Islam needs heroes, not zeroes who kill in its name

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YESTERDAY, 132 schoolchildren and nine adults were mowed down by gunfire in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. A day earlier, two hostages died as Australian police ended a siege at a Sydney chocolate shop.

The link between both? It was done by people who professed to be Muslims. It was not a matter of what sect or school of thought they belonged to, they were simply Muslims like a majority of us here in Malaysia.

The Peshawar gunmen belonged to the Tehrik-E-Taliban or Pakistan Taliban out to seek revenge against the Pakistan army for an offensive that began last summer and resulted in some 1,000 deaths.

This was an insurgency's pure revenge and hate against the government of the day. It was also the same group that shot Pakistani schoolgirl and now Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai in 2012, purportedly because women do not need education in an Islamic caliphate or state.

In Sydney, an Iranian asylum seeker named Man Hosni Monis with a criminal past invoked his Islamic credentials when he took over the Lindt chocolate cafe that ended up in tragedy.

It really does not matter if both incidents have nothing to do with Islam as we know it. Or linked to more than a billion peace-loving Muslims across the globe. For the world, it is all done and declared in the name of Islam.

We can get angry that the Western media labels them as Muslims but the truth is, they have called themselves Muslims and pray to the direction of the Kaaba as we do.

And in our midst, we too have a fair number of young Muslims who have signed up with the militants who call themselves Islamic State in Iraq and Syria to fight fellow Muslims of the Shia persuasion. Some have been killed.

While we try to figure out new security laws to contain these militants when they return, we already have a slew of laws to regulate our lives as Muslims – just like Pakistan and the Talibans when they ran Afghanistan.

We also have an Islamist party that believes the solution to what blights modern life is a criminal law from 6th century Arabia that prescribes whippings, stoning and death by decapitation for major offences.

All in the name of Islam.

We rail against those who kill in the name of Islam but it is fine that we can exact justice using such punishment in the name of Islam?

For the Islamist parties, their brightest minds are put to the task of figuring out Islamic laws and punishment rather than working out rehabilitation, mercy and charity for all.

We Muslims seem to kill and punish in the name of Islam around the world but not quite being merciful and charitable unless in dire circumstances.

This is how the world sees us today. They see the slick videos of the Islamic State or wire reels of massacres and suicide bombings, all done in the name of Islam – against fellow Muslims and the world at large.

No one sees the mercy and charity of Muslims even when it actually happens. Perhaps because we have more loudmouths who want to go to war to defend Islam more than we have people who quietly do charity like the Kuala Lumpur soup kitchens.

See, we do have real heroes, not the zeroes who loudly proclaim they champion Islam and kill in its name.

And we really must make sure the 141 who died in Peshawar yesterday are the last such deaths by the Taliban. That the Islamic state militants are just bandits and lone wolves such as Man Hosni Monis are just criminals who belong in jail.

We need to condemn such barbaric and senseless acts of killings and those who believe punishments that involve cutting hands and feet, and decapitation will work.

Our grief for the dead must not be in vain or lead to an eye for an eye. Then we are no different from those who kill in anger and hate.

Islam does not need blood to show it is a religion of peace. Islam needs Muslims who can use science and technology; reason and intellect; mercy and charity; understanding and love; to make it a better world.

If we can't do this in Malaysia, where else can we do it? – The Malaysian Insider

* Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider.