Why Islam is Winning

Though the West isn't paying attention, Muslim leaders continue to separate Islam from terrorism. Maybe it's time to wake up.

BY: Hesham A. Hassaballa


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Contrary to the assertions of many, Muslims have been

fighting the good fight

against terror and extremism all along. They have been fighting against extremists who, although cloaked in sacred religious garbs and terms, are nothing more than blood-thirsty murderers who thrive on murder and mayhem. And the terrorists are losing.

In his book, "The Post-American World," Fareed Zakaria writes, "Jihad persists, but the jihadists have had to scatter, work in small local cells, and use simple and undetectable weapons. They have not been able to hit big, symbolic targets, especially ones involving Americans. So they blow up bombs in cafes, marketplaces, and subway stations. The problem is that in doing so, they kill locals and alienate ordinary Muslims. Look at the polls. Support for violence of any kind has dropped dramatically over the last five years in Muslim countries."

And in his Ha'aretz column, Burston wrote: "In Iraq, in Iran, within the Palestinian community and around the world, jihadists are being reassessed for their excesses, for the direct and tragic harm suicide terrorism has caused Islam, Islamic shrines and noncombatants of all faiths."

And let's turn for a moment to this word, "jihadist." Muslims are turning against these diabolical agents of evil because they are seeing them for whom they really are: Not "holy warriors," but murderous agents of Satan. In fact, they should not be called "jihadists," and their acts of murder should not be called "jihad." Because if you don't know this already, "jihad" is a Muslim word about the struggle to do good in a world that constantly tempts us to do evil. It refers to a Muslim's inner struggle to simply be good.

So these fanatics should be called what they truly are: murderers, plain and simple. Some have claimed that the fanatics have "hijacked" Islam and used it for evil means. They have done nothing of the sort. To "hijack" something means to seize it "by force or threat of force." The terrorists have not seized Islam at all; rather, they have attempted to cloak their evil by the garbs of Islamic piety and symbolism. And their attempts have failed miserably.

And we in the West must help facilitate this rejection of the extremists. A first and easy step is to change what we call them. In the struggle against the extremists, words do matter, as deftly explained in a recent article on the

misuse of Islamic words by Omar Sacirbey

. And the Bush Administration has finally acknowledged this fact. In a memo drafted by the Department of Homeland Security, "Terminology to Define the Terrorists: Recommendations from American Muslims," it said: "Regarding Jihad, even if it is accurate to reference the term, it may not be strategic because it glamorizes terrorism, imbues terrorists with religious authority they do not have and damages relations with Muslims around the world." This includes using terms such as "jihadists," "Islamic terrorists," "Islamo-facists," and the like. They are terrorists, extremists, fanatics, murderers, and killers. Choose whatever of those terms you like. (I have another word for them, but that is for another column.)

I am hopeful that the tide is turning against the extremists and murderers who use Islam as justification for their evil. I am hopeful that they will, once and for all, be marginalized as Satanic agents sent to sow chaos and confusion on earth. I am hopeful that, as Bradley Burston wrote, "Islamist terrorism as an ideological brushfire is dimming in its ability to galvanize and electrify. If recent indications hold, Islam itself will be the winner." Nay, not only Islam itself, but the world and all of her peoples as well.

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