How extremists are more motivated by greed, power and worldly desires as opposed to true faith and Islamic values
Photo by Matthias Rhomberg
Muslims claim their religion teaches peace, harmony, love and goodness while the actions of some so-called adherents to the faith prove contrary. How can it be that on the one hand, the religion teaches good while some Muslims commit evil? Some suggest the reason being the inherent evil of the religion itself.
So is the religion itself evil or are the adherents today evil? Or both?
Well, we can safely conclude that the majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims are not evil. Nor are they violent. Rather, they are the peaceful adherents of the religion of Islam. They constitute the large majority of the Muslim population the world over. This is a self-evident truth. There's no denying extremist elements exist yet that's no surprise since you'll find good and evil in all spheres of life regardless of faith, race, nationality, political stance, career or any other distinguishing criteria.
A cursory look at the fundamental holy book, the Qur'an would also lend support to the belief that Islam is actually a peaceful religion. After all, it exhorts to peace, justice, charity and unity. Harvard went so far as to declare one verse of the Muslim holy book as one of the best expressions of justice ever. True, there are violent verses but that's already explained by my counterparts here and here.
Why then are some Muslims today totally disregarding these peaceful teachings and acting like primitive, violent people? Well let's have a look.
For one, Muslims have forsaken the fundamental teachings of the Prophet and have given themselves over to superficiality and worldliness which pervades their religious practices. Their actions betray their self-righteous speech. It's the same with the Church - religion becomes a business. When people forget the true teachings or distort them, misunderstand the true purport or yet are misguided and tempted by worldly motives they inevitably become superficial and religious by name only. This is a phenomenon which we see all too often in religious history.
Outward observance without regard for the spirit of the teaching leads to bigotry, prejudice and hard-heartedness. Religion is meant to invoke feelings of spirituality, love and open-heartedness. The form is meant to induce the spirit, the spirit being the main goal. However the spirit can't survive without the shell, but when religion becomes a formal, hollow exercise, we see only superficiality, intolerance and judgmental mindsets - leading to violence against opposing beliefs.
It isn't anything new. Man is negligent, vain and driven by selfish desires - which true religion seeks to curb. Over time and generations the core values and principles once instilled by elders fade away being replaced with an ideology consisting only of prejudice, intolerance and superficiality. Reminders are of paramount importance therefore. In a world filled with materialism, egotism, jealousy and manic pursuit of power, the higher values of life are often overlooked with worldliness becoming intermingled with religious values. Groups like ISIS are undoubtedly more motivated by geopolitical motives than actual Islamic values.
You can't blame the car for a drunk driver crashing though. If Islam's teachings are being misused and driven by leaders drunk with power and worldliness, then the drivers (and those who fuel the drunkenness of the drivers) are to blame, not the car.
If you want to understand what's happened to Muslims, just look at Christian history. Jesus (peace be on him) would never have approved of the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition or witch hunts up to the 18th century. Similarly, Muhammad (pbuh) warned his followers not to become disbelievers by shedding blood.
Anyhow, the religion of Islam or its Prophet Muhammad cannot be held accountable for the actions of Latter Day followers the leaders of which he himself labelled as 'the worst creatures under the heavens'. He warned his followers, that in the Latter Days, they would go to their leaders searching for guidance but instead find 'apes and swine' sitting there - he of course was referring to the degraded moral and deplorable spiritual condition of many Latter Day Muslim clerics. It goes without saying, if the leaders themselves are corrupt, their adherents will follow suit.
Photo by Chaoyue 超越 PAN 潘
Muhammad (on whom be peace) foretold of a time when Islam will be beset with superficiality and so-called scholars with their own vested motives will misguide the masses. Just as we can never place blame upon Jesus (on whom be peace) for the actions of his followers who came later, we can't blame Muhammad for the actions of Muslims today. Nor can we hold the Qur'anic teachings or Islam as a religion responsible since Islam itself condemns the hypocritical and selfish, violent actions of some Muslims today. Likewise, Moses (peace be on him) can't be blamed for the Jewish violence today nor can Buddha (on whom be peace) be held accountable for the genocide of Rohingya Muslims.
Further, what we may see as violent behavior by Muslims today is only a matter of perspective. Undue emphasis is given to terror acts by Muslims whereas if we look at the world today generally, terrorism, inhumanity and infringement of human rights happens by non-Muslims just as much as it does by Muslims, if not more so.
China, a Communist (Communism, which is inherently anti-religious) nation has one of the worst human rights record in the world. Saudi Arabia has a similarly deplorable one as well which is why it's quite ironic that Western countries so nonchalantly back and support such regimes (and have a history of doing so) while themselves posing as the most advanced and morally superior countries looking to police the world.
The Prophet of Islam taught that whoever assists in a good deed will have a share of its reward and whoever helps facilitate evil, will share the burden thereof. Suffice to say then, the West has played a large role in fueling extremist ideology especially by being friendly with the Saudis who export their deadly, violent puritanical version of Islam which was partly responsible for the Paris attacks. Talk about fueling the drunk driver.
The West (primarily Christian nations) have attacked, colonized and plundered entire nations, countries and people based on deception and resource hungry motives. They fund extremist rebels, prop up dictatorial regimes and extort whoever agrees not with them.
Let's not forget Iraq (an international war crime and responsible for ISIS as admitted by Tony Blair), Libya, Syria, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and others. No good whatsoever has come of these wars. Western wars since 1990 have killed an estimated 4 million Muslims, mostly innocent under the false guise of freedom, democracy and liberation. And yet Islam is scapegoated as the cause of the rise of terrorism.
Israel continues to commit atrocities against the Palestinians and North Korea is by all accounts an oppressive regime. Not to mention Russia, another Communist nation which has in recent months invaded another country and cracks down frequently on dissidents.
So to believe that the Muslim world alone is responsible for terrorism and displays brutality is a wholly undue approach to analysing the problems of the world today.
A 2008 MI5 report declared that extremists are not really very religious and lack a real understanding of core religious values, something supported by recent evidence. The Paris attackers were found to be wholly neglectful of Islam's teachings. Having never attended the Mosque, one attacker was involved in petty crime and drugs - completely irreligious if you ask any decent practising Muslim with an iota of religious values.
Other reports cite poverty and Islamophobia along with lack of aspiration as reasons for extremism. The MI5 report went so far as to say that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.
Their ideology was also comprehensively dismantled by the worldwide leader of the most united, organised and grounded Muslim community today which has for the last 126 years been leading the peaceful revival of the true teachings of Islam, along with efforts to unite all under one banner of 'love for all, hatred for none'. They present viable solutions to humanity's problems today, if only people would pay attention. Alas, man cares not for a wise, considered word.
Only when our mis-actions rebound on ourselves, like the refugee crisis, Paris attacks or something worse God-forbid, will we perhaps understand and pay attention to the words of a rational, good-willed and impartial community which has long warned of the dire consequences of our deeds. Until then, we can only pray, hope and wait.