Q: In our modern day, the relationship between Islam and terrorism is greatly debated. Can terrorism be considered a way of struggle for freedom? What is the Islamic alternative to terrorism and struggle?
Islam states; “Do not touch children or people who worship in churches.” This has not only been said once, but has been repeated over and over throughout history. What Our Master, Prophet Muhammad, said, what Abu Bakr said, and what ‘Umar said is the same as what, at later dates, Salahaddin Ayyubi, Alparslan, and Kilicarslan also said. Later on, Sultan Mehmet II, the Conqueror, also said the same. Thus, the city of Constantinople, in which a disorderly hullabaloo reigned, became Istanbul. In this city the Greeks did not harm the Armenians, nor did the Armenians harm the Greeks. Nor did the Muslims harm any other people. A short time after the conquest of Constantinople, the people of the city voluntarily hung a huge portrait of the Conqueror on the wall in the place of that of the Patriarch. It is amazing that such behavior was displayed at that time. Then, history relates that the Sultan summoned the Patriarch and gave him the key to the city. Even today, Islam is not understood properly. Islam has always respected different ideas and this must be understood for it to be appreciated properly.
I regret to say that in the countries Muslims live, some religious leaders and immature Muslims have no other weapon on hand than their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam; they use this to engage people in struggles that serve their own purposes. In fact, Islam is a true faith, and it should be lived truly. On the way to attaining faith one can never use untrue methods. In Islam, just as a goal must be legitimate, so must be all the means employed to reach that goal. From this perspective, one cannot achieve Heaven by murdering another person. A Muslim cannot say, “I will kill a person and then go to Heaven.” God’s approval cannot be won by killing people. One of the most important goals for a Muslim is to win the pleasure of God, another is making the name of Almighty God known to the universe.
Dissatisfied youth has lost its spirituality. Some people take advantage of such people, giving them a couple of dollars, or turning them into robots. They have drugged them. This has become a topic on the agenda these days that can be read about in the popular press. These young people were abused to an extent that they could be manipulated. They have been used as murderers on the pretext of some crazy ideals or goals and they have been made to kill people. Some evil-minded people have wanted to achieve certain goals by exploiting these young people. Yes, killing a human is a truly awful thing. The Qur’an says that killing one person is the same as killing all people. Ibn Abbas said that a murderer will stay in Hell for eternity. This is the same punishment that is assigned to deniers of God. This means that a murderer is subjected to the same punishment as a disbeliever. If this is a fundamental principle of religion, then it should be taught in education.
An individual who accepts Islam from the heart will never knowingly take part in terrorism. The acts of terrorism associated with Islam may have been perpetrated by some Muslims who had not internalized the depth of Islam. Terrorism, as the name itself indicates, is a complicated issue. Analyzing terrorism is not something that is easy to do. Despite this, because it is so ugly in its nature and because many Muslims are charged with it, terrorism must be addressed with a great deal of consideration. Administrators and intelligence agents have to try find the originators and the motivating factors of terrorist activities. This will help develop international strategies to stop it.
Otherwise, as a result of false analysis and some possible intelligentsia’s services, the issue may be so complicated that some civilizations, nations and civic organizations will be always under threat. After September 11th, the issue has developed in this direction. The fear of terrorism has become paranoia in our society. At an increasing tempo, general feelings and fears of society were exploited. Terrorist organizations were used by some as instruments of terror to reach their goals through terrorist activities against innocent society.
To my understanding, true Muslims will never involve themselves in such vulgar and cheap activities, even if they are behind in science and technology. The real factors behind terrorism are worldly advantages and self-interests. These factors have been the main reasons behind “the great games” on earth. While the main reasons are ignored, all fingers pointed to Islam.
On the other hand, there are many conflicting interests in the Islamic regions, as well as many competing and clashing groups. Problems such as anti-democratic practices and human rights violations have resulted in the foundation of various disaffected and disenfranchised groups. Being ignorant and inexperienced, many of these groups can easily be manipulated and used by some. Some, manipulating these groups, have worked to reach their goals step by step. Moreover, there are multi-national covert or open organizations who have based all of their efforts on destruction and creation of fear in society. To extend the borders of their activities, they agitate the unhappy segments of society by stirring up trouble and fomenting violence.
Even though, through painstaking and intelligent efforts, the superficial reasons for terrorism may be eliminated, yet, without the above-mentioned considerations, it would be impossible to end terrorism once and for all. This cursed behavior will emerge under another name.
Source: “An interview with Fethullah Gülen for the Muslim World Journal” The Muslim World Journal, Volume 95 – Number 3- July 2005. page 465-467
Also see: Other parts of the Muslim World's interview with Fethullah Gulen