More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams -- from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths -- in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks.
It is ironic that while the "liberal" world has been busy in Canada lavishing millions on the "Foreign Terrorist Fighter" Omar Khadr, and in the US pampering extremists such as Linda Sarsour -- an apologist for ISIS and Islamist terrorism who calls for a "jihad" on the president, and whose tweets include racist comments such as "How many times to we have to tell White women that we do not need to be saved by them? Is there a code language I need to use to get thru?" -- that the press has largely ignored these courageous Islamic leaders. They have travelled from six major European countries and launched a peace march in Europe to show the masses that some Muslims, at least, do condemn terrorism and want nothing to do with terrorists who murder in the name of Islam.
Many consider their efforts a brave stand to win back the trust of those in the West who are justifiably angry about the recent wave of terrorist attacks in United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Israel, Germany, the United States and across much of the world.
These imams, from different Islamic faiths, have done an extraordinary job in unequivocally denouncing the terrorists by visiting the sites of terror attacks to pay homage to victims of terrorism in Europe.
Hassen Chalghoumi (pictured at center on January 8, 2015), the imam of Drancy Mosque in suburban Paris, is leading a peace march of more than 60 Islamic leaders and imams, to denounce Islamic terrorism and pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe. (Photo by Marc Piasecki/Getty Images)
The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core. They have been sending these imams death threats.
It is not only violent extremists, however, who pose threat to peace efforts and the West. At least what they do can be seen. Possibly more harmful are non-violent Muslims, such as Linda Sarsour, who, in order to prey upon naïve admirers of other cultures, continue to feed to the world a narrative of Muslim victimhood, apparently to try to whip up hostile sentiments.
Sarsour for instance, recommends launching a jihad against the current US administration by calling its members "white nationalists", "fascists", and "Islamophobes". She has also been sending her warm wishes to Assata Shukar, a woman who murdered an American policeman, then, after escaping from prison, fled to Cuba.
It is painful to see such people stoking the fire to support extremists -- especially while heroic imams go on a peace mission, only to face threats from extremists.
It is also painful to watch such extremists invoke well-worn words such as jihad and sharia -- words the meaning of which is known all too well in the Muslim world -- and then later try to paint these words -- presumably for gullible Westerners -- as symbols of warm-and-fuzzy non-violent "resistance".
Even though it is partially true that in Islam, jihad is considered a struggle against oneself to eliminate the evils within oneself, if you speak to anyone in the Muslim world and ask what jihad is, that is not the answer you will get.
There are hadiths [the deeds and saying of the Prophet Muhammad], taken literally by hardline Muslims, that order the need for jihad against infidels:
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.... (Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6985)
I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah. (Hadith Muslim 30)
There are verses in the Quran that state:
And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. (Quran 2:191-193)
So let those fight in the cause of Allah who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter. And he who fights in the cause of Allah and is killed or achieves victory - We will bestow upon him a great reward. (Quran 4:74)
What is not addressed is how a majority of Muslims have been radicalized over the years by extremist clerics who know nothing about peace. They have apparently adopted a literal interpretation of many versus to take over the non-Muslim world and impose on mankind an Islamic version of religion.
It is also ironic that extremists can take time from their busy schedules to send death threats to these peaceful imams, but never have any problem with people such as Sarsour -- perhaps because they are not in her cross-hairs and possibly share the same ideology.
Organizations that are supposedly "non-violent" such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), nevertheless represent an ideology, the sole purpose of which is to impose Saudi, Taliban, or Iran-like Sharia law on the world.
Both the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR, as well as Britain's Islamic Relief and 80 other organizations, for example, were added to the United Arab Emirates' list of designated terrorist organizations in 2014. Presumably, all are the fonts from which violent Islam grows. Many on the list, such, as Hezbollah and Boko Haram, already are violent.
These views in Islam no longer have anything to do with the great mystic philosophers, such as Rumi, Saadi and Ibn el Arabi, who considered even the weakest soul an extension of Allah, thus demanding love and respect for all, and with no ambitions of ruling anyone or taking control of the world.
Anyone who is trying to sell Islam and Sharia, which represent an extremist ideology, as something non-militant, only exposes himself or herself as trying to fool the world.
It is also important to keep in mind that extremists consider peaceful Muslims apostates. Mansoor Hallaj for example, who was gruesomely tortured and executed, is a symbol of how these extremist Muslims have savaged anyone who tried to offer a "kinder, gentler" version of Islam.
The only reason that modern-day people -- from both East and West -- are aware of the violent aspect of jihad is that they have seen bloodbaths and massacres wherever the phrase "Allahu Akbar," "Allah is the greatest," was chanted.
Therefore, the word jihad in the current historical context can only trigger suspicion and anger against anyone who announces jihad as a wish.
Extremist Muslims have, in fact, played this game for decades in the West and also in the Muslim world. They have not only poisoned the minds of their own youths against other faiths, but are also preparing them to commit violence against people of other faiths in a bid to take over the world through "jihad".
Now they have realized that they may be starting to lose the game: many youths have started to question their activities while many governments in the West are running programmes to integrate the brainwashed young people into their societies.
The notion of "Us vs. Them" is beginning to fall apart and finally the world seems to be coming out of the decades-long chaos and cold war(s) that begin after 1940s.
It is therefore high time, as mankind faces a crucial turning point, that people will pull together and support any voices of peace, such as those of the marching imams, and restrain any hands that would try to sabotage their noble mission.
Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.