Well all have seen it in the media. The awful and horrid pictures of terrorist attacks that have happened all over the world. From the 9/11 attacks to the most recent attacks in Europe. These attacks show us what our world is made of; hate and violence. But, there is something even more striking about all of the attacks we hear about. The only time we EVER hear religion mentioned, is when it's an attack done by someone practicing a form of the Islamic faith.
I say a form of the Islamic faith. I do not, in any way, believe that Muslims believe in a religion that promotes violence and murder, because what they believe is the exact opposite. While I am not a Muslim, I have studied Islam in an academic sense. I am a Religious Studies major, which means I academically study all religions. And one of the classes I am currently taking, Religion and Popular Culture, has brought a horrific truth to my attention. A truth that I want to address now.
Our culture, both in the United States and outside of it, sees Islam as a terror religion. There is no way to get around it, Islam has been seen throughout all of history as a terror religion. As Sophia Roase Arjana points out in her article "Monstrous Muslims", Medieval representations of Muslims were largely seen in creatures such as the cynocephalus (dog-headed man), Saracen giant (cannibalistic) and Black Saracen (a demonic killer of Christian saints). Or in which she points directly to America's history with Islam in saying, The United States of America has never had a friendly relationship with Islam; in fact, the earliest references to Muslims express concepts to barbarianism, violence, and criminality.
As I read this article in Religion and Popular Culture, in which my professor handed out this article, I wasn't shocked with the title. I've taken basic world religion courses in which you discover that at the heart of Islamic teachings is one of love. Muslims call Jesus a prophet. They study his teachings too. You see, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have something in common. And you may not see this one coming.
The Three Abrahamic Faiths. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They all three claim to be descendants of Abraham. You know Abraham. The guy who founded Judaism, the guy who did not sacrifice the son of Sarah after sending the son of Hagar away. All three come from Abraham, and Abraham only had one God.
I tell you all of this, because I want to ask you a question. Why in the world do we enunciate and scream from the rooftops when some guy who happens to be a Muslim and call the god of Abraham Allah, (which by the way, is the Arabic word for God), and commits an act of terrorism, but we say nothing when a Christian does the same?
In the United States, 94% of terrorist attacks from 1980-2005 were done by people NOT of the Islamic faith. If you ask people in America, most people would call a Muslim and a terrorist the same thing. Well, okay, at least Donald Trump will.
In Europe, you know how many of those terrorist attacks were committed by Muslims? Less than 2%. Over a thousand terror attacks in Europe in the last five years, and less than 2% of them are committed by Muslims. Interesting.
I ask you this, why? Why do we have this nasty and negative image of Islam? What the heck did they ever do to any of us to start all of this crap? I'm sorry, but when Hitler persecuted all of the Jewish people no one mentioned the fact that he was a.....CHRISTIAN! Or when Yugoslavia went into turmoil the two groups that were fighting against each other, the Serbs and the Croatians, were Christians while the Bosniks, who were trying to keep the peace, were Muslims. (Thanks Dr. Forbes for that little peace of information.) The Oklahoma City bomber? Yeah, he was a Christian too. Yet we have this ideal image of the Christian faith. And let us not forget the Crusades, in which the Pope, in fact it was Urban II, PREACHED the First Crusade. Is it just me, or is there a double standard there?
Fellow human beings, I ask of you this: Stop persecuting the Islamic faith. Get it out of your head that these people are monsters, because they are not. They are some of the most peaceful people. If you are going to define people and terror attacks by religions, show me the Christians that are doing it as well.
I also ask that you read Arjana's article for yourself. If you can't find it on Google, you can find it in Religion and Popular Culture in America: Third Edition, which will be available in the Spring.
So, stop the persecution. Let the persecution end, and the peace begin.