Challenging all those who distort Islam’s message
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor/Al Arabiya/November 28/15
Morten Storm, the Danish co-author of “Agent Storm: My life Inside Al-Qaeda and the CIA”, recently aired his anti-Islamic views on Fox News, using this media platform to spout, what are in my opinion, blasphemous opinions. This former Al-Qaeda militant turned double agent was allegedly radicalized in prison and was later reportedly recruited by the CIA and MI6 as a spy. Ultimately, he betrayed his chiefs by going public and is now betraying his adopted faith. Storm is an authority on terror, not on Islam. In my opinion, he is capitalizing on heightened fears in response to the Paris attacks, whipping-up Islamophobia with cherry-picked quotes from our Holy Book taken out of context. Genuine Muslims would not dream of defaming other religions. We respect the faiths of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) and we do not consider Christianity a violent religion due to the misguided behaviour of its adherents, such as the Crusaders, the Spanish inquisitors and the Nazis. To refute this individual’s propaganda I enlisted Sheikh Fares Al Mustafa’s help. He is the Imam of the Al Farooq Omar bin Al-Khattab Mosque and Center in Dubai. Islam is a merciful and peaceful faith. Muslims end their prayers with the word ‘peace’. Muslims greet each other, saying ‘peace’ and Allah will welcome all those who enter Paradise with a greeting of peace. The Prophet Mohammad (PBH) said, “Those who have mercy will have mercy from God, the Most Merciful…”
Challenging Islamaphobic allegations
Storm characterized Islam as “violent, intolerant and very dangerous for the whole world…”There are many references to peace and mercy in the Holy Quran and 113 verses start with the words ‘In the name of Allah, the All Merciful and Most Merciful’. I give the following examples: Surat An-Nisa, verse 94: “People who believe! When you go forth to fight in holy war, make a proper study, and do not say to the one who a greeting of peace ‘You are not a believer’.” In Surat Al-Anbiyaa, verse 107, Allah tells the Prophet Mohammad “We have not sent you but as a mercy for the worlds.”Morten Storm, a former Al-Qaeda militant turned double agent, is capitalizing on heightened fears in response to the Paris attacks, whipping-up Islamophobia with cherry-picked quotes from our Holy Book Storm alleged “Allah encouraged the Muslims to keep on fighting until there are no religion left. That means everything is left out.” That’s nothing but a fabrication.The reply is “Verses in the Holy Book covering war purely relate to self-defensive conflicts. Surat Al-Baqarah verse 90 reads: “And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight with you, but do not transgress. Surely Allah loves not the transgressors.” Do not transgress in this context means “Do not initiate war.” There is no compulsion in Islam. In Surat Ash-Shura verse48, Allah says to the Prophet, “But if they turn away, we sent thee not to be a guardian over them. It is for thee only to deliver the Message.” Islam is also tolerant of other beliefs: “For you, is your religion, and for me is my religion,” is the message of verse 6 of Surat Al-Kafirun.
I dare Storm to find a single verse in the Quran that encourages believers to force non-believers to convert by the sword.
Islam did not spread through Malaysia and Indonesia, home to more than a quarter-of-a-billion Muslims, by the sword. There are more than 200 million Muslims in China alone, but they were not coerced. Moreover, the Tatars, who dominated Muslim lands in Central Asia, willingly embraced Islam and are now re-discovering their Islamic roots. The life of the Prophet evidences his respect for other religious figures. Our joy in the celebration of the birth of Issa (Jesus) is no less than our joy when celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammad. Indeed, there are more verses about Issa and his mother Mariam in the Holy Book than on the lineage of the Prophet Mohammad. When Storm says Islam approves of terrorist acts, he again proves his ignorance. The Prophet Mohammad did, indeed say, “I have been helped by terror [in the hearts of my enemies]” but as the narrator Abu Huraira explains, he was referring to the fear God instilled in his enemies’ hearts; fear which allowed the Prophet to be victorious without any blood being spilled.
Storm’s assertion that the Prophet approved the killing women and babies is scandalous. Islam does not permit the killing of women, minors, the mentally unstable, the bedridden or any other non-combatants. Numerous texts evidence that the killing of women and children is explicitly forbidden. Bukhari 3014: Book 56: Hadith 223, narrated by Abdullah, is clear. It reads: “During some of the ghazawat [battles] of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah’s messenger disapproved of the killing of women and children.”Hadith 2613, Sunan Abu-Dawud, narrated by Anas ibn Malik states “When the Prophet sent an army for battle, he said: ‘Go in Allah’s name, trusting in Allah, and adhering to the religion of Allah’s Apostle. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a young infant, or a child, or a woman; do not be dishonest about booty, but collect your spoils, do right and act well, for Allah loves those who do well.” During war, the Rightly Guided Caliphs abided by those injunctions.
Storm also said what I believe to be the terrorists’ interpretation of verse 39 of Surat Al-Anfal: “And fight them until there is no fitnah (rebellion) and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah.” The verse is unrelated to the People of the Book. It aimed at pushing back against the aggression of idol worshippers in Makkah during a period when Muslims were not sufficiently strong. Takfiris (those who take it upon themselves to accuse others of apostasy) would agree with Storm’s conclusions because it suits their own murderous ends. The more we investigate Storm’s allegations, the more we realize they are drawn from diseased minds. Islam cannot be learned from a former terrorist’s handbook and, moreover, there are strong indicators that terrorists are not generally motivated by religious beliefs, but rather by political or mercenary objectives. I would urge all Muslims to counteract the falsehoods disseminated by Islam’s haters. Radicals and Islamophobes are opposite sides of the same extremist coin. They need to realize that “there is no honor in guns,” as the saying goes. Tell them that all men are brothers in humanity and the voice of love must prevail over the voices of war. Lastly, I wish with all my heart that Storm’s lurid predictions of increased terrorist attacks over the holiday season are proved wrong. Our fervent prayer is that God will protect all peoples from the scourge of terrorism. May peace and security prevail over all evil intentions!
An open-door refugee policy can help fight terrorism
Yara al-Wazir/Al Arabiya/November 28/15
While millions of Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, and remembered the pilgrims who arrived safely to America in 1620 after fleeing persecution, the question of whether borders should be closed to refugees is continuing to be a matter of public debate. Earlier this week, Sweden put an end to its open-door policy for refugees. However, in assessing the recent economic implications of the Syrian refugee crisis in Jordan and Lebanon, it is clear that in order to actively work towards international security and economic development, an open-door refugee policy can prove fruitful.
Earlier this month, the Institute for Economics & Peace published its Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – the results show that the number of people killed globally in terrorist attacks jumped 80 percent last year. What is least surprising is the source and location of this terrorism – 92% of all terrorist attacks between 1989 and 2014 happened in countries where political violence by the government was prominent, and that 88% of the attacks took place in countries that were already involved in violent conflicts. The message these statistics are sending out is clear: violence breeds violence. I believe one of the most effective things that the international community can do is to burst the bubble of terrorism and allow people to flee, rather than forcing them to remain in an incubated environment that continuously breeds violence.
Burst the bubble of terrorism and allow people to flee, rather than forcing them to remain in an incubated environment that continuously breeds violence
While it is necessary that incoming refugees be subject to a series of checks and screening, I believe this should be done for their safety and protection just as much as the safety of the communities they are entering. The influx of refugees into Europe has predominantly been from Muslim countries that are fighting extremism. While far-right political figures in the West, such as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, have expressed concern that they may be “terrorists in disguise,” it should be noted that “Islamic fundamentalism is not the main driver of terrorism in Western countries: 80% of lone wolf deaths are by political extremists, nationalists, racial and religious supremacists,” according to the GTI. German chancellor Angela Merkel has also expressed concerns over the impact of closing the door to refugees on global security. Slowly, it is being recognized that the fight against global terrorism will not be achieved through fighting against the influx of refugees