In recent years, a great deal of attention in the media has been given to the threat of “Islamic Fundamentalism”. Unfortunately, due to a twisted mixture of biased reporting in the Western media and the actions of some ignorant Muslims, the word “Islam” has become almost synonymous with “terrorism”. However, when one analyzes the situation, the question that should come to mind is: Do the teachings of Islam encourage terrorism? The answer: Certainly not! Islam totally forbids the terrorist acts that are carried out by some misguided people. It should be remembered that all religions have cults and misguided followers, so it is their teachings that should be looked at, not the actions of a few individuals. Unfortunately, in the media, whenever a Muslim commits a heinous act, he is labeled a “Muslim terrorist”. However, when Serbs murder and rape innocent women in Bosnia, they are not called “Christian terrorists”, nor are the activities in Northern Ireland labeled “Christian terrorism”. Also, when right-wing Christians in the U.S. bomb abortion clinics, they are not called “Christian terrorists”. Reflecting on these facts, one could certainly conclude that there is a double standard in the media! Although religious feelings play a significant role in the previously mentioned “Christian” conflicts, the media does not apply religious labels because they assume that such barbarous acts have nothing to do with the teachings of Christianity. However, when something happens involving a Muslim, they often try to put the blame on Islam itself — and not the misguided individual. Certainly, Islamic Law allows war — any religion or civilization that did not would never survive — but it certainly does not condone attacks against innocent people, women, or children.
The Arabic word “jihad”, which is often translated as “Holy War”, simply means “to struggle”. The word for “war” in Arabic is “harb”, not “jihad”. “Struggling”, i.e. “making jihad”, to defend Islam, Muslims or to liberate a land where Muslims are oppressed is certainly allowed (and even encouraged) in Islam. However, any such activities must be done according to the teachings of Islam. Islam also clearly forbids “taking the law into your own hands”, which means that individual Muslims cannot go around deciding who they want to kill, punish, or torture. Trial and punishment must be carried out by a lawful authority and a knowledgeable judge. Also, when looking at events in the Muslim World, it should be kept in mind that a long period of colonialism ended fairly recently in most Muslim countries. During this time, the people in these countries were culturally, materially, and religiously exploited – mostly by the so-called “Christian” nations of the West. This painful period has not really come to an end in many Muslim countries, where people are still under the control of foreign powers or puppet regimes supported by foreign powers.
Also, through the media, people in the West are made to believe that tyrants like Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Moamar Qaddafi in Libya are “Islamic” leaders — when just the opposite is true. Neither of these rulers even professed Islam as an ideology, but only used Islamic slogans to manipulate their powerless populations. They have about as much to do with Islam as Hitler had to do with Christianity! In reality, many Middle Eastern regimes which people think of as being “Islamic” oppress the practice of Islam in their countries. So suffice it to say that “terrorism” and killing innocent people directly contradicts the teachings of Islam.