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In the aftermath of the murderous spree in France, allegedly committed by a French “Jihadi,” Mohammed Merah, it

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By Imam Zaid on 24 March 2012

When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.
                                                          Friedrich Nietzsche

should be clear to any observer that the so-called Jihad movement will never bring any good to Islam. Only a lunatic could believe that murdering school children in cold blood can somehow lead to a positive outcome for the cause he espouses. Only someone whose understanding of religion is totally void of any higher moral considerations can believe that maniacal slaughter can be a ticket to heaven. It is the height of delusion to believe that justifying mass murder in the name of “avenging” the excesses of anti-Muslim forces in place like Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan can somehow point to a moral high ground.

“Jihadis,” who are victims of such delusional thinking are far removed from reality and from serving Islam either in the East or the West. Their nihilistic violence and wanton massacres in the Muslim countries they operate in only create fear and loathing among local populations. Their bloodthirsty tactics are used by anti-Muslim polemicists to misrepresent Islam and to discredit the heroic nature of popular resistance movements in Muslim countries that have been invaded and occupied by foreigners.

Here in the West, their heinous “operations” only serve to strengthen resentment towards Islam and to empower the most hawkish elements in these societies in their effort to garner expanded support for the wars on Muslim countries along with their assault on civil liberties here. Only a fool can believe that fostering an atmosphere of fear and distrust towards Islam and Muslims will do anything other than translate into growing efforts on the part of the fearful to eliminate the source of their distress.

In the face of these reoccurring atrocities, many Muslims are asking an obvious question, “Just who are these people working for?” It is obvious that they are not working for the best interest of Islam and Muslims. Is it a mere coincidence that the most well-publicized actions of the “Jihadis” come at the worst possible time for the Muslims?  Consider, by way of example, that the infamous 7/7 (June 7, 2005) attacks in Britain occurred at the height of the Edinburg Summit, which was dedicated to placing the eradication of hunger at the top of the international agenda. What was the immediate result of those senseless bombings? International headlines proclaiming that the fight against terrorism will remain the number one priority of the western powers and that the fight against global hunger will have to be put on the back-burner.

Similarly, in May 2004, at the height of the Abu Ghraib torture controversy, and the heated debate about the rogue nature of the United States war machine, the “Jihadis” decapitate Nicholas Berg and then circulate a video of their ghastly deed via the internet. What was the immediate result of that operation? The end of the growing debate on the legality and strategic efficacy of torture along with questioning the illegality and morally bankrupt nature of the war itself that was growing in the United States. There are many other incidents of this sort that we could mention to call into question the concern that the “shot-callers” of international “Jihad” have towards Islam or the best interest of the Muslim people.

Now, when the massacre of 17 Afghans, most of them women and children, by a member of the US Army is creating a wave of antipathy towards the war in Afghanistan, the “Jihadis” send out one of their minions to murder both Muslims and Jews in France. What is the immediate result of this latest “Jihadi” horror? The end of the outrage over the Afghan massacre, allegedly perpetrated by an American sniper, Robert Bales.

It is difficult for someone in the West to feel more disgust and revulsion towards atrocities committed in distant lands, no matter how repugnant, than they do towards atrocities committed in cities and towns they reside in or have intimate knowledge of. As the outrage towards what happens over “there” dissipates, a climate leading to the escalation or perpetuation of those faraway atrocities is fostered. Who are the biggest losers in the ensuing carnage? Innocent Muslims.

Innocent Muslims are also the biggest losers here in the West. It is ironic that the first three people Merah murdered were all Muslims: Imad Ibn Ziaten, Mohamed Legouad and Abel Chennouf. Like the French Jewish community, the Muslim community is forced to mourn the tragic loss of their loved ones. However, Muslims alone, both in France and elsewhere, will be left to deal with the backlash these attacks will precipitate. That backlash may include reprisal attacks and it will certainly include an escalation of anti-Muslim hate -in all of its manifestations.

Those of us who have been speaking out against the menace of so-called “Jihad” must redouble our efforts. “Jihad” is far more than a threat to the lives of unsuspecting innocent people, both here in the West and in Muslim countries. It is a threat to our religion, in terms of how Islam is being represented by the advocates of “Jihad” and how it is being perceived by others. Muslim scholars cannot remain silent and allow this misrepresentation to go unaddressed.

As for those youth who have been alienated by the systematic “othering” and “niggerizing” of Muslims in the post-9/11 anti-Muslim climate that is deepening here in the West, they would do well to consider a different set of religious teachings when studying Islam. True religion is not to be found in emotional and sensational reactions to current events and mind-numbing atrocities. True religion is not found in a self-glorying end brought on by a hail of bullets or a murderous act of suicide.

Rather, true religion provides the spiritual direction needed to find one’s self-worth and human value in ones relationship with God. True religion provides the solace and succor needed to find inner peace even when outer realities are crushing. True religion provides nobility that empowers its possessor to fearlessly challenge oppressors while mercifully protecting life, regardless of the race, religion, color or creed of the living. True religion provides a path to heaven that is paved with devotion, lofty morals, patience, and struggling in a dignified manner against the guiles of one’s ego, the vicissitudes of the world and the vagaries of both power and powerlessness.

As for those who are deceived into believing that wanton murder, mayhem, destruction, suicide and inviting war and hatred against one’s coreligionists represent an express road to paradise, they should think deeply before embarking on that path. Religion teaches and history demonstrates that such a path is a sinister, nefarious route that winds steadily, oftentimes irreversibly, into a deep, dark, cold abyss.

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