Sick of terrorism, Copts convert to Islam to experience its peace

In the wake of the latest terrorist attack on Egyptian Copts, where gunmen stopped their vehicle, ordered them out, and executed them on site, dozens of Copts have converted to Islam hoping to experience the Islamic peacefulness and tolerance they have always heard about but never witnessed.  

“It was time we got a taste of that sweet Islamic peace,” M.K.L. told our reporter minutes after performing his first Asr prayer, “it feels really good, Muslims are now accepting of my beliefs and I’m free to pray wherever and whenever I want, we can even build new mosques with great ease, as a Christian, I couldn’t do that,” he added with a look that either reflected satisfaction or faked it.

But being a Muslim does not mean full protection from Islamic terrorism. The Takfiri ideology justifies labeling Muslims who don’t practice Islam strictly, according to particular fundamentalist texts, as infidels and allows killing them. For now, however, these new Muslims are enjoying some peace of mind, and you can tell they needed it. 

The Voodoo of fighting terrorism while cradling Islamism 

Following every terror attack in Egypt, secularists, myself included, engage in long conversations on the necessity of combating Islamist ideologies [Islam as a religion and constitution] for the sake of our country’s national security. We also urge the state to allow Muslim reformers to speak freely without fear of getting thrown in jail and to prevent government senior officials, especially in the ministry of Islamic affairs and Al-Azhar, from promoting extremist, fundamentalist, and Islamist ideas. High on adrenaline, we tend to forget that most Muslims in Egypt actually put Islam high above the Egyptian state: they are Muslims living in Egypt not Egyptians who believe in Islam. It is one of the reasons why some Europeans are rightly concerned about the increasing numbers of Muslims in Europe alongside declining birth rates. Islam, unlike Christianity now, supersedes the state. Sharia courts and FGM in England come to mind.

Islamists in Egypt, including the ones in the government and Al-Azhar and Salafists, hold great sway over the minds of Muslims, particularly younger ones. Islamism gives these men of God the moral and executive authority to mobilize millions of youths towards a particular goal should the situation arise and the need for action is true enough. If Sisi challenges the core ideas that enables Islamists to control Egyptian Muslims without a meticulously calculated plan implemented incrementally, the outcome can be devastating for him and Egypt. Islamists will not watch helplessly as the rug is pulled from under their feet and the authority they worked years to achieve evaporates. Sisi is surely well aware of what happened when Saddam Hussein and his party tried secularizing Iraq in an economy much better than Egypt’s. Islamists have the know-how and texts to label him an enemy of Islam if they sense he is sincere about delegitimizing the authority they derive from the interpretation of Islam they promote, preach, and write literature for; they also have the capability to turn millions of youths against him and Christians, like some of them do now but on a mass scale. It is delusional, for example, to think that Salafists believe in anything but an Islamic State, they are just currently relaxed because the government allows them to freely, absolutely freely, propagate the ideas ISIS is putting into action and instill them in the minds of children.

Islam Beheiry, who had been jailed for criticizing extremist interpretations of the Quran and Hadith, says Al-Azhar University’s curricula must be updated to remove all hard-line stipulations derived from the Quran and Hadith such as the ones on fighting infidels and hating non-Muslims or discriminating against them. According to Beheiry, former head of Al-Azhar Mohamed Sayed Tantawi had actually taken this step before the current Grand Imam Ahmed Eltayeb rescinded it. Sisi, on more than one occasion, called on Al-Azhar scholars to actively combat extremist texts, not Islamism, but was met with deaf ears time and time again. And while it is true that Sisi’s authority is unchecked and he can pretty much get away with anything, when it comes to religion, if his vision of reforming and modernizing Islam, which neither denotes nor connotes rejecting the principle of Islam as a religion and state constitution, is not fully aligned with the Islamists and Salafists inside and outside his government he can find himself up against a volcano of terrorism and disobedience.

Taking small but real and effective steps, and cementing them, towards a secular Egypt is the only viable way. Sisi, however, still seems reluctant to take it. Sisi and many Egyptians seem to think terrorism can be fought without challenging Islamism, but if the statement Islam is a religion and state constitution is true, does it not follow that Men of God should rule or fight until power is in their hands?!!

There is no one “true” Islam

Ideas do not exist outside of our minds, that’s the difference between ideas and physical objects, an idea is what you make of it. With basic ideas things are relatively simple. As hundreds of main, secondary, and sub-secondary concepts are combined to form a belief system -with ambiguous and undefined sentences, words, and entities- each individual brain believing in said system becomes, more or less, one meaning of it, manifested in the individual’s interpretation of it and their actions that are influenced by it. Once a group of people has based a justification for terrorism on Islam, a violent manifestation of Islam has materialized. There is no use defending Islam against violence, we can only cut the arteries feeding the mad manifestation by publicly challenging the logic that led to its birth and introducing new interpretations.

People of faith are angered by atheists because when you stop believing in an idea you literally take away a part from its existence. Believers are then forced to debate in favor of the existence of their beliefs or, sometimes, take extreme measures, like Islamic terrorists. Indeed, in the mind of Nice’s psychopath, the hell he had unleashed is a manifestation of his ideas; he brought his ideas to life; into the realm of existence. One can also look at ISIS as a successful materialization of hell on earth for non-believers and sinners as defined by the ideas of ISIS.

There is no such thing as true Islam. When you pick up the book(s) of Islam and begin reading them/it you begin writing a new understanding of Islam, if you become a Muslim you become a new method for believing in and applying Islam.

Even the choice of the books and texts you will count as Islamic and the ones you will dismiss plays a part in what Islam you will understand or become.

With religions, ideas are sacred and are worth dying for in holy wars. There is no compromise.

Is there a manifestation of Islam somewhere that truly calls for tolerance of others without Taqqiyah? We should find and promote that Islam. Or make it.

Understanding terrorists who don’t frequent mosques

Let’s assume the guy who ran over 80 people in Nice, France was a suicidal maniac. He was also a Muslim but not a strict practitioner of Islam, for example, he did not frequent a mosque. So what do strict practitioners who spend most of their time at mosques reading and researching Islam do? Well, some of them, some of them, actually lay down the groundwork and literature for terrorism. 
When the supposed madman, who is a Muslim, is overcome with a desire for massacre-suicide, he finds the justification and heavenly reward for his acts of terrorism in the literature written by some of, some of, the Muslims who frequent mosques. 

An ideology that can be embraced and enacted by psychopaths. 

And Allah is merciful, you can repent the sins of a lifetime one day before you die and you’re forgiven, especially if you die gloriously answering Jihad’s call.  

Unchallenged Islam and the cloud of terror

Muslims have suspended history. The main ideas dictating their morals and behavior, and the foundations of their belief system, were never challenged publicly in Muslim countries, official representatives of the religious institution, preachers, and even ordinary citizens do not allow it. Texts, audios, and videos attempting to oppose or reread Islam’s main or secondary concepts and regulations are often, effectively, banned from circulating between people. Terrorists are not isolated elements in the Muslim community, they represent the far end, from that end to the middle you will find Muslims believing in ideas circling Takfirism to less extreme degrees, like Muslims who think now is not the time for establishing the Islamic state or Muslims who don’t condone terrorism but sympathize with its motives.

Takfirism: A radical approach to Islam by which Muslims who profess to believe in Islam but don’t follow the takfirists’ way are labeled infidels and become fair game to be blown up in pursuit of the caliphate or Islamic supremacy through terror.  

Muslims with the understanding that only a flourishing love for sciences and a booming economy can achieve prosperity for the Muslim world exist, but these Muslims are neither popular nor active enough, and Muslim youths would not find a science and economy discourse as attractive as the one with jihad against a well-defined enemy and gorgeous chicks in heaven.

After every terrorist attack by Muslims, mainstream western media begins appeasing Muslims and Islamists via the routine the-terrorists-were-not-really-Muslims articles, just a bunch of rogue elements from the Muslim world. This is not true because a dominant ideology in a group of people, including its extreme ends, exists in a spectrum or a cloud, not single, separated nodes. For example, in a society of Muslims, it is not one person loves music and life and the individual just next to him on the scale towards the extremist terrorist is a terrorist. Beliefs in a peaceful Islam and a terrorist Islam have a big blurred border.

When ideas conducive to terrorism are shielded from criticism they become more rancid and cancerous. Promoting moderate Islam as a counter-terrorism method is absolutely useless if not meaningless, how would you sell your version of Islam to extremists with the dogmatic conviction that they understand what Islam is and think their interpretation is the correct one? You cannot, not without challenging, deconstructing, and disintegrating their ideas, otherwise they will disintegrate us. And challenging the books of terrorism is not enough, Islam itself, as a religion and state, must be subjected to challenge, like Christianity is. Challenge will lead to skepticism and skepticism curbs extremism.

Instead of discussing whether or not we should kill infidels, apostates, and gays, we should discuss what is Allah, what is mercy, what is good, and what is evil, discussion means less absolutes means less negative motivation means less explosions.

Muslims suffer radical Islam almost weekly.

But no, the media doesn’t want to offend Muslims, or provoke Muslims? fearing a Charlie Hebdo? Have we been taken hostages by the religion of peace?


Distinguishing between Islamism and Radical Islam

The word Islamism, which means Islam as a religion and a constitution for a state, is a fairly recent word in the Arabic language, because Islam began as religion and a constitution. Islam is not just a spiritual code of ethics, it is the law, and that’s what most Muslims in the Middle East and a big portion of Muslims in Europe (2) believe. Islam was divinely revealed to Muhammad in a cave, but it expanded under the guarding sword of a magnanimous army not via word of mouth, as the tradition dictated one thousand years ago. Needless to say, Islam is not a body that can enforce anything, Islam’s rule means men of god acting as demigods with the power to turn any citizen into a witch to be hunted and eliminated. Modern states should never have rulers endowed with divine authority.

Radical Islam, on the other hand, describes an unforgiving and fundamentalist or literal understanding of Islam, ranging from Saudi Arabia and Iran to ISIS, however, even the most moderate group of Muslims understands Islam is a state not just a set of beliefs and practices. Under the Islamic mantra, citizens from all over the world can be recruited to fight under Islam’s flag as it overrules allegiance to geographical countries.

The UAE, which is not an Islamist state by any means, every now and then surprises us with the prosecution of a man for a gay handshake and a couple for sexting.

When defending the peacefulness and modernity of Islam after a terror attack, the apologists often forget they are upholding their own interpretation of thousands of pages of ancient texts, some of which are very ambiguous like the Quran itself.

Apologists might tell you there are strict rules for engaging in jihad and Muslims must be transgressed upon first, ISIS argues the mere existence of the West and the morals and principles it stands for constitute war on Islam’s core beliefs. In fact, recent advances by the Iraqi army against ISIS were viewed negatively by Sunni Arabs because the fighting forces include large numbers of Shiites and Kurds, that’s how sensitive they are.

A modern state in a Muslim majority country will require a shift in perceiving what Islam is; transforming Islam from a state system to be imposed on citizens by men of god to a personal belief system is no easy task.


Using the word ‘terrorist’

A while ago, Aljazeera ran a segment on one of its channels explaining why it refrains from using the word terrorist when describing individuals or groups, the reason being these persons could be considered freedom fighters by other people. Which is true, ISIS are the freedom fighters and heroes of some people, where do you stand on them though? Terrorism is a major global issue, if your position on terrorists, or entities you think are not terrorists, is murky, then  your intentions and methods of presenting news must be questioned. We are not obligated to have a stance on everything, but, if you’re a news portal, you should be clear on terrorists and terrorism. Whom you consider terrorists and whom you consider freedom fighters say a lot about you as an individual and as a journalist. If you want to join the other side, it’s ok, but wool coats should not be accepted in journalism.