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Why Aren’t Muslim Leaders Renouncing Terrorism?

19 February, 2017
Q Why aren't those prominent in the Islamic faith (the 'leaders' of the religion) more outspoken about renouncing terrorism? Clearly the most influential in the Islamic faith are best leveraged to quell the hatred of radical Muslims, no? What inspires the evil and utter disregard for life in your Radical Muslims and how do non-Muslims define the line drawn between Muslims and Radical Muslims? To what end will their 'Jihad' bring us?


Salam (Peace) David,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.

In fact, prominent Muslim leaders have been condemning acts of terrorism carried out by Muslims or by the followers of any other religion or political faction.

Muslim leaders and scholars of the world are unanimous in the condemnation of all terrorist attacks on innocents, whether in the name of Islam or not.

Often the biased media do not give such condemnations the importance they deserve. So, the people at large misunderstand Muslims.

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The CAIR website lists case by case, year by year examples of consistently condemning any form of terrorism. However, the Islamic community is constantly pressured to react to every situation as if everyone were responsible for every misdeed by anyone of their religion.

According to their website:

Any Muslim who plans, attempts or carries out a terrorist attack would be acting outside the boundaries of his or her faith and would be repudiated and condemned by our community. (

It is because they reject moderation and balance that they are called extremists. If they paused a while and pondered over what Islam actually taught, there would not have been any need for such efforts on the part of authorities to curb senseless violence.

The Arabic word ‘jihad’ means struggle. In Islam, the jihad can be a physical, mental, or spiritual effort to live by the commandments of God.

Thus, a Muslim who decides to fast during the whole month of Ramadan, has to do jihad with his own self – with his hunger and thirst and carnal instinct.

And jihad can also be an effort to live by the principles of truth and justice, striving against the temptations and compulsions to do wrong.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) called this jihad ‘the greater jihad’. ‘The lesser jihad’ is the physical struggle to defend oneself, one’s community, or country against aggressors.

If someone tries to stretch this principle to kill innocent people, he is a murderer, a terrorist. Islam has nothing to do with such people, irrespective of their Muslim name or apparent religious affiliation.

Indeed, it is a pity that while Muslim leaders repeatedly tell the world how Islam disapproves of terrorism of all sorts, some sources repeatedly hype the opposite idea that Islam is behind it.

While the Muslim leaders reject terrorism as un-Islamic (and are ignored by the media), the Islam-bashers shout it from the rooftops that Islam is at fault (and get media coverage when they do so).

Unfortunately, this boosts the terrorists’ interpretation of Islam and ironically lends it an “Islamic” status.

When a violent act is reported to have been committed by a person bearing a “Muslim” name, the immediate reaction from certain quarters is to blame 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide as well as the religion of Islam.

This is as absurd as blaming all the Christians of the world for the evil committed by Timothy McVeigh (who murdered 168 innocent people in Oklahoma) for instance.

Several observers use double standards in viewing violence or terrorism. When Muslims are said to have committed acts of terrorism, their religious background is often mentioned as THE cause of the violence.

This is done in spite of the fact that the mainstream Muslim community is innocent of such crimes, and irrespective of their clear, direct, and unequivocal condemnation of such crimes.

But why does someone become a terrorist? Dr. Eqbal Ahmad in “Terrorism Theirs and Ours” (1998) highlights their chief motivation:

Mix of anger and helplessness produces an urge to strike out. You are angry. You are feeling helpless. You want retribution. You want to wreak retributive justice. The experience of violence by a stronger party has historically turned victims into terrorists. Battered children are known to become abusive parents and violent adults. You know that. That’s what happens to peoples and nations. When they are battered, they hit back. State terror very often breeds collective terror.

You have spoken about the “the evil and utter disregard for life in Radical Muslims.” But the phenomenon of terrorism is not the monopoly of any particular group.

Can we exclude the LTTE of Sri Lanka, the ETA of Spain, The IRA of Great Britain, the Sandinistas and Contras of Nicaragua, and the Stern Gang and Irgun of Israel from the charge of “evil and utter disregard for life”?

Each group may have their own justifications for the atrocities they inflict on people. Think of the “War on Terror”: The media has failed to properly show how the war was being fought against the people of Afghanistan for instance.

Innocent multitudes are collectively punished as surrogates of an invisible enemy. Schools, hospitals, and wedding parties are bombed.

The impression given is that all the Afghans are terrorists: “You have suffered before; now you suffer more.” Food packets followed by cluster bombs of the same shape and color were dropped on the starving people of that war-torn country.

– by Jim Muir – (

If we are sincere in our desire to root out terrorism, why are we selective in feeling moral revulsion against “utter disregard for life”? Why do we use double standards by applauding the terrorism of some groups, while condemning the terrorism of others?

I hope this helps answer your question.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Muslim Scholars Delink Islam, Terrorism

World Muslims Condemn Nice Attack

Muslim Scholars Refute ISIL’s Ideology (Folder)