The terrorists “cannot be considered representative of approximately one billion Muslims.”
“Some Muslim activists would interpret verses of the Qur’an or traditions of the Prophet Mohammed to serve their own political ends, however they conceive them.”
On why there are Qur’an teachings on violence– “the referred verse has admonished those people who, although they had apparently accepted Islam, had not migrated from the land of the rejecters.”
On why the Qur’an teachings include/allow violence, why the Prophet Muhammad practiced violence.
Regarding the verse saying that people converting away from Islam should be executed and the fact that Muhammad did this in his lifetime, Moiz Amjad answered on a post from ‘Understanding Islam’ site (September 13, 2003):
“First of all, I would like to clarify that the referred verse does not deal with apostates. On the contrary, the referred verse is, in fact, placed in the context of the directive of Jihad against the rejecters of the Messenger of God. The referred verse has admonished those people who, although they had apparently accepted Islam, had not migrated from the land of the rejecters. In this context, these people are warned that if they turn away from migrating from the land of the rejecters, then they too shall be considered from among the rejecters and like them shall not be spared and, consequently, shall share the fate of the rejecters.”
Regarding the fact that Islam is seen by many as a terrorist religion, he adds: “Terrorism by definition is the use of violence and/or the threat thereof to achieve political or religious ends.
I am sure if you look closely at your definition of terrorism, you shall see that not just Muhammad (pbuh) and the first Muslim state would fall within the ambit of terrorism, but most of the Prophets of the Old Testament and most honorable and even self-defending states of the world would also be termed as terrorists. After all, defending a state against external aggression too involves the use of violence for a purely political objective of preserving the political entity of an independent state. It is clear that if your definition were accepted to be true then not only the very fighters against terrorism today would be reduced to nothing more than terrorists themselves but the very idea of saving people against persecution shall become a terrorist ideology.”
Mustafa Al Sayyid in his article ‘Mixed message: The Arab and Muslim response to terrorism’ (The Washington Quarterly Spring 2002) said:
“Western media also uses jihad to convey the notion of an armed struggle launched by Muslims against people of other religions in order to compel them to renounce their religions and adopt Islam…
…the notion of forced conversion is alien to Islam. Although explaining their religion to others is a duty incumbent on Muslims, Islam considers the question of faith a personal matter. … When the notion of jihad was applied during the early days of the Prophet Muhammad, it meant armed struggle against the enemies of the new faith who were launching war against it. Once the new faith triumphed with Muhammad’s entry into Mecca, jihad acquired a new meaning. In Muhammad’s words, the “greater jihad” meant an inner struggle to suppress one’s evil desires and elevate one’s soul.
Yet, political Islam—just like Arab nationalism and Marxism—can be interpreted in several ways. Some versions would call for the use of exclusively peaceful methods of political action. Other versions of the same ideologies would justify and legitimize armed struggle against those domestic and foreign powers that seem to pose an obstacle to the realization of the political strategy inspired by these ideologies. Thus, some Muslim activists would interpret verses of the Qur’an or traditions of the Prophet Mohammed to serve their own political ends, however they conceive them. Nevertheless, just as no one in his or her right mind would charge all Protestants or Catholics of being terrorists because certain Protestant or Catholic groups in Northern Ireland resort to armed action, by the same logic, the presence of certain terrorist groups that call themselves Islamic does not make Islam and all its adherents potential terrorists and a threat to the rest of humanity.
As this introduction conveys, Arab and Muslim states do not feel that they bear any special responsibility in the battle against terrorism. Even if one accepts the claims bin Laden made in his televised statements—as well as the charges of the U.S. government that the perpetrators of the tragic and condemnable attacks on September 11 are all Arabs and Muslims—terrorism has nothing to do with Islam and Arabism because these individuals cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered representative of approximately one billion Muslims.”
(Sources: “Mixed Message: The Arab and Muslim Response to ‘Terrorism'”, Mustafa Al. Sayyid, read more here, The Washington Quarterly)