Al-Islami claims that “a religion that promotes peace and understanding among people of all faiths, and it strongly prohibits all forms of violence and aggression against all people regardless of their faith or race.” That’s not a completely accurate statement. Islamic sacred texts contain many justifications of violence, just as Christian and Jewish sacred texts do.
The right wing publication American Thinker claims that “Islam is anything but a religion of peace. Violence is at the very core of Islam.” That’s not a completely statement, either. Although there are Islamic sacred texts that promote violence, most followers of Islam live nonviolently and many work to promote peace. It’s the same as with Christianity and Judaism. Although there are Christian and Jewish sacred texts that promote violence, most Christians and Jews live nonviolently and many work to promote peace.
How can the disagreement over the nature of Islam be settled? Honestly, the disagreement probably can’t be settled. People will have to disagree on the matter, because there are people dedicated to both sides.
The truth is that Islam is both a religion of peace and a religion of violence, because Islam isn’t really a single thing. That same can be said of Christianity and Judaism.
Individual Muslims can do a great deal to shift the debate toward the side of peace, of course, though they will never win over everyone to their view. Muslims can make the claim of Islam as a religion of peace more credible by being open and vocal in their Muslim identity and in their support for peace.
How can they do that? Joining an organization like Muslims for Peace is a good first step.
Wearing a t-shirt like the one you see here, Muslims for Peace, is another good step. Even without talking to the people with whom they cross paths, Muslims wearing this shirt are contradicting the stereotype of Islam as an inherently bloodthirsty tradition.