By Maulana Muhammad Aslam Shaikhupuri Sahib

The world has done everything it can do to paint us as extremists, but we have remained the moderates that we are because we belong to the Ummah that has been called Ummat-i-Wast or the Moderate Ones. This Ummah is moderate in all aspects of life ? in its thinking and beliefs, in its praise and love, in its deeds and worship and even in its ure and politics.

Muslims are neither worshippers of natural phenomena like the Mushrikeen, nor cut-off from the world like the hermit monks. Neither do they abuse and curse the prophets of Allah like the Jews, nor do they, like the Christians, call their prophet the Son of God. Neither do they believe that war is the first and last solution of every disagreement nor do they hate weapons of war. Neither do they let the world overpower their religion, nor do they let their faith become an enemy of the world. They have been taught moderation and they have cherished and followed it down through the centuries.

Let us not talk about the era that is called the Age of their Glory, height, success and power, when their religious teachings reigned everywhere, down from the mosques to palaces, but take a look at the Age that is known as one of their weakness, downfall, submission and defeat and which is considered as an era of their distance from Islamic teachings. Even in this age you won't see any form of the oppression that has now become the identity of the West.

Neither burning piles of dead bodies nor towers made of skulls, neither desecrating places of worship nor dishonoring the prophets, neither defiling holy books, nor any brutal coercion to change one's religion, they were guilty of nothing yet all these tactics were used against them, the Muslims, in order to force them to become extremists and resort to violence. Even a harmless cat, if attacked by a number of fierce dogs, will do everything it can to defend itself but its defense cannot be termed as terrorism or violence. Violent are those who bark at the weak, enrage them, take away their children, dishonor them and make them aliens in their own territory.

If as weak an animal as a cat has the right to defend itself and its young ones, then Muslims cannot be deprived of the same right either, nor can they can be called extremists if they use this basic right of theirs. Extremists are those who have ed the sea-routes of the Muslims from them and their threatening armed aircraft carriers roam the sea equipped with deadly and dangerous weapons. Extremists are those who are extravagantly spending the wealth obtained from the oil fields and mines possessed by the Muslim countries while the Muslims themselves are forced to live in abject poverty, hunger and deprivation.

Extremists are those who have forced the poor Palestinian refugees imprisoned in camps, to eat haram meat and the meat of dead animals; who closed the doors of their houses upon them, which they had built with their own sweat and blood; who pulled out their nails and cut their bodies with razor blades. Extremists are they who slapped economic sanctions on Iraq, killing 1,500,000 Iraqi children who died of hunger and lack of medicines. The fire ignited by them is still raging in Basra, Kufa, Karbala and Baghdad turning everything to cinders. The weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that had been made an excuse for raining bombs and bullets upon the defenseless Iraqis haven't been found anywhere as yet.

The Iraqi people, whom they said they were liberating from the cruel rule of Saddam, who were promised the blessings of Democracy are not at all willing to accept slavery in the form of freedom, curse in the form of blessings. Extremists are those, who turned Afghanistan into ruins in search of one single man and after occupying Afghanistan herded the prisoners of war into containers like so many cattle, nay in fact, even worse than cattle, and left the containers in the burning desert, where the sand was as hot as liquid lead and the sky was pouring down fire.

The prisoners shrieked in pain, sobbed for water, died of suffocation but nothing melted the hearts of the extremists. Extremists are those who compared a Muslim country to a dog and committed as heinous a crime as flushing the Holy Quran down a toilet. And it wasn't the first time. History is full of such incidents of desecration, such fury-inciting acts committed by them but they were transferred from mouth to mouth, there is no written record about them. It also happened that to enrage the Mujahideen they abused the finest man in history, whom the Christian author of "Hero of Heroes" has referred to as the "Greatest Human" of all times. At times, great Muslim conquerors like Salahuddin Ayubi were abused to their faces.

A Zionist soldier stood over the pages of the Holy Quran and challenged the prisoners to call their God for help. The incident appeared in the newspapers too that an American judge, on hearing the news that thousands of dollars had been paid as reward for the capture of a mujahid, had angrily said, "Why pay millions of dollars? These Pakistanis are ready to sell even their mothers for a few bucks." The Jews and Christians have tried their best to make us follow the path of extremism but we have refused to do so. Neither have we ever deprived their kids of food, nor forced their young men to eat carrion.

Neither have we ever used dirty words for any of their revered persons, nor violated the sanctity of their holy books. How can we do all this when we are known as the moderate, the balanced Ummah and are instructed to adopt moderation in simply everything? Jihad against oppression and cruelty is moderation also. InshaAllah we shall live on moderation and die on moderation too.