Islam is the religion of peace. The first message for the formation of this religion that was sent by Allah through Angel Gibreel to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad Mustafa (PBUH), was IQRA - the root word for reading, learning, and seeking knowledge. How this beautiful and progressive religion got to be associated with bigotry and terrorism is a conspiracy beyond the understanding of the zealot semi-illiterate madrassa students and some so-called maulvis, who have become the caretakers of Islam. We have, unfortunately, handed it to them on a platter, and the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the civil societies of the Muslim world, especially the educated and resourceful lot, who kept mum while the mullah was spewing hatred and whooped concepts of the religion that spread all over the world. Moreover, it was our own fear and lack of understanding, which left the illiterate lot to be brainwashed by the extremists. Today, the uneducated masses have been emotionally triggered, either to be used for the geopolitical objectives of the big world players or by the abandoned mullahs, who to retain their fiefdom brainwash young boys and girls to blow themselves up in the name of religion and kill innocent men, women and children. Definitely, this is not the jihad that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) taught us. This is not the tolerance that was meant to be ingrained in us. He (PBUH) did not kill those who threw stones at him. Instead, one day when an old lady, who used to throw garbage at him, did not do so, he went to inquire about her health. This is what our religion teaches us The proponents of blasphemy should go through the legal process, but would our beloved Prophet (PBUH) be happy, if even one innocent person is hanged or killed. Today, how many innocents do we kill, in the name of a religion that the Prophet (PBUH) was sent to deliver as a saviour to mankind? There is an upheaval in the Muslim world; the masses suppressed and wronged are finally taking matters into their own hands. They are demanding changechange from the hold of dictators imposed on them by the superpowerschange from povertychange from illiteracychange from unemploymentand change for the better. Would this uprising be hijacked and handed over to the extremist, or would the progressive Muslims finally rally and take hold of their destiny, improve their lot, and thus contribute to the betterment of the world at large? But how will this happen, if there is no forum or organisation to carry, and rally this outburst to its desired goal? The Muslim BrotherhoodJamaat-i-Islami.Hezbollah, Today, the need is that the educated and progressive Muslims meet and discuss ways on how to wean away our beautiful religion from the extremist strongholdon how to bring back the lost children of madrassas into progressive thinking mould. Undoubtedly, examples do exist - Malaysia has done it. The first and foremost agenda for them will be to call themselves Muslims without added sects. (Go not backward, but forward to the basic principlesthe progressive thoughtthe compassion and understandingand towards seeking of knowledge and its application.) Further, we do not have to incur the heavy expenditure of travelling and having conferences all over the worldJust take advantage of advanced Information Technology (IT). For example, twittering can be used to gather millions in Al-Tahriri Square, it can be used to develop a membership fund for the change to comein the decades to comecalled Global Progressive Islam. Let it not take a political formlet it be a forum of intellect and guidancelet it develop as a deterrence to any organisation that is wrongfully using Islama deterrence not through the use of forcebut through changing the thinking amongst the Muslim youth, which today is the largest growing youth body in the world? Start with studying the Holy Quran on your own, with translation And you will learn that it teaches us that there is only one Allah and has no companions; the Prophet (PBUH) is the final Prophet, while all the other prophets and religious books prior to Islam are the prophets sent by Allah and the books are holy scripture, if retained in their original form. Emphasise on the cleanliness of the mind, body and soul. To maintain good and positive thoughts, to be compassionate, to look after the needs of the needy, the neighbour, the kith and kin and the wayfarer .To protect those of other religions and to allow them free practice of their religion. Last but not least, to seek knowledge and apply it for the good of humanity? The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: