How should we respond to Islamic extremism? | Bigger questions

How should we respond to Islamic extremism?

The recent terrorist bombing in Manchester has raised big questions of how we should respond to Islamic extremism

The recent terrorist bombing in Manchester has raised big questions of how we should respond to Islamic extremism. The latest Bigger Questions conversation featured Islamic scholar Dr. Bernie Power. We asked Bernie some bigger questions about how to understand Islamic extremism:

Many recent terrorist attacks, such as the one in Manchester and France are linked with Islamic State. What is the link between Islam, violence and terrorism?

From the earliest times Muhammad used terror as a tactic . The Qur'an speaks about this, for example in 8:12 it says,

I will strike terror into the hearts of unbelievers (Qur'an 8:12)

Hence rather than using diplomacy, Muhammad felt that terror was a legitimate tactic. He said at the end of his life, 'I have been made victorious through terror'. Terror was a way of keeping people uncertain and guessing. This is what terrorists are hoping to achieve - to keep people fearful.

Is terrorism an “abuse” of Islam?

Islam is a religious and political system with the goal of universal rule under Allah. Hence Islam means submission and a Muslim is 'one who submits'.

This concept was based on the teaching of Muhammad and he was asked by the leaders of Mecca of why they should listen to him. He responded by saying that if they take on his system and teaching, they will be able to rule, not just the Arabian peninsula, but the whole world.

Terror then became a legitimate approach which could be used to fulfil that goal. Hence in this sense it isn't necessarily an 'abuse' of Islam. Indeed groups like Islamic State justify their motivations and actions from the Qur'an and the life of Muhammad.

However, it must be acknowledged that there is a wide spectrum of Islamic belief and other Muslims would not necessarily endorse nor condone terrorist tactics.

The people who do these acts are labelled as extremists. Why are they called extremists?

They are extremists because it goes beyond what is expected as the norm of how things should be done. We value toleration and moderation, but they want to fulfil their goal by whatever means possible - even 'extreme' violent means.

What is the difference between Jesus and Muhammad?

Muhammad led twenty seven battles himself and sent his troops out on another fifty. He assassinated people who criticised him and beheaded prisoners of war. His life was characterised by violence, terror and brutality.

Yet the life of Jesus was very different. Jesus never led any military campaigns, nor encouraged his followers into any kind of armed conflict - in fact he advocated the opposite. Rather than assassinating and killing his enemies, Jesus proposed a radically different path. In Matthew 5:43-44 Jesus says,

‘You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Jesus offers a very different approach to Muhammad. Jesus' approach is counter to so much of the natural human instinct to want to “hate our enemies and try to destroy them before they destroy us" as Christopher Hitchens once proposed. In fact so radical are Jesus' views on loving enemies here, that they could be seen as extreme.

Was Jesus an extremist?

By proposing we love enemies, Jesus was an extremist - an extremist of love.

Hence extremism is not necessarily the problem - it really depends on what you're extreme about. Jesus was extreme - but in a very different way to Muhammad and his followers today who detonate bombs to bring fear. Jesus advocated love not terror and trust over fear. His love for his enemies was so extreme that rather than take life, he laid down his own life for the sake of those opposed to him.

How should we respond?

This perhaps shapes a response to Islamic terrorism. Perhaps the way of love, an extreme, radical love, is a way of responding to fear and violence?

Comments

The case of "self defense" from the original Jewish perspective can be seen in the 6th commandment.

You shall not Murder......

In christian theology, this is often taught as "You shall not kill"

Is there a difference between murder & killing....?

Obviously, the answer is yes.

Since Yeshua ha'Netzaret (jesus the Nazarene) was Jewish, He taught the regular Jewish way according to the "Law of Moses".

Had He taught any more or any less, this would be sin according to DET 04:02 thus cancelling Him as Messiah....

The concept of "preservation of life" (b'kuach nefesh) trumps the "Law of Moses" & we note Yeshua references this concept in MATTHEW 12:11-13

Thus in Jewish thought from the time of Avraham, through the time of Yeshua, until this time today....

One is permitted to kill if the assailant was attempting to kill you.

If achmed & mustafa entered into your house with the intent to rape your wife & kill your children. The "God of Israel" will not count it as sin if you kill the muslims in self defense to save your family......

Thanks for this comment with some very interesting ideas. However, I'm not entirely sure how it relates to the topic of the blog article above? Maybe I missed something.  Thanks for commenting and hope to welcome you back here again soon.

Trump says he could get away with murder in broad daylight.
"The "God of Israel" will not count it as sin if you kill the muslims in self defense.

No religion prohibits defending yourself. Must be a trumper

This article is misleading. We have more murders in the USA by non-islamic persons than all of these so called “Islamic extremism”, killings combined. All I can say is; grow up!!

Hi and thanks for the many comments. That is appreciated. Just wondering why the article is misleading? I'm not sure we're trying to say that Islamic extremism is the worst or only danger facing humanity. We were trying to explore some of the reasons for it and what motivates people to do this as it has clearly unsettled many people. Are you suggesting that people shouldn't be concerned about Islamic extremism? Thanks

Is the following killing in self-defense or murder?

12 yr old boy SHOT DEAD in front of your eyes
Updated 9.48 p.m., 3rd Oct 2000
http://www.themodernreligion.com/jihad/sniper.html
Gaza girl said killed
By Amos Harel and Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondents,
and Haaretz Service
Thu., October 28, 2004
IDF troops shot and killed an 8-year-old Palestinian girl who was on her way to school in a Gaza Strip refugee camp
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/494672.html
UN officials: Girl hit by IDF gunfire in UN school in Gaza
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and AP
Tue., October 12, 2004 Tishrei 27, 5765
An 11-year-old Palestinian girl was shot in the stomach and critically wounded by Israel Defense Forces gunfire IDF troops fired two shots, one of the shots hit a fifth-grade student at the school. Last month, a 10-year-old girl was killed by IDF gunfire while sitting at her desk at the same school.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/487788.html
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) 7 September 2004 At 07:45 10-year old Raghda Adnan Al-Assar was struck in the head by Israeli fire while sitting at her desk in UNRWA's Elementary Girl's School On June 1 this year two ten-year old children in UNRWA's
Al-Umariye Elementary Boys' School in Rafah were hit by a bullet from a Israeli tank
In March 2003
12-year old Hoda Darwish was hit in the head by a bullet fired Two 10 year-old schoolchildren were shot in the al-Omaria school run by UNRWA in Rafah, when an Israeli tank fired into their classroom.

Bullets fired from the tank flew through the classroom window, hitting Mahmoud Hamad in the neck and Hisham al Habil in the head. The boys had not even been sitting by the windows but in the middle of the room.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/index.html
Photos of a 12 year old palestinian boy being shot by Israeli soldiers and the ambulance driver who tried to save him also being shot and killed.
http://www.palestine-net.com/misc/durra/
YES/NO; which is it?

"shooting children"

Google: “shooting children IDF”
I got: About 563,000 results (0.75 seconds)

“I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."
 http://www.israel-state-terrorism.org/children.html
http://tinyurl.com/8rmn2g3

Thanks for the passionate comments, but I'm not quite sure what point you're trying to make and how it relates to our article specifically?

Thanks.

Is the following killing in self-defense or murder?

12 yr old boy SHOT DEAD in front of your eyes
Updated 9.48 p.m., 3rd Oct 2000
http://www.themodernreligion.com/jihad/sniper.html
Gaza girl said killed
By Amos Harel and Nir Hasson, Haaretz Correspondents,
and Haaretz Service
Thu., October 28, 2004
IDF troops shot and killed an 8-year-old Palestinian girl who was on her way to school in a Gaza Strip refugee camp
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/494672.html
UN officials: Girl hit by IDF gunfire in UN school in Gaza
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent and AP
Tue., October 12, 2004 Tishrei 27, 5765
An 11-year-old Palestinian girl was shot in the stomach and critically wounded by Israel Defense Forces gunfire IDF troops fired two shots, one of the shots hit a fifth-grade student at the school. Last month, a 10-year-old girl was killed by IDF gunfire while sitting at her desk at the same school.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/487788.html
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) 7 September 2004 At 07:45 10-year old Raghda Adnan Al-Assar was struck in the head by Israeli fire while sitting at her desk in UNRWA's Elementary Girl's School On June 1 this year two ten-year old children in UNRWA's
Al-Umariye Elementary Boys' School in Rafah were hit by a bullet from a Israeli tank
In March 2003
12-year old Hoda Darwish was hit in the head by a bullet fired Two 10 year-old schoolchildren were shot in the al-Omaria school run by UNRWA in Rafah, when an Israeli tank fired into their classroom.

Bullets fired from the tank flew through the classroom window, hitting Mahmoud Hamad in the neck and Hisham al Habil in the head. The boys had not even been sitting by the windows but in the middle of the room.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/index.html
Photos of a 12 year old palestinian boy being shot by Israeli soldiers and the ambulance driver who tried to save him also being shot and killed.
http://www.palestine-net.com/misc/durra/
YES/NO; which is it?