Letters can Defeat Terror – An Interview with Dr. Bilal Philips

Bombs, military raids and airstrikes could contain terrorism to some extent, but to wipe it out fully, renowned Islamic scholar and educationalist, Dr. Bilal Philips has an antidote — education.

Extremists brainwashing young Muslims to fight in so-called Holy wars has become a growing concern in Bahrain and other Gulf nations in the recent past. The social-media savvy Islamic State (IS) has already lured over 100 Bahrainis, many of whom youngsters, to fight in Iraq and Syria. Last year, the Bahrani ISIS fighters had released a video message online urging Muslims in the Kingdom to revolt against the Bahraini Government and to join them in Iraq.

After IS members had been stripped off their Bahraini passports last month, they threatened to enter the Kingdom with “blazing guns”. Out of the 72 former Bahrainis who had been recently stripped off their nationalities, 22 were found to have joined the extremist organizations to fight in Syria and Iraq. A report released last July had stated that around 5,500 Gulf nationals had been fighting alongside IS.

Warning against the dangers of extremism, Dr. Philips said, parents, teachers and religious leaders should make sure the youth were properly educated about religion. He explained that extremists use clever propaganda to lure the youths. “Without the proper knowledge of Islam, Muslims end up doing things that are against the very teachings of Islam”.

“Don’t be fooled by what they pretend to be,” said Dr. Philips about the religious extremist groups who claim to be ‘fighting for the name of God’. Quoting the Prophet SAW, Dr. Philips said,

“If you compare your prayers with theirs and your fasting with theirs, you will look down upon your prayers and fasting, in comparison to theirs. Yet they will go out of the religion as an arrow darts through the game’s body.”

Explaining the quote, Dr. Philips said, “The quote is about extremists, also known as ‘Khawarij’. They would appear to be more devoted than other Muslims as they are extremely steadfast in their worship. They appear to fast, pray, recite Quran constantly, but at the same time they are slaughtering innocents.”

He said they take verses of Quran out of context to justify their actions. Similar to how Islamophobes take Quran verses out of context to paint a negative picture of Islam, the extremists use the verses to further their agenda.

Similar to how Islamophobes take Quran verses out of context to paint a negative picture of Islam, the extremists use the verses to further their agenda.

Advising the Muslim youths, he said that seeking knowledge should be kept as a high priority.The only way to overcome this problem of Muslims getting radicalized is by educating the Muslim community about Islam. Islam is not about kissing the Quran and keeping it on a shelf. It is about seeking knowledge by reading, understanding and reflecting,” he said.

Dr. Philips is a Jamaican Canadian scholar, speaker and author. He is bet recognized as the founder of Islamic Online University which has over 200,000 students. He also features among the 500 Most Influential Muslims according to an Jordanian publication.

The article was originally published in DailyTribune (Bahrain)