A concerted effort is needed to stop radicalization. To bring the true teachings of Islam to the attention of the world, Ahmadi Muslims have launched the TrueIslam campaign, which lays out 11 fundamental truths about the teachings of Islam ignored or misinterpreted by radical elements.
1) True Islam rejects all forms of terrorism.
2) True Islam believes in nonviolent jihad of the self and of the pen.
3) True Islam believes in the equality, education and empowerment of women.
4) True Islam advocates freedom of conscience, religion and speech.
5) True Islam advocates for the separation of mosque and state.
6) True Islam believes in loyalty to your country of residence.
7) True Islam encompasses the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
8) True Islam believes in all verses of the Qur’an (that is, no verse overrides another) and forbids lying (to misrepresent teachings of Islam or misrepresent facts).
9) True Islam recognizes that no religion can monopolize salvation.
10) True Islam believes in the need for unified Muslim leadership.
11) True Islam rejects the concept of a bloody Messiah [referring to any prophet who would advocate violence].
Readers can endorse this campaign at trueislam.com. The details of the basis of these points from the Holy Qur’an have been given at the site. The campaign can be followed on Twitter at @TrueIslamUSA, and the conversation can be joined at #TrueIslam.
Syed Sajid Ahmad, Fargo, N.D.
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Einstein is reported to have said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. Well, the people who are crazy for their Second Amendment rights have proved the truth of that statement by protecting the Orlando shooter’s right to bear arms. I try to imagine a pollster questioning those in the bathroom stalls early Sunday, hiding behind thin metal from a chance to meet their creator. Would they be against mandatory background checks? Against large ammunition clips? Against the myriad conceal-carry laws flooding the country with bravado-bound do-gooders whom we haven’t seen save enough lives to justify the right to bring semiautomatics to President Obama’s speeches?
It’s one thing to make a political statement. It’s another thing to shoot and kill someone. To shoot and kill 20 kids at school. To shoot and kill co-workers hundreds, nay, thousands of times out of some less-than-mortal irritation. Well, I am not naive enough to think we’ll corral the domestic armaments industry into a pen we can control, so I’m reaching out for help to understand how to accept that we’ve increased inevitabilities by 50 percent. Now it’s death, taxes and gun violence.
Richard Breitman, Minneapolis
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Regarding the ongoing debate over guns and the horrible incident in Florida, here’s what the authorities will never tell us about guns, war and murder:
Humans are primates, and primates learn primarily by imitation. This is a deep-seated, psychological need to be expressed, this desire to imitate activities that engage the attention of other humans, regardless of the moral context. (Many studies on human behavior back this up.)
Guns are most dangerous because they so readily make for a spectacle that will be imitated by other humans, answering a powerful, unconscious level of need, regardless of morality. (Just look at the popularity of the “How to Get Away with Murder”-type fare offered on TV.)
Evolution has hard-wired us this way, because imitation-learning behavior has frequently paid off in our past — with new foods, disease-avoidance behaviors, etc. And so we should expect more of the same kind of behavior that we’ve been seeing until guns and gun play become less visible and less rewarded in our society.
Guns clearly are making the networks money on TV, what with all the shooting on prime time. But they are also killing us, because humans will imitate what they see, regardless of the consequences, as long as it attracts the attention of other people.
Yes, monkey see, monkey do — humans are that stupid. Obviously we are, as we’ve been allowing mayhem to run rampant on society.
Mark R. Jacobson, Richville, Minn.
For the U.S., seeking stability, the answer is foreign aid
[Editor’s note: The following letter was submitted before the weekend’s events in Orlando. We’ve retained it as part of the broad discussion on terrorism.]
In response to the conviction of three Somali-American men from Minnesota charged by the FBI with intentions to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, why do ISIL and other extremist groups continue to thrive and recruit?
ISIL has projected a narrative of the West as the perpetrator, the evil and the cause of suffering. In the U.S., popular opinion insists on suspicion and mistrust of Muslims alienating vulnerable young people. At the root of this narrative is poverty. Poverty is just a term for many issues, such as poor governance, bad economic development policies, corruption, unstable governments and so on. The U.S. has tremendous influence on these issues. Reducing poverty is an investment to help millions of people to have better lives. The returns are endless. These populations are unsophisticated markets. In supporting good governance, good economic policies, accountability and transparency, positive results are inevitable. If they thrive, we thrive. The Millennium Development Goals already have reduced poverty by half. Today, more girls are going to schools than before, and that is in part thanks to these goals.
The U.S. spends about 1 percent of its GDP on foreign aid, and, sure, the absolute number may sound high, but in a multitrillion-dollar economy, it barely scratches the Treasury. The U.S. can resist falling into this radical narrative by making good investments in these communities.
Ong Thao, Ramsey
Some facts about fentanyl
Upon the final report of the untimely death of Prince, many editorial comments on the drug fentanyl continue to flood the media. I would like to add my professional clarification about things you may have read:
• “Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.” This is a fact. What it does not mean is it is more powerful. It means a dose of fentanyl 50 to 100 times less than that of morphine will produce the same effects.
Imagine you need a caffeine boost. You stop in the coffeehouse and order an ordinary cup of joe, drink it and you are good to go. If, instead, you order a double espresso, you also drink it and are good to go. Likely similar doses of caffeine, so what is the difference? The serving size. That is potency.
• “Fentanyl is used mostly in hospitals or surgical centers.” True as well. Intravenously administered fentanyl is excellent in this setting, because it is an excellent pain reliever. It is shorter-acting than morphine (one hour vs. three), so patients can be aroused sooner.
• Fentanyl must be administered intravenously, through the skin, nasally or by holding it in the mouth so it can be absorbed by the blood vessels in the cheek or under the tongue. It is minimally absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, so tablets or solutions given by mouth have virtually no effect.
Both morphine and fentanyl are derivatives of opium, used for thousands of years in the treatment of pain. One or a number of doses of either of these drugs will not make you addicted. Opiates are a necessary part of patient care when intense pain threatens to delay or impede healing.
Pamela S. Haase, Rochester
The writer is a retired clinical pharmacist.