Bombed-out churches, burned-out police stations, raided pubs, students and teachers riddled with bullets in schools…
When you search for “Boko Haram” on any news site, these are some of the results that will appear. Boko Haram is one of the most dangerous terror organizations operating today, and began its activities in 2002 in Maiduguri, capital of the Nigerian state of Borno, under the leadership of the late Muhammed Yusuf. Boko Haram means “West(ern education) is Unlawful” in the language of the Hausa, one of the tribes of Nigeria. The group's proper name is “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad”. As can be seen from its moniker, the organization claims to be acting in the name of Islam.
In the view of Boko Haram, everything Western is inherently corrupt and to be avoided by Muslims: Everything Western in Nigeria, and particularly the education system, must therefore be removed from the Islamic world. The organization therefore regards teachers and the students who listen to them, Christians going to church and people having fun in bars as legitimate targets.
Various different organizations sharing similar ideas to those of Boko Haram are also active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Many experts on terrorism, politicians and sociologists in the Western world are seeking answers to the questions “Why have such terror organizations emerged now when there were none 30 years ago?” and “What are the reasons behind them?” Various answers have been provided in the Western press, universities and governments.
We may list some of these as follows; corrupt and despotic regimes unable or unwilling to respond to their citizens’ political and economic demands have given rise to such organizations; the exceedingly interventionist policies of Europe and the US and the losses of life and property suffered by local residents on every intervention; and finally, the failure of Arab nationalism that claimed to protect Arabs and the Middle East against the West and the emergence of an Arab identity that disregarded religious values.
Although there is an element of truth in all these hypotheses, Western countries are not particularly successful in the struggle against these organizations. Neither the pinpoint operations carried out by anti-terror teams nor the missiles rained down by drones are enough to stop these terror organizations.
Many governments, in both Nigeria and the West, are today gravely alarmed by the terror organizations resorting to terrorism in the name of Islam and that concern is by no means unfounded. All those who commit and support terrorism obviously need to be punished according to international law and the principles of justice. More important, however, is the need for long-term strategies to solve the problem.
The best measure that can be taken against these organizations that claim to be Islamic is exposing the perverse nature of the ideology these groups have in their minds. Muslims must first and foremost demand to undertake that task, because it is Muslims who can best talk about Islam. So what do Muslims need to say? The following are the facts based on the Qur'an that must be expressed instead of the weak objections or suggestions made without any solutions:
• It is a grave sin in the eyes of Islam to kill an innocent person, and someone who kills an innocent person will encounter a terrible punishment in the hereafter (Qur’an, 5:32)
• Islamic moral values command Muslims to behave justly at all times, when making decisions, when speaking or at work; in brief at every moment of their lives (Qur’an, 10:47)
• Muslims must summon people to the moral values of Islam, not using force and pressure, but solely by speaking gently (Qur’an, 3:104)
• Islam commands solidarity and mutual aid among people (Qur’an, 5:2)
• Islam commands goodness and forbids evil (Qur’an, 3:104)
• Islam commands people to respond to evil with good (Qur’an, 41:34)
• Allah commands Muslims to always be forgiving (Qur’an, 7:199)
• Islam commands people to be pleasant-natured (Qur’an, 7:159)
• There is complete freedom of belief in Islam (Qur’an, 2:256)
• Islam commands not to support wickedness (Qur’an, 10:26-27)
Terrorist organizations are built on impotent foundations. Whether they emerge using the name of Islam, whether they are Marxist or ethnic nationalist, a mass education campaign must be mobilized against the ideological foundation of them all.
The source of terror is ignorance and fanaticism, and the solution is education. Circles sympathetic to terrorism need to be told that this is completely incompatible with Islam and that, on the contrary, it can only harm Muslims and Islam, and the supporters of these organizations need to be educated so they can be purged of this inhuman barbarism. If the Nigerian government supports a policy of education along these lines, it very would likely yield positive results.
Genuine believers in all corners of the world can support this work toward a solution; they can prevent ignorance and stand up against terrorism by writing books and articles, taking part in various educational activities and providing a pleasant and tolerant cultural atmosphere. When the compassion, peace and well-being commanded by God reign across the world, terror will be consigned to the waste bin of history, never to return.
All Nigerians and the entire world must know that Islam is not the source of terror, but rather the only solution to it.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Milli Gazzette & News + Rescue: