WHILE Sri Lanka was still reeling from the shock of last month’s bomb attacks, the horror continued. The whole disaster started with a series of co-ordinated suicide bombings on Easter Sunday killing more than 350 people with at least 500 more injured. Officials blamed a local Islamist group National Tawheed Jamaat.

Then as police raided the home of two suspected leaders, brothers Inshaf and Ilham Ibrahim, the pregnant wife of one of the bombers detonated a suicide vest, killing herself, her two children and three policemen. The brothers like most of their cohorts were well educated; they were also from a wealthy business family. However, they were drawn into extreme religious teachings that turned them into mass murderers.

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Suicide killers are not a new phenomenon; they have been around for a very long time. But the frightening thing is this culture of religious thinking has been given a modern edge with the ability to cause carnage that was not possible before. The Sri Lanka outrage is horrific enough. But what is more disconcerting is how prevalent and widespread is the ideology behind it. It is not until we understand this and its implications that we can realise how dangerous our world has become. The Sri Lanka bombers and their ilk subscribe to the Wahabi group, a sect that has its roots in Arabia. The Saudi royal family support and export this brand of religion worldwide.

This Ramadan, which begins today, they are sending no fewer than 70 imams to more than 30 countries to lead prayers and preach their doctrines and ensure an expansion of their beliefs. However, as the body count around the world increases, we have to ask: what exactly do these people believe in? When a mass killing happens, such as the one in Sri Lanka, it is Islam that bears the brunt of the repercussions.

The National:

Many people now see Islam as the source of all violence, in what they regard as a medieval and barbaric religion. Muslims are then seen to be at the forefront of terrorist activities. Why is it so? Is such a criticism of Islam justified?

My assertion is that we cannot blame Islam for any such atrocities. If the blame lies anywhere, it is with the globally rampant mullah narrative that is being spread by Wahabisim throughout the world – including Britain. Scotland should not be considered immune to this virus. The evidence for this is not only in their sermons in the mosques, but also in their books of doctrine and the literature they distribute in UK cities. The Wahabi doctrine says it is incumbent on every Muslim to eliminate all disbelievers and apostates. Only Muslims have the right to rule countries in which they live. All Muslim states must merge under a Caliphate: one universal Muslim government and then expand it to the world.

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This dangerous narrative sells because adherents are promised in heaven what they are not allowed in this world. In order to achieve this, they are indoctrinated to sacrifice not only their own lives, but the lives of others, even their families. This is nihilism in reverse; a mindset in which adherents believe not that there is no life after death, but think that this life is of no real value. Life’s only purpose is self-abnegation, and serves only to prove one’s devotion to God and the Prophet in order to attain paradise.

They are required to do nothing positive or productive in life but the activity of continual worship ending with martyrdom and the utopia of instantly receiving 72 virgins in paradise. The Wahabi ideology travels well, especially when it has deep pockets in Saudi Arabia to fund it. Local networks are well established through mosques and affiliates abroad. Its preachers have the capacity to motivate others to perform spectacular attacks like the ones we have seen in Sri Lanka. Now no place seems safe.

While this may seem like a potent ideology, it’s a like castle in the sand – it has no foundation. The Wahabis may claim this is from their holy book, but the Quran espouses no such decrees. Where, for example, in the Quran does it say disbelievers should be subject to gratuitous violence? To invest any credence in such spurious claims is to grossly misconstrue what the Quran says.

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At its very beginning, the Quran calls for people to become benefactors of humankind. Therefore, anything that goes against this cannot be an enduring value and is totally against Quranic principles.

The Quran also commands Believers to liberate the oppressed regardless of their belief. (Quran 4:75-76). The message of the Quran is for an inclusive community where each member of it strives to look after the others’ interests and oppose anything that is detrimental to the progression of society.

If the Sri Lanka terrorists truly loved the messenger, then their love should have been in implementing the message that he brought. And this message is the one that spreads peace and security and not fear and turmoil, as they have done.

The Quran says in verse 50:8: God does not forbid you from befriending those who do not fight you because of their differing beliefs ... you may befriend them and be equitable towards them. God cares for those who are equitable.

In contrast to the twisted Wahabi ideology, martyrdom in the Quran is the unintended consequence of being killed when active in a noble cause, not the death and destruction that a suicide bomber plans. The values in the Quran eliminate internal and external conflicts. They have meaning for individuals but have far richer meaning for each person as a member of a larger social group – the global village.

The primary function of Islam is the development of the human personality. It helps the transformation of an individual’s character by organising it into a harmonious system of living. When individuals are good, society is also good. This is the message of the Quran that needs to be communicated to neutralise the ideology the career terrorists have. Terrorists cannot lay claim to be following the Quran when in deed they do not.

Paigham Mustafa is an Islamic scholar who lives in Scotland