03292017Headline:

[The Record] A new day for the Muslim-American community

This Op-Ed was published in the New Jersey Record. Original Post – http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/chaudhry_050411.html

PRESIDENT OBAMA in his historic Sunday night address described Osama bin Laden as a mass murderer. “Osama was never a Muslim leader. He was a mass murderer,” he said.

When bin Laden orchestrated the Sept. 11 attacks, some Muslims hailed him as a hero of Islam. Throughout the past decade, he has been an inspiration for radical youth and an institution for radicalizing others. He exploited religion as a lethal weapon against humanity.

This is why at his death, religious parties in Pakistan are silent. A protest was held in the Pakistani city of Quetta, the first of its kind after his death, and in the same city where he was given the titles of “martyr” and “supreme fighter.”

As a Muslim-American youth leader belonging to the Islamic-American organization the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, I venture to explain just why President Obama was right and Osama sympathizers wrong in celebrating bin Laden as a Muslim leader.

Islam categorically rejects violence in all its forms. The Quran forbids Muslims from committing iniquity and causing disorder. It advocates against murder and compares the killing of one person to the killing of all mankind.

It also repeatedly highlights the importance of acting righteously and making peace between men. Did Osama follow these injunctions? No. Obama 1, Osama 0.

In the presence of such strong condemnation of violence from Islam, Osama had to exploit jihad to legitimize his nefarious plans. An Arabic word that literally means “struggle,” Osama perverted the meaning of jihad to a violent struggle against innocents.

Prophet Muhammad had clearly stated that the greater jihad was a struggle against oneself, against one’s inner temptations. The only time fighting is allowed in Islam is in defense and specifically to protect the freedom of religion.

Muslims are enjoined to protect all houses of worship including churches and synagogues.

Peace, freedom

Muslim-Americans live in complete peace and enjoy total religious freedom, something uncommon in many Muslim countries. Still, bin Laden bombed churches and mosques and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians, most of them Muslims themselves. Did he follow the injunctions of the Holy Quran? No. Obama 2, Osama 0.

The vast majority of Muslims in the world are peace-loving citizens loyal to their countries of residence, loyalty being an important injunction of Islamic teaching. Prophet Muhammad said, “Loyalty to one’s homeland is part of faith.” In contrast, Osama brainwashed already disturbed youth and turned them into perpetrators of terror against their own homeland.

Failed Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shehzad is one such example. Did he follow the injunctions of the Holy Quran? No. Obama 3, Osama 0.

An icon of terror

Bin Laden was an icon of terror, a cold-blooded mass murderer. I am grateful that Obama and the majority of my fellow Americans understand this fact.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA continues to present the real teachings of Islam. As part of the national “Muslims for Peace” campaign, I, along with scores of Ahmadi Muslim-American youth, are reaching out to approximately 2 million Americans distributing fliers that highlight the importance of peace, love and loyalty in the Islamic faith.

The death of bin Laden does not end the threat of terror, but the response it generated in the Muslim-American community is a message of hope.

Just like Obama, the vast majority of Muslim-Americans recognize the difference between a mass murderer and a true Muslim leader.