Is there a relationship between religious convictions and terrorist actions?
According to David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security in Durham, N.C, religious people are more resistant to radicalization. Religious people tend to make peace with the status quo, which is why most radicals are in fact not religious.
Most radicals are radicals first, who then decide that being a religious radical is a far more noble disguise for their political grievances. Most of what passes as being religious for the radical Muslim is really an improvisation of religious scriptures pieced together to look as if they are being called to fulfill a sacred mission.
They have no knowledge or context for their religious claims, and as David Schanzer states, “Their lack of an educational foundation makes them vulnerable to an ideology that claims to define the actions and beliefs of ‘good Muslims,’ but are actually contrary to the values and scripture of Islam.” This suggests that one way to disempower terrorists is to strip them of their religious camouflage by answering ‘no’ to the question above.
The mainstream Islamic position on violence is clear. Killing innocent people or the initiation of force, except in self defense, is forbidden.
And although this gets virtually no amplification, what does get amplified is the notion that all Muslims should somehow be held responsible for those who violate this fundamental tenet.
To treat all people of any one religion as a collective organism without any moving parts is not only irrational but dangerous. To declare that I am part of a Muslim collective is to employ the same logic that a terrorist does when he blows up innocent people because they are part of the collective, which is “the enemy.”
If Muslims are not protesting loudly enough against terrorism, perhaps it’s because we cannot relate or identify with a terrorist any more than non-Muslims.
Perhaps it’s because we have come to realize that shouting any louder than the rest has become counterproductive to the cause of counterterrorism. To defend Islam with greater animation is to help disguise the political nature of terrorist action by making it a religious matter.
There has never been any ambiguity in Islam about the evil of killing innocent people. So how do terrorists complicate such a seemingly, dare I say fundamentalist tenet of Islam?
The rationale that a state is responsible for the death of an incalculable number of civilians does not justify the killing of a calculable number of innocent lives.
To kill one innocent life in Islam is equated with killing all of humanity.
Furthermore, in Islam God judges man according to his intentions, and there can be no intent toward self defense against any enemy which can logistically overpower and defeat you.
Terrorism is not done in the spirit of self defense and therefore has no place in Islam. But even if it were an indirect form of self defense, killing innocent lives is forbidden and this is a nonnegotiable article of faith in Islam.
Is there a relationship between religious conviction and terrorist action? The answer is yes; one is the antithesis of the other. For no religion on earth should be afforded the courtesy of being called a religion if it condones murder.
Inas Younis, of Shawnee, is a freelance writer. Her opinion pieces, book reviews and personal essays have been published on various websites and magazines.