Contemporary and Social Issues

Religion – The Root of Terrorism…?


Hammad Ahmad, USA

They referred to themselves as ‘God’s warriors’. [1] Armed to the teeth, chanting religious slogans and carrying religious symbols and signs replete with religious language, thousands of them marched on Capitol Hill. As the fervour reached a fever pitch, they broke through barricades and penetrated security forces to infiltrate the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol. Once inside, they were heard praying loudly for ‘the evil of Congress to be brought to an end.’ [2] They stormed the halls of Congress with full intention to hang the Vice President from a tree, chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence!’ [3] They searched frantically for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, aiming to end her life by either shooting her in the head or running her over with a car on live television. [4] Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recounted the terror she felt as they came for her as well, banging on her office door yelling, ‘Where is she? Where is she?’ [5] They had even planted pipe bombs near the Capitol the night before. [6]

It’s been called an insurrection. An insurgency. A violent uprising. Whatever labels we wish to use, we cannot deny that the events of January 6 in Washington DC fit the FBI’s own definition of domestic terrorism perfectly. [7] This was an act of violent domestic terrorism, plain and simple.

“Washington, DC – January, 6 2021: Trump supporters rioting at the US Capitol.”; ©Shutterstock

So who was behind this most recent terror attack in the United States of America? Based purely on the description above (and unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past month), I wouldn’t blame you if you assumed it was probably a group of so-called Muslims. After all, Muslims are behind the majority of all terrorist attacks, right? From the September 11 plane hijackings in USA, the 7 July London Tube bombings, the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 just to name a few, all the way to the recent spate of killings in France only a few months ago – Muslims were behind it all.

But are they really? Look closely at the images from January 6 and you will see the insurgents carrying Christian crosses and Christian flags. Their signs read ‘Jesus Saves’ and ‘Jesus 2020’. And their religious chants? ‘Christ is King!’ [8] Make no mistake about it – these were radicalized ‘Christian’ extremists.


No, this does not mean that Christianity is a violent religion or that Prophet Jesus (as) taught any kind of violent extremism. Quite the contrary – Jesus (as) is an honoured prophet in the Muslim faith who taught peace, love, and compassion for all. What this does mean is that terrorism has no religion. People of any faith – or even no faith – are susceptible to radicalization, not just those of a Muslim background.

Take for instance the Lord’s Resistance Army, a ‘Christian’ terrorist group in Uganda. Or the Abhinav Bharat, a ‘Hindu’ terrorist group in India. Or the Buddhist Power Force, a ‘Buddhist’ terrorist group in Sri Lanka. Or even the now-defunct Japanese Red Army, a Marxist-Leninist terrorist group with no ties to anyone religious ideology. And in the USA, according to the Department of Homeland Security, white supremacists are the single biggest terror threat facing the country today. [9]

Again, terrorism has no race, colour, nationality, or religion.

Wherever there is corruption and moral bankruptcy – especially among leadership – we will find the rise of extremist ideologies, regardless of faith or ethnicity. In his 2012 landmark address, at the very Capitol Hill attacked this past January 6, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba), Fifth Caliph and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, articulates how these injustices directly lead to the rise of terrorism wherever they occur.

He said: ‘As a result, the frustrations and restlessness of the poor and deprived segments of society have continued to increase and this has led to rebellion and internal disorder within those countries. The poor people of the developing countries have become so frustrated that they have turned against not only their own leaders, but also the big powers as well. This has played into the hands of the extremist groups, who have taken advantage of the frustrations, and so have been able to encourage such people towards joining their groups and supporting their hate-filled ideology. The ultimate result of this has been that the peace of the world has been destroyed.’ [10]

Thus, religion has nothing to do with it. Even if religion ceases to exist, terrorism will remain alive and well as long as injustices continue at the hands of corrupt leaders. In fact, rather than blaming religion, we should look to religion for solutions to radicalization. If anything, rather than inciting violence and terrorism, the core teachings of all true religions – particularly Islam – promote the establishment of justice at all levels in society through honest leadership that displays compassion and care for the needs of the underprivileged.

This is the very road-map His Holiness (aba) presented to US lawmakers in 2012 when he said: ‘… it is a clear teaching of Islam that the people of all nationalities and all races are equal. It is also made clear that all people should be granted equal rights without any discrimination or prejudice. This is the key and golden principle that lays the foundation for harmony between different groups and nations, and for the establishment of peace… Then, nations and governments should always seek to serve and help those less fortunate. However, such service should not be rendered with an aim of achieving national or political benefits or as a means to fulfil vested interests… In short, if we desire for peace to be established in the world, then we must leave aside our personal and national interests for the greater good and instead we must establish mutual relations that are based entirely on justice.’ [11]

If the world genuinely understood and implemented these religious teachings – the teachings of Islam – then we could have prevented the January 6 attack on Capitol Hill from ever happening. As a matter of fact, we could have eradicated all forms of terrorism a long time ago. And the credit would have gone to religion.

About the Author: Hammad Ahmad is a graduate from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology in Canada. He serves as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, and serves the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.





[4] Ibid.







[11] Ibid.