Over the past few months, multiple news reports have surfaced showing a great many new or recent converts to Islam becoming mixed up in terror plots or other radicalised behaviour. Why is this happening, and how? Why, as Muslims, do we allow this to go on? What message is this sending out to the rest of the world’s society – and indeed, other Muslims?
Is it any wonder that most Muslims are viewed by non-Muslims as a little crazy, a little radical, as terrorists – or potential terrorists? On the other hand, what is seen by the converts to Islam as so alluring on “that side” of the fence that they end up there?
Before I attempt to delve into the questions above, a little word of caution to my fellow reverts / converts - and indeed, to all readers. Be careful of the company you keep. Not every Muslim is inherently good, not every Muslim is on the right path to Allah and not every Muslim necessarily has your best interests at heart. Not every friend, tutor, guide and Mufti or Imam is necessarily leading you in the right direction. Consider this Hadith:
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:
I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "There will appear some people among you whose prayer will make you look down upon yours, and whose fasting will make you look down upon yours, but they will recite the Qur'an which will not exceed their throats (they will not act on it) and they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out through the game whereupon the archer would examine the arrowhead but see nothing, and look at the unfeathered arrow but see nothing, and look at the arrow feathers but see nothing, and finally he suspects to find something in the lower part of the arrow."
Reference: Vol. 6, Book 61, Hadith 578
Considering my own experiences, my reasoning dictates that it is because Islam is such a mystery to many. And by that, I am referring to both Muslims and non-Muslims. For example, as in an earlier article, Qur'an: In your language or in Arabic?, new Muslims are often instructed not to read the Qur'an in any other language besides Arabic. As a result, someone ends up translating or interpreting the Holy Qur'an for them. What can potentially result, therefore, is the interpreter delivering only those parts which he deems necessary to achieve his own ends, rather than for the benefit of the new Muslim.
Ignorance within ourselves? Apathy? I blame the rest of us, myself included. It is "we" that allow this to go unchecked; it is "us" that allow this indoctrination of the newest members of our Ummah. We just don’t care! Or we are too busy laying low, trying to stay out of the glare of the Western media, trying so hard to be "a good Muslim" (in their eyes) by being…a bad Muslim (to our own brothers and sisters).
On the day (of the battle) of Khaibar the Prophet said, "Tomorrow I will give the flag to somebody who will be given victory (by Allah) and who loves Allah and His Apostle and is loved by Allah and His Apostle." So, the people wondered all that night as to who would receive the flag and in the morning everyone hoped that he would be that person. Allah's Apostle asked, "Where is `Ali?" He was told that `Ali was suffering from eye-trouble, so he applied saliva to his eyes and invoked Allah to cure him. He at once got cured as if he had no ailment. The Prophet gave him the flag. `Ali said, "Should I fight them till they become like us (i.e. Muslim)?" The Prophet said, "Go to them patiently and calmly till you enter the land. Then, invite them to Islam, and inform them what is enjoined upon them, for, by Allah, if Allah gives guidance to somebody through you, it is better for you than possessing red camels."
Reference: Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 253
A lack of unity among Muslims. Charity starts at home, as the saying goes. I have lost count of the number of times I have entered any mosque and have not been greeted by my brothers. Indeed, I am usually the first one who utters As-Salamu Alaikum to the brothers already gathered there (as prescribed to do by our Prophet (pbuh)). Often times, only a very few answer; the rest cannot (they are performing Salat) or will not (they simply do not reply).
Confusion, confusion, confusion! As a new Muslim a few years ago, I heard so many conflicting things about Islam that eventually I stopped listening to anyone. Instead, I went to the source, the Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah to discover for myself the truth I was searching for.
My understanding:- We are not a Religion of separatists, we are not an Ummah of disunity. Truth be told, our learned scholars and Imams possess much knowledge between them, but sadly, many Muslims today (both born Muslims and converts) do not fully understand the gift of Islam bestowed upon them. Many of us seek only to do what is of benefit to ourselves – MY salat, MY fasting, with little or no concern of the brother or sister next to them in the prayer-line.
Therefore, is it any wonder at our shock and surprise when we turn on the night’s news and see what has been going on under our very noses, in our very midst?
It’s all very well condemning it (as I have done on this website previously) but what are we doing to address it?
The virgins in the Hereafter? Martyrdom? Or in this life – fame or infamy? A sense of belonging? There are libraries of books written on the subject, and attempting to profile these people – see this article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radicalization
Each case is different and it would be too general an assumption to make a single or a few statements with regards to the cause of this.
Hands up, any Media outlet without an agenda? No? No? Not one of you…not a single one?!
Sadly, even www.therevert.com has an agenda of its own. Enough said. Oh wait! I can’t resist mentioning the ones that make it a point to portray Islam and ALL Muslims in a negative light. They too have an agenda.
Stand up! Hold your head up high and say, "I’m a proud Muslim and I am NOT a terrorist!"
Truth be told, in our time, this is a very difficult topic to write about effectively. Reading back the words above, I realise that I have painted a dark, gloomy picture of the state of us! Or is it really "us" that I am painting a picture of? Is it not "them" that lack the clear, correct understanding? "Them" being the non-Muslims not understanding us Muslims? "Them" being the radicalised Muslims and the radicals that lack the clear, correct understanding?
I am at a loss as to a solution. I cannot suggest a fix. I can choose no sides here. If I go right, I become labelled as one inciting terrorism and therefore a terrorist; go left, and I become Takfiri.
Islam is a Religion of peace, despite what you may have heard, seen or been led to believe. Our Prophet (pbuh) sums it up in this Hadith:
Allah's Apostle said, "Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, "O Allah's Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?" The Prophet said, "By preventing him from oppressing others."
Reference: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 624