Most Muslims tend to have a limited vocabulary when it comes to the defense of their religion. Sincerely, if they are serious about preventing their religion from being misunderstood, they need to avoid “logical fallacies” in their arguments of defence. What does that mean ? For instance, whenever one points to an act of terror or atrocity committed by a Muslim or an Islamic group in the name of Islam, all Muslims I know of, offer surprisingly uniform rhetoric in Islam’s defence – “This is not Islam”, “This has nothing to do with Islam”, “They are not real muslims” etc….. Be it 9/11, 26/11, ISIS, Paris attacks or the latest Brussels incident. It is, I am sorry, a very poor defense statement, and will not prevent what Muslims hope to prevent – Islamophobia .

Now, why is it a bad defense statement ? To understand that, Muslims must comprehend how these arguments comes across to non-Muslims. Let me illustrate it by taking an atrocity perpetrated by another religious group, the Hindus, against the Muslims. In 1992, a group of Hindu radicals, Hindu right-wing parties and their extremist followers destroyed, in retribution, a mosque in India – the Babri Masjid. Would Muslims buy the argument if a moderate Hindu then said,- “Its bad that the mosque was destroyed, but they are NOT REAL HINDUS ” or “This has nothing to do with Hinduism because Hinduism is a religion of peace” ?.

Such an argument is a logical fallacy. A group of practicing Hindus chanting Jai Shri Ram , breaking a mosque is definitely “Hindu religious extremists within Hinduism”. Irrespective of whether one can cite Sanskrit verses condemning violence in Hindu scriptures or not, one cannot separate these extremists from their religious identities, by branding them false adherents and disowning them. It will not be viewed by the rest as an honest approach. So any moderate Hindu will and should say – “Hindu radicals and extremists have destroyed the mosque and we have to do something to curb these extremists within Hinduism”. Simply, that’s what is expected of the Muslims by the rest of the world, a certain honesty to say “These are the extremists in MY RELIGION”. Otherwise everytime a Muslim offers a “This is not real Islam” argument, he will feed in to a perception bias that Muslims are incapable of critiquing extremism within their own religion. 

Violence and extremism exist in theology and practice of all religions, and it is how the moderates within a particular religion truly owns upto their radical fringe, that they come across as honest and genuine or not.