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Zachary Ellis: Reputation of extremism not fair to Islam


Sunday, April 16, 2017
Reputation of extremism not fair to Islam

Islam is the second most practiced religion in the world, reaching approximately 1.3 billion people. Much like every other religion, there are some who translate the teachings in ways that the vast majority of people of the same faith don’t agree with.

Islam has gained a reputation that suggests it encourages or fosters extremism. This is not fair to the religion at all. Islam at its core, like most religions, preaches kindness, charity and understanding.

Groups like ISIS have popularized the idea that their Islam is the true representation of Islam, but most Muslims would probably agree that the religion practiced by ISIS and that practiced by most Muslims is hardly similar at all. Phrases like “extreme Islamic terrorism” help perpetuate this idea that ISIS members and the Muslim co-worker in your office, or the Muslim student in your class or the Muslim waiting in front of you at the grocery store checkout line all have the same beliefs.

Religious extremism is a problem, but extremism does not only occur in or because of a single religion. The KKK claims to have Christian ideologies, but my Christian friend is not going to burn a cross in my yard or lynch me because I am a Jew.

Self-expression and individual interpretation is the essence of what makes religion such a powerful force in our society, and, therefore, religion varies from person to person even among people of the same faith. The beliefs of the few should not be seen as a representation of the beliefs of the many.

Zachary Ellis

Amherst