Islam been Hijacked?
The headline on the cover of the
October 15th US News and World Report
War; How Islamic radicals are hijacking one of the world’s great
are marginally educated about the Islamic faith.
So now there are news features and Oprah specials to enlighten us
to the notion that Islam is a peaceful religion, in which the majority of
leaders and followers are appalled by what US News calls a “hijacking”
of their religion.
itself in an historic opportunity to define itself to an outside world
largely ignorant of its tenets. Because
of extended media coverage of decades of terrorist attacks by those who
are labeled “Islamic Fundamentalists,” the western world has a basis
to associate Islamic teachings and lifestyle with extremists’ hatred and
vitriol, with the assumption that Islam itself may teach that the murder
of children is perfectly acceptable in the furthering of their
association with extremism and terrorism valid, or has Islam truly been
Light will be
shed on that question in the words, the deeds, and any chasm in between,
of Islamic leadership and their followers.
discussion it is understood that, like Christianity, Islam has multiple
factions whose degree of literal interpretation of scripture varies.
Referring to both religions, the word “mainstream” will suggest
those willing to practice their religion in peaceful coexistence with
others of differing faiths.)
First, a little
perspective. Islam isn’t
the only religion that extremists have tried to hijack for their own
hateful ends. Examples from
Christian history abound.
aftermath of the American Civil War arose the Ku Klux Klan, an evil
organization that distorted Christian teachings to justify racist
persecution and murder. When
Klansmen called for other Christians to unite behind their cause, some
radical clergy and lay people, eager to justify their hatred with
misinterpretations of the Bible, answered the call.
Christians, along with Americans of other faiths, led the fight to
Christianity eventually rose up to condemn and oppose the KKK; Christians
in ordinary congregations, as well as Christians in law enforcement and
government, were among those at the forefront of that long-fought and
example, some Christians warp Biblical teachings in an attempt to justify
the bombing of abortion clinics and the murder of their employees.
But mainstream Christianity goes to great effort to distance itself
from such extremism, and to teach its followers why true Christianity has
no room for such behavior.
It is true that
terrible suffering has been inflicted in the name of Christianity.
But today, would any responsible Christian believer or organization
fail to condemn and actively oppose something like a neo Spanish
The point is
not that Christianity may be in any way superior to Islam, but only to set
to terrorism do we see from mainstream Islam?
We hear the
words of mainstream Islamic political leaders and clerics around the world
condemning the terrorist atrocities of Osama bin Laden and his fellow
travelers. However, such
words have come from all quarters, and in and of themselves are of limited
value—such paragons of humanity as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and
Palestinian groups Hamas and Hezbollah--who bomb school children in the
pursuit of their political agenda--have also expressed regret.
There are two
words that describe a response of many words, but few deeds:
“hot” and “air.” Words
alone are all bun, no beef. So
where’s the beef?
compliance of Islamic states in the Middle East has been helpful in the
United States’ and Britain’s military actions against targets in
Afghanistan. But it only
underscores the fact that Islamic states and mainstream Islam at the grass
roots level have generally refused to police their own.
rhetoric, it appears that they will not take the lead in the struggle
against those indiscriminate murderers that may spring from their
fonts—a struggle that should be righteous from any religion’s
Judeo-Christian nations left to take the lead in this struggle, while
greater Islam just tosses a few buns our way, apparently tolerating
terrorists in its midst?
scream out to Americans that the great and peaceful religion of Islam has
been hijacked by a few radicals. If
that were true, wouldn’t “hijacked Islam” fight mightily to take
back its name and purpose?
mainstream Islam at the political, clerical, and congregational levels
goes beyond rhetorical support and actually takes the lead in opposing
extremism in their ranks, then mainstream Islam may reasonably be
considered as supportive of the radicals, not hijacked by them.
must physically imprison terrorists and their supporters. They must
send in their own forces to eliminate terrorist cells and networks in the
Middle East and Central Asia, not just provide bases from which sons and
daughters of American mothers may issue forth to confront the problem.
remove clerics who preach hate, and vigorously rebut the encouragement to
current and future murderers issuing from so many of it’s national and
Americans must vigorously, proactively, and publicly root out the hundreds
of terrorists in scores of cells who may be hiding in their midst, not
just issue communiqués averring their patriotism.
I hope that the
headlines are true. I hope
that Islam is a peaceful religion, one that opposes murder as a means of
honoring God. I hope that
mainstream Islamic nations and congregations will take the lead in
combating those who would commit atrocities in the name of their religion,
just as mainstream Christians opposed the perversions of the KKK and
abortion clinic bombers.
But that is not
the fruit currently apparent on the tree.
Islam has an historic opportunity to define itself to the world.
How will it respond?