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Jihad and Terrorism

by Fethullah Gülen on . Posted in Fethullah Gülen's Writings, Speeches and Interviews on Tolerance

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Islam is a word derived from the roots silm and selamet. It means surrender, reaching and establishing security and mutual safety and accord.

Islam is a religion of security, safety and peace. These principles permeate Muslims' lives. When they stand to pray, they cut their connection with this world, turn to their Lord in faith and obedience, and stand at attention in His presence. As if returning to life while completing the prayer, they greet those on their right and left by saying: "Remain safe and secure." With a wish for safety and security, peace and contentment, they return to the ordinary world once again.

Giving salaam and wishing safety and security for others is considered one of the most beneficial acts in Islam. When asked: "Which act in Islam is the most beneficial?" the Prophet replied: "Feeding others and giving salaam to those you know and do not know."

How unfortunate it is that Islam, which is based on this understanding and spirit, is shown by some circles to be synonymous with terrorism. This is a great historical mistake, for wrapping a system based on safety and trust in a veil of terrorism shows that Islam's spirit remains unknown. Seeking Islam's true face in its own sources, history, and true representatives shows that it contains no harshness, roughness, or fanaticism. It is a religion of forgiveness, pardon, and tolerance, as such saints and princes of love and tolerance as Mawlana Rumi, Yunus Emre, Ahmed Yasawi, and Bediuzzaman, have so beautifully expressed. They spent their lives preaching tolerance, and each became a legend in his own time as an embodiment of love and tolerance.

Depending on circumstances, jihad is a matter of self-defense or removing obstacles in the path of exalting the Word of God. We can give many examples. For example, as a nation we have struggled valiantly on many fronts to defend our country. Should we have done otherwise with those who sought to occupy our country? Should we have said to them: "You have come to civilize us; it is good you came! Welcome, you have delighted us!" Of course there are and should be occasions where war is inescapable. However, the Qur'anic verses on jihad that were revealed for particular conditions have been generalized by some shortsighted individuals. While war is a matter of secondary importance, it is given priority as an essential issue. Such people do not understand Islam's true meaning and spirit. Their failure to establish a proper primary/secondary balance leads others to conclude that Islam advocates malice and hatred in souls, whereas true Muslims are full of love and affection for all creation. Regarding this, how apt is the following couplet:

Muhammad was born out of love, What can be born out of love without Muhammad! 8/30/1996