BY: Laiq Ahmed Atif, President Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Malta
We live in an age of competition, threats and challenges; surviving between problems, material as well as spiritual.
At different times, there were different problems; there were always hurdles to be overcome and threatening dangers to be conquered. But, the peaceful and secure life on earth has never been such a great challenge as today.
One of the distinctive characteristics of the times we live in is the overwhelming presence of violence and aggressiveness in some societies and countries around the world. Sometimes bombs explode in markets, sometimes in schools, sometimes hotels are attacked and sometimes people are under attack during their prayer time. The hijackings of aircrafts where people are held at ransom for someone to achieve his personal and political ends are also among the sad aspects of the recent human history. We live in an age where the manipulation and loss of innocent lives has become commonplace.
In recent years thousands of innocent men, women and children have been killed very brutally. Thousands of families have been destroyed, thousands of women became widows, thousands of children have been made orphans and millions have lost all their belongings. So many buildings were destroyed and the world witnessed huge economic loss. This is one of the main reasons for the increase of poverty in many parts of the world. In these attacks many talented persons have been killed, thus a huge loss had happened to the national and international talent. Moreover, these terrorist and suicide attacks have destroyed the world peace.
Terrorism, the extreme of violence and aggressiveness, is considered one of the prime threats to the peace and security of our societies. If we look back towards human history, we can easily find that the word “terrorism” came into wide use a few decades ago.
What do the words ‘terrorist’ and ‘terrorism’ mean? Dictionaries will define a terrorist as one who systematically uses violence and intimidation to achieve political ends – or one who controls or forces others to do something by violence, fear or threats. ‘Terrorism’ means the use of violent action in order to achieve political aims or to force a government to act accordingly.
These definitions show that the use of every sort of aggressiveness, intolerance and violence for gaining political or personal ends is terrorism. Those who do not believe in tolerance, harmony and dialogue and try to get whatever they want by using force are to be called terrorists. Those who have lost every shred of human decency are the ones who will eventually resort to terrorising others, forcing them into complying with their demands.
Difference of opinions and ideology always existed in the world, and it is good and healthy for the improvements. However, it becomes unacceptable when it is translated into violence and intolerance. And some people become violent to gain their personal interests, and to spread their ideology, they rely on violence and extremism. An evident example to that is of the Al-Qaeda and its late chief bin Laden. The killing of bin Laden obviously has huge symbolic implications; his death was a cold breath for all those who stand against his terrorist and extremist ideology.
Although, the death of the chief left a psychological effect and the backbone of the organisation was considered to be shaken, it is also a reality that he left his legacy and ideology behind. Al-Qaeda has appointed Zawahiri as its new leader, who will carry this legacy. Terrorist attacks on Karachi Naval base, attacks in Peshawar, a suicide attack in Hangu, a suicide attack by a female on a police station in Pakistan; and an attack on a wedding, on a hospital and on a hotel in Afghanistan, just to name a few, are clear examples of this legacy.
To change the whole scenario, all the stakeholders of a society should work together hand in hand as we say in Maltese ‘id f’id’. Especially in those countries where this phenomenon is getting shape, all the stake holders should shoulder this responsibility of fostering love and kindness instead of hatred and malice.
I think, as these people are using religion in support of their ideology, it is the duty and responsibility of religious leaders to denounce this legacy and ideology, categorically and unreservedly. They should distance themselves from such violent phenomena through their words and more importantly, practically. It is also their duty to guide and teach their people affection, tolerance and harmony to eliminate this terror ideology and legacy from the world.