I was born a Muslim and growing up I was taught that Islam is a religion of tolerance. Islam does not believe in violence. Islam celebrates life. Islam is all inclusive. But today I am struggling to believe any of those words.
Wherever I turn Islam is at war; at war with the West, at war with Israel, at war with educating girls. How did we end up declaring war with all of humanity? Where, I ask, does Islam teach us to bomb a plane full of vacationers who are headed home to their families, or kidnapping hundreds of girls who are getting an education in school and specially killing 130 people who are doing nothing but celebrating life?
Too many of us have resorted to violence, instead of following in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and airing our grievances with non-violence. If Dr. King could lift an entire community and fight for their equal rights, so can we. If Mandela and Gandhi could liberate their nations from the shackles of foreign rulers, so can we. Rosa Parks protested silently against her oppressors and ignited a civil movement. Why do we have to pick up a gun and take innocent lives to prove a point? Why do we need to strap on a bomb to make ourselves heard?
It is not enough to say that radicals like ISIS are not Muslims. Let's do more. Every time we gather to offer prayers, let's preach tolerance and non-violence. Let's condemn these barbaric acts. Let's be loud and clear that taking even a single life in the name of religion is wrong. Let's celebrate life. Let's educate all our children, boys and girls. Let us stop blaming others for starting the violence but most importantly let's stand together and voice our anger at the people who call themselves Muslims and are taking innocent lives in the name of Islam.
With a Perspective, I'm Zia Rehman.