Islam and Extremism: Two Different Pictures

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Thomas Friedman wrote a recent article for the New York Times in which he extensively quoted a Muslim turned Christian Arab activist, Brother Rachid.
According to Rachid, President Barack Obama should stop being “politically correct” and label Islam as an extremist religion that promotes the views of ISIS, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab. After all, he says, they are all “made in Islam.”
To add a sense of credibility to his claims, Rachid says he was born in a Muslim household and knows first-hand that the teachings of the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) support extremism.
As a Muslim, I fail to understand how Rachid’s view of Islam became so skewed because the Islam I know teaches the opposite of what he describes. I belong to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that preaches love for all, hatred for none. The Holy Quran I follow equates the killing of one person to the killing of the entire mankind (5:32). It forbids compulsion in religion and admonishes human beings from creating disorder on Earth (2:256; 7:57).
The same Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Rachid labels as a supporter of violence said that mankind should suffer no loss at the hands or tongue of a Muslim.
The teachings of the Prophet of Islam and the Islamic scripture seem to be in direct contradiction to mass executions and beheadings ISIS and other extremist groups are responsible for.
While Rachid and I both grew up Muslims, the only thing I can deduce from his beliefs is that he was most likely exposed to a warped view of Islam. By quoting him at great lengths, Friedman’s article paints a very incomplete picture of a faith that is practiced by more than a billion people. The total word count of Friedman’s article is about 900 words and he devotes about a third of that to Rachid’s statements that Islam is responsible for ISIS and other extremist groups. It is a very disproportionate view of Islam.
Friedman also argues that ISIS is driving Muslims away from Islam. It might be true in the cases of few people like Rachid, but again, it’s not a complete picture. While some choose to leave this faith, others find affirmation of their belief in the true Islam. For many of us, Islamic teachings of peace and love are a refuge against the barbaric actions of extremists. We find comfort in the fact that Islam teaches compassion for all of humanity.
I wrote a letter to the New York Times refuting the views of Rachid and calling for Friedman to give us a wider view of Islam. My efforts were ignored. While ISIS and the loudest opponents of Islam are often represented in the media, the voices of many moderate Muslims are nowhere to be found. Instead, what you see in the media is ISIS blowing up a church while proclaiming “God is great,” or the voices of the Bill Mahers of the world. The moderate Muslim voice is lost somewhere in the commotion.
If a person wore a shark costume and insisted that he or she was a real shark, would we believe them? If the answer is no, why do we believe ISIS is the true picture of Islam? Truth is, Islam is the biggest victim of extremism. ISIS and others are using it as a tool to manipulate people’s opinion of Islam, and some are falling prey to its scheme.