Muslim youth leader: Americans must fight against ISIS ideology of fear

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Originally published in the Oklahoman

Americans need to get in the battlefield against the “Islamic” State in Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS. By no means is this a call to arms, however. Rather, it’s a call to fight against the ideology of fear and hatred that this so-called “Islamic” group promotes.

This is a fight that can’t be won by simple denunciation of this terrorist organization, but by promoting an alternative that has all the solutions.

ISIS is bent on establishing a state under a forced caliphate, which ISIS leaders say would unify all Muslims to fight against anyone who may disagree with them. What they haven’t counted on is that there already is a caliphate established in the Muslim world which is the polar opposite of everything that ISIS, al-Qaida and the Taliban have come to represent.

This caliphate has been established for more than 100 years and has tens of millions of Muslim followers in more than 200 countries. I’m referring to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Mirza Masroor Ahmad is the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Residing in London and weighing in on matters both spiritual and worldly, Ahmad said the following about the situation in Iraq:

“The actions and statements of ISIS and other extremists who pretend to represent Islam, whilst all the while spreading hatred and violence, run entirely contrary to the peaceful teaching of Islam. If some of the local people are unhappy and feel the Iraqi government has been unjust and cruel, it still does not justify any form of terrorism or extremism in response. Islam does not permit you to respond to cruelty with further cruelty. All cruelty is wrong and to be condemned.”

Ahmad recognizes that a small minority of Muslims in Europe and the U.S. are joining war campaigns with ISIS and the Syrian conflict and becoming radicalized. In turn, Ahmad categorically condemns those Muslim leaders and clerics who are “pushing young people, who know no better, towards evil and cruelty by falsely claiming it will lead them towards God.”

This is a beautiful alternative that Americans need to embrace in the face of the intolerance that groups like ISIS promote. This alternative also shows that the hate-filled rhetoric of Islamophobes who condemn, as doomed to barbarity, a large swath of the human population, simply won’t do anymore.

As members of a society that has survived and indeed thrived because of its adherence to pluralism, we must promote the real Islam.

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