The epic tragedy that struck
on September 11th, 2001 scarred the very heart and soul of our nation and its people. For many that scar will never heal, and for many millions more the anger and questions that arose demanded answers and action. Who did this? And why? And is this what the religion of Islam really teaches? America
Some claim the Muslim world celebrated the events of 9-11, but this is patently false. Muslims in
and the world over were overwhelmingly horrified and devastated by 9-11. Millions of Muslims proclaimed their sorrow and grief over the attacks and their sympathy for the victims. Not only was an unspeakably evil act perpetrated against innocent people of all races and religions who died on that day, but the religion of 1.4 billion people was instantly maligned and declared the founding force behind the attacks. America
It has been a decade since that awful day, and its tenth anniversary brings on the inevitable questions: How did the attacks change you, impact you? How has the aftermath of 9-11 affected you? Mostly, the questions are always about “affects” instead of what they should be about: “effects.”
What have you done since 9-11 to make the world understand the true nature of Islam and Muslims? Have you tried to be a good example of a Muslim? Judging from the news, you wouldn’t think there were any at all, but it’s to be expected that the disproportionately tiny fraction of so-called “Muslims” who subscribe to the Al-Qaida and Taliban interpretation of Islam will get the lion’s share of the media attention, while the moderate, non-violent, peace-loving Muslims who comprise the vast majority of Muslims – these people will get almost no media coverage whatsoever.
In many ways, the slandering and scapegoating of Islam and Muslims has only gotten worse since then. On July 22nd when Anders Breivik set off a bomb in downtown
, killing eight people, it was widely speculated to be the work of Al-Qaida. How ironic then for mass murderer Breivik (who professed “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”) to defend that bombing and his later killing of 69 more people on the tiny island of Utoya by citing (in his 1,500-page manifesto) alarmist passages from such anti-Islam luminaries as Daniel Pipes, Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. All in support of his one-man crusade against multi-culturalism in general and what he perceived specifically as the Islamic threat to Christian values and identity in Europe and other Western countries -- the same threat being dinned into the Western consciousness by the likes of Pipes, Spencer and Geller, who of course take no responsibility for the acts of a cold, calculating killer fed on a regular diet of their Islamophobic screeds. Oslo, Norway
As a member and missionary for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad – I have been directly engaged in striving in the true Jihad to bring to as many people as possible the real, peaceful message of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). And, in light of the increased negative perception of Islam, where over 50% of Americans see it as a violent, hate-filled religion, this is no easy task.
What is a blessing in disguise is that overwhelmingly negative attention on a subject often has the reverse effect: people begin to question the mountain of one-sided, abusive rhetoric and ask themselves, is it possible for what they say to be really true? Common sense, and the fact that blanket statements should always be warning signs of propaganda and inherent falsehood, has created a counter-response in many people’s hearts and minds that draws them to investigate for themselves the charges and claims made against the religion of Islam and its founder, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Based on their own research, they decide for themselves what they deem to be true or false concerning Islam.
For Muslims, this open-mindedness is heartening and a cause for hope. Hundred of thousands of formerly biased or uninformed people convert to Islam every year – despite the onslaught of negative opinion and media coverage – and it isn’t because they are being forced to. They are choosing to convert to Islam because of the vitality and life-affirming qualities it imparts to its followers who genuinely seek peace in the love of God and in their lives.
This is not say that radical Islam – largely funded by Saudi oil wealth which has entrenched fanatical, intolerant and highly-politicized Wahhabi-Salafi doctrines across much of the Muslim world – is not a virulent and dangerous cancer within the body of Islam. It most certainly is. But the solution is not the destruction of the body, but the re-education of the head back to the original, pure understanding of the teachings of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This is the work being done 24-hours a day, 365 days a year by missionaries and members of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Now in 200 countries, with tens of millions of followers and a 24-hour multi-language satellite TV network whose signal reaches every continent, the true peaceful message of Islam is being delivered to every corner of the Earth – a promise given in a revelation by God to the founder of Ahmadiyyat well over a century ago.
As Ahmadi Muslims, we ask that our Muslim brothers and sisters look closely at the sad state of their faith and ask themselves, “Do I want my beloved religion of peace to be viewed as the root cause of terrorism when I know it is not?” And “What must I do to change the opinion of so many who are admittedly grossly ignorant of the beliefs and practices of Islam?”
To all peace-loving Muslims who desire spiritual and worldly unity among themselves, that kind of Islam does exist in the world – right now. We invite you to examine the beliefs and works of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The answers you seek are what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has been embodying for the past 122 years: first, enjoying the spiritual unity and blessings of guidance by, and obedience to, a spiritual Khalifa; and second, educating Muslims and non-Muslims alike about the real teachings of Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Ahmadis do this first and foremost by striving to be the best example of true, peaceful and loyal Muslims. We are enjoined not only by our religion but regularly by our spiritual leader, the Khalifa of the Promised Messiah, to demonstrate the love and compassion the Holy Prophet (pbuh) had for all mankind by following God’s commandments in the Holy Quran, such as: “There shall be no coercion to religion;” and “Do not create disorder [terrorism] in the land” and “He who kills one person unjustly it shall be as though he killed all mankind.”
In fact, the real teachings of Islam define true believers as those “who are humble in their prayers;” and “who enjoin good and forbid evil;” and that, when the ignorant assail them, the believers should pass by in quiet dignity and say to their abusers: “Peace.” All of these can hardly be said to describe the actions and philosophy of so-called “Islamic” terrorists.
On the education front, Ahmadi Muslims have, in the last two years, distributed millions of flyers around the country extolling “Muslims for Peace” and “Muslims for Loyalty” and most recently “Muslims for Life” – a nationwide blood drive campaign to commemorate the tragic loss of life on 9-11 by raising 10,000 units of blood to save 30,000 lives here in the US. We invite you to join us in our efforts by visiting MuslimsForPeace.org, MuslimsForLoyalty.org and MuslimsForLife.org to learn how you can help.
[ Ghosted with Imam Shamshad A. Nasir – ran at AhmadiyyaTimes.com Aug. 25th, 2011 as: "The Ahmadiyya Muslim response to 9-11" at this link: http://ahmadiyyatimes.blogspot.com/2011/08/faith-and-loyalty-ahmadiyya-muslim.html ]