By: Imam Zaid Shakir
Source: New Islamic Directions
Those of us who have been speaking out against the menace of so-called “Jihad” must redouble our efforts. “Jihad” is far more than a threat to the lives of unsuspecting innocent people, both here in the West and in Muslim countries. It is a threat to our religion, in terms of how Islam is being represented by the advocates of “Jihad” and how it is being perceived by others. Muslim scholars cannot remain silent and allow this misrepresentation to go unaddressed.
As for those youth who have been alienated by the systematic “othering” of Muslims in the post-9/11 anti-Muslim climate that is deepening here in the West, they would do well to consider a different set of religious teachings when studying Islam. True religion is not to be found in emotional and sensational reactions to current events and mind-numbing atrocities. True religion is not to be found in a self-glorying end brought on by a hail of bullets or a murderous act of suicide.
Rather, true religion provides the spiritual direction needed to find one’s self-worth and human value in ones relationship with God. True religion provides the solace and succor needed to find inner peace even when outer realities are crushing. True religion provides nobility that empowers its possessor to fearlessly challenge oppressors while mercifully protecting innocent life, regardless of the race, religion, color or creed of the blameless. True religion provides a path to heaven that is paved with devotion, lofty morals and patient, dignified struggle against the schemes of one’s ego, the vicissitudes of the world and the vagaries of both power and powerlessness.
As for those who are deceived into believing that wanton murder, mayhem, destruction, suicide and inviting war and hatred against one’s coreligionists represent an express road to paradise, they should think deeply before embarking on that path. Religion teaches and history demonstrates that such a path is a sinister, nefarious route that winds steadily, oftentimes irreversibly, into a deep, dark cold abyss.
“When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”