The Muslim faith does not turn men to terror

By: Mehdi Hasan

Source: The Telegraph

‘Whosoever killeth a human being…” says the Koran, in the 32nd verse of its fifth chapter, “it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.”

Thus, the two supposedly Muslim men suspected of killing and mutilating an unarmed, off-duty soldier in the middle of a London street, while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”), were violating the injunction of their own holy book. Perversely, it was the non-Muslim Cub Scout leader who, in trying to save the soldier’s life, and standing up to his alleged attackers, was acting in accordance with Koranic principles. Let’s be clear: Islam doesn’t permit the killing of innocents. Jihad is permissible only in self-defence and if sanctioned by a legitimate government. To quote from our Prime Minister’s pitch-perfect statement outside No 10, Wednesday’s barbarism was “a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country”.

Thankfully, British Muslims no longer have to wait for the much-maligned Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), or self-appointed “community leaders”, to take a public stand, nor do they need to compete with clowns like Anjem Choudary for media attention; they have been empowered by Twitter and Facebook, where in great numbers they have expressed disgust at the invoking of Islam to support such an appalling crime. (Commendably, the MCB has issued a press release “unreservedly” condemning the murder as “a barbaric act that has no basis in Islam”.)

Yet conventional wisdom still says the religion of Islam is behind violent extremism and radicalization  that Muslims don’t do enough to denounce terror; that imams and mosques incite hate and holy war. As is so often the case, the conventional wisdom is wrong. I have been a Muslim all my life and visited mosques across Europe, North America and the UK. Never, not once, have I come across an imam preaching violence against the West or justifying the murder of innocents.

Remember: the Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was thrown out of his local mosque after lashing out at the imam for praising Martin Luther King in his Friday sermon. The Muslim father of the “underwear bomber”, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, approached US officials to warn them about his son several months before the latter tried to blow up a US-bound flight in December 2009. And the car bomb planted by Faisal Shahzad in Times Square in 2010 was brought to police attention by a Senegalese Muslim street vendor who spotted smoke coming out of the vehicle.