1. Precisely what is Islam?
* Islam is: Submit to God. 'Islam' means post to His will and guidance, as enunciated within the holy Quran. Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians each is told in their religious scriptures to post to the will of God. This can be the teaching in Bible, Gita, and all sorts of other religious scriptures, at the same time. We must surrender to the will of God. Thus about this belief, there is no improvement in all religions around the globe - except Buddhism, which does not believe in existence of God.
*'Islam' can be a verb - to 'submit' to the will of God; but more often than not, it is linked with militancy, albeit wrongly. The moderate Muslims, who will be in majority, have decided not to condemn militants or their violence, beyond fear or for largest.
2. Muslims believe in monotheism
* Muslims believe in one God. Christians, Sikhs too rely on that. Hinduism believes in multiple Gods plus a section of Hindus believes in Idol worship. Islam is against idolatry but Quran does not ask its followers to utilize violence against Kafirs, as idol- worshippers these are known as in Islam. Quran does not ask its followers to indulge in violence against non-believers, as militants do.
* In Islam, polytheism, association of Allah with another god, or even the denial of His absolute command of universe is sin and called Shirk. Islam and Christianity differ in this connection. Christians associate Christ with God, as son of God and Muslims don't concur.
*Surah 4:116, 121: 'Surely Allah will not forgive that anybody ought to be associated with Him on near equal footing... and whosoever associates someone with Allah, he indeed strays off into far error.These are they, whose abode is hell, and they also shall not find any refuge from this.'
3. Convey message of Quran, try not to force conversions
Excerpt from Quran:
*Surah 3:20: Therefore if they dispute with thee, say: I submit myself entirely to Allah and thus does he who follows me." And inform those who have been given the Book and to those who are unlearned (people that don't believe in Quran): "Do ye (also) submit yourselves?" Should they submit then they have been in right guidance, but if they turn back, thy duty is merely to convey the Message.
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*Surah 2:256: Let there be no compulsion in religion
*Surah 109:6: For you be your religion, in my opinion mine.
4. As a result it is clear that Quran doesn't ask its followers to change non-Muslims to Islam against their will. History informs us otherwise. Why it's very? It is a corporate decision, to improve the revenue collection in mosques. Religious preachers aren't much bothered about qualitative improvement of followers, they're interested in numbers.
*A recent great example is of a Shankracharya - a premier Hindu religious figure - who has tried to belittle, Sai Baba of Shirdi, a historical figure with big Hindu following. His temple is among the richest temples in India. Shankracharya desires that idols of Shirdi Sai Baba should be removed from Hindu temples. Could possibly be Shankracharya is holding Shirdi Sai Baba, in charge of poor offerings or donations at other Hindu temples.
5. Does Quran justify violence?
Quran supports violence only when, the Muslim community is fighting vastly superior forces, who seek to annihilate the monotheistic Islam. The Quran puts it in this way in Surah 4:75: And why shouldn't you fight in the cause of God and in the cause of those who, being weak, are mistreated: the men, women and children whose only cry is, "Our Lord! Deliver us out of this land whose folks are oppressors. Send us someone that will protect us, and send us somebody that will help!"
* Coming of Israel after Second World War would have been a decision where Palestinians needed to vacate and make location for Israel. They were weak and had no choice but to agree. Muslims feel that this is a case where Surah 4:75 is relevant. It is a debatable question, but it needs attention.
6. Suicide-bombers are certainly not approved by Quran
Hadith - it of religious guidelines for Muslims - states 'Whosoever kills himself by any means will be tormented in the same way in Hell. If he kills himself by blade or iron rod, will be tormented with same blade or iron rod from the fires of Hell '. Life is the ultimate gift of God, only They can decide when to take it back.
7. Steps to counter or curtail militancy in Islam
(a) Educate women. Illiteracy is quite high among Muslim women. There's a need to ensure equality of genders among Muslims. In under-developed countries, scenario is worst. Women are not allowed to attend school. In Nigeria, Boko Haram won't allow Western education. Women aren't allowed inside mosque in most sects of Islam. Educated Muslim women may have positive impact in society.
(b) Starting point - tackle intra-religion violence. Recent Sunni terrorists attack on Shias in Iraq is often a glaring example of hatred between different Islam sects. There's a need to create awareness among Shia and Sunni Muslims about futility of killing each other. There are many other sects, who will be ostracised by both Sunnis and Shias, for instance, Ahmadiyya sect.
(c) Proactively explain Quran through media to counter fundamentalists. We need to publicise excerpts from Quran on tv, to counter militants violence and to educate illiterate Muslims world over, that are being brain- washed by orthodox fundamentalist clerics like Hafiz Saeed. We depend upon religious teachers (Imams and Ayatollahs) for interpretation of Quran. They can misuse the privilege and issue 'fatwas' against Salman Rushdie yet others. To indulge in violence each time a prophet is subject of caricature, isn't what religion teaches us. You have to learn to be tolerant of others' views. If properly put across, the Muslims militancy will be contained. Till then, let non- Muslims refrain from commenting upon the prophet and prevent hurting Muslim sentiments.
(d) Divisive religion-based politics is bane to democracy. Religion should unify humanity, where as it divides more recently. Democracy needs votes. Appeasement of majority in Islamic States and minorities in secular states like India is really a misuse of democratic process of voting and elections. How can or not it's stopped is a big question and a challenge to humanity.