Up to 600 worshipers had attended the service and were leaving to receive free food being distributed on the lawn outside when two explosions ripped through the crowd. Photograph by Mohammad Sajjad/Associated Press

Enough blood has been shed in the past few days to make any sane person question how anyone could possibly justify such cold-blooded and senseless attacks on innocent people. The poison gas in Syria is bad enough, but now we hear that the Somali Shabab have decided to kill shoppers in a Nairobi mall rather than play Captain Hook off the East African coast and now at least 78 Pakistani Christians are killed in a blast at a historic church. This is the ugly side of religion. More than a hijacking of Islam, this is dragging the faith that produced great scholars like Ibn Sina and al-Ghazali into the sewer. To say that the Prophet Muhammad would have condoned this kind of indiscriminate murder is as absurd as the medieval Crusader claim that Jesus would bless the slaughter of Jews and Muslims. But at least the crusades ended several centuries ago.

Muslims killing fellow Muslims or Muslims targeting Christians for death are both equally insane acts. Every day the death toll rises in Iraq and Syria, as though we have returned to the days of the Mongols and Mamluks. Egypt has unraveled, as has the violence over how to interpret Islam in Libya and Tunisia. Those who dare to shout “Allahu Akbar” in such carnage have no concept whatsoever of the meaning of rahman and rahim. Have they not listened to the meaning of the fatiha? The surat al-mustaqim is not a blind alley for parking a car laden with explosives. Allah has 99 beautiful names in Islamic tradition, but none of these translates as “cold blooded murderer.” With every new story it becomes clear that the greatest threat to Islam is not from without, not from the array of Islamophobes in the West, not from Israel, but from the crazies within.

Speaking of the church bombing in Peshawar, Akhtar Ali Shah, the home secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, was blunt: “Such an attack on women and children is against humanity.” The death toll included 34 women and 7 children with more than 100 people wounded. The question is when will humanity win out over this perpetual violence. This September saw the 50th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, an equally distorted act of hatred that galvanized the nation in America. What will it take to stop this daily terrorism by Muslim extremists?

The issue is not that Islam is by its nature a violent religion, nor that the vast majority of Muslims worldwide would applaud these atrocities. But it is important to remember that religion can be used to stir hatred just as easily as to assuage it. When people think God directs them to kill others they make themselves into gods. If these attackers really thought that Allah wanted women and children, or any one for that matter, to be blown to bits, they do not really believe in the power of Allah. Allah is dead to them, since they make themselves the judge of life and death. They have taken it upon themselves to act as gods and thus commit the greatest shirk of all. When did Allah ever instruct Muslims to murder people of the book? Do they really think that the Prophet Muhammad had no compassion for humanity? Were I to rewrite Dante’s Inferno, these Shabab/Boko Haram/al-Qaeda/etc. would deserve the lowest rung of hell. Enough!