The first part of the article titled Blaming Islam – I was published in Rising Kashmir on August 7.
The greatest instigator of radicalism has been the unstinting support for Israel from Western capitals, most notably the US, despite Israel’s record for ignoring with impunity UN resolutions, international law and the Geneva Conventions. This, coupled with its failures and indiscriminate use of weapons in Afghanistan and Iraq, has left the US open to numerous accusations due to the disparity in treatment between these peoples. From October 2001 to April 2002, more than twenty-two thousand bombs were dropped in Afghanistan, which was similar to the total dropped in Serbia and roughly one-tenth of the number deployed in the Persian Gulf. This pattern of carpet-bombing has been repeatedly used by the US and widely reported in the media.
In brief, the stark realities of the 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century have revealed a whole host of examples in which Muslims have suffered throughout the globe. From the first Gulf War (1990–1991), to Somalia (1993), Bosnia-Herzegovina (1993–1996), Chechnya (1999), the second Palestinian Intifada (2000), the war on Afghanistan (2001–2002) and the war on Iraq (2003–2004), now in Syria – Muslims have been at the receiving end of the pursuit of Western political and economic interests. In spite of these realities they blame Islam and Muslims of inherently preaching jihad, violence and radicalism.
Concept of Jihad in Islam
The notion of jihad, or holy war, had also ceased to exist in the Muslim world after the tenth century until it was revived, with American encouragement, to fire an international pan-Islamic movement after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. For the next ten years, the CIA and Saudi intelligence together pumped in billions of dollars’ worth of arms and ammunition through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) to the many mujahideen groups fighting in Afghanistan. For the past ten years that deadly brew has spread its ill-effects widely. Pakistan has suffered terrible destabilization. But the Afghanis, the name given to the young Muslim men who fought the infidel in Afghanistan, have carried their jihad far beyond: to the corrupt kingdoms of the Gulf, to the repressive states of the southern Mediterranean, and now, perhaps, to other western countries.
But in reality whole Muslim world is passing through difficult period of its history, when acts of terror threaten their security both at home and abroad. Many negative conditions, apart from economic backwardness dissolution, and cultural degeneration in general and western foreign policy and war on terror, in particular have prepared the ground for the formation of terrorist organisations in the Islamic world, and especially in the countries of the Middle East. It is recognized that some terrorist organisations are supported by various state departments in the countries where they operate; this is done so that such groups can be used against other terrorist groups. It is a recognised fact that, over time, these organisations, made stronger with state support, have grown out of control.
Whatever circumstances may be, it is unfortunate that religion and its terminologies have been always abused by people for their own political or murderous ambitions. The root of terrorism within the Muslim community refers to the misconception and its interpretation of the jihad as the Quran’s command. But the term ‘Jihad’ has been misunderstood and misrepresented. This Jihad does not mean ‘holy war’. ‘Holy War’ does not exist as a term in Arabic, and its translation to Arabic sounds quite alien.
The term “holy war” is a European invention and derives from the study of war in its European context – it does not define types of warfare, in its most broad definition, the term defines a form of justification for engaging in war by providing religious legitimization, Jihad thus can’t be equated semantically with holy war, for its meaning is much border, includes many activities unrelated to warfare, and is determined in part by legal criteria that parallel modern just-war thinking in the west. The term which is specially used in the Quran for fighting is ‘Qital’. The Quranic teaching of jihad has been of essential significance of Muslims self-understanding, piety, mobilization, expansion, and defence. Jihad as struggle pertains to the difficulty and complexity of living a good life; struggling against the evil in oneself – to be virtuous and moral, making a serious effort to do good works and to help to reform society.
The two broad meanings of jihad, non-violent and violent, are contrasted in a well-known Prophetic tradition. On returning from a military campaign, the Prophet (SA) said to his followers; ‘We return from the minor jihad (warfare) to a major jihad - the struggle of the individual with his own self.’ The greater jihad is the more difficult and more important struggle against one’s ego, selfishness, greed, and evil.
Previously it has been said that Jihad is a concept with multiple meanings, used and abused throughout Islamic history. Although jihad has always been an important part of the Islamic tradition, in recent years some have maintained that it is a universal religious obligation for all true Muslims to join the jihad to promote Islamic reform or revolution.
The Quran states that Islam is the universal religion and is a mercy to all creatures. As universal faith, it offers a living demonstration of qualities to which all human being can relate; compassion, mercy and love. Islam rejects extremism, discrimination and racism. Quran states that “Do not exceed the bounds in your religion”. (5:77). Prophet (SA), warned his companions to avoid extremes – which he explained was the cause of the destruction of earlier communities. He said “Beware of extremism in the religion”. Terrorists it appears, feel that this injunction does not apply to them.
Islam, like all world religions, neither supports nor requires illegitimate violence. The Quran does not advocate or condone terrorism. However, Quranic verses also highlights that peace and warfare are the norms. Permission to fight the enemy is balanced by a strong mandate for making peace.
“If your enemy inclines toward peace, then you too should seek peace and put your trust in God”(8: 61) and “Had Allah wished, He would have made them dominate you, and so if they leave you alone and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah allows you no way against them” (4: 90).
The Islamic tradition places limits on the use of violence and rejects terrorism, and extremisms. As with other faiths, mainstream and normative doctrines and laws are ignored, distorted, or hijacked by a radical fringe. Islamic law, drawing on the Quran, sets out clear guidelines for the conduct of war and rejects acts of terrorism. Allah forbids the murder of innocent people, killing a person for no reason is one of the greatest sins related in the Qur'an.
“... if someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. Our Messengers came to them with Clear Signs, but even after that many of them committed outrages in the earth”. (Qur'an, 5:32).
As the verse suggests, a person who kills innocent people for no reason is threatened with a great torment. Allah informs us that killing even a single person is as evil as murdering all mankind on earth. A person who observes Allah's limits can do no harm to a single human, let alone massacre thousands of innocent people. Those who assume that they can avoid justice and thus punishment in this world will never succeed, for they will have to give an account of their deeds in the presence of God. That is why believers, who know that they will give an account of their deeds after death, are very meticulous to observe God’s limits.
Allah commands the faithful to be compassionate and merciful. Islamic morality is described in one verse as: “Then to be one of those who have faith and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion. Those are the Companions of the Right”. (90:17-18)
As we have seen in this verse, one of the most important features of the morality that will lead believers to salvation on the Day of Judgement and to enter into paradise is “being one of those who urge each other to compassion”.
The true source of compassion is love of God. A person’s love of God gives rise to his feeling love for the things He has created. Someone who loves God feels a direct link and closeness to the things He has created. This strong love and closeness he feels for the Lord, who created him and all mankind, leads him to display a pleasing morality, as commanded in the Qur'an. True compassion emerges as he lives by this morality. This model of morality, full of love, compassion and sacrifice, is described in these verses:
“Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives and the very poor and those who have made emigration in the way of Allah. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful”. (24:22)
“Those who have given refuge and help, they are the true believers. They will have forgiveness and generous provision. (8:74)
“Be good to your parents and relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to neighbours who are related to you and neighbours who are not related to you, and to companions and travellers and your slaves. God does not love anyone vain or boastful”. (4:36)
Believers never try to make people feel indebted because of the compassion they demonstrate and the help they offer people, and do not even expect to be thanked. Their true aim is to try to gain Allah’s pleasure by means of the morality they exhibit, because they know that they will be called to account for that morality on the Day of Judgement. In the Qur’an, God has expressly revealed that hell will be the outcome for those who knowingly refuse to live by the morality of the Qur'an:
“What has brought you into hell-fire?” They will say, “We were not among those who prayed and we did not feed the poor”. (74:42- 44). “Seize him and bind him, and then expose him to hell-fire, then fasten him with a chain seventy cubits long! For he did not believe in God Almighty, nor did he urge the feeding of the poor. (69:30-34)
As we have seen in these verses, the Muslim described in the Qur'an possesses a most loving and compassionate nature. Nobody who possesses this morality can of course consent to terrorism or acts of violence directed at innocent people. Terrorists’ characters are the exact opposite of Quranic morality. A terrorist is a ruthless person who looks with hatred on the world, and wants to kill, destroy and shed blood.
Editor’s Note: The article since it includes verses from Quran which could not be omitted given the context of the write-up, we request the readers not to dispose the page in any manner that causes disrespect.