War on Terror Impact on Muslims & Their Responses
The real meaning of jihad
The impacts and implications
Events of September 11 precipitated counter-reactions from the United States, which culminated in the war against terror. The war on terror has generally been transformed into a war on Muslims, with Muslim scholars referring to it as Islamic terrorism while all the reactions of the US government have pointed to that. Since the bombing of the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001, the war on terror was intensified by the then president George Bush Jr. This war dates back or has links to Osama bin Laden, a radical Islamic leader and extremist trained as an army by the US who up to date has been in hideout; his accomplices come in all form of names, the Al-Qaeda, Taliban and others.
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Since the US government at that time viewed the bombings as religious attacks, it has intensified its attacks on Muslim based countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and others. The attacks have been intense, with the US targeted most of the time. The US embassies bombing in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998 and several operations and attacks on the US sites and bases in Sudan all have a link to the Islamic extremists-led group. Also, the 2000 millennium attack on pilots where the Los Angeles International Airport was threatened with attempted bombings and the London train bombings have all been linked to the al-Qaeda, who are Muslims leading to the belief that this is a religious war.
The September 11 attacks gave the image of Muslims as terrorists and the US the judge, jury, and executioner. Muslims throughout the world have already acclimatized to the fact that they are referred to as terrorists. Even where security checks are involved, the Muslims living in the US have lived in constant fear and panic since they fear deportation or even harassment from the law enforcers. The US government has made these attacks and war on terror a double standard and abuse of power in that they are harassing the innocent believers of true Islam instead of dealing with the culprits who attacked or did the acts of terrorism and the warlords (Blankley, 2005, p.98).
The acts of the US on its war on terror can only be said to be an elimination of religion, everyone has the freedom of worship, and that is embedded in a true democracy. Therefore, any act to infringe on that right for Muslims is unfair, unjust and a violation of human rights (Spencer, 2005, p.97). The war on Muslims was waged as early as the war on terror can be dated. With the actions of terrorism of such groups of al-Qaeda being on the rise, Muslims are seen to be fighting the jihad; this is seen to be a war on the non-Muslims, which initially means a righteous struggle. The result is the loss of innocent lives and the rise in discrimination of all the Muslim faithful (Firestone, 1999, p.13).
The real meaning of jihad
The jihad had been in two forms, the greater jihad and the lesser jihad. Jihad is expressed in the Quran to mean striving or hustling for Allah. The main aim of the prophet’s use of the word was to bring together Islam which may be described in three keywords; faith (meaning submission), iman (meaning faith) and Ihsan (meaning living a righteous life). Jihad’s meaning is to hold against practices, ideas, and activities that are opposite to the Prophet Muhammad’s revelations which are contained in the Quran, the prophet’s sayings contained in the Hadith and the life he led contained in the Sunnah (Spencer, 2003, p.14). It is not about bombs, guns, explosives, and discriminating others like the Americans perceive the Muslims to be.
Islamic terrorism, as it is referred to in the English world (though controversial), clearly defines who is being targeted in the war on terrorism and describes the Muslims as the enemy of the state who is capable of causing terror any minute. Islamic terrorism is translated from the Quran (the holy book of Islam) that talk about jihad against non-Muslims. The war words are found in “Hadith”, which is also referred to as the tradition of Thawban. In addition, Solomon (2006) claims that terrorism in Islam is not due to economic and political reasons, but it is a fundamental component of Islam.
These acts of terror, according to analysts, are objectively planned by the terrorists and not by Muslims to give certain messages to western countries. The terrorist has also injected new methods of unleashing terror, which include suicide bombers who blow themselves with explosives they carry on their body. The so called terrorists never attack on the basis of religion but on the basis of the US foreign policies, which gives a threat to the Islamic religion. They end up hating the player and not the game. They blame Islams for no reason (Esposito, 2002, p.25).
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US policies that have initiated terrorist attacks in the US include; US troops found in the Holy grounds of Islam in Saudi Arabia, US support for apostates (backsliders of Muslims) in Muslim countries, e.g. Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Pakistan, the US invasion of Islamic nations e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran where they set up bases and interrupt the activities of the terrorists, the US intervention in the introduction and creation of Christian state of East Timor from Indonesia which were Muslim based regions, and the US support of counterinsurgency against Muslims in India, Palestine, Philippines, Chechnya, and western China (Esposito, 2002, p. 40). All these American policies have triggered actions with the terrorists; how then can the government say it is an Islamic attack while it does not put its house in order (Shah, 2001).
America is said to be a superpower which makes people, particularly the terrorists, tend to prove it wrong. This can be explained by the fact that even other superpowers like Russia and other empires e.g. the Ottoman and Habsburg empires, suffered the same fate of terrorist attacks in history. They cannot blame it on the faith. Jihad is interpreted by the terrorist in a way to be able to achieve their goals, but to the common Islam faithful, it means a righteous struggle and not war. Muslims suffering the branding of the name terrorism are also likely to join in to prove that they can also do it, but some are tired due to the limited resource and knowledge of war and crime (Nafziger, & Walton, 2003, p.22).
The US trains some of these terrorists by recruiting them when they are US citizens and harden them in war, thus allowing them to understand the American ways of attacking as well as the weak points, yet the Americans are shifting the blame on religion rather than formulating better policies to enable counter-terror. The attacks on the terrorists hiding in the Muslim world by the US enables the terrorists to take advantage of the situation to creates an impression to the Muslims that they are being discriminated against and that the US is on a mission to eliminate Islam, thus triggering more reactions from the terrorists.
The impacts and implications
This war is by the use of military, economic, social, and racial means against those who keep the faith of the prophet Mohamed (Islam). These have made even the Muslim communities living all over the world hate the US and start rebelling against any policy it introduces, whether good or bad. Jihad, to some bad elements, is taken as a spiritual war on non-Muslims and apostates, while the Muslims who are quiet and watching the giants fight the war have been mistaken to be supporters of it. This is due to the failure of openly criticizing the acts of the terrorists, who are alleged to be Muslim extremists. The US also mistakes the lack of support from Muslim countries and communities as the support of the same war; this is a total misconception that is in the administration of the US government.
The big question is, why do they generalize the groups as those who worship in the religion of Muslim? In his article reactions to the September 2001 attacks, Shah (2001) says that there was a beating accompanied by the killing of Muslims or even non-Muslims who resembled Taliban/Al-Qaeda members. This gives enough proof that the war on terror is not on the perpetrators of the injustices but the fight against belonging to a certain religion (Muslims, to be specific) since its leaders are not supportive of the US policies and ideas.
The jihad, which Muslims fight, is not directed to particular countries, and if the religion of Muslims is fighting against a country, then it has misplaced ideas. Koechler (2002), in his publication ‘the war on terror, its impact on the sovereignty of the states, and its implications for human rights and civil liberties’ gives an account of where citizens of Muslim countries are discriminated against. He says that citizens rights are threatened in the name of the war on terror through extraordinary security checks, the pressure of all citizens to have the same idea on terrorism and terrorists, discrimination in terms of religion, ethnicity and race and systematic discrimination in the form of politics and social life.
The Bush administration has taken for granted the fact that not everyone is involved in the war. Hence victimizing anyone is abuse or insult. No terrorist will live where the adversary is likely to get him easily, and the innocent people either die or lose property for what they don’t even know or cannot even explain. Muslim communities everywhere are facing terror from the western world, which tends to be its frustrations on them following its loss to terrorist or counter-terrorism (Kepel, 2004, p.24).
The introduction of close monitoring of Mosques in the US to intensify security is a breach of peace, and generalizing the acts of personal attacks with ill driven motives or intended to bring home a message as a responsibility of the Muslim. Other claims that Muslims are eroding western traditions of a free and open society by their strict doctrines of dressing and shariah (Muslim laws) is a direct attack on the religion. All the attention is concentrated on the US and its methods to win this war, but to target the warlords in the name of terrorists and to put an end to the suffering of innocent Muslims is ill-conceived. The more the US focuses on the small individuals, who are innocent, the more the Islamic extremists will attack in the name of jihad and revenge (Amnesty International Report, 2004).
The terrorists use it as a personal death and normally take advantage of the gullible youth who are suppressed by the huddles in a life filled with challenges of unemployment, hard economic times to perpetrate attacks. One question remains, though, that if it is jihad, then why does Osama Bin Laden doesn’t bomb himself. These are the questions they concentrate on to change the minds of the young youth being brainwashed with the wrong ideas and perceptions of jihad. The US should also try to change its international policies that attract the attention of the terrorist (Firestone, 1999, p. 16).
Muslims all over the world have the duty to uphold their values of humanity and peace whether or not the faith has been linked to terrorism, they should reject injustice, discrimination and oppression, and they should work sleeplessly to rebuild the name which has already been tainted. In addition, they should work to win more converts, especially those who have a negative image of the religion (Kelsay, 2004). Big warlords like Osama bin Laden, the late former president Sadam Hussein (who initiated the gulf war against Iran) and others are the ones responsible for this taint, and they should be the ones being sought after. They cause war to enable them to accumulate wealth selfishly and amass power, and therefore, all should wake up and forsake to fight the jihad (Kelsay, 1993, p.10).
In President Bush’s goals of winning the war on terror, certain goals indicate the use of force. He states denying and ending state sponsorship to terrorist sanctuaries, which really meant to end funding of Muslim based countries that do not support him, work with and enable weak willing states, which meant any state supporting him would be funded, compel unwilling states and persuading the countries that included Muslim based states which were not willing to involve in wars (Kepel, 2004 p.26). Eliminating terrorist havens, hideouts and points, according to the Muslims, meant close monitoring of their places of stay, worship and livelihood. Most Muslims would be deported in the name of fighting terror (Bush, 2002). These goals clearly give the implications of the war on terror on Muslim societies.
President Bush failed miserably; fire can not be fought with fire in this civilized generation, but better diplomacy and negotiations could be the answer to long term fighting. The use of military and billions of dollars spent during the war is unwarranted, and the current president may employ the skill that Bush was so afraid to use to bring an impact in the Middle East and to the world at large. Peace in a democratic country cannot be achieved by the military alone; the military will only cause unnecessary bloodshed and lead to the loss of human life.
The graves of the Muslims and those of the American soldiers could not be there if a better approach had been taken. Muslims throughout the world have already conceived the idea that America is a non-Muslims supporting country. These are some of the reasons that make people rejoice in their woes. The world has been on the watch to see if the current president Barrack Obama will make an impact on the reputation.
The withdrawal of troupes from Iraq and other wars tore Muslim countries after the destruction by the military is also an indication of the failure of the Bush policies of fighting terror. His war was directed on the wrong points, that is, fighting religion rather than fighting terrorists. He lost his focus due to the hate or maybe fears he has for the Muslim religion and lost the war (Demant, 2006, p. 48).
Muslims throughout the globe, especially in Christian based countries, are living their life in fear of the unknown; this hinders development and affects the performance of the persons (Kepel, 2004, p.10). In the US, for example, going to mosques may be ignored since they are monitored by security agents. The war on terror shifted to the small fish, while the big fish enjoyed the comforts of their wealth accumulated from illegal actions of terror and killing innocent people. Even the accomplices of these warlords never even enjoy any part of their life, and they may be rotting in hell if there is one.
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Muslims have become more scared of the outside world since the terrorist has adopted new ways of terror, which is suicide bombing, the economies of the Muslim countries have been ruined in these wars, human rights have been violated, and the culprits left to go for free. The low morale due to impromptu checks by the authorities when in foreign lands coupled with other mentioned factors make their hearts be filled with desire for revenge, and that’s why the American system will always be attacked by Muslims.
Generally, Muslims mean no harm in any way or to any person. They have a forgiving heart; the jihadis only a spiritual war, and those who use physical war are just misguided by their desire for power, wealth and money. Muslims have suffered much during the Bush reign, and his ways of fighting terror have been termed as the war on Islam, a fact he can’t repute. The best he can do is apologizing to the world and seek forgiveness from Muslim leaders. Scholars have been analyzing the implications of these wars, but recommendation on a truth and reconciliation method where no more bloodshed is seen and no humiliations of Muslims in any state is important. People should understand Islam in the context it deserves since all Muslims are not terrorists.
The role of religion is to bring together, not to separate, and the US is using religion to defend its failures. Religion teaches about humanity, love and peace and no one who preaches the opposite will be said to be religious. Religion transforms bad to good and evil to good, while no religion will encourage death and suffering to fellow humans. That means, with the basics given, the few who use religion for personal gain and selfish motives are either unreligious or misunderstand the quotes of the religion.
Since there is a new president who vowed not to implement the failed policies on the war on terror, the whole world looks eyes wide open, especially the Muslims, to see if the reverse of things will occur to redeem the image and lost glory of democracy. Terrorists should not be given a chance to ruin lives and reputations. Let’s fight the good fight of faith as religion states and teaches, but not fight a war that is repugnant to moral justice. Let us live and coexist as brothers and sisters since all people are equal.
Amnesty International Report. 2004. War on global values: attacks by armed groups and governments fuel mistrust, fear and division. (Online). Web.
Blankley, T., 2005. The West’s last chance: will we win the clash of civilizations? Washington DC, Regnery Publishing Inc.
Bush, G.W., 2002. Goals and Objectives: America is no longer protected by vast oceans. We are protected from attack only by vigorous action abroad, and increased vigilance at home. (Online). Web.
Demant, P. R., 2006. Islam vs. Islamism: the dilemma of the Muslim world. Westport, Praeger Publishers
Esposito, J. L., 2002. Unholy war: terror in the name of Islam. New York, Oxford University Press. (Online). Web.
Firestone, R., 1999. Jihād: the origin of holy war in Islam. New York, Oxford University Press.
Kelsay, J., 1993. Islam and war: a study in comparative ethics. Kenturky, Westminster/John Knox Press. (Online). Web.
Kelsay, J., 2004. Arguing the just war in Islam. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
Kepel, G., 2004. The war for Muslim minds: Islam and the West. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
Koechler, H., 2002. The War on Terror, its impact on the Sovereignty of States, and its Implications for Human Rights and Civil Liberties. Manila, NCCP. Web.
Nafziger, G. F. & Walton, M. W., 2003. Islam at war: a history. Westport, Praeger Publishing Co. Web.
Shah, A., 2001. ‘Resulting War on Terror.’ Global Issues. (Online). Web.
Solomon, S., 2006. The Cart before the Horse: Terrorism and Violence in Islam. (Online). Web.
Spencer, R., 2003. Onward Muslim soldiers: how jihad still threatens America and the West. Washington DC, Regnery Publishing Inc.
Spencer, R., 2005. The politically incorrect guide to Islam (and the Crusades), Washington DC, Regnery Publishing Inc.