Does the Quran Cause Extremists to Kill?
I am tired of this age old argument about Muslim extremists using the Quran to go and kill innocent people in the name of God. This argument is flawed. Before I explain why this argument is flawed, let us look at the most common refutation against it.
Muslims often try to counter this argument by arguing that the verses in the Quran are just being misinterpreted. This is a weak argument because it assumes the Quran is open to misinterpretation. So if we assume the Quran is open to misinterpretation then anyone reading the Quran is susceptible to extremism, hence Muslims are more likely to turn to extremism. Right? Wrong.
The fact is that the Quran is not open to misinterpretation. It is clear in its legislation on Jihad and there are clear rulings around warfare. Which is why it makes no sense to believe that Muslim extremists are motivated by the Quran when they commit an atrocity.
Now let us look at why this argument — that Muslim extremists are using the Quran as an excuse to kill — is flawed.
Firstly, where in the Quran does it give direct orders to go out and kill innocent people? In fact it is the opposite. Verses around Jihad are randomly thrown around by right-wing fascists, yet no one bothers to explain where it says you can kill innocent people. So where are these extremists getting their orders?
Secondly, by this argument you are assuming that an individual needs something or someone to tell him to kill, and that he is not motivated by any personal grief or sense of injustice.
This is simplistic thinking and anyone who believes this obviously does not understand basic human motivations. Let me give you a scenario to illustrate my point better.
For the sake of argument let us assume your country has been invaded and bombed, you have seen your family being killed in front of your eyes due to Western foreign policy. You have heard of over 300 children being murdered in Palestine due to the same foreign policy with the Israeli state not held accountable. You have heard of hundreds being killed in secret drone attacks due to the same policy, without any accountability. Each time you hear of an atrocity, committed by that same policy that says it was ok to commit that atrocity, it is like your family is being killed over and over again. Then when you try to speak out you are shut down by being labelled an ‘extremist’.
Now do you honestly believe that you would need a scripture to tell you to go and lash out or will something human inside of you automatically feel the need to do it?
Did William Wallace need a scripture to tell him to fight against English colonialism?
Did the IRA need a scripture to tell them to lash out when hundreds of Catholic homes were destroyed, burned and people killed?
I am not trying to justify killing someone. I am trying to understand why someone turns to extremism.
Yet too often when anyone tries to understand the motivations of someone like the Paris shooters or Adebolago, they are accused of ‘justifying’ the attacks or ‘supporting’ the terrorists. I am not trying to do that. If we are sincere about tackling extremism then we can’t ignore the motivations of an extremist. We have to look at the root cause of the problem. We have to listen to why they said they did it, rather than make our own erroneous assumptions.
Listen to why Adebolago did it, “ perhaps my actions will stop this Government sending troops over to kill Muslims and thus I may have saved their life and I may have saved the life of the soldiers being sent there”.
Listen to why the Paris shooters did it, “he continued, very calmly, explaining that they did not come to kill women and children but it’s us, the Westerners, he said, who are killing children in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Syria.”
I do not hear them say “because the Quran told us to”. They all have a personal motivation for doing what they did — a sense of injustice inside them that made them lash out. Foreign policy.
It isn’t scripture. It isn’t religion. No religion advocates wanton destruction or harming innocent civilians. In fact it is absurd to assume someone would just listen to a book or a scripture to commit an offence without any personal grievance.
Thirdly, strip the scripture off them — will it make them stop? If one explores the background of these extremists — none of them are particularly religious. One of the 7/7 bombers used to drink alcohol and smoke cannabis — acts forbidden by Islam. So why would he care about committing another offence his religion forbids? One has to question what exactly do they know about their own faith when they can commit actions like these? In fact educating them about their faith and having them turn to their scripture — the Quran — is more likely to prevent them from transgressing.
In fact a recent study highlights that terrorism is not religiously motived. The study found that less than two percent of all terror attacks were committed with religious motivations, with an even smaller number being committed by Muslim extremists. For example, out of the 152 terrorist attacks in the EU in 2013, only two were religiously motivated.
I want to end by saying I understand why the people of Europe are angry — it is natural to get angry but we can’t let our anger dictate our thinking. Western propagandist and political elites are using our anger to continue to justify their barbaric policies towards Muslims, and to make us angry enough to back them. As Asghar Bukhari once said, “They need you to be angry — angry enough that you don’t think — because thinking men ask questions, angry men don’t.”
My request is simple: Be a thinking man — not an angry one.