A wave of terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East and Asia in the past week have demonstrated yet again, and entirely definitively, that terrorism has no relation to Islam whatsoever. I have previously discussed the deviance of so-called Muslim terrorists, and shown how they are prone to committing acts prohibited by Islam, including drinking alcohol and fornicating, and that they are usually amongst the least knowledgeable about Islam. As such, they can hardly be considered paragons of the faith.
Some may have argued that, despite their sinful behaviour, many terrorists who claim an affinity and affiliation with Islam were simply lost down a dark path of deviance and evil. This very forgiving strand of thought essentially says that, although their crimes are terrible and their behaviour immoral, they could still be considered Muslims in the loosest sense of the word, and that there was hope for them to achieve forgiveness from the Almighty and mankind by seeking repentance and turning away from unjustifiable violence. Presumably, such repentance would have been possible for those who had yet to blow themselves up in markets packed full of civilians.
However, the attacks over the past week, and especially in Islam's second holiest city of Medina, show that these terrorists are completely bereft of any Islamic light, piety or ethics. They are beyond being misguided deviants, and have instead wandered into an abyss of devilry, seeking nothing but to bring death to the innocent and in exchange earn nothing but the curse of Allah and mankind alike. No heaven awaits these demons in human skin, only damnation.
After all, how can someone who claims to fight for the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate commit as vile and monstrous an attack as to target the Prophet's Mosque in Medina using a suicide vest? Although no group has claimed responsibility, all signs seem to indicate that the self-styled Islamic State, Daesh, are behind these terrible attacks against the very heart of Islam itself. The bomber approached Saudi Arabian soldiers, asking them if he could break his fast with them as the call to evening prayer was being raised. They graciously invited him to join them for a meal, only for the terrorist to murder his hosts and blow himself up.
This was not merely an attack on the Saudi security apparatus. If the terrorists wanted to do that, there are thousands of other targets all over Saudi Arabia. This was an attack on Islam and Muslims the world over, and the terrorists wanted to send a message that even the resting place of the Prophet Muhammad himself, peace and blessings be upon him, is not safe for anyone, and especially not Muslims. It is said that Aysha, the wife of the prophet, once told workers who were hammering nails near to the Prophet's Mosque not to disturb the prophet who was buried within. The terrorists have gone beyond hammering nails, and have instead detonated explosives and murdered people right next to Islam's greatest and most beloved prophet's resting place.
Several years ago when Daesh blew up the mosque and tomb of Prophet Jonah in Iraq, I remember getting attacked by Daesh's online trolls for condemning such senseless savagery. After we got beyond that usual declarations of my heresy for daring to disagree with them, I questioned why they were blowing up the tombs of prophets, and if they also thought it justifiable to blow up the tomb of the Seal of the Prophets in Medina. Although they swiftly fell silent, I believe that yesterday I finally got my answer.
This is not the first time radical extremists have attacked Islam's holiest sites. Few remember the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque of Makkah that houses the Ka'aba. In that instance, Juhayman Al-Otaibi held Islam's holiest site hostage and forced the shedding of blood in a place where violence is entirely prohibited by Islamic law. Much farther back in history, in the 10th century, the Qarmatians, a community of Ismaili Shias, attacked Makkah and defiled some of its holy relics, including capturing and removing the Black Stone from its plinth and desecrating the Zamzam water wells.
However, this latest attack on Islam and attempt upon the sanctity of the Prophet's Mosque happened in the age of mass media and social networking. Muslims will not soon forget how those who claim to be devout adherents of Islam instead had more in common with deviant sects that struck fear and terror into the hearts of Muslims across the Arabian Peninsula a thousand years ago, whether the Qarmatians or the Khawarij before them who murdered caliphs and turned society inside out with their violent and sick ideologies.
As if the attack on the Prophet's Mosque was not heinous enough, Daesh has been busy slaughtering a lot of people this Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. They shot dozens of innocents in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport; they stabbed and hacked 20 to death in Dhaka; and, in their worst ever attack, they blew up over 200 in Baghdad. Again, and unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the victims of these acts of terrorism were none other than the most unjustifiably vilified people of this day and age – Muslims themselves.
When will the world, particularly the West, wake up to the fact that Islam and Muslims, representing over 1.8 billion people of the global population, are the biggest victims of terrorism? When will the world realise that it would be far more productive to engage with and support Muslims rather than demonise them and take every possible opportunity to disparage them in the media? There has never been more glaring evidence that Islam is completely innocent of terror as in the events of the past week, and to say otherwise after what the world has now witnessed would be grotesque and indefensible.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.