If one thing that stays consistent every time there is a terrorist attack somewhere in the Western world where Muslims turn out to be the perpetrators is the response of majority of Muslims around the globe. Be it Paris, Brussels or the recent tragedy that hit Florida today, one of the responses that we often get to see is "Terrorism has no religion." I personally believe nothing could be farther from truth. In my opinion, Terrorism definitely has a religion, whether it is the religion of Babbar Khalsa, Bajrang Dal, the Lord's Resistance Army or the ISIS. As long as you're carrying out attacks on innocent civilians in the name of your religion or after getting motivated by your religious sacred text, your terrorism, and extremism has a religion.
As pointed out by Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, a renowned Pakistani Muslim theologian, a section of Muslims believe that people following polytheism deserve to die and it is Muslims job to implement that "punishment." This section of Muslims believes that non-Muslims are created only to be ruled over and any form of their government is temporary and Muslims will one day be ultimate rulers. There is no concept of ‘nation state’ and Muslims can have only one form of system which is Caliphate.
Continuous hammering of these doctrines breeds terrorism. In case of the recent unfortunate incident in Florida where the target was gay bar and a nightclub reflects the growing homophobia among the Muslims. Instead of admitting that these doctrines need reforms and counter narrative, my fellow Muslims, in the aftermath of such incidents usually involve themselves in less important issues like should words "Islamist militants" or “Muslim extremist” be used in the media while referring to attackers. Is using the term "Muslim terrorists" offensive and Islamophobic? Some try bringing in conspiracy theories, some bring in Middle East crises as a counterweight to a tragedy taking place in West, while most simply get away with it by saying "no Muslim can do this" and "terrorism has no religion."
The reality is bigger than that. No matter how much it "offends" us, there are Muslims who don't take Islam just as a religion but as an ideology which must be imposed on whole world. For this they go to any extent considering it as their religious obligation. These Muslims kill and die because they think they are fighting a sacred war and are promised a big reward in the life after. In this case, one doesn't have to be extraordinarily smart to point out what is it that is motivating them to carry out these activities, it is an ideology. We can argue that their ideology or interpretation of Islam is violent and different than ours but this does not mean that the violent Muslims are not Muslims. They represent an ideology that might not be followed by other peaceful Muslims who shouldn't be blamed for handful of terrorists but nevertheless that ideology exists and breeds terrorism.
Then of course, some Muslims rightfully hold Western powers like U.S and its European allies responsible for sponsoring terrorism, for creating and funding militant organizations in the past for their political interest, for invading and destroying Muslim countries, for creating a vacuum for these organizations, for having dual standards in their foreign policies. United States is also blamed for having terrible gun laws. While all this is true but there is definitely more to it. Yes, there is no doubt that in the past, US funded militants to fight the Soviets, but even back then, it was not the U.S Dollars but the ideology of "sacred war" which brought Muslims all the way from the Arab world and Pakistan to Afghanistan. So, even if the allegation that some Muslim militants are "backed" by Israel or United States, which is often given by Muslims, can be taken as true, even then, the people like Omar Mateen or thousands of those who are fighting for groups like ISIS, who str killing people in broad daylight in Paris, Beirut, Istanbul, Brussels, don't do it because anyone sitting in Tel Aviv or Washington funds them, they do it because they believe they are fighting a war for their God for which they will be rewarded in the life hereafter. Omar Mateen didn’t kill people because it was easy for him to own a gun; he killed innocent people in Florida because he saw those people to be on the “wrong side.” In such scenario, yes those who are backing them must also be blamed and so do the policies of United States regarding the gun control but the root cause of this is an ideology for which a counter narrative should be brought up.
Islam is a faith, a source of inspiration for billions around the globe, practicing it in personal lives is not a problem; forcefully imposing it on entire world is. Considering yourself to be a reflection of God and taking upon yourself to implement any kind of "punishment" by killing innocent people is the problem.
Muslims don't need to apologize for the lives lost in Florida. Not every Muslim is responsible for today's tragic incident. They however need to stop lying that violent Muslims are not Muslims. Instead of coming up with lame excuses whether Hitler was a Muslim or whether Muslims were responsible behind initiating the two world wars and nuking Japan, try identifying the problem. The problem of violent extremism, the problem of growing homophobia in the Muslim world... but since it is difficult to stand up, take responsibility and work for reformation of specific doctrines through counter narratives, therefore people go for something easier which is to simply get away with it by saying "no Muslim can do this" and "terrorism has no religion." The more we stay in denial, the more we will be isolated.
Stop generalizing Muslims. 1.6 billion is a huge number. This 1.6 billion has produced Muhammad Ali as well as Omar Mateen; it has produced Abdul Sattar Edhi and it has also produced Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. Saying "no Muslim can do this" is as wrong and problematic as saying "every Muslim is responsible for this terror act."
The people who killed innocents in Paris, Brussels and Florida are the same who killed people in Peshawar, Baghdad, Beirut and Ankara. There is no difference. Instead of dividing ourselves in "us and them" instead of bringing out comparison of tragedies taking place in Muslim world, let's stand against these terrorists who somehow claim to be like us. These extremists don't differentiate between people when they kill them; we shouldn't either when we stand against them.
My deepest thoughts for victims and their families who have suffered at the hands of terrorism.