When I became a Muslim I declared my intention before a small gathering of Friday prayer participants. The presiding Imam very gently and purposefully asked if I did so freely and without any coercion.
This was a peaceful introduction to Islam, allaying my lingering trepidation of leaving behind a lifetime of Christianity, which remained understandably integrated into my psychic DNA as surely as the life-giving gift of my parents.
Following 9/11, I joined a group of new Muslims similarly distraught by the event. We were fortunate to have many knowledgeable Islamic leaders participate and enrich our discussions. Consistently and without exception, the conclusions were the same: Islam is a peaceful faith which does not condone the use of violence, and which does not seek to impose itself upon others.
Perhaps many, myself included, were willing to consign the horror of 9/11 to a handful of deranged souls from a lunatic fringe. But we were wrong, so completely wrong. Should there be those out there who continue to be confused, let me say: this is not about religion, this is about power, manipulation, greed and self-interest.
From the legacy of 9/11 through the rise and plague of al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Islamic State group and the multitude of their insidious predecessors and offspring, all who perpetrate terror in the name of religion, any religion, are adopting it as a convenient smokescreen with the intention of confusing us and inhibiting an appropriate response.
In case I didn’t mention it before: this is not about religion, so follow the money and eradicate these cancers from the lives of the people of the world.