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Ahmadi Muslim leader condemns terror against Israelis as distortion of Islam

Op-ed by Sheikh Muhammad Sharif Odeh, leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the Holy Land.
     "When Allah, exalted be He, gave permission for the Muslims to fight, he did so in order that they might defend complete freedom of religion. He emphasized to them that it was their duty to defend, first of all, the churches, houses of worship and monasteries of their fellow men, even before their own mosques. He promised to support them if they adhered to this noble aim: to realize freedom of religion and defend the houses of worship from aggression and defilement...
It is striking that Allah, exalted be He, set this aim for them... in a period in which they, the Muslims, were suffering religious persecution, before they attained authority and influence - which they acquired later on, once they ruled over large countries populated by people of other religions. This proves that Allah, exalted be He, gives no excuse for neglecting, in any way, the defense of your neighbor's houses of worship, even if the Muslims themselves are suffering from religious persecution and their mosques are being attacked. It is the duty of all Muslims to rise up and protect these houses of worship from attack, with the same fervor with which they defend their mosques...
As for mosques, Islam confirms that they are open to visitors - in fact, to worshippers of any religion, as long as their visits do not unjustly provoke or hurt the worshippers. If the visits are conducted according to these rules, which can be agreed upon, no Muslim has the right to prevent visitors from entering the mosques of Allah. On the contrary, Allah has threatened those who prevent visitors from entering mosques with disgrace in this world and suffering in the next... Muslims must remember these principles and teachings, and abandon the obsolete, criminal ideas that call for violence, crimes and aggression... that are voiced by the traffickers of religion and those seeking to realize their personal or political aspirations by igniting strife and escalation at any price...
A few days ago, I visited the synagogue that was attacked in Jerusalem (i.e., in which five people were killed), and from the first moment, I felt a sense of anger because of this shameful act, which does not conform to our glorious Islam and contradicts its principles of tolerance. My condemnation of this crime arises from my understanding of and belief in glorious Islam; my religion, of which I am proud, and which the above individuals are attempting to stain with their ideas and behavior. Neither this act nor the other run-over attacks and criminal actions have anything to do with [the principle of] Islamic Jihad, Islamic moral principles or muru'a (traditional Arabic term for positive qualities a person should have, including hospitality, generosity, and courage).
It is the duty of my Muslim brothers in this land and around the world to condemn it and disassociate themselves from it. I assert that those people who are attempting to justify this crime or incite to similar acts in the name of religion have no backing from the Quran or from the Prophet's Sunnah that support their position. I assert that supporting this or any other similar act will have a destructive effect on our nation and our future."
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Note: The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a relatively small branch of Islam that was founded at the end of the 19th century and has between 10 and 20 million followers. Many mainstream Muslims consider Ahmadis heretics and non-Muslim, and they have been subjected to persecution and oppression. Pakistan, for example, amended its Constitution to categorize them as non-Muslims and prohibits them from identifying as Muslims. There have been riots in Muslim countries in which Ahmadis were killed for their "heretic" beliefs.

The Jerusalem synagogue that the Sheikh visited was the site of a brutal terror attack on Nov. 18, 2014. Two Arab terrorists, Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal from East Jerusalem, entered the synagogue and attacked worshippers with guns, knives and axes, killing 4 worshippers and a police officer. 7 people were injured, 3 of them seriously.

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