(MENAFN - Jordan Times) In today's world, as in past eras, an important distinction needs to be made between people who believe in and practise a certain faith peacefully and civilly, and those who manipulate faith and use it for violent or perverse means.
Such distinction is crucial to make, as the line separating the latter from the former is often blurred, as a result of either the misguided or ill-meant acts of some practitioners of the faith or of the misguided or ill-meaning acts of individuals and forces external to it.
This is a general rule that applies to all faiths at all times, and the case of Islam is no exception.
It goes without saying that to more than 1.6 billion individuals in today's world, Islam gives solace and comfort. The vast majority of the faith's followers value the faith immensely, understand its tenets correctly and perform its edicts responsibly.
To both rich and poor, faith gives meaning to life and hope, and inspires its adherents to do good and be good to others.
Unlike what some may think, and despite the hijacking of Islam by extremist forces, at times, Islam is a moderating force in today's world.
It promotes dialogue and understanding, mutual respect, and societal and world peace.
Its fundamental message is both positive and constructive — spiritually, socially, economically, scientifically and even politically.
However, as in the case of other faiths, Islam has been either manipulated or hijacked by ignorant or evil forces to achieve selfish or deviant goals.
The level of abuse of the faith, though marginal compared to the overall number of followers of Islam, is still significant in its distortion of the faith and damage done to Islam and Muslims.
What adds to the power of the abuse, and the level of distortion and damage, is that it comes from both within and without Islam.
The evil forces that emerged over the past few decades and that attribute the horrors they commit to Islam have been greatly detrimental to the faith.
But equally detrimental are the acts of those outside forces that are either abetting and supporting such forces (for deviant purposes of their own) or using the despicable acts of these forces as a means to promote negative stereotypes about Muslims and Islamophobia, and demonise Islam and Muslims.
The main challenge for Islam and Muslims today — after the hijacking, abuse, distortion and demonisation of faith — is to continue to project the correct image of Islam and insist on making the distinction cited above.
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