Growing up under Sharia law and in Islamist schools, we were taught that the highest level a person can reach is to be a mujahid. A mujahid is a person that God truly loves.
Once, I dared to ask what exactly the term mujahid meant. The imam said that a true mujahid is a person who does not just die defensively for protecting Allah’s values. A true mujahid, one who is most loved by God, is a person who acts offensively, including through violence, when he or she sees our religious values are being violated in any part of the world. That person is a true holy warrior, he explained.
That description has been echoed through the halls of schools, and whispered into the minds of children. It has followed me throughout my life. Now, as I reflect on the first time this thirst for violence was explained to me, an eerie reality comes into focus. If the teachings of these radical imams are accurate, then the rate of mujahidin in the West appears to be increasing far higher in the West than in the East.
As some clamored to reach this ideal, we were told that one major indicator of whether the number of mujahdin is increasing or decreasing in a society is to look at the rate of those who are becoming martyrs. The higher the rate, the more mujahidin are there, and the more satisfied God is. It was a powerful message delivered to young, impressionable minds, that were eager to please and learn.
Growing up in the Middle East, within Muslim-majority nations, I rarely heard of radical Islamists committing terrorist acts in the region. But in the few years that I have lived in the West, I have regularly heard of bombing and suicide missions committed by radical Islamists. Their targets have been Americans and Europeans, including attacks in London, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Boston and San Bernardino — and often one another.
Information about these attacks is splashed across the media, discussed between concerned citizens, and echoed throughout global politics. This situation prompted me to ask: Why do there appear to be more Islamist terrorists in the West, even though the homeland of their religious teaching is on the other side of the world?
It would seem implausible that the West, with freedom of education, would become a hotbed for these violent minds, and yet the numbers are clear.
Ignoring the trend will not do anything to prevent future tragedies. The cause of this explosion of terror in the West needs to be rooted out. After careful study, it seems that there are several explanations.
First of all, Western countries are much more lenient toward the jihadists and Islamists.
When I came to the West and learned what kind of teachings the radical imams in the UK and the US preach, I was astounded. They freely lash out at the country which gives them shelter, they denounce the political system, they criticize the people they see every day in the streets.
They denigrate the way people live in the West, the way they dress, eat, every aspect of their daily lives.
On the other hand, many in the West are far too lenient toward these fundamentalist groups.
There is a belief that you should give them the same rights to enjoy freedom of speech, press, and assembly as everyone else. These rights in themselves are valuable.
But the issue becomes, where do you draw the line? When a radical imam in the US or Europe is publicly inciting anti-Semitic, anti-American, and anti-Western hate, should they be allowed to continue?
When many radical Muslim centers in the West preach jihad and terrorism, should you still let them enjoy freedom of speech and assembly? Their preaching is the major factor behind the increasing terrorism we have currently spreading throughout the West. It is this hate speech, and incitement of violence, that has taken lives of many innocent people. If we allow them to continue, the vicious trend will only ratchet up exponentially.
The West needs to understand that the Islamists do not see these rights as something to appreciate; they see them as something to exploit.
These very rights are used to manipulate and radicalize citizens and foreigners alike, to turn against the host government and the innocent people who share the land they stand on. They are brainwashed and then encouraged, if not commanded, to go out and change everything around them.