Muslim does not equal Terrorist

[ by Charles Cameron — witting or unwitting, there’s a blatant inability to make this simple distinction ]
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The sane alternative:




Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba and His Holiness the Dalai
Lama are two role models for our century.



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There’s an interesting conflation of Islam and Terrorism in a post titled 2 Faces of Islam: Why All Muslims Benefit from Terrorism from Freedom Outpost:



While many Muslims are just as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us are, all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam. This is because both peaceful and violent Muslims tend to share two important goals: (1) the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, and (2) the silencing of critics of Islam. Since terrorism helps achieve these goals, all Muslims benefit from Islam.



This would make sense — I’m not saying I’d agree with it, merely that it would have a logical form to it that wouldn’t make me go cross-eyed — if it read:



While many Muslims are just as horrified by terrorism as the rest of us are, all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam. This is because both peaceful and violent Muslims tend to share two important goals: (1) the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam, and (2) the silencing of critics of Islam. Since terrorism helps achieve these goals, all Muslims benefit from Islam.



But no: under a caption that tells us 2 Faces of Islam: Why All Muslims Benefit from Terrorism, it twice states all Muslims nevertheless benefit from Islam.


The conflation is evident, Islam and Terrorism are interchangeable in the writer’s mind, and that interoperability is liable to find an echo in — or seep diasastrously into — the reader’s mind, too.


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The actual relation between Islam and contemporary Islamist terrorism is neither “Islam is a religion of no terrorism (aka peace)” nor “Islam is a religion of terrorism (aka war)”. To get at a couple of the major nuances here, the Meccan Cantos and the Medinan cantos of the Quran suggest very different readings of what the religion was originally all about, and how it adapted to violent hostility; and in terms of contemporary Islam, not all Muslims are Salafist, and not all Salafists are jihadist fighters, but some of them most definitely and ruthlessly are.


In addition, Islam needs to be considered both scripturally — the usual western critique — and culturally, by which I mean how Islamic belief plays out in cultural practice across time and space — a far subtler matter. SH Nasr‘s The Study Quran is a prime guide to the former, and Shahab Ahmed‘s What Is Islam?
The Importance of Being Islamic the towering work to digest in understanding the latter.


A useful corrective to the “Islam is a religion of war” perspective can be found in the lives and works of two proniment Muslim proponents and practitioners of nonviolence, Sheikh Amadou Bamba, founder of the Muridiyya or Mourides, and Badshah Khan, Gandhi‘s Muslim friend.


For context around the Mourides, and in constrast with the Wahhabis of the Levanty, see Why are there so few Islamists in West Africa? A dialogue between Shadi Hamid and Andrew Lebovich.


The inability to distinguish Muslim from Terrorist, and the violence that follows it, can truly be described as Islamophobia.


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