Originally published on Patheos
The year 2015 can be remembered as the year Daesh (ISIS) dominated the news media in the Western world, from beginning to the end. It began with the merciless attack on the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that drew worldwide condemnation, enslaving of Yazidi women, burning of a Jordanian pilot and ending with a spectacular attack in France and inspiring mass murder in San Bernardino.
How could a religion with a holy book, the Quran, which prides itself as being perfect and as a guidance for all mankind until eternity, find itself in the midst of terrorist activity of late? If prophets have been sent in the past to uphold the unity of God (Quran 7:36), then what prevents God from sending divine reformers in this day and age to set the record straight on some Quranic terminology such as jihad and other verses of the holy book with susceptible interpretations (Quran 3:8)?
Terrorist group such as al Qaeda, Boko haram and Daesh want the whole world to think that they are on the right track as far as the concept of jihad is concerned. As has been the norm, every terrorist attack often sees hurriedly arranged press conferences by Muslim groups in the country to denounce these acts as un-Islamic; but the question is do we have a better explanation of jihad to this group and the general public to unambiguously clarify that terrorism infringes on Islamic teachings? It is regrettable that even some so-called Islamic clerics today see jihad in the wrong way and are actually fanning the recruitment process of terrorists thus disparaging the beautiful teaching of Islam.
The majority of the Muslim world may not agree with him but Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, founder of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community at the end of 19th century, was right when he interpreted jihad as not infringing on the right of human beings (killing of innocent souls) but self-striving in the quest of attaining nearness to God Almighty. In his book, “British Government and Jihad” he declared that his appearance as the imam of the age brings to an end all religious wars and the next face of jihad is going to be jihad with the pen, not with the sword.
The opponent of Islam in this day and age are attacking the religion not by sword, as happened during the time of prophet Muhammad, but instead with mass media and literary publications. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s interpretation of jihad and a better way to defend Islam is completely in harmony with nature in the sense that if you are bitten by a poisonous snake (venom) the antidote is to use anti-venom to neutralize the poison. Therefore if Islam is under attack from mass media and literary publications, why don’t we as Muslims use the pen or the same medium as that of the attack to defend Islam?
The actions of terrorist have not only caused death to innocent souls but have put the entire 1.6 billion Muslim population under risk. Attacks on mosques in the United States have reached record levels this year and the Islamophobic backlash after Paris and San Bernardino massacres keeps on growing. When are we Muslims going to admit that our flawed interpretation of jihad in the dark ages has given rise to these terror groups, which they have seized upon to hijack the beautiful religion of Islam for political and personal gains?
As I have said before, the rest of the Muslim world may disagree with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian as the imam of the age and even subject his followers to severe forms of persecution in countries like Pakistan, but the fact is that he was absolutely right about the true concept of jihad and if we had paid attention to his call and jihad was better understood, it would have been far more difficult for terrorist group to sell their ideology and to gain recruits.
President Obama rightly said, Muslim leaders need to speak up about terrorism related issues in the community. The president should also know, though, that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has spoken about the flawed interpretation of jihad more than 100 years ago and his followers (the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) is propagating the beautiful teaching of Islam via the pen across the globe in a peaceful manner.
It is via the true interpretation of jihad that we can win the ideological war on terror and not by bombs. The rest of the Muslim world must recognize the fact that a reformer for this day and age has appeared and has correctly interpreted the Quran in accordance with nature, human conscience and dignity. This will allow us to root out terrorism and dissociate it from Islam altogether.