By Yassine El Karyani
By Yassine El Karyani
Morocco World News
Teaneck, New Jersey, March 4, 2012
I am not a linguistics specialist. In fact, I am a specialist in nothing. But I can tell that Muslims around the world are forced to claim that Islam is a religion of peace, and have a burden to prove it. But, is Islam really a religion of peace? The answer is: No, and we should not even answer that question. I will explain why.
For a religion to be true, it has to transcend the notions of time and place, and let us not forget that a religion is subject to interpretation, and that the religion itself should not be held culpable or praised for how people demonstrate its teachings. Nobody holds the absolute truth about the notion of religion itself, or about a certain religion in specific. The absolute truth does not exist. If the absolute truth in religion existed, we would not have different sects and religions. Those who claim that they have the truth are doing so out of belief, and not out of logic.
A few years ago, several rabbis in New Jersey were caught in a huge scandal of organ trafficking. There has also been a money laundering scheme that involved rabbis. I am sure that these rabbis were convinced that what they were doing was fine according to their “religion.” But does that mean that Judaism is a religion of crooks? Absolutely not. The other way around, there are thousands of rabbis who are advocating for peace. And that still does not mean that Judaism is a religion of peace, for Judaism is interpreted differently by different Jews.
This should be applied to Islam as well. The fact that there are terrorists who are using Islam as a justification of their extreme actions does not make Islam a violent religion. And the fact that there are millions of Muslims who are advocating for peace and are rejecting terrorism does not make Islam a religion of peace. Still, we have been tricked to attempt to prove that Islam is a religion of peace, and we usually cannot support our claim with up-to-date arguments. At the end, we lose that debate.
To justify that Islam is a religion of peace, we usually refer to history, and we forget today’s actualities:
- Islam is a religion of peace because Jews and Christians were able to live peacefully in the Muslim state in regions like Andalusia or Sicily. Islam is a religion of peace because it reached Sub-Saharan Africa through trade.
- Islam is a religion of peace because when it reached the Bengal and India, the local citizens were not exterminated or forced to convert to Islam.
Our other usual narrative is a relative comparison between the criminal acts made by non-Muslims, and the attempt to prove that compared to all those acts, Muslims have not done much harm. The examples are numerous: World War II, the extermination of the native peoples in North America and Australia, the enslavement of Africans… In other words, we prove our peacefulness by blaming the violence on the other. And whenever someone uses Islam to justify violence or terrorism, we say “that is not Islam, and he does not represent the mainstream Muslims.”
To me, these two types of arguments are very weak. By referring to a historical Islam, we are not logical in analyzing contemporary issues. And by blaming the other for violence, we are not negating or nullifying our own violence. If Islam is a religion of peace, then who are those who massacred the Armenians? Who are those who made a mess in East Timor? Who are those who bombed 9/11 (without considering the conspiracy theories…)? Who are those who are bombing themselves? If you are not comfortable being asked these questions, then you are not able to prove that Islam is a religion of peace.
At the moment we claim that Islam is a religion of peace, we are obligated to defend Islam every time there is terrorism or violence made by Muslims, and the same arguments come back to the table: Andalusia, Sicily, the Quran… The person who is not aware of these historical facts only sees one thing: There are people causing harm, and they claim that their religion asks them to do so. These people are not amateurs. Some of them are outspoken Muslim scholars (e.g. Anjem Chaudary). Let us talk about today, rather than ten centuries ago.
When my limited mind is asked if Islam is a religion of peace, my answer is simple: No! Islam is a religion, like any religion. I use it for peace, and I am not responsible for how others use it. In fact, at the moment I start saying that “Islam is a religion of peace,” I am in the position of defending my own convictions and the validity of Islam, and I am limiting the examination of the religion to one argument that is, in most cases, easily rebutted.
The adoption of the argument “Islam is a religion of peace,” is not only negative from a strategic and outreach perspective, but it is also very dangerous to the prosperity of the essence of the Muslim communities. There are -and I have met- Muslims who are confused about their own convictions, simply because they were raised as Muslims and their social encounters and education shook their beliefs. It is difficult to retain these individuals if we put the burden on them to advocate that “Islam is a religion of peace” while they are not even sure about the validity of Islam.
I, therefore, suggest to release the “peace” bravado and focus on promoting Islam as a code of ethics. My Islam has a spectrum of good ethics, and a solution to most sociological and economic issues. I am not obliged prove that it is a peaceful religion.
Yassine Elkaryani is the director of Spectrum Information Systems (a humble information technology consulting firm) and the Founder and Executive Servant at New Muslim Ambassadors. He holds a BBA in Management of Information Systems from the International Institute for Higher Education in Morocco (IIHEM), and an MBA in entrepreneurship from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is currently working on an independent study to advocate for Muslim consumers. Yassine expresses his views on different issues through his personal blog www.elkaryani.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
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