Every time the Islamic State strikes, Islam suffers. Anti-Muslim hashtags trend on social media; fear, animosity and distrust rise among communities; leading to an ill-fated divide between Muslims and the rest of the world.
It is now more important than ever, to distance Islam — clearly and officially — from the ‘Islamic State’. It is imperative, as this organisation gains in numbers, to distinguish between this ill-advised group of executioners — who are motivated, not by Islam but by political gains and partisan beliefs — and Muslims.
Perhaps it is time also to reconsider neologisms such as, ‘Islamist’, ‘Jihadist’ and ‘Islamic militants’. This terminology, misleading, alludes to the entire Muslim population, perhaps to the advantage of the Islamic State. Perhaps it is time also to reconsider how we refer to the ‘Islamic State', which needs to be isolated ideologically, as much as on the ground.
Surveys conducted late last year by PEW Research Centre indicate that Muslims in most countries with large Muslim populations disapprove of the Islamic State.
While it cannot be denied that Islamic State uses Islam as their basis for perpetrating terrorism across the globe, it can also not be ignored that Islam supports none of the activities of the organisation. Now, the question is, can we allow a cold-blooded, power-hungry, terrorist organisation to redefine the faith of 1.6 billion Muslims?
It is important to draw such a distinction not just for the international community and the Muslims affected by the activities of the Islamic State, but also to deter all those who are swayed by the dangerous and divisive rhetoric of the organisation.
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles"; If Sun Tzu was right, then we need to remind ourselves that the Islamic State is a common enemy that can only be defeated by understanding who they are and part of that is accepting that it does not represent Muslims around the world.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2016.