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Terror in the name of God: Are Islamic terrorists ‘cowards’, or are we cowards for not analysing Islam honestly?

We want to believe that the cause for terror attacks is something else. ‘All religions worship the same one, God. No religion can condone killing others’, most of us will say. But is it true?

The biggest problem in today’s world is terrorism, many political leaders acknowledge. The strange thing is that they close their eyes to the root cause. This closing of eyes is seen as politically correct. Naturally, there is little chance to improve things but it’s likely to get worse.

If someone commits an act of terror, he must be motivated. Yet this motivation is ignored, because in most terror cases in our times, terror is connected with Islam, and if someone hints at this fact, he is promptly accused of Islamophobia. Yet Christianity also used terror in earlier times.

In fact, Christianity was the first to make the unsubstantiated claim that God has given the full truth only to the Church and everyone must believe it at the cost of their lives. And Islam followed with a similar claim. Terrorism in the name of God started right then, by forcing “those who are wrong” into the “right” faith or killing them. Millions of people were killed – from America to India and beyond. In history lessons, Christianity and Islam were mentioned together with communism, fascism and Nazism in having caused the maximum number of human beings murdered.

In primary school, I learnt that Islam expanded through “fire and sword”. It was a meaningless phrase for me as a child. Only later, it dawned that it involved tremendous cruelty. This cruelty was not restricted to Islam. The Christian ‘expansion’ and the Inquisition were equally brutal. Indians experienced it firsthand for example in Goa.

In the 1970s, at University, we debated why religion has caused so much bloodshed. The debate was on ‘why’ not on ‘if’.

In 2000, a change in this approach became apparent. When Pope John Paul II finally acknowledged the cruelty of the Inquisition and asked forgiveness from God, he did not blame the Church but ‘sons and daughters of the Church’ who committed ‘mistakes’. He tried to absolve the religion and laid the blame on ‘misguided’ followers.

This same pattern is followed today regarding Islam. When Jihadis attack innocent citizens shouting ‘Allah ho Akbar’, politicians, Muslim representatives and media declare that those terror acts have nothing to do with Islam but are the handiwork of misguided or deranged individuals. 

The reaction is so predictable: “The attack is shocking, revulsive, a cowardly act, but we stand united, won’t be intimidated. We won’t let them win”, etc.

Then in major cities (provided the attack happened in the west), a landmark building is lit up in the colours of the country where the attack happened, candles are lit.

We have gone through these motions far too often and there is something fake about it. The pain of those affected is real. Others may be grateful that it had not hit them – at least not this time. Yet those, who are supposed to protect us, are not honest.

True, the attacks are shocking and revulsive, but they are not cowardly acts. The Jihadi kills because he is convinced that it is his duty to kill kafirs – and he is even ready to die in doing what he feels is right. This shows courage. Almost all terrorists are young. It is not normal, nor easy to risk one’s life by killing others, unless he is absolutely convinced that the benefit is greater than the cost.

And what does he expect as benefit? 

Probably he was taught already as a kid or has read it later on the internet that killing Kafirs pleases his God. By doing so, he can make his life truly worthwhile, and he will be richly rewarded: he will have a better status in paradise than those who did not kill Kafirs.

Now here is where we Kafirs are either cowards or ignorant. We don’t dare to point to passages in the Quran, which support his expectation, for example, Q 4.95 and ask what it means if not what is written there.

*Those believers who stay at home – having no physical disability – are not equal to those who make Jihad in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their persons. Allah has granted a higher rank to those who make Jihad with their wealth and their persons than to those who stay at home. Though Allah has promised a good reward for all, Allah has prepared a much richer reward for those who make Jihad for Him than for those who stay at home. They have special higher ranks, forgiveness and mercy. Allah is forgiving, merciful” (Q4. 95-96). 

Imagine a young, hot-headed Muslim reads this – would he not be inspired to make his life “worthwhile”? Even more so, if he has phantasies of becoming a hero with a gun?  He probably considers dying as the price for greater glory. As Sultan Shahin once pointed out, children in madrasas sing songs with the refrain “zindagi shuru hoti hai qubr mein” (life starts in the grave). 

Curiously, old, sick Muslims don’t seem to be interested in the “higher status in paradise” when it would make much more sense for them. Does it mean, they are more mature and know that the Quran must not be taken literally?

Is it not their and our duty, to save not only the potential victims of future terror attacks but also the young Muslims who are ready to throw away their lives for a promise which in all likelihood won’t be kept? After all, Christianity also claims that only those who are baptized can enter heaven. A comment to one of my tweets recently read: “I don’t understand why those religions portray their God-like underworld dons. ‘If you leave our gang, if you are no follower of this God, then you will be fried in hot oil in hell’”.

Can a merciful Supreme Being behave like a jilted lover who gives hell to those who love him under another name?

We need to ask probing questions. Those must include the question: why is it that in areas where Muslims have become the majority, the number of minorities keeps dwindling till they become almost non-existent? 

Yes, it is difficult to believe that terror attacks have anything to do with religion. Religion is understood to be something good. It is meant to connect us with the Highest and to make us better human beings. We want to believe that the cause for terror attacks is something else. ‘All religions worship the same one, God. No religion can condone killing others’, most of us will say. But is it true?

We need to find out. If we don’t dare to do this, we are cowards. 

Let’s imagine we discover that there are indeed passages in the Islamic texts that condone terror against infidels, what will be the next step?

Then we need to bring in common sense and debate on the meaning of life and enquire into the absolute truth. India has the knowledge and must take the lead in this, because the Christian west is handicapped. Both, Islam and Christianity, divide humanity into ‘us versus the rest’. Instead, another dividing line must be drawn: It is the line between humanity and inhumanity. 

Terror and hatred for other human beings is inhumanity. How do we know? Because we all have a conscience which tells us what is right and what is wrong. Right is dharmic and wrong is adharmic. Hinduism is based on Dharma and that’s why Hindus can never cause terror in the name of God. Our conscience is the voice of Dharma which guides us through life. If we listen to it, we realize that the whole of humanity is one family. The life in all of us comes from the same, most powerful yet invisible, source.

Religions which demand that we ignore our conscience and instead believe blindly what they tell us, have an agenda. They want sheep who don’t think for themselves and who can be used for their own purpose.

Suicide bombers are not cowards, but they are not smart. They got the purpose of life wrong and they won’t be rewarded for it.

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Maria Wirth
from Germany, in India for last 38 years. Author of the book “Thank you India – a German woman’s journey to the wisdom of yoga”.

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