At a time when Islam and Muslims have become synonymous with terrorism, it is important to remind the world and ourselves that such thinking is actually the very anti-thesis of what Islam stands for.
“Whoever kills an innocent life, it is as if he has killed all of humanity…And whoever saves one-it is as if he has saved mankind entirely” (The Holy Quran, Chapter 5 Verse 32).
“Humanity is a single brotherhood: so make peace with your brethren” ((The Holy Quran, Chapter 49 Verse 10).
The Quran abounds with several injunctions to all Muslims to live in peace and harmony, irrespective of religious beliefs, social status and other man-made distinctions among people.
So how is it that such perfect instructions for peaceful living, revealed divinely, became associated with terror, violence and mindless killing?
The percentage of people who have planned and executed events like 9/11 and continue to terrorize not just western populations, but also Muslim populations in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent, is minimal. However, because of the scale on which such people have mounted their plots of terror, citing Islam as their cause, they have negatively impacted the message of Islam.
Media hegemony is also responsible for the association between Islam and terrorism. Hegemony refers to the dominance, sway or authority one group holds over others. Hegemony arises from control over resources, such as media, financial institutions, and cultural capital. The hegemonic power of mass media is so pervasive and persuasive, that when we hear the words “Islamic” or “Muslim” we automatically complete the phrase by adding “terrorism” or “terrorist”.
In psychology, the term “looking-glass self” coined by Charles Cooley explains that our perception of self arises from our interactions with others around us and our society. We understand ourselves as we perceive others looking at us. Hence, in order to rectify the falsehood of Muslim-as-terrorist, Muslims must actively challenge negative notions of selfhood and form positive and cohesive associations within the societies we are an integral part of.
It is time that people, both Muslim and not, take a moment to challenge this dominant, negative and false narrative. The truth of the matter is that Islam is, and will remain, a religion of peace and brotherhood till the end of time.
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