By Imam Benjamin Idriz
The latest terrorist attacks in France and Austria and the increasing abuse of our religion by individuals and extremist movements move me to reaffirm and explain, in a manner that cannot be misconstrued by anyone, what I as an Imam and my colleagues say and preach every day.
Because we are Muslims, we are appalled by the crimes committed in the name of our religion in France and Austria. We strongly condemn all heinous acts and consider them all to be un-Islamic and inhuman.
We Muslims are deeply saddened by these events and express our solidarity with the victims and the bereaved, wherever and whoever they are. We find the latest news as distressing as others, or more so, because it is our religion that is being perverted so hideously.
Should Muslims and their imams and scholars shout louder? Yes, they should! The lunatics, the uneducated and the misguided, the perpetrators of violence everywhere, are defining the way our religion comes across. It is our task to stand up against them. If not ours, who else’s?
We consider people who cut off heads in cold blood, take the lives of innocent people and stir up hatred to be “mufsidun” – people who cause corruption on earth, as the Qur’an calls them. The Qur’an stipulates the highest punishment for them (7:33). We must act ruthlessly together against terrorists (“mufsidun”).
The Qur’an condemns the killing of innocent people in the strongest possible terms: “Whoever kills a human being, or whoever causes corruption on the earth, it is as if he had killed all people.” (Qur’an 5:32)
As a consequence of the Qur’anic commandment: “You who believe! Enter into peace, all of you,” (Qur’an 2:208) Muslims must loudly and clearly declare their support for peace, everywhere and unceasingly. “The Muslim, i.e. the peace-loving person, is responsible for ensuring that the other peace-loving people are safe from his hands and his words.” (Prophet Muhammad). This other person, whoever he may be, must feel that he can live in peace with the Muslims and be aware at all times and in all places that no threat emanates from them.
I call upon all #Muslims:
- to distance themselves actively from religiously motivated hatred and violence and under no circumstances to identify or show solidarity directly or indirectly with terrorists, or to defend or trivialise their actions.
- during the pandemic, when rallies are difficult to organise, they can raise their voices against the abuse of our religion on social media, by writing and by broadcasting video messages.
I call upon all #imams and #scholars:
- to discuss the violence in their written and spoken theological discourse, to call the problem by its name, to distance themselves from the opinions of scholars who tolerate violence, and to take clear positions.
I call upon all #young people:
- Do not be lied to and seduced by propagandists on the Internet. If others allegedly or actually commit injustice against Muslims, or attack Islam, then you cannot improve anything by committing injustice yourself. “Repel the bad with something better” (Qur’an 41:34).
Terror is never a solution, but always a bad action.
I call upon #politicians:
- to work with mosque communities to find common ways of fighting extremism effectively. Politicians urgently need to take a more differentiated approach and distinguish from which side actual danger emanates, to fight it resolutely – but also to cooperate just as resolutely with and give committed support to those who interpret Islam peacefully and can thus take much more effective action against abuse.
I call upon #society, #media and politicians:
- not to associate terror, directly or indirectly, with Islam. This hurts the feelings of peace-loving Muslims. I can only appeal to everyone not to measure us against murderers, wherever they are in the world. Not us, and not Islam itself.
Acting against extremism is only really effective if it is done collectively.
Just as peace-loving Muslims take a firm stand against extremism, we expect – and not only in times of increasing right-wing extremism and Islamophobia – the joint commitment of all those who want to establish and maintain a prosperous, common and peaceful future in today’s Europe. Peace is the common call of all religions. We therefore call on Muslims and non-Muslims to raise their voices louder still against hatred and violence.
Imam Dr. Benjamin Idriz
Imam of the Islamic Community of Penzberg
Chairman of the Munich Forum for Islam