Anyone who has been paying attention knows how I feel about Islam. I think orthodox Islam naturally generates terrorists. I would not call Islamic terrorists “isolated radicals” or “extremists” because I think that implies that mainstream, orthodox Islam does not call for jihad. Which is incorrect. Even a cursory look at the historical meaning and significance of jihad evidences that most Muslims have viewed jihad as a fundamental religious duty.
So, in broad terms, a Muslim who does not engage in or support jihad is not a very good Muslim. But how do we respond to jihad? Is this a military fight? Do we need to be involved in a counter-jihad in order to protect our freedoms and liberties? Some would say so.
But I think Australia’s recent response to an Islamic terrorist in Sydney might portend a better way:
Even as tensions remained high in the midst of a hostage siege in Sydney on Monday, some Australians were taking to social media to ensure local Muslims feel safe from potential backlash. . . .
When Rachael Jacobs noticed the woman sitting next to her on the train silently removing her hijab, she told her to keep it on—“I’ll ride with you.”
And from there, #illridewithyou became a Twitter phenomenon as users tweeted their schedules and promised to ride with and protect Muslims from violent retaliation. I don’t necessarily agree with all of the undergirding errors that may have spawned the #illridewithyou campaign, but I do love the spirit of it.
This may be the very response that will destroy Islam’s effectiveness. By refusing to be drawn into a tit-for-tat grudge match where violence merely escalates and society continues to break down (the very thing jihad is intended to create), the #illridewithyou campaign shows a better way. By responding to violence with peace, by paying back an affront with kindness, the very fabric of jihad is torn apart.
Think about what an impact this campaign could be having with Muslims, especially Muslim women. Treated like inferiors in their homes, they have been brain-washed into believing that Western society is evil and in need of destruction. But if you saw a society being attacked by Muslim terrorists and then saw that same society continuing to be selfless and kind to the very source of its affliction, would that not affect you? Would you not think, “This is not a society that should be destroyed. This is a society that I should support. I wish my own Islamic society were more like this.”
God bless the people involved in #illridewithyou. I hope they have great success in wooing the ignorant and manipulated away from Islam.