Islamism and Its Relationship With Violent Activities in the Middle East

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Middlebury College
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The title of this essay is a question that many people often ask themselves these days. Most of the so-called experts on Islam in many instances seem to concur on some link that is between violence and Islam. Although it is almost difficult to exonerate most of those so-called experts from pure hatred of Muslims and or Islam or their political agendas, it remains a valid query that persons should be able to answer for themselves or others when need be. Consequently, one should constantly ask oneself if the religion of Islam condones violence in the Middle East and whether one should blame Islam for the rise in violent activities in the Middle East. Even if one is in the position of clearing most Muslims in the Middle East as being violent, clearing the relationship between violence and Islam is another challenge. Islam as a religion is not violent.

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Currently, there is a cliche of a saying that every terrorist is a Muslim but not every Muslim is a terrorist. While most individuals know this is saying as not being true, some individuals have gone to the extent of citing the Klux Klux Klan as members who participate in violent activities and are not Muslims; there is still need to ensure that people are responsible for themselves and others. Individually, regardless of whether non-Muslims are involved in violent activities in the Middle East or not are relevant since it does not certainly justify the allegation that all Muslims in the Middle East are participating in violent activities. Moreover, another weak argument that the so-called experts would want us to believe is that only a fraction of a percentage of Muslims in the Middle East is involved in violent activities. Personally, there is no small number or fraction that is too small especially if the small number consists of extremists who tend to follow literal injunctions of the Quran in the bid to justify their hardline positions on violence. Modern militant Islamism in the Middle East seems to depart from the large swathes of non-political and non-activist Islamism that seeks to confront the self-proclaimed reality. Regardless of this point of view, modern militant Islamists tend to retain a great emphasis on a broadly defined Islamic position that is at least rhetoric. This means that the modern militant Islamists in the Middle East include the pivotal significance of the key fundamentals of Islam as contained by the sayings of the prophet or those attributed to Muhammad and the Quran. They tend to interpret the sayings as well as its implementation.

Supporters of a greater relationship between or link between violence and Islam in the Middle East often quote the Quran as containing more than a hundred verses that call upon Muslims to ensure that they take up arms especially against unbelievers and all in the name of Allah. Most modern militant Islamists often translate the word fight in most of the verses as jihad which they then translate it loosely as a struggle. When further analyzed, the term jihad can be used to refer to an inner struggle that one Muslim has against sin. It is imperative to comprehend that a further analysis of the inner struggle that Muslims have does not represent the meanings of the various passages in the Quran that call for an increase in violence or the removal of heads through beheadings of every individual who has sinned. Indeed, every Muslim who has acted as a jurist even those of early centuries gone by comprehending that Jihad is an integral militaristic term that depicts that Islam is violent. One may thus conclude that when Muslims take up arms especially in the name of Allah, then they are most definitely supporting the passages in the Quran and not opposing it. However, at this juncture, some individuals will point out that the majority of Muslims are not violent in nature and that they are peaceful individuals. One has to be thankful that this is true. However, one has to consider the counter-argument that the peacefulness of Muslims is not consistent with the teachings of the Quran. One may thus conclude that most of the Muslims are therefore not peaceful due to Islam but in spite of Islam.

Despite all the passages and the interpretation of the relationship between violence and Islam in the Middle East, at best one can say that not all know the concept of Islam. Muslims in the Middle East and all over the world would agree that violence should not be allowed to exist. No one individual is given the permission to kill another human being. The Quran states that no individual has the authorization to touch an innocent individual especially during times of war in addition to giving a legal pronouncement in Islam (Fatwa) on this matter. The Quran does not state that no one individual has the power to strap themselves with bombs and rush into crowds and blow themselves up regardless of the religions of the crowd. Salhi (56) notes that this means that as an Islamism or any other religion, it is not permissible. This means that Islam does not permit the use of violence even during wars, which is sometimes difficult to maintain.

Moreover, one may argue that religion is not essentially an allied force as a casual factor in violence in the Middle East. This may be due to the modern militant Islamists not being actually religious especially in their process of radicalization. The key explanation to this allegation is that the strong individuals who often claim that they are motivated by religious ideology in most instances turn out to be the persons who are mostly ignorant about Islam and do not have proper religious instruction or much formal education thereby having only an incomplete or limited comprehension of Islam. Additionally, one may argue that some Muslims in the Middle East are violent since they feel that they have been alienated, and disenfranchised. Most of the violent Islamists have the belief that the current political climate in the Middle East does not give them the opportunity to exert change or the power to effect the real change that they so much adore. Most of them identify with the individuals who have selected to be the victims of social injustice and thus the need to fight for their freedom. The violent Islamists tend to believe that they need to take action rather than act as innocent bystanders about the problems that they are facing. Through the process of radicalization, they have the perception that by engaging in violence against the state or any individuals not following the teachings of Islam is not immoral. In fact, most of them have family members or friends who are supportive of their cause. They tend to believe that joining a particular movement such as the Islamic State gives them psychological or social rewards such as a heightened sense of identity or an adventure. Nevertheless, the few voices disputing the link between Islamism and violence in the Middle East, there are also other voices that tend to suggest that some of the violent activities in the Middle East have had some roots in Islamic law.

Through the three sources of Islamic law, there is no hard evidence to suggest the use of violence. In fact, there are many orders, bans, warnings, and directions in the Quran especially about unpleasant behaviors that may include defamation or insults. However, the Quran does not specify the prescribed punishment actions that violent Islamists deem as being unIslamic. On the contrary, the teachings of the Sunnah ask Muslims if they at any position hear anything that may be deemed to insult the verses of the Quran or the teachings of Islamic precepts. In general, Muslims are advised not to engage or stay with individuals who make such accusations against the religion of Islam (Lawrence, 27).

The recent rise in violence in the Middle East especially the creation of Islamic State. In reality, one has to consider ISIS as being Islamic. The result was that it attracted many adventure seekers and adventurers that were drawn from disaffected populations of the Middle East and some countries in Europe. However, the religion that is expounded by most of the extremists is derived keenly from coherent, and the other ever learned interpretations of Islam. This is because the Islamic state proponents preach contempt of human life and hatred through what they consider as a prophetic methodology. There is no evidence from the Quran that depicts those such actions as being in accordance with prophetic methodology. Most of the violent activities in the Middle East are primarily related to terrorism. This is why most people call terrorists jihadists. The term jihadists should not be used in that context. There are certain actions committed by violent people for which capital punishment is allowed in the Quran. Corruption in mind is one such action. However, there are various definitions of corruption that are susceptible to misinterpretation. Due to the flexibility of such interpretation, the most common definition is the deeds that are responsible for acting or destroying the Muslim community. This means that the individuals who purport to commit jihad in the name of Islam are seriously wounding their own faith in that they lead people to believe that Muhammad as a prophet was someone who was violent and also lead other people to believe that Muslims are individuals who are violent in terms of murdering and terrorism. In fact, these persons are acting against Islam while at the same time claim to be acting in the name of Islam. Islam is not a violent religion by nature (Israeli, 39).

It is imperative to comprehend that although there is a small relationship between Islam and violence, Islam is a religion that preaches peace and constantly stresses on the sanctity of human life. In essence, Islam condemns all instances of violence regardless of the country that one may find themselves in. any individual who practices violence is not practicing the religion of Islam at the particular moment of the activity. Although one may argue that, sometimes it is necessary to practice violence as a response to being oppressed, as most people would constantly cite instances in Palestine, it is vital to note that this is wrong. Some of the people practicing violence in the Middle East use violence as a way to seek the attention of the world.

Another aspect that has to be considered is the culture in Middle East countries. Although Islam plays a pivotal role in the culture of many Middle East countries, any culture that beheads an individual because the said individual is a witch or stones an individual due to participating in premarital sex is a barbarian culture. One has to note that Islam as a religion is irrelevant if the culture of many Middle East countries is debased by fundamentalism. In support of this argument, some of the Muslims who have settled in advanced countries no matter of how their countries of origin have been deprived; the Muslims tend to settle down with relatively no violence. According to Ghanim (45), the reason is that in these advanced countries; violence is not tolerated or encouraged. The reason as to why there are no honor killings in advanced countries in the name of Allah is that if such incidences occurred, the perpetrators would be put in jail. One may thus conclude that it is not religion that dictates the culture of a particular country it is the culture of that country that dictates the religion. Moreover, one can add that it is not Islam that is responsible for radicalization, but it is the radicalization happening in the Middle East that has been Islamized.

In conclusion, although there may be a link between violence and Islam in the Middle East, it is not Islam that is responsible for the increase in violent activities. Individually, regardless of whether non-Muslims are involved in violent activities i...

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