The purpose of Islam is to make us better human beings. When we fail to do so, we cannot blame the religion but should blame those followers who misunderstood or distorted the message. Sometime they have their own agenda and act irrationally, even justifying their misguided actions. Many Muslims do not learn Islam in a systemic and organized manner like they study text books of science or medicine. They learn it in a haphazard way and thus fail to fully grasp the philosophy of Islam. The philosophy of Islam includes the mission of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), that is love and mercy for all, and respect for the sanctity of human life. We think terrorists and extremists are misguided souls due to lack of education. This is not always true as educated individuals and professionals can be brainwashed and become killers as testified by the Safoora bus massacre in Karachi and the carnage in Paris and San Bernardino. The assailants failed to imbibe the true teachings of Islam and had a flawed interpretation of Islamic education. A true Muslim aims not to vanquish his opponent physically but tries to win over his heart that eventually ushers him into Islam that signifies surrender to God. A radicalized person’s mind is inoculated with hate and revenge. Brain flow scans show that the morphology of the brain is changed during hate and anger. Thus, during hate and anger one may act with violence which he or she will not indulge in a peaceful state of mind. Before we act, we should ask if this action will please God and His messenger or make Satan happy. One of the core messages of Islam is Justice, not only for oneself and ones loved ones but for all. “O you who believe! Be upright for God, bearer of witness with Justice and let not the hatred of others depart you from justice. Be just that is nearer to piety. Be careful of for your duty to God for God is surely aware of what you do” (Qur’an 5: There is no short cut to Islamic Knowledge. Haphazard, desultory self-learning, especially via internet and social media, will not help in gaining in-depth knowledge. It could lead to self-radicalization and prompt acts out of hate and revenge. To all Muslims, young and old, new to Islam or “born again” Muslims, I advise to learn Islam from the source, i.e. the Qur’an. Dr Mohammad Iqbal’s father once told him, “Son! When you read Qur’an, assume it was revealed on to you and God is addressing you “. The life of Prophet Mohammad, the Messenger of Peace, and the manner in which he dealt with those who opposed him, will serve as a glowing example. Students of Islam should have a Muslim teacher who can guide them in this journey. “Believers! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly and follow not the footsteps of Satan as he is your open enemy.” (Qur’an 2:20 “God changes not the condition of a nation unless they change what is in their self.” (13:11) We will not be questioned for what others did to us but we will be questioned for what we did in response.
Dr Shahid Athar