Islam is not a religion of hatred and terror

The words “radical Islamic terrorism,” as Brandon Wales used in his op-ed “Strike terrorists before they strike U.S. targets,” are some of the most insulting words that anyone can say to a Muslim.

They reek of complete bias and of a Crusader-age mentality. Muslims are disturbed when they hear this phrase because it causes people to generalize all Muslims and to tie our faith – Islam – to terrorism and violence.

Islam is the faith of 1.2 billion people worldwide with approximately 7 million in America alone. This number is growing daily and many social scientists predict that it will become the second largest religion in the United States by the year 2000. If only because of its attractiveness to so many worldwide, we must understand Islam.

Islam is not a religion that “spread by the sword.” Islam is not a religion that condones the killing of innocent people. Islam is not a religion that allows its followers to spread fear and terror. In fact, Islam is the religion of peace. The word Islam is derived from the Arabic word salaam, meaning peace. Muslims greet each other with “Assalamu Alaykum” – peace be upon you.

On a larger scale, God tells us in the Holy Qur’an that Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was “Sent but as a mercy to all the worlds.” He taught us that our purpose in life is to come to peace with our Creator and His creation.

He also taught us that if we were to go to war, it only should be to defend our life, faith, dignity and property, and to spread the flag of justice. Only in such cases could they fight, and then there are strict rules for war. Muslims are not to kill innocent civilians: old men, women, children, rabbis and priests worshipping the Creator. They are not to burn fields, houses and places of worship. They must not torture prisoners and mutilate corpses. Finally, they cannot coerce anyone into becoming Muslim.

Muslims know these tenets and it deeply distresses us when the Western media continually connect terrorist acts to Islam. Today, “Islamic fundamentalism/Islamic radicalism” are synonyms with terrorism. They shouldn’t be. We must educate ourselves and learn to separate one’s actions from one’s faith, especially when they oppose each other.

Timothy McVeigh is not a “Christian fundamentalist/Christian terrorist.” Mladic and Karadjic, the notorious Serbian generals, are not Christian Orthodox terrorists. Ireland is not a terrorist country, deserving of British strikes.

The media never has used these terms and it shouldn’t because they are purely stereotypical, bigoted, hate-filled words that attack a whole category of people and its beliefs. The media must change its terminology, and before that we, as information consumers, must learn to not accept everything they feed us without researching the truth. So come and learn about Islam today.

-The writer is a sophomore majoring in biology.

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