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story.lead_photo.caption Students, faculty and guests listen to Qasim Rashid speak during his presentation of “True Islam and the Extremists” last month, presented by the Al-Islam Students Association at the University of Arkansas. “The culture here and abroad is important more than ever,” said Will Richardson, vice president of the organization. “‘Al-Islam’ means peace and submission to the will of God. So we are the ‘peace’ student association.” - Photo by David Gottschalk

The violent narrative of groups such as ISIS and the Taliban thrives on ignorance of Islam, said Qasim Rashid, a lawyer and spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Photo by David Gottschalk
Qasim Rashid speaks on True Islam at Giffels Auditorium. True Islam is a campaign by the Ahmadiyya community to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about the teachings of the Quran.
Photo by David Gottschalk
The campaign for education and peace put forward by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community involves a website where both Muslims and non-Muslims can learn about the faith and endorse the tenents they believe. Qasim Rashid, who spoke on behalf of the Al-Islam Students Association at the University of Arkansas, urged his audience members to endorse the campaign as he spoke.
Photo by David Gottschalk
Hakimah Alahmed, a graduate student at the University of Arkansas, recites a poem to open the “True Islam and the Extremists” program presented by the Al-Islam Students Association. The Islamic faith believes in the “equality, education and empowerment of women,” said guest speaker Qasim Rashid. In response to a question from an audience member, he noted that Islam women strive to model themselves after Mary, the mother of Jesus, the most revered woman of all time. But a woman’s decision to dress modestly is made between the woman and God, he said.

Rashid pointed to the example of Salah Abdeslam, the suspect in the terrorist bombings of Paris. "The lawyer of the suspect called his client 'an ashtray,'" Rashid said. Belgian attorney Sven Mary described the suspect as having "the intelligence of an empty ashtray -- an abysmal emptiness," according to an April 27 report by The Washington Post.

Eleven points

True Islam is a religion that …

  1. Wholly rejects all forms of terrorism.

  2. Believes in non-violent jihad of the self and of the pen.

  3. Believes in the equality education and empowerment of women.

  4. Advocates freedom of conscience, religion and speech.

  5. Advocates for the separation of mosque and state.

  6. Believes in loyalty to your country of residence.

  7. Encompasses the universal declaration of human rights.

  8. Believes in All Verses of the Quran and forbids lying

  9. Recognizes No Religion can Monopolize salvation

  10. Believes in the Need for unified Muslim Leadership

  11. Wholly Rejects the concept of a Bloody Messiah

SOURCE: trueislam.com

"Mary said Abdeslam's radicalization probably happened online," the newspaper report continues. "He said the young extremist had scant knowledge of Islam. 'I asked him if he had read the Quran, which I have done, and he said he had read his interpretation on the Internet,' the lawyer said."

Two days later, Rashid spoke at the University of Arkansas on behalf of the school's Al-Islam Students Association.

"Extremists like ISIS depend on people's ignorance of Islam to grow," Rashid said. "That's why the more people know about Islam's true teachings -- and what Muslims truly believe -- the less they'll fall for ISIS's propaganda."

Rashid presented what he called a "counter-narrative" to the message of ISIS. True Islam is a campaign by the Ahmadiyya community to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims about the teachings of the Quran.

The True Islam website lists "The Eleven Points" of Islamic doctrine, backed up by references from the Quran, the holy book of the Muslim faith. Each participant is asked to endorse each point individually. Rashid asked his audience to support the True Islam campaign by endorsing the points from their cellphones while he spoke.

"Endorse the parts you agree with and join our campaign," he said. "Ask about those you don't agree with."

An Ahmadiyya Muslim survey showed that not all American Muslims -- which make up less than 1 percent of the population -- know and understand the tenets. "It's an ignorance gap," Rashid said. "But ignorance alone is not the problem. When it's combined with fear and misinformation is when it becomes a problem."

The campaign objective is to provide "Americans a clear way to distinguish True Islam from extremism and to unify Muslim Americans on the correct understanding of Islam that Prophet Muhammad taught," the website reads.

"This is not Islam 2.0," Rashid said. "It's not something we concocted in the 21st century." The Muslim community relies on the Quran -- the Muslim holy book, considered an accounting of a series of visions revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by God beginning in 609 A.D. until his death in 632 A.D. The Ahmadiyya community also called on accepted documents on the life and teaching of Muhammad.

"We're not trying to evangelize," Rashid continued. "We're not trying to convert anyone to Islam. We want to unite Muslims and non-Muslims. This is what the country needs to hear.

"It's not a political, but a human rights campaign. Different facets of Islam agree with the same basic principles of human rights that appeal to all of us.

"The only response permitted in Islam is peace," Rashid concluded. "Only one answer is ever allowed. We want to follow Islamic principles to establish and create peace between men and women, between nations and between people."

POINT 1

True Islam is a religion that ... wholly rejects all forms of terrorism.

"True Islam rejects all acts of terrorism," Rashid said. Even when Prophet Muhammad and followers faced persecution in Medina, he did not allow any violent response. He told his followers to migrate to another land, in accordance with the Quran's teachings.

Quran: "Seek not to create disorder in the earth. Verily, God loves not those who seek to create disorder" (28:78).

"Whosoever killed a person ... it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and whoso saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind" (5:33).

True Islam commentary: True Islam categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any justification for any act of violence, be it committed by an individual, a group or a government. True Islam most strongly condemns all acts and forms of terrorism because not only Islam but also no true religion, whatever its name, can sanction violence and bloodshed of innocent men, women and children in the name of God.

Point 2

True Islam is a religion that ... believes in non-violent Jihad of the self and of the pen.

"Jihad is an Arabic word that can be translated as a 'struggle,' 'ability to strive,' or the exertion of one's maximum effort to repel the enemy by word or deed," reads information provided by the Ahmadiyya community.

It also lists two kinds of jihad: Lesser Jihad and Greater Jihad. The greater jihad is a 'jihad against self' -- a struggle to subdue one's own ego. Lesser jihad is a fighting in self-defense against an enemy that has initiated the attack.

"The greater jihad is about self-improvement -- whether it's getting that perfect 4.0, losing weight or raising your kids with good morals," Rashid said. "This is the greatest jihad, and it's similar to what you find in the [Jewish] Torah."

"God did not raise some people to fight," he continued. "But in the Quran 22:40, he gives permission to go and fight those that are against you, but only in self-defense and to prevent complete annihilation and in the defense of Christians and neighbors, those attacked because of their faith. The Quran says you must go and help them."

Quran: "Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged" (22:40).

"And if God did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of God is oft commemorated" (22:41).

True Islam commentary: True Islam recognizes that jihad means to struggle and strive in good works to attain nearness to God. True Islam teaches that violent jihad has no place in today's world.

True Islam rejects violent jihad, whether it be against Muslims or non-Muslims. The Holy Quran explains that Muslims are permitted to fight only in specific situations: True Islam recognizes that fighting is only permissible in self-defense, and only after an aggressor first wages war. The Holy Quran further clarifies the purpose of war. Thus, even when war in self-defense is permitted, its purpose is to ensure freedom of religion for all faiths, not just Islam.

NAN Religion on 05/14/2016

Print Headline: True Islam

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