One of the distinguishing characteristics of the twenty first century is the unprecedented increase of terrorism around the world. A few would argue against the fact that the tragedy of 9-11 has forever shaped the world we live in and particularly the Western perception of the “other” at all levels of society. Immediately after 9-11 individuals and organizations representing both the religious and secular spectrum issued unequivocal condemnations against the heinous act that shook the world at its core. The overwhelming majority of the recognizable Muslim and Islamic organizations around the globe joined in the condemnations. The basic theme of the condemnations issued by the Muslims was that terrorism is against the teachings of Islam and that the vast majority of the Muslims should not be blamed and demonized for the acts of a few. Many non-Muslim “voices of reason” publicly supported the notion that Islam as a religion and over a billion Muslims should not be blamed for the acts of a few deranged followers. Many of them often referred to the plight and genuine “grievances” of the Muslims in different parts of the world and identified it as one of the key factors behind terrorist ideology.
In the subsequent decade the world has witnessed many acts of terrorism committed by the Muslims. When such acts were committed or attempted in the West, the official response from the leadership has always been the same and that is to issue a statement of condemnation highlighting the fact that the few who committed or attempted to commit act of terrorism do not represent the community. With the prospect of increased conflicts around the globe the time has come to not just issue statements informing the Western public about our position on terrorism but also to send an unequivocal message to the Muslim partakers in terrorism that “enough is enough”. As Muslims we must never resort to terrorism in order to remain faithful to the clear principles of Islam.
As citizens of open Western societies we are in an advantageous position to establish a culture of dialogue with our children within our homes. We must inculcate in them from an early age that grievances cannot justify terrorism. As we are ever watchful of our rights as minorities in the West, we must also take a stance when the rights of minorities are violated in the Muslim majority countries. We must inculcate in our youth that destroying non-Muslim places of worship, business and dwellings in Muslim majority countries or otherwise is not acceptable and we must make our voices heard when such violations occur. We must inculcate in them respect for women and that violence against women must never be tolerated. Last but not the least we must utilize religious references to instill in them love for humanity and building bridges through cross-cultural dialogue and action.