by Sufyan Farooqi

As 2016 begins we find our country at a crossroads, especially when it comes to the American Muslim community.

On one side we have the Extremists like the so-called Muslim couple who took fourteen innocent lives on December 2nd, 2015 in the tragic events that unfolded in San Bernardino. Groups like Daesh who commit atrocities in the name of Islam and call it Jihad, even though they continue to kill more Muslims then any other religious denomination. They destroy homes, villages, and even countries. Looking at Islam and Muslims based on their actions, one would be lead to believe that this religion is backwards and barbaric.

Then we have the radical responses by some politicians, out of fear, calling to stop Muslim immigration to countries in the west, or labeling all Muslims so we can more easily identify them. Is a radical response justifiable to a radical ideology?  On whom does the burden lie? Who bears the responsibility to come to the table with a solution?

President Obama in his address from the oval office last month answered this question for all of us and laid out exactly what needs to be done. He stated, “…an extremist ideology has spread with some Muslim communities. This is a real problem that Muslims must confront, without excuse.  Muslim leaders here and around the globe have to continue working with us to decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology…”

In recent years some argue that Muslims have been shy about confronting this issue, or that not enough is being done. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has consistently remained proactive with its numerous campaigns over the last decade with Muslims for Peace, Muslims for Life, and Muslims for Loyalty campaigns. However, after the call to action by President Obama to “decisively and unequivocally reject the hateful ideology” and under the direction of his Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Khalifa of Islam, who is a uniting force in over 200 countries, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is confronting the issue head on: Saying loudly that we unequivocally reject this hateful ideology and that it does not at all represent the true teachings of Islam.

The True Islam campaign lays out eleven distinct and clear statements about what Islam really is, serving as a tool to educate Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It sets out to provide a clear way to distinguish True Islam from extremism and to unify Muslim Americans on the correct understanding of Islam that Prophet Muhammad taught. The campaign aims to strengthen America’s national security against extremism. The eleven points stated in the campaign are as follows:

1.     True Islam wholly rejects all forms of terrorism

2.     True Islam believes in non violent Jihad of the self and of the pen

3.     True Islam believes in the equality, education, and empowerment of women

4.     True Islam advocates freedom of conscience, religion, and speech

5.     True Islam advocates for the separation of mosque and state

6.     True Islam believes in loyalty to your country of residence

7.     True Islam encompasses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

8.     True Islam believes in all verses of the Qur’an and forbids lying

9.     True Islam recognizes that no religion can monopolize salvation

10.  True Islam believes in the need for unified Muslim leadership

11.  True Islam rejects the concept of a bloody Messiah

Over the last few weeks since the campaign kicked off, there has been a positive response to the campaign in the form of folks from all walks of life endorsing the campaign and the 11 points.

With a clear understanding of what true Islam really is we as a country can become better at protecting our borders from extremists that wish to harm and hurt innocent civilians, or target our way of life. We can still help those immigrants that wish to come to our country without making them carry a special ID to tell us who they are. Lastly we can stop living with a fear and phobia of a religion that is an integral part of our society.

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