Don’t fear the religion, fear its extremists

Seeing as three of the largest religions in the world have been around, according to their believers, since the beginning of man, one would think people would have figured them out by now.

Yeah, you’d think that. But we still have such a warped view of the world’s second largest faith: Islam. This religion has existed since the seventh century, and too many of us still don’t understand it. And, for that reason, too many of us unnecessarily fear it.

Judaism, Christianity and Islam are considered to be Abrahamic religions, meaning they all have ties back to Abraham’s covenant with God. Each, in one form or another, is based on love for Yahweh/God/Islam, compassion for others, forgiveness and peace.

Yes, peace. Peace is a major part of any religion and conversely, religion is always a source of peace. Think about it. Not one of these actually comes out and blatantly says, “Go wage war” or “Go kill.” People do.

True Islam is not a religion practiced with a sword, gun or bomb. It is a peaceful religion that some people have twisted into a justification for violence and murder.

They are the minority.

Jihad means “to struggle.” There are two ways to interpret this struggle. The greater meaning is the daily spiritual struggle to live a faithful life. The lesser meaning, which has been greatly distorted by extremist Muslims and careless media, deals with fighting against the infidels.

There wasn’t much understanding of Islam before 2001 in the United States. Then two planes hit the World Trade Center, another plane hit the Pentagon and another crashed in Pennsylvania. Islam was all over the news. Talking heads debated with and yelled at each other about what Islam is, what it means to be Muslim and who is responsible.

The United States and other countries declared war on terrorism and fought against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then we went after Iraq. For years, there have been rumors about an upcoming war with Iran.

It’s pretty easy to see why the general public still doesn’t understand Islam. We keep going to war against people who warp it to fit their agenda. We don’t focus enough on the Muslims who are just like every other person of faith. They get up in the morning, they pray, they care for their families, they try to make a living.

Now, there must be some understanding for those who do practice radical Islam. We’re not asking you to forgive them, and we’re not telling you that they are right.

But think about this: What if your land was invaded centuries ago by an army of a different religion who trying to take away your land because of your religion? What if other countries kept coming into your land and took away your resources time after time? What if foreign leaders redrew your maps without consideration to you and your community, cutting you off from the people you know? What if, even after all this happened, you are still blamed for something a minority of people within your religion do?

Wouldn’t you be upset?

Islam isn’t scary — it’s loving and peaceful. People are scary.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.