The recent growth of cases involving home-grown Islamic radicalism in the U.S. (think of the five Americans who were arrested in Pakistan to wage jihad) raises an important question: How should Muslim leaders address the religious text that is used to promote violence among young Muslims?
According to a CNN report, Mustafa Abu Maryam, youth coordinator at the ICNA Center, an affiliate of the Islamic Circle of North America, in Alexandria, Va., defended the mosque's activities, saying discussion of jihad had no place in the congregation or the youth program.
This passive approach did not protect the young Muslims from radicalization. Reciting the peaceful verses in the Quran without addressing and confronting the aggressive teaching and refuting it with new interpretations is an inefficient approach.
It would have been much better if Abu Maryam addressed the issue of jihad, rejected its violent interpretations in mainstream Muslim books, and provided new interpretations for it instead of remaining passive and avoiding its discussion.
Undervaluing human life is a main psychological and ideological factor that gives justification for the terrorists to do their barbaric acts.
Without changing the values that undervalue human life which are available in mainstream Islamic books, it is virtually impossible to prevent the phenomenon of terrorism. Some of these values are even promoted in mainstream Islamic books inside the U.S.
The following are just two examples from a well known, best-selling Islamic book "Minhaj Al-Muslim." The examples illustrate how human life of non-Muslims is disrespected and considered lower than Muslim's lives.
1. "A Muslim is not killed for a disbeliever nor a free person for a slave." This is due to the Prophet's statement.
2. Blood money (compensation given to the family of the victim in cases of murder): "If the victim was a non Muslim under the protection of the Islamic state (Dhimmi), whether he was a Jew, a Christian, or of some other religion, his blood money is half the blood money of the Muslim. The blood money of their females is half the blood money of their males. This is due to the Prophet's statement.
Minhaj al-Muslim by Abu Bakr al-Jazairy (a lecturer in the Noble Prophetic Masjid (a mosque) in Saudi Arabia, stated in the introduction of this book: "I spared no effort in investigating and searching for the most sound opinion of the eminent scholars such as Imams Abu Hanifah, Malik, Ash Shafl'i, and Ahmad, may Allah have mercy on them all, when there was no conclusive text or apparent proof from the Book of Allah the Almighty and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah for a topic.
In addition, this book is widely distributed all over the world and translated into several languages. In fact, it is published in London, Houston, and New York.
The book has been described as follows by the publisher (a respected Islamic publishing house): "A comprehensive work by the great scholar Abu Bakr Jabir Al-Jaza'ri comprising all that concerns a Muslim regarding creed, manners, providing direction for righteous character, acts of worship, and dealings with his colleagues."
Giving peaceful lectures during Friday prayers while remaining silent against such aggressive teaching is not only a passive form of endorsing this teaching but is also a fruitless and deceiving approach to the West.
If Muslim leaders are truly willing to prevent radicalism of the young Muslims they must confront these violent areas and provide new theology or interpretations for it.
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