April 8, 2015
When I moved to the U.S. from a Muslim country, I was well aware of the negative stereotypes against Islam and Muslims. But there was one thing I was unaware of: the detrimental impact of radical Islam.
After doing some research on the issue out of curiosity, I began to understand the reason behind the stereotypes against Muslims.
I decided to take personal responsibility to combat Islamic extremism and went from “virtually” fighting Islamophobes to “virtually” fighting Taliban/Al Qaeda apologists.
Although I didn’t quite succeed in my endeavors, I still kept trying to figure out ways to defeat the extremist ideology.
Upon further research I learned that since 9/11, very little has been done to inhibit Islamic radicalism. Military measures have been and are continued to be taken but haven’t proved to be thoroughly successful.
Part of the reason is that extremism can’t be battled by force alone. Medgar Evers said, “you can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” Extremists are inspired by radical ideas; therefore they can’t just be defeated by force.
Extremism is comparable to a cancer that is spreading day by day in all parts of the world. More people, even from Western countries, are joining hands with fanatics.
The question is what can be done to stop this madness?
My inexpert self has narrowed it down to two major, overlooked issues: lack of education and awareness.
There is a need for social and religious programs that address the issue of Islamic radicalism within Muslim communities in both Muslim and non-Muslim countries. It is a sad reality that there is only one Muslim-run anti-extremism organization, Quilliam. There is a strong need for more.
Some Islamic scholars have raised their voices regarding this issue but many of them have been silenced.
Perhaps, the fear of being attacked is the reason for silence? After the attack on Charlie Hebdo, I came across a slew of articles written by Muslim journalists defending Islam. While it’s important to address the negative stereotypes, it is equally paramount to address the constant emergence of zealots, too.
In my opinion, it’s time for us, Muslims, to take personal responsibility to fight radical Islam, because it’s our religion that is being exploited.
It is crucial for us to at least talk about this issue and draw a distinction between authentic Islam and radical Islam and educate people about Islam’s radical interpretation to prevent any more Tsarnaevs or Jihadi Johns from being born.