I’m a British Muslim man of the same age as the London and Manchester terrorists – and I know why we turned out so different

khuram-butt-jihadis-next-door-abzI am the same age as Salman Abedi, the Manchester suicide bomber, and almost the same age as the recently named London Bridge terrorists; I also profess to be of the same faith. Thankfully, these are the only two things we have in common. As well as studying medicine at university, I currently serve as the president of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Students Association. I spend a lot of my time working to organize interfaith dialogues and peace conferences. So how exactly did we turn out so different? And could knowing the answer to this help reduce the numbers of young people being brainwashed into extremism?

The primary answer to this is education. Even in childhood, I always asked questions about my religion – and as I grew up, I had access to imams and elders ready to answer them. I was free to challenge them, to ask the toughest and most sensitive questions about the most “controversial” aspects of Islam.

Through this process I learnt that Islam teaches there is no compulsion in religion, that taking even a single life is equivalent to killing to the whole of mankind, and that saving a life is equivalent to saving the whole of humanity. I learnt that the concept of jihad is not about spreading religion through force, but about struggling against one’s own evil desires in order to reform oneself and become a pure-hearted, decent individual.

I learnt that the Prophet Mohammed taught that loyalty to one’s nation of residence is part of one’s faith, reinforced by the fact that at least once a year at our religious functions we publicly make the pledge to serve our country whenever required. I learnt about the role of charity in Islam, and what the Qur’an calls the “steep ascent” – the true means of attaining nearness to God: “It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding in a day of hunger, an orphan near of kin, or a poor man lying in the dust.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT (UK)

The History of Religion and Violence

osaama SaifiBy Osaama Saifi

Nabeel Qureshi and myself are much more similar than we realize. We both grew up in the West as Muslims and members of the same sect. We both were impacted by the repercussions of 9/11 on Muslims in America. And we both made a decision in our pursuit of religion.

One may wonder why I didn’t choose Christianity like Nabeel. Islam was being maligned by both extremists and the media. Of course, being named Osaama did not help.

In his recent piece, Nabeel presents the conundrum he faced when trying to understand Islam. Growing up, I too faced this same struggle. Every person who is born into a faith needs to go through their own conversion to solidify their convictions. Like Nabeel, I too looked at Islam and other religions holistically. But unlike Nabeel, I didn’t choose Christianity. I chose Islam.

From Seeking Allah Finding Jesus to Answering Jihad, Nabeel’s works stem from his conversion to Christianity from Islam. Nabeel has become renown for being the Christian who has seemingly unmasked Islam’s deceptively curated past. An example of his work is seen recently, which takes Islamic text out of it’s historical, literary, and holistic context. It was this facile analysis of a 1400-year-old religious book and it’s early history that lead to Nabeel’s conversion to Christianity.

One should not question the spiritual reasons for which a person accepts a religion, but the rational views of such a thought can always come under scrutiny. After all, if a religion claims to be the Truth then it can withstand the crucible of a rational examination.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HUFFINGTON POST