Islam and Terrorism
- Kamil Khan.
Now this is one hot topic of discussion, and I’m hungry to write on this. But the problem right now is I don’t know where to start from. How about some media-bashing as the starter and then later on, the main course?
Media, a significant reason
So ‘Islamic Terrorism’, that’s the word they use. If you are wondering why not just ‘terrorism’, the answer is simple. It makes the news spicy. Today in the competition of world’s best news media, nobody wants to serve bland breaking news. You try it yourself.
“Islamic militants kill 20 in suicide bomb attack”. And
“Maoists kill 30 policemen in Chhattisgarh”
Which one tastes better to you? First one, isn’t it? Forget the taste, even if doesn’t taste well, it is served in large dishes. The first news will always make the front-page headline. The second lies somewhere on page5 between other not-so-important news. Admit it or don’t, the truth is our news channels and print-media are serving after a very profound study of our taste buds. Just a few months ago, when Prabhakaran, the leader of the most feared terrorist group i.e. the LTTE, met his death with the bullets of Sri-Lankan Army, every news channel was flashing with pictures of his dead-body. But not a single one of them dared to call him a terrorist. They instead preferred the term, “Tiger”. “The Tiger is dead”, were the headlines.
If some organization fights for the liberation of Palestine, why are they called ‘Islamic Militants? Nobody called LTTE as ‘Terrorists’ even though they had a similar funda. Nobody goes on to mention the religious beliefs of Naxalites and Maoists. The IRA has been a problem for UK for over 100 years now. Still, nobody called them Christian Terrorists even though they have been preaching Catholicism. And they shouldn’t be; because all of them have their political motives and it has to be kept separate from their religious beliefs.
But the media is not completely responsible. It has a significant yet only a fraction of share. We cannot deny the fact that in the last 15 years, terrorist activities by Muslims have increased. Today, a lot of the terrorist activities happening around the globe are by Islamic groups. And the community has to take complete responsibility of that. I know you have never met a terrorist and even if one goes past you, you won’t even recognize. But it is no use trying to say, “What can I do if someone kills people under cover of my religion?” The fault is ours, because we did not propagate the true message of Islam i.e. peace. There are so many verses in the Quran that ask you to fight terrorism. Not by force, but by words, by debates, by spreading of knowledge. Did we do that? We kept those verses locked up in our shelves as people kept misusing many others. It is high time we arm ourselves with the Quran and its knowledge and fight these terrorists who defame Islam. This is not something I’m pleading you for, but it is something that was made compulsory on every Muslim 1400 years ago. It was called Jihad, the struggle against evil. Unfortunately, the same word has become a big misconception.
Jihad- The Misconception
The word “Islam” means submission to God and the peace achieved by it. Peace as an individual, and also peace as a society. Islam is also from the root “salaam” which means “peace”. All other religions are named after something important to them. Like Christianity after Christ, Hinduism after Valley of Hind, Buddhism after Buddha, etc. Islam however is based on Peace. This speaks a lot in itself. It clearly suggests the importance of peace in this religion.
‘Jihad’ is the most misunderstood of all terms in Islam. Literally, it means “struggle”. Early English translators however translated it as “The Holy War”, (probably trying to equate it to “Crusades” for the Christians who were their main readers) and this is where the misconception cropped up from. Those translators would have had no idea of what this will lead to.
If you see, Arabic has other words related to fighting. Like ‘Harb’ means ‘War’, ‘Siraas’ means ‘Combat’, ‘Maaraka’ means ‘Battle’, ‘Katal’ means ‘Killing’, etc. But ‘Jihad’ has a different meaning from these words. It means to struggle and to strive against evil.
Jihad can be of four types:
– By your heart
– By your tongue
– By your hands
– By your sword
So what we have here are different ways in which Jihad can be done.
- If you are a ‘State Government’, you can declare fight against an oppressing nation in self-defense. Mind the words, ‘Oppressing nation’ and ‘Self-defense’.
– Else, if you are an authority in the government, you can use your powers to enforce the law to stop evil in your jurisdiction.
– Now if you are neither a governing body nor an authority, then you can at least use your ‘freedom of speech’ and speak to others against the evil.
– And lastly, if you fear your life, and the situation is such like you can’t even speak openly to others about the evil, then comes the least form of Jihad that is to keep in mind that such a thing is evil and should not be committed.
This was Jihad against external evil. There is one more type of Jihad; the one against one’s own inner self. This is to keep correcting oneself and try and get as close as possible to being a perfect man/woman, a perfect citizen and a perfect relative/friend by referring to the way of life prescribed by the Quran and taught by Mohammed (PBUH).
So this was all about Jihad. Nowhere does it include killing of innocent human beings.
Islam- On killing of innocents
In fact, as far as killing of innocent people is concerned, Islam has equated it to killing of whole humanity. The same was ordained to the people by earlier messengers too. The Quran says,
“Because of that we ordained the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a human being – unless it be (in punishment) for murder or (and) to spread mischief (oppression & terrorism) on earth- it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind. And indeed, there came unto them Our messenger with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them continue to exceed the limits on the land.”
(NOTE: The verses that precede this one are mainly directed towards Jews and Christians. Hence the words ‘Children of Israel’ in the above verse do not distract from the universal validity of this moral, but merely refer to early enunciation.)
So it is very clear that Islam doesn’t allow killing of any innocent human being. Forget about the brutal murder of unsuspecting men, women and children. A person can be sentenced to death only in case he is charged and proved guilty. I think this verse is all sufficient to rule out any kind of innocent killing.
Killing innocent human beings is much worse. We know from authentic hadith that a woman will be sent to hell just because she killed a CAT.
“Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying: A woman was punished because of a cat. She had neither provided her with food nor drink, nor set her free so that she might eat the insects of the earth.”
[Sahih Muslim, Book 26, Hadith 5573]
Now if you are going to be punished for killing a cat, how do these terrorists expect to escape hell-fire after having taken away so many innocent lives?
Even if not innocent, execution can only be done by the authorities
A terrorist can say that the argument I made above with the verse does not include killing of an oppressive leader, say for example, Adolf Hitler. This is because we all know that he killed many people and so he can be sentenced to death. So if someone makes a plan to kill Adolf Hitler, it won’t count as terrorism.
But Islam doesn’t allow any lay man to kill even a proved guilty person like Hitler. Even that authority is only to the Ruling Government, not any individual or a group. Mohammed (PBUH) did not allow anyone to take the laws in his hand. There are an authentic hadith to prove this.
“Abu Huraira (RA) reported that Sa’d b. ‘Ubada al-Ansari said: Messenger of Allah, tell the if a man finds his wife with another person, should he kill him?
Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: No.
Sa’d said: Why not? I swear by Him Who has honoured you with Truth.
There upon Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said: Listen to what your chief says.”
[Sahih Muslim, Book 9, Hadith 3569]
So it is clear, that even though the punishment of adultery by married men and women is death peanalty, Mohammed (PBUH) did not allow the execution by even her husband, but he asked him to take the matter to the chief and let the law take its course. It is obvious that nobody or no group has the right to take away lives, even if it be of someone proven guilty. It can only be done by a Governing authority.
I’m purposely going into detailed explanation of this topic, because I really think that if God wills, some terrorist who has been wrongly brainwashed by misquoting some verse of the Quran might somehow someday read this passage and understand what he is doing. I know he is politically motivated and misquoting Quran only acts like a license for him. By quoting from Quran and Hadith, I might just be able to explain to him what he is actually doing and where all that is leading him and others. The verdict against terrorists is very clear, its hell-fire.
Quran & Wars
After having explained that Islam doesn’t allow innocent killings and certainly not by any individual or group, but only by Governing Authority, I will move on to those verses of the Quran that are often misquoted; not so much by the terrorists (because I haven’t ever interviewed a terrorist), but by many Anti-Muslim people in my country. So often I’ve heard of these verses being misquoted in court rooms and in books. Arun Shourie for that matter has a full book filled with such misquotations and misinterpretations.
I just can’t believe the extent to which these people go to misquote those verses. They choose to quote a verse alone, giving no clue about the verses that precede and follow it. Not even a single time does Quran order to fight unless it is a matter of justice and freedom.
Here is the verse people quote while defaming Islam as an aggressive religion. It is Arun Shourie’s favorite verse I suppose.
“Then when the sacred months have passed, then kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform prayers and give charity then leave their way free. Verily God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
No doubt this is the verse which has been under most criticism. People think this verse asks every Muslim to fight every non-Muslim till the later converts. Obviously, it means that if you take only this verse separately. And this is where most prejudiced minds stop thinking any further. I don’t understand how Arun Shourie managed to read verse no.5 without reading verse no.4, 6, 7 & 8?
Before quoting all those verses, let me give you a little introduction to the context in which these verses were revealed. A peace-treaty was signed between Mohammed (PBUH) and Sohail. Mohammed (PBUH) represented the Muslims while Sohail was representing the Meccans. This was called the treaty of Hudaibia. This peace-treaty was to last for 10 years unless one of the parties breaks the clause. Only two years after this treaty Meccans attacked unsuspecting Muslims in Madina. It was while preparing for the conquest of Mecca when these verses were revealed. The people of Mecca were called ‘Mushriks’ i.e. disbelievers. Hence the verse asks the Muslim soldiers to kill their enemy soldiers. It is very important to realize the fact that the treaty was broken from Meccan side.
Now take a look at other verses around that verse.
4-“Except those disbelievers with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to the end of the term. Surely God loves the pious.”
5-“ Then when the sacred months have passed, then kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform prayers and give charity then leave their way free. Verily God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
6-“And if anyone of the disbelievers seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the word of God, and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not.”
7-“How can there be a covenant with God and his messenger for the disbelievers except those with whom you made a covenant near the Mosque (at Mecca)? So long, as they are true to you, stand true to them. Verily God loves the pious.”
8-“How (can there be a covenant) that when you are overpowered by them, they regard not the ties, either of kinship or of covenant with you? With their mouths they please you, but their hearts are averse to you, and most of them are disobedient to God.”
I don’t think I need to explain a lot. I’m sure any non-prejudiced reader will understand that the war is being called for only in self defense. The Meccans wanted to finish of the Muslims who called others towards ‘One God’ thereby endangering their income which was based on idol worshipping. They had fought against the Muslims at Badr and Uhud already and almost had a war at Hudaibia. After every war they would start gathering force again for another attack. And this time they had broken a peace-treaty.
Even in this time of war, look at the verses of Quran carefully. They ask all Muslim soldiers to “escort their enemies to a secure place”. Show me one army general in the entire history who said, “Escort your enemy soldiers to safety if they don’t want to fight”. Show me just one.
And the most amazing part is the actual implementation of these verses by Mohammed (PBUH). These verses were revealed for the war in which Muslims conquered Mecca. NOT A SINGLE PERSON WAS KILLED IN THIS CONQUEST OF MECCA. Even after the conquest, all Meccans were lined before Mohammed (PBUH), all subjected to his command. Their very life depended on the words that would come out from Mohammed’s (PBUH) mouth. Had he said, “Kill”, then the complete Muslim army was standing right there and they could have finished them forever. Let me quote to you what he said to them.
He first recited the following verse from Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 13
“O mankind! We have created you from a male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you with God is the most virtuous. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware”
Then he continued saying, “O men of Quraysh (Meccan Nobility), what do you think I am about o do with you?”
They answered, “Everything good. For you are a noble brother and a noble nephew of ours.”
Mohammed said, “Rise, then, and go. For you are free.”
That was the implementation of the verse that people allege of being too violent.
EVERYONE WAS LET FREE. This included all those people who had tortured the Muslims for years. They had boycotted the Muslims for three years during which period they had nothing to eat and they had to chew pieces of leather to stay alive. They had brought down their houses and sold all their belongings in the market. They had killed so many Muslims brutally tying two hands to two different camels and moving the camels in opposite direction. They had lashed the Muslims and kept them laid under the burning sun with heavy stones on their barren chests. And they had killed so many of the Muslims in the wars that they initiated. It was to these Meccans that Mohammed (PBUH) says, “YOU ARE FREE.”
The Quranic verses related to this war need to be understood. Whether we want it or not, war sometimes becomes a necessity. As long as there exists in the world injustice, oppression, erratic ambitions and arbitrary claims, war remains a necessity. This may sound strange from a person like me, but this has been the historical record. Humanity has been through local, civil and global wars from the early dawn of history up till now. Didn’t Rama fight for to regain his throne and rescue his wife in Ramayana? Didn’t the Pandavas fight Kauravas in Mahabharata? Was there no French revolution and no American War for Independence? Didn’t America declare war on Afghanistan because they were suspected of 9/11?
In the same way, Islam recognizes war as a lawful course if it is for self-defence or restoring of social justice, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and for peace. It is in these situations the Quran says,
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and you love a thing which is bad for you. God knows and you know not.”
The Quran says that one set of people are checked by the other.
“Those who have been expelled from their homes just because they said, “Our Lord is God (alone)” For had it not been that God checks one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of God is mentioned. God will help him who helps his cause. God is All-Powerful All-Mighty.”
But even that is for a Governing authority of a nation. You cannot declare war against anyone as an individual or a group. And whom will you declare war against? Today, I don’t see a single country in the entire world where you don’t have freedom of religion. There is no country that doesn’t allow you to read your Quran or to pray or to give charity. So whom are you going to fight?
And even if, God forbid, there comes a situation when an Islamic country is being oppressed by another nation, and its freedom of religion is under attack, then too, there are certain combat rules prescribed by Islam. You can’t use the license to fight without observing those rules of war.
Let me list the rules here:
- War can be made only against oppressing nations in defense or to restore justice.
– Although such a war is lawful, forgive if possible. You will get the returns from God.
– If there is a treaty between you and the enemy, it cannot be broken unless the enemy violates its clause/clauses.
– No fighting in the Sanctuary of Mecca, unless attacked by the enemy.
– No fighting in the 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th month of the year, unless attacked by the enemy.
– During the war, you cannot attack any women or children.
– During the war, you cannot attack any unarmed men.
– During the war, you cannot cut down trees or harm any vegetation.
– Religious scriptures of the enemies should not be disrespected and must be returned to them.
– If the enemy soldier asks for protection, it must be granted. Later he must be escorted to a safe place.
– If you kill a Muslim by mistake in the fight, a Muslim Slave must be freed in return and Blood-Money must be paid to the deceased’s family (unless the deceased’s family remits this amount). If the person has not enough money to free a Muslim Slave or pay Blood-Money, he should fast for two consecutive months.
– If during the fight, the enemy pledges to be a Muslim, trust him.
– Fight must cease as soon as the objective is reached. No transgression is allowed.
– Prisoners of War should not be handcuffed or dragged.
– Prisoners of War must not be abused and should be treated with respect.
– Prisoners of War should be given same and equal food to eat as the Army itself.
And I can list so many of such rules. You just cannot kill women, children and unarmed men even on the battle field. How can you justify killing innocent civilians? Millions of Muslims get killed in terrorist attacks. Which blood-money is being paid? Or are the terrorists fasting for 2 months continuously? What about the prohibition on fighting in the 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th month of the year? If someone asks for protection, he should be provided security and escorted to a safe place. Which terrorist unit is doing this? Even the prisoners of war cannot be treated unjustly. Which war are the terrorists fighting?
Not a single verse in the Quran which speaks on the issue of Wars comes without such rules that must be followed. On several places has it been repeated that war cannot be made unless it is to remove oppression in self defense.
And you still want to call them “ISLAMIC Militants”?
Jihad- In today’s world
As we all know now, Jihad means to struggle and strive for the good cause. It has been made compulsory on every Muslim. And Muslims wonder how and where they are going to do this. The answer is right before us; AGAINST THE TERRORISTS.
As a non-Muslim, you have an option to stay neutral against the terrorist activities going around the globe. You can either raise your voice against them, or prefer to stay mum thinking, “I don’t care. I’m not affected directly yet.”
But for a Muslim, there is no such option. Whether you are affected or not, it has been made COMPULSORY on you to fight them who are oppressing people and killing innocents under the cover of Islam. You don’t have to take up arms and go out to kill them. You can always speak against them openly in discussions with your friends & relatives and whenever you get a chance explain people what this religion actually says. And if you are too scared to do even that, at least know the things yourself. You just cannot stay neutral on this topic. You don’t have that option at all. You will have to fight against them, its compulsory.