ISIS ≠ Islam

Co-authored by Alison Hige and Alicia Gonzalez

A wrap-up of the weekend's ISIS news. On Sunday, ISIS killed more than fifty people in Iraq, mostly innocent civilians. On Saturday, ISIS members hacked a Hindu tailor to death with a machete in Bangladesh. ISIS is suspected in a car bombing in Turkey that killed two policeman and injured eighteen. And ISIS released a mass extinction video that targets Turkey.

Given such media coverage, perhaps it's little wonder that Westerners blame Islam. "Terrorist go back to where you came from," shouted passersby at a Mosque in Arizona.

Hate crimes against Muslims tripled in the months following the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. This spike has included assaults against hijab-wearing students, vandalism and arson at mosques, as well as shootings and death threats at Islamic-owned businesses.

On March 7th, a Buddhist was attacked in Hood River, Oregon after someone believed he was a Muslim based on his clothing. The attacker dropped an anti-Muslim F-bomb while smashing the man's head onto the frame of his car.

In Fort Bend County, Texas, a 12-year old student claimed his teacher called him a terrorist in front of the class. The student, Waleed Abushaaban, explained, "We were in the class watching a movie, and I was just laughing at the movie and the teacher said, 'I wouldn't be laughing if I was you.' And I said why? She said, 'because we all think you're a terrorist."

Bullying and hate speech have increased toward Muslims. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, stated, "For girls, it's pulling on the hijab and calling them terrorists, and for boys it's saying that they have a bomb in their backpack and calling them terrorists."

Yet only a small percentage of the 140,000 acts of terror since 1970 was due to Muslim extremists. Even if all 140,000 acts of terror were done by Muslims, this would amount to just .00009% of the entire 1.6 billion Muslim population.

Over the past 5 years, there have been over 1,000 terrorist attacks in Europe. However, fewer than 2% of those terrorists were Muslim. In the United States there have been approximately 2,400 terrorist attacks in the past 40 years but only 2.5% of these were carried out by Muslims.

Why, then, are all Muslims blamed for extremist attacks?

The media, through its coverage of attacks by ISIS, depicts Muslims as the primary contributor to terrorist attacks. ISIS then becomes our reflection of Islam.

"The average Muslim still feels intimidated, still feels scared, still feels insecure, especially in a political climate where it's become common to depict Muslims as terrorists," said Khusro Elley, a trustee at the Upper Westchester Muslim Society in New York.

Yet ISIS does not represent Islam (no more than the Ku Klux Klan represents Christianity).

Just because a terrorist shouts the name of Allah while committing murder doesn't mean they are good Muslims. Muslim leaders have publicly condemned ISIS and denounced their jihadist ideology.

The Quran, the holy book of Islam, denounces ISIS-like violent actions in any number of ways. For example, Quran 22:40 states, "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged." According to this surah, pre-emptive war is forbidden.

Following the Paris attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, they used the word "crusader" five times to justify the killing of non-combatants. However, the word "crusader" in Arabic is limited to Christians who viciously attacked Muslim lands under the pretense of ridding the Sanctified Territory of Islamic rule. Unlike ISIS, Muslims in those lands at that time were acting in self-defense against the vicious Crusaders.

Moreover, ISIS kills non-combatants such as journalists, civilians, children, and doctors. These are forbidden acts in the rules of Islamic war.

In a famous and authoritative decree, Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, told his military commander: "Do not commit treachery, or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, or a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful." Based on this declaration, Muslim leaders throughout history have urged Muslims to have strong humanitarian ethics.

In violation of Islamic war ethics, ISIS has executed at least 250 young girls for refusing to take on the role of a sexual jihad. In Palmyra, ISIS has crucified, beheaded, burned alive or drowned in cages over 500 Christians. In 2015, there were 89 children who died after being recruited to fight for ISIS and 39% of those children killed were from detonating a suicide bomb from within a vehicle.

The Quran likewise opposes suicide bombing. In 2:195, we read, "And do not throw yourself into destruction with your own hands." Recent suicide attacks, such as those in Brussels, were condemned as un-Islamic by Muslim leaders around the world.

The Quran itself is the biggest enemy of ISIS.

Perhaps that's why, as shown in a new documentary, an undercover reporter 'never saw any Islam' behind ISIS's plots.

Yet we continue to judge Islam, neither by its Holy Writ nor the theology of 99.99991% of its adherents but by the violent actions of a few extremists.

Salah Echallaoui, chairman of the Belgian Muslim Executive committee, denounced the terrorist bombings in Brussels and stated, "But we are hoping that the population will have enough sense not to blame all Muslims. That's what the terrorists want, to set one part of society against the other.

American Christians don't want the world to associate Christianity with the hateful actions of the Westboro Baptist Church, the murders of abortion doctors, or the racism of the KKK.

Yet Americans are quick to judge Islam based on a few extremists, all while ignoring the violence committed by "Christians."

Just as the Gospels condemn hatred, murder, and racism, the Quran rejects non-defensive war, the killing of innocents, and suicide bombing.

The Gospels likewise tell us, "Judge not, that ye be not judged." The passage goes on to warn that we will be judged by the same standards we use to judge others. If we judge all Muslims by the actions of a few extremists, then we Christians will be judged by the actions of a few of our extremists. If Christians judge all Muslims by ISIS, Christians will be judged by Westboro Baptist, murderers, and the KKK.

In short, this passage warns about hypocrisy. Hypocrisy hides the pride involved in our judgments of other people. We hold others to a higher standard than we hold ourselves to. Based on this unbalanced metric, we take pride in our righteousness and spirituality (in comparison to those wicked people, like Muslims).

We must fight the prideful urge to judge a majority of individuals based on the actions of a select few (and then feel morally and spiritually superior about ourselves and our religion).

As argued above and shown in this video and this video and this video developed by our class, ISIS does not represent Islam.