WHAT DOES ISLAM SAY ABOUT TERRORISM?
One of the distinctive characteristics of the times we live in is the overwhelming presence of violence in our societies. Whether it is a bomb going off in a market place, or the hijacking of an aircraft where innocent people are held at ransom to achieve political ends, we live in an age, where the manipulation and loss of innocent lives has become commonplace.
Such is the all-pervasive nature of indiscriminate violence, that “terrorism” is considered as one of the prime threats to peace and security in our societies.
The word terrorism came into wide usage only a few decades ago. One of the unfortunate results of this new terminology is that it limits the definition of terrorism to that perpetrated by small groups or individuals. Terrorism, in fact, spans the entire world, and manifests itself in various forms. Its perpetrators do not fit any stereotype. Those who hold human lives cheap, and have the power to expend human lives, appear at different levels in our societies. The frustrated employee who kills his colleagues in cold-blood or the oppressed citizen of an occupied land who vents his anger by blowing up a school bus are terrorists who provoke our anger and revulsion. Ironically however, the politician who uses age-old ethnic animosities between peoples to consolidate his position, the head of state who orders “carpet bombing” of entire cities, the exalted councils that choke millions of civilians to death by wielding the insidious weapon of sanctions, are rarely punished for their crimes against humanity.
It is this narrow definition of terrorism that implicates only individuals and groups, that has caused Muslims to be associated with acts of destruction and terror, and as a result, to become victims of hate violence and terror themselves. Sometimes the religion of Islam is held responsible for the acts of a handful of Muslims, and often for the acts of non-Muslims!
Could it be possible that Islam, whose light ended the Dark Ages in Europe, now propound the advent of an age of terror? Could a faith that has over 1.2 billion followers the world over, and over 7 million in America, actually advocate the killing and maiming of innocent people? Could Islam, whose name itself stands for “peace” and “submission to God”, encourage its adherents to work for death and destruction?
For too long, have we relied on popular images in the media and in Hollywood films, for answers to these pertinent questions. It is now time to look at the sources of Islam, and its history to determine whether Islam does indeed advocate violence.
SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE
The Glorious Qur’an says: “…take not life, which God hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom.” [Al-Qur’an 6:151]
Islam considers all life forms as sacred. However, the sanctity of human life is accorded a special place. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. The Glorious Qur’an says: “…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” [Al-Qur’an 5:32]
Such is the value of a single human life, that the Qur’an equates the taking of even one human life unjustly, with killing all of humanity. Thus, the Qur’an prohibits homicide in clear terms. The taking of a criminal’s life by the state in order to administer justice is required to uphold the rule of law, and the peace and security of the society. Only a proper and competent court can decide whether an individual has forfeited his right to life by disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings.
ETHICS OF WAR
Even in a state of war, Islam enjoins that one deals with the enemy nobly on the battlefield. Islam has drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants of the enemy country. As far as the non-combatant population is concerned such as women, children, the old and the infirm, etc., the instructions of the Prophet are as follows: “Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman”. “Do not kill the monks in monasteries” or “Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship.” During a war, the Prophet saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and observed: “She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?” Thus non-combatants are guaranteed security of life even if their state is at war with an Islamic state.
While Islam in general is misunderstood in the western world, perhaps no other Islamic term evokes such strong reactions as the word ‘jihad’. The term ‘jihad’ has been much abused, to conjure up bizarre images of violent Muslims, forcing people to submit at the point of the sword. This myth was perpetuated throughout the centuries of mistrust during and after the Crusades. Unfortunately, it survives to this day.
The word Jihad comes from the root word jahada, which means to struggle. So jihad is literally an act of struggling. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that the greatest jihad is to struggle with the insidious suggestions of one’s own soul. Thus jihad primarily refers to the inner struggle of being a person of virtue and submission to God in all aspects of life. Secondarily, jihad refers to struggle against injustice. Islam, like many other religions, allows for armed self-defense, or retribution against tyranny, exploitation, and oppression. The Glorious Qur’an says: “And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? – Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!” [Al-Qur’an 4:75]
Thus Islam enjoins upon its believers to strive utmost, in purifying themselves, as well as in establishing peace and justice in the society. A Muslim can never be at rest when she sees injustice and oppression around her. As Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
Islam enjoins upon all Muslims to work actively to maintain the balance in which God created everything. However, regardless of how legitimate the cause may be, the Glorious Qur’an never condones the killing of innocent people. Terrorizing the civilian population can never be termed as jihad and can never be reconciled with the teachings of Islam.
HISTORY OF TOLERANCE
Even Western scholars have repudiated the myth of Muslims coercing others to convert. The great historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote: “History makes it clear, however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.”
Muslims ruled Spain for roughly 800 years. During this time, and up until they were finally forced out, the non-Muslims there were alive and flourishing. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have survived in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries. Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan all have significant Christian and/or Jewish populations.
This is not surprising to a Muslim, for his faith prohibits him from forcing others to see his point of view. The Glorious Qur’an says: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in God hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And God heareth and knoweth all things.” [Al-Qur’an 2:256]
ISLAM – THE GREAT UNIFIER Far from being a militant dogma, Islam is a way of life that transcends race and ethnicity. The Glorious Qur’an repeatedly reminds us of our common origin: “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” [Al-Qur’an 49:13]
Thus, it is the universality of its teachings that makes Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. In a world full of conflicts and deep schisms between human beings, a world that is threatened with terrorism, perpetrated by individuals and states, Islam is a beacon of light that offers hope for the future.
 Narrated in the collection of traditions of Abu Dawud
 Narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ibn Hanbal
 Islam At Crossroads, London, 1923, page 8
MAKKAH IMAM URGES MUSLIMS TO SHUN TERROR
21 January 2005
As millions of faithful marked ‘Eed al-Adhaa yesterday, Muslims were warned against heeding militant calls to wage terrorist attacks in the name of Islam.
The warning came, amid a surge in militant attacks in Muslim countries and beyond, from Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, while addressing Haj pilgrims in a customary ‘Eed sermon. The imam also advised Islamic scholars to preach moderation to confront this “rotten” phenomenon.
“Islam is the religion of moderation. There is no room for extremism in Islam,” he said.
He called on Muslims to “protect non-Muslims in the Kingdom and not to attack them in the country or anywhere. Islam is a religion of peace that abhors attack on innocents.” Militants were using misguided interpretations of Islam to justify violence, he added.
“Because Muslims have strayed from moderation, we are now suffering from this dangerous phenomenon of branding people infidels and inciting Muslims to rise against their leaders to cause instability,” Al-Sudais said.
“The reason for this is a delinquent and void interpretation of Islam based on ignorance…faith does not mean killing Muslims or non-Muslims who live among us, it does not mean shedding blood, terrorizing or sending body parts flying.”
Al-Sudais warned that extremism would ruin the Muslim nation, adding: “This phenomenon has expanded so much that scholars must confront it with concrete proof from Islam to protect our youth from its stench and rottenness.”
He added: “One of the main issues that needs to be tackled in principle is reform”. He criticized dissident Saad Al-Faqeeh who is calling to rebel against the government in order to create disunity among the people. He described him as a reckless adventurer who is obsessed with publicity.
SUPPORTING THE MESSENGER IS BY PRACTICING HIS SUNNAH: THE ROLE OF TERRORISM IN THE RIDICULE OF THE MESSENGER (PEACE BE UPON HIM)
By Shaykh ‘Ubayd al Jabiree, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Haadee, Shaykh Ibraheem ar Ruhaylee, Shaykh Sulaymaan ar Ruhaylee
Translated by Abu ‘Abdul Waahid, Nadir Ahmad
Audio Tape: 16-1-1427/15-2-2006
The Role of Terrorism in the Ridicule of the Messenger
Ash Shaykh Sulaymaan Ar Ruhaylee
All praise is due to Allaah lord of the worlds, and may the complete and perfect Salaat and Salaam be upon he who was sent as a mercy to the worlds, and upon all his family and companions…
May Allaah reward the Mashayikh with good for what they have said, they have spoken well and benefited us, and I support what they have stated in relation to supporting the Prophet (peace be upon him) and that it is obligatory upon all Muslims to do so in all circumstances. In this circumstance, the obligation is emphasized.
The greatest way to support the Messenger (peace be upon him) is by following him; in correcting ones ‘Aqeedah; such that the ‘Aqeedah of an individual is the same as what the Messenger (peace be upon him) came with. That an individuals Manhaj as well, is upon what the Prophet came with.
Furthermore, support of the Prophet is to be conducted in accordance to the guidelines of the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). One should not transgress or cross over its boundary’s, and one should not transgress in affairs against people. As is in the issue of a universal boycott and making it an obligatory form of worship in which whoever contradicts it is considered to be a sinner. Indeed this is not supported by evidence, and this affair goes back to the issue of Masaalih and Mafaasid (weighing out the benefits and harms). Determining the benefits and harms related to the general public is the duty of the rulers only, as the Mashaykh have already established. As for the individual, it is as Shaykh Ibraheem had mentioned, one is responsible for his own actions and should not be restricted.
The issue of great importance is that one should not transgress upon others, label as sinners those who disagree or do not carry out the boycott, whether they are business men or others. Intimidation/terrorization must not be applied in this affair; that gangs gather around businesses or business men and threaten them; that if they do not boycott, they would circulate their names and so on from the likes of such behavior that has taken place. It is also a form of transgression to include names of people who have no relation to these products, such as Saudi and Kuwaiti companies, their owners as well as the employees that work there are harmed greatly because of this. This is contradictory to the Manhaj of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in being just and beneficent. Transgression is never permitted in any circumstance.
It is also not a means of supporting the Messenger to lie and circulate lies, as we have been disturbed by fabricated cellular phone messages, such that someone saw the Messenger (peace be upon him) smiling, and gave him glad tidings that he would see something pleasing after four days in relation to this affair, and threatening those who do not circulate the message with harm that will afflict them or something of the sort. Or circulating lies that they would carry out affairs without investigating [whether they are harmful or beneficial]; rather they are affairs that circulate evil amongst the Muslims.
I would also like to draw attention to a certain observation in this issue; we should contemplate over the portrayal of those cartoons that were circulated. They were portrayed with the theme of terrorism. So what was it that inspired these people to draw cartoons such as this? Keeping their nastiness and wickedness in mind, but by looking at the Muslims they said: The portrayal of the Messenger (peace be upon him) in these cartoons is what Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to call to…
They [Muslims] carried out bombings in the lands of non-Muslims and said: ‘This is our religion!’
They violated treaties and said: ‘This is our religion!’
They killed non-Muslims and said: ‘This is our religion!’ Meaning this is the way of Muhammad (peace be upon him).
They partake in a great portion of this ridicule [of the Messenger (peace be upon him)], they are one of its main causes. We must recognize this, and make others realize it. Those who propagate deviant ideas and claim that they are from Islaam are from the reasons that Islaam is insulted, and are from the reasons that the Messenger of Allaah (peace be upon him) is insulted.
From amongst our obligations in supporting/defending the Messenger (peace be upon him), is to propagate the correct Manhaj, which is a mercy to all of mankind and Jinn, and not just Muslims. We must spread this Manhaj and clarify what the Prophet said concerning abiding by treaties, clarify what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said concerning dealing with non-Muslims, clarify what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in regards to safeguarding life, whether it is of the believers or those under protection, clarify that when the Muslims implemented what the Messenger came with, the Jews yearned to be under their rule.
This issue is very important, and it is upon students of knowledge to realize it, and everyone should carry out what he is able to in relation to this.