No Terror Training CampWhen I was 16 years old, I attended my first national Muslim youth camp at Harrietville in Victoria. The camp was organised by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), the peak Muslim representative body of Australia.
At this camp, I met young Muslims from across Australia. They were from all different parts of the world. I learnt that you could have blonde hair and blue eyes and still be Muslim. I met Muslims from Europe, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and south-east Asia.
Our teacher was a Melbourne Imam named Sheik Fehmi. He spoke fluent English, and had read widely. He was used to dealing with young people, and had attended at least 15 previous camps.
Sheik Fehmi was often asked questions about jihad. In those days, some young Muslims were keen to join the Afghan resistance effort which was sponsored by the Reagan Administration with the support of the Australian government.
His answers were always the same. He would quote from 2 sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings of God be upon him).
One young man approached the Prophet wanting permission to fight in the Muslim army to defend the Prophet’s city. The Prophet asked the boy 2 questions. “Do you have elderly parents who need you to look after them? Do you have your parent’s permission?”
The boy replied that he had elderly parents who needed him. The Prophet then said: “Look after them. That will be your jihad.”
Sheik Fehmi also frequently told us of a scene on the Day of Judgment painted by the Prophet. On that day, one of the first persons to be brought for judgment would be a martyr, someone who had fought and died for God. The martyr would be dragged into hell. Why? Because he fought to be a hero and so that people would glorify him.
So there you have it. This is what mainstream Muslim Australians are taught. That martyrdom is no one-way ticket to paradise. And that you cannot go to fight if you have elderly parents. And that you need parents’ permission before fighting.
Which parent in their right mind would allow their son or daughter to blow themselves up and kill others in the process? Which parent would be happy to see their child commit suicide?
Generally, it is people suffering from depression and other mental illnesses who commit suicide. People who have not received the right medical attention. Suicide is one of the greatest sins, not just in Islam but in just about every religion on earth.
Sadly, suicide cults exist in every faith. Christianity has had its fair share, including the notorious Rev Jim Jones of Guyana. The Tamil Tigers were masters of suicide bombing, sometimes justifying it using Hindu texts. And such cults now exist among Muslims.
No religion teaches kids to kill themselves. Only fringe extremists teach this. And its results are tragic. The people of London saw this on 7 July. The people of Baghdad see it almost everyday.
And I pray to God that the people of Sydney and Melbourne and Canberra and Christchurch and Dunedin and every inch of Australia and New Zealand never see this scourge appear on their shores.
Some months back, I read a Palestinian father’s plea to the non-religious Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. He asked the leaders of the brigade why his son had to die. “Why don’t you ever send you’re your children to die? Why do your children live in luxury while I will never get to enjoy seeing my grandchildren?”
One Sydney Islamic bookshop owner recently told me that his biggest seller was a book on baby names. Muslim Australians are more interested in finding names for their new-borns. They are more interested in bringing life to this earth. But terrorists want young Muslims to kill themselves and others.
© Irfan Yusuf 2005