The true message of Islam is one of peace, not violence

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Originally Published in The Cleveland

I was deeply saddened by the recent Paris terror attacks, and shootings in San Bernardino. Since then I have been praying that America is able to stop ISIS and defeat terrorism motivated by a perversion of Islamic teachings.

In the face of these terror attacks, we have a responsibility as Americans to think over how and why such terrorist attacks happen. In public health it is taught that prevention is the best form of treatment; I believe this is also the case when it comes to terrorism.

Security measures by the Department of Homeland Security and military measures that ensure our safety are important and necessary. Despite these measures, there is always the possibility of breaches as we have witnessed time and again. They become the reasons for terrorist attacks.

To prevent these attacks it is fundamental to address the initial brainwashing of the terrorist and teach them the true Islamic teachings. This is exactly what the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is doing in over 200 countries by actively promoting true and peaceful Islamic teachings. Ironically, most of these terrorists who are “dying for Islam” do not know the true Islam. They are brainwashed to such an extent that they do not comprehend the simplest of Islamic teachings.

For example, it is written in the Quran that “Whosoever killed a person… It shall be as if he killed all mankind”(5:33). I firmly believe that every American should be aware of the true teachings of Islam. We should not alienate Muslims, such as we often tend to do by immediately assuming that a lunatic with a Muslim name is inspired by the teachings of Islam. This will only advance ISIS’s agenda.

We should educate ourselves and not fall prey to the fear-mongering of the recent presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson, but remember the words of George Bush six days after 9/11, “Islam is peace.” Americans should support peaceful Muslim communities such as the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, so the internal change that is critically needed within extremist Muslims may occur.

These past few months, I studied in London where His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community resides. I have witnessed up close how determined he is to establish peace. He continuously travels to advocate peace. He came to Ohio a few years ago, and in the few months I was in London, he went to the Dutch parliament and to Japan.

The American media’s focus on perversions of Islamic teachings is a detriment to the education of Americans. The media should highlight the peaceful initiatives taken by billions of Muslims. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has tens of millions of followers who live by the community’s motto, “Love for All, Hatred for None.”

I am an American Muslim. I find no contradiction between these two parts of my identity. On the contrary I feel they support each other. I firmly believe that terrorism will be defeated, and American values like peace and freedom will prevail and true Islamic teachings will flourish. Let us not alienate any loyal American and always remember Abraham Lincoln’s words, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

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