Dozens of billboards with Muslim themes are popping up all over the country proclaiming what organizers say is the true message of Islam and its prophet, Muhammad: peace and justice, not extremism and violent jihad.
Quran (5:33) – “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned
By Rasha Madkour, Associated Press: The New York-based Islamic Circle of North America has erected 100 billboards over the summer that feature statements such as: “Muhammad believed in peace, social justice, women’s rights” and “Muhammad always taught love, not hate; peace, not violence.” Also listed are a website and a phone number people can call for more information.
They are in cities including Boston; New York; Phoenix; San Diego; El Paso and Austin, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee; Cleveland; Las Vegas; Milwaukee; North Bergen, New Jersey; Portland, Oregon; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Denver; and Calgary, Alberta.
The group’s president, Naeem Baig, said the idea for the campaign arose after January attacks in Paris by Islamist militants on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery store killed 17 people, plus the three attackers.
Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
The perpetrators wrongfully understood the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, Baig said, and the American Muslim community wanted to reclaim the message.
As for whether the campaign would face a tougher audience in Boston, with the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings still fresh in many people’s minds, Baig said: “That’s the whole point of the campaign; there are extremists in all communities.”
Muslim brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev carried out the attack at the marathon finish line that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others. Prosecutors said the bombings were intended to punish the U.S. for its wars in Muslim countries.
“As a Muslims, it hurts me when I see someone abusing my faith, abusing the teachings of the prophet,” Baig said.
Quran (9:5) – “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”
He sees those who resort to violence “as people who are lost, who have no direction in their life, people who have their own challenges in their life, who are using faith as an excuse.”
Bilal Siddiqui, a college student who volunteers for ICNA in Boston, said some callers vent and “spew hatred.” But after speaking to a knowledgeable person on the hotline, “oftentimes their approach becomes softer and they’re more keen to learn more,” he said.
Wilherm Edward, a non-Muslim who works at an auto parts store situated near one of the three Boston billboards, said he thinks the campaign is a great idea. Edward’s line of work, he said, exposes him to people from all walks of life, including Muslims.
“All the ones I’ve seen, they’re all good people,” he said.
Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah”
Aug. 31, 2015: A billboard proclaims the teachings of Islam near the Massachusetts Avenue Exit of I-93 north in Boston.
While praising the billboard campaign as a “laudable effort,” the leader of Boston’s biggest mosque said his institution prefers to take a different approach.
“We feel our actions speak louder than words,” said Yusufi Vali, executive director of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. The group aims to live the faith’s values through its food pantry and its work on affordable housing and criminal justice, Vali said.
“People appreciate your being real a lot more than the messaging and marketing,” Vali added. “I think the way we change people’s hearts is through our actions and deeds.”
If ‘moderate’ Muslims want people to change their perspective of Islam they need to do more than post ‘peace and love’ on billboards. This is what their beloved Quran says about people who do not worship Allah:
Quran on killing infidels:
2:191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.
2:193 And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.
2:216 Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.
2:244 Fight in the way of Allah, and know that Allah is Hearer, Knower.
5:33 The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.