by Jerry Alatalo
n an effort to discourage and prevent the young men and women of Europe and North America from becoming involved with ISIS, al Qaeda and/or other terrorist groups falsely claiming adherence to the principles of Islam, Iran’s leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei wrote a letter directed to those young people.
In the letter he asks the young people (all people should read the Quran before forming any opinions about Islam) if they have ever read Islam’s sacred text the Quran, and suggests they do so before even thinking about joining any terrorist group. Some reading this may have read the text in the past and understand where Iran’s leader is coming from and why he felt it necessary to communicate with vulnerable young people.
Having read the Quran within the last few weeks, there is absolutely nothing in the writings which gives ISIS or other terrorist groups any Islamic justification for the heinous, barbaric crimes committed since the summer of 2014 in Iraq, or since 2011 in Syria. Let it be said in another way. For ISIS to assert that it follows the sacred teachings of the Quran and Muhammad would be the same thing as if it said it was following the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. ISIS does not equate with Islam.
The Quran corresponds to every essential sacred text of all major Earth spiritual traditions, in that it teaches right, Godly conduct in all one’s affairs, and penalty to pay first here and in the afterlife for failure to live in such a manner. True devoted adherents of all the Earth’s spiritual traditions, be it Hindu, Islam, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh, Tao, Indigenous or any other could never in a million years condone murderous actions or inflicting great harm upon – especially – innocent human beings.
Iran’s leader Ayatollah Khamenei is doing the right thing in correcting the great – but absolutely false – misperception that ISIS has some relation whatsoever to true Islam. Perhaps the time has come for leaders from every spiritual tradition on Earth to join in strong unity and publish a letter similar to the letter Iran’s leader has directed to the European and North American young people.
Such an all-tradition message could not only be directed to young people tempted in their ignorance to join criminal organizations like ISIS, but toward adults around the world who are also ignorant of Islamic core spiritual teachings, who unwittingly increase dissemination of erroneous and dangerous concepts based on profound misperception. It is both disappointing and puzzling to know that such a joining of the Earth’s spiritual tradition leaders, and publication of their unified message of peace in correcting dangerous and ignorant views, has not yet occurred.
Because if there’s one thing humanity is in desperate need of now is wisdom, understanding and action from those called, and who claim themselves as, the makers of peace.
In recent news regarding the insane and misguided phenomenon called “Islamophobia”, many are familiar of since discredited reports from FOX News about so-called “no-go” zones/cities in Europe, in particular Paris, France and Birmingham, England. “Terrorism experts'” appeared on FOX News talking about imaginary Muslim-controlled “no-go” zones where even police officers dare not enter. Those reports have been completely discredited as false, FOX News has had to publicly apologize for them, and the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo has gone so far as to threaten legal action against FOX for the harm done to her city Paris’ reputation.
In her own way Anne Hidalgo has decided to powerfully clear up misperceptions. Perhaps the mayor of Birmingham, England will follow Mayor Hidalgo’s fine example and take legal action against the media corporation whose report seems to meet the criteria of criminal libel against the people of that British city. Perhaps this will start a good trend of governments initiating lawsuits against media companies for instances of reporting false information.
Most of the time libel occurs against one person or a small group of people. When entire cities become the victim of libel by media companies millions of people become harmed, so when the first multi-billion dollar judgment for a Paris or Birmingham comes around there could well be just a few less false reports and a lot more fact-checking by the mainstream media.
What follows is a transcript of Ayatollah Khamenei’s letter followed by a video about it with comments from an Islamic leader in Michigan in America.
In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful.
To the Youth in Europe and North America,
The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts.
I don’t address your politicians and statesmen either in this writing because I believe that they have consciously separated the route of politics from the path of righteousness and truth.
I would like to talk to you about Islam, particularly the image that is presented to you as Islam. Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy. The provocation of a feeling of horror and hatred and its utilization has unfortunately a long record in the political history of the West.
Here, I don’t want to deal with the different phobias with which the Western nations have thus far been indoctrinated. A cursory review of recent critical studies of history would bring home to you the fact that the Western governments’ insincere and hypocritical treatment of other nations and cultures has been censured in new historiographies.
The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians. Your researchers and historians are deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars. This approach is admirable.
By mentioning a fraction of this long list, I don’t want to reproach history; rather I would like you to ask your intellectuals as to why the public conscience in the West awakens and comes to its senses after a delay of several decades or centuries. Why should the revision of collective conscience apply to the distant past and not to the current problems? Why is it that attempts are made to prevent public awareness regarding an important issue such as the treatment of Islamic culture and thought?
You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the “other” have been the common base of all those oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading “phobia” and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity. Why does the power structure in the world want Islamic thought to be marginalized and remain latent? What concepts and values in Islam disturb the programs of the super powers and what interests are safeguarded in the shadow of distorting the image of Islam? Hence, my first request is: Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam.
My second request is that in reaction to the flood of prejudgments and disinformation campaigns, try to gain a direct and firsthand knowledge of this religion. The right logic requires that you understand the nature and essence of what they are frightening you about and want you to keep away from.
I don’t insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: Don’t allow this dynamic and effective reality in today’s world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don’t allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam.
Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources. Gain information about Islam through the Qur’an and the life of its great Prophet. I would like to ask you whether you have directly read the Qur’an of the Muslims. Have you studied the teachings of the Prophet of Islam and his humane, ethical doctrines? Have you ever received the message of Islam from any sources other than the media?
Have you ever asked yourself how and on the basis of which values has Islam established the greatest scientific and intellectual civilization of the world and raised the most distinguished scientists and intellectuals throughout several centuries?
I would like you not to allow the derogatory and offensive image-buildings to create an emotional gulf between you and the reality, taking away the possibility of an impartial judgment from you. Today, the communication media have removed the geographical borders. Hence, don’t allow them to besiege you within fabricated and mental borders.
Although no one can individually fill the created gaps, each one of you can construct a bridge of thought and fairness over the gaps to illuminate yourself and your surrounding environment. While this preplanned challenge between Islam and you, the youth, is undesirable, it can raise new questions in your curious and inquiring minds. Attempts to find answers to these questions will provide you with an appropriate opportunity to discover new truths.
Therefore, don’t miss the opportunity to gain proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam so that hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment.
Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei
21st Jan. 2015
(Thank you to PressTV News Videos at YouTube)