from returning to their country. But while that day may be far off, Ali Ahmed serves as just the latest example of how the misguided and illegal use of the no-fly list imposes a strange form of extrajudicial exile on a growing number of Americans.
Ali, a 20-year-old American citizen studying journalism in San Diego, traveled abroad for his wedding, to visit family, and to make a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. He performed his pilgrimage without incident, but soon after, Ali got his first hint that the U.S. was going to obstruct his movement abroad.
When he attempted to enter Kenya to visit his father and for the wedding, Kenyan authorities did not let him in and instead sent Ali to Bahrain. The next day, distraught that his wedding had to be postponed and that he would not be able to see his father, Ali tried to return to his country of citizenship, the United States. At the airport, he was told that he would not be allowed to return because sometime after he left the United States his government had put him on its no-fly list. There was no explanation, no way to resolve the problem – just that he could not fly now or at any point in the future.
By Gadeir Abbas
Word count: 502
This year, the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tenn., will likely be able to open its doors in time to share Ramadan together in the mosque they built, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM).
Houses of worship are built and opened all the time, but this one has acquired special significance. In opening its doors in spite of unprecedented obstacles and opposition, the mosque serves as a lasting testament to America's abiding commitment to religious freedom.
The obstacles and opposition to ICM opening its doors were breathtaking. Shortly after ICM received permission to begin construction, a viciously anti-Muslim groundswell rose up to oppose it. The protests were ugly.
By Nihad Awad
Word count: 713
As we mark one of history's most triumphant acts of liberty, I want to share with you some of the many things America's Muslims are doing to preserve this fundamental principle of the American identity.
The revolution we honor each year on July 4th was in part sparked by unreasonable government intrusions into individual liberty. In 1761, Boston lawyer James Otis spoke against overly-broad warrants issued by the British government. These Writs of Assistance allowed the crown's agents to search any house or ship they wished, without any specific reason. John Adams -- signer of the Declaration of Independence and our nation''s second president -- said of Otis' speech, "Then and there, the child Independence was born."