In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, many have been quick to condemn the group calling itself ISIS, and many have also been quick to condemn Islam.
Islam is the second largest religion in the world, with more than one billion believers worldwide. Imam Hassan Selim of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids says it’s unfair to characterize all Muslims as terrorists.
“Terror is terror and extremism is extremism no matter what faith,” says Selim. “The victims of ISIS are Muslims more than they are any other faith or religion. It is very unfortunate. I want to assure everyone that there is nothing in our religion that teaches people hate. There are ideas that are misunderstood and misused, but that is true for Christianity, Judaism and any other religion.”
During this hour on Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Selim about Islam’s tenets of faith as well as the diversity of cultural traditions within Islam. Selim also responds to the idea that “jihad” is a mission to kill Christians.
“The core of Muhammad’s message was to correct the core of the human character. This is what jihad is all about. People can take it out of context, and some people like to use it to promote violence,” he explains.
“People spend billions of dollars on self-help books. This is what jihad is all about. It’s a complex concept to explain in just a few minutes, and people who use it to promote violence are shaming the whole religion. If you are curious about the concept, I urge people to go to a Mosque and ask questions. Everyone is welcome, and that’s what the message of Islam really is – acceptance, tolerance and living in peace with other people.”
Aymen Aman, who is a member of the Islamic Center of Cedar Rapids; Saba Ali, who is a practicing Muslim and has studied feminism as it relates to Islam and Muslim psychology; and Lisa Killinger, President of the Muslim Community of the Quad Cities, also join the conversation.
Killinger converted to Islam in the late 1970s because she was moved by the peaceful message that was a center of the Islamic faith.
“I really loved the peaceful nature of the message. It had a great deal to do with social justice and civil rights, and there was a strong message of guidance to lead a good life and a healthy life,” she says.
If you want to learn more about Islam, Ali wrote an article titled “Islam 101” shortly after 9/11. You can find it here.