To Radicalized Muslim Youth,
Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in terrorist attacks across the world. This includes Turkey, Belgium, Iraq, Nigeria, and Pakistan, among others.
My heart bleeds for the victims of these inhumane attacks. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families, and I hope, one day, yours will as well.
You may wonder why am I taking the time to write to you.
My goal is simple–I want to inform you that terrorism has no religion, and all you are doing is a disservice to the reputation of Islam. No religion sanctions violence or bloodshed in the name of God, nor is the reward for murdering innocent people heaven. Groups such as ISIS, Taliban, and Boko Haram, do not represent or defend Islam. Also, the majority of their victims are Muslims. Terrorists use religion as a means to brainwash young minds into committing barbaric acts.
As a Muslim mother, I want to plead with you, that the false narrative that ISIS and their ilk are feeding you about Islam is contrary to the true and peaceful Islam that Prophet Muhammad brought. Prophet Muhammad brought a religion that teaches moderation, compassion for all humanity, rejects terrorism, empowers women, and teaches respect for other faiths, and obedience to the law.
Perhaps it is time you sincerely read the Holy Quran and learn that terrorism of any kind and the murdering of innocent people is against Islam. The Holy Quran forbids Muslims from creating disorder in the world, and is clearly evident in the following verse, “Seek not to create disorder in the earth. Verily, God loves not those who seek to create disorder” (28:78) and it recognizes the sanctity of all human life, “Whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and whoso saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind” (5:32).
If you reviewed Islamic history and you would note that Prophet Muhammad rejected all types of terrorism. Even when Muslims faced twelve years of intense persecution in Mecca he did not allow for a violent response. Instead, Prophet Muhammad ordered his followers to migrate to another land.
Terrorists misrepresent Jihad as a recruiting tool and fool you into believing you will go to heaven for killing others.
The irony is that the meaning of Jihad is not violence, but instead to struggle and strive in good works to attain nearness to God. True Islam rejects violent jihad, whether it be against Muslims or non-Muslims.
It is important that you review the context of the verses of the Holy Quran, and understand that Muslims were permitted to fight only in particular situations. Muslims were allowed to engage in war as an act of self-defense, but its purpose was to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths, not just Islam.
As a Muslim mother, I want to make sure that my son and other Muslim youth are protected from the false and harmful ideologies terrorists use. Education is the key. The new public awareness program, the True Islam and the Extremists campaign launched by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, will educate you and other Muslim youth on the 11 most common misconceptions extremists use to radicalize youth. The True Islam campaign seeks to inform both Muslims and non-Muslims on the peaceful, anti-extremist teachings of Islam and countering the image you have so wrongfully concocted with the truth.
I beg you to stop following the false narrative given by the terrorists and learn about True Islam. Please wake up and see the havoc you are causing around the world, and stop this senseless violence in the name of Allah.
A Muslim Mother
Written by Saima Sheikh.
Saima Sheikh is a National Spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. Follow her on Twitter: @SaimaGSheikh.