“Islam” has become a word of fear in our daily language solely for the negative connotations associated with it. In Arabic, “Islam” means “submission” or “surrender,” and it derives from the word “salaam,” which holds meanings such as “peace.” In Christianity, surrendering to God is putting your life in God’s hands. So why is the word “surrender” automatically turned negative when referring to following the prophet Muhammad and Allah’s commands and wisdoms?
Despite Islam’s etymology and roots, people still misinterpret the teachings of Islam and use them as an excuse to persecute. Presidential candidate Donald Trump has stated countless times that the persecution of Muslims is imperative to the security of our nation.
“I want surveillance of these people,” he stated. “I want surveillance if we have to and I don’t care. I want surveillance of certain mosques, OK. I want surveillance.”
Is Trump interested in seeing a congregation of people pay devotion to who they believe is their holy God and savior? If that is not the case, then there is no reason for Trump to spy on the Muslim population in the United States. According to PBS Frontline, an estimated 5 to 12 million Muslims live in the United States.
If the entire nation of Islam posed a significant threat to United States security, we would have seen threats turned into action countless times. Instead, we have only seen a few actions taken by extremist groups like the KKK. In fact, most terrorism in the U.S. is perpetuated by white men.
People are always quick to judge the entire nation of Islam, stating that all people who follow the Qur’an and the teachings of Islam are terrorists; however, they find a myriad of excuses to bury the fact that the KKK is a domestic terrorist group in the United States. They’re quick to say anyone who has Middle Eastern facial features and has a large beard or wears a hijab, and anyone who speaks an Arabic-sounding language is a terrorist, but they refuse to look at anyone else as such.
When will the persecution of the Islamic population end? Islam is not synonymous with terrorism, and anyone who thinks that such an allegation is true is absolutely misinformed. Those who practice Islam are peaceful, and the miniscule sliver of those who claim to practice Islam that are violent are extremists. According to a study released by the Pew Research Center in 2010, an estimated 1.6 billion people follow Islam. Extremists should not be the face for such a large group of people who promote peace when extremist groups such as ISIS, Al Shabaab, and Boko Haram promote violence and terror.
Such a large and prosperous group of people could not possibly exist if their sole purpose was to annihilate enemies. People need to stop generalizing based on what they know. Islam is just as acceptable of a religion to follow as its counterparts, and it’s time that it is treated as such. Religion is no more than a personal relationship between the follower and their divine figure and people need to stop being harassed for engaging in an intimate relationship with Allah.
The followers of Islam are here in peace and it’s time to recognize that following a different faith is not a means to persecute or an excuse to hate. Instead, it is merely an opportunity for acceptance and to learn and expand worldly knowledge. Rather than looking at a follower of Islam and using that as terms of judgment, look at their character. Look at how they treat people, not how someone thousands of miles away that doesn’t follow the teachings of the Qur’an treats people. Practicing Islam is not synonymous with practicing terrorism. Stop attempting to make a connection that was never meant to exist.
Editorial by: Mikaela Reinard, Contributing Columnist