Thursday, August 13, 2009

Concept of Peace and Terrorism in Islam

Islam as a religion is totally committed to peace and security. It views with great contempt, breach of peace, anarchy, rioting and terrorism. Muslims as Ummah are a peace-loving community. Jehad under Islam is allowed subject to certain con ditions. It is meant for elevating the Word of God (Kalmatullah). Action designated as Jihad has been recommended for securing justice for the suppressed, assisting them in their efforts to secure that. It is also for protecting the places of worship of people belonging to different religions. Its aim is to resist the oppressors and prevent them from committing atrocities. It provides for complete impartiality and full justice in dealing with persons belonging to other religions. All these points have been clarified in Islamic studies in detail.

It is a tragedy that in pursuance of dishonest and sinister intrigues, the concept of Jehad is being consistently misrepresented and misinterpreted by linking Islam and Muslims with sabotage and terrorism. That is contrary to facts. They are being presented as intolerant. For firmly planting the misinformation in the minds of the people, a powerful and widespread campaign is being conducted through the print and electronic media.

What is Terrorism?

It is surprising that terrorism has not been defined in a com prehensive and satisfactory manner. There is no unanimity about the concept. The truth is that no serious attempt has been made to clarify . the concept of terrorism. However, there is hardly no hesitation in applying the label on Islam and Muslims. The governing principle is 'might is right'. The powerful commits destruction and brutal massacre of innocent persons, yet claims to be defender of freedom, mankind and torchbearer of justice and civilization.

The struggle or resistance of the weak for securing their legitimate rights, against suppression or aggression is branded as terrorism. The barbarous bombing of several countries by USA, Israeli ag gression against Palestinians, Russian atrocities in Chechnya and Chinese brutalities against Muslims in Sin kiang are glaring examples of double standards being applied for: defining terrorism. :

According to the definition of terrorism by intellectuals, and thinkers of the West, the conduct of the governments of USA, Israel, Russia, Philippine and Burma may be regarded as brazen act of state terrorism. Unfortunately, the organs of United Nations and the media have been utterly unsuccessful in restraining the tyrants and aggressors.

Role of Indian Media and Communal Elements:

Indian media has played a subservient role of the western and Zionist elements in linking Islam and Muslims with terrorism. Instead of adopting the role of an objective and neutral medf6t' in disseminating news about events and ideas relating to Islam and Muslims, they have conducted themselves in a biased and partisan manner.

It is shocking that even at the government level, attempt is being made in a clandestine manner to project Muslims as terrorists. The Government of India brought out a poster after the attack on the World Trade Center, with the photograph of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in newspapers of various Indian languages. The poster was against terrorism and for supporting the cause of peace. Only four pictures were selected that cleverly pointed link of Muslims with terrorist acts.

On the occasion of Republic Day, January 26,2002, a poster was published, in which only the names of Muslims appeared in the list of wanted terrorists. However that advertisement, published in the newspapers carried the names of alleged 'terrorists' of other communities also.

It should be noted that throughout the world, the activities of terrorists, of different groups, are reported without revealing their religious affiliation. In India, the disruptive sectarian activities of RSS and its subordinate bodies like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, are dubbed as expression of the sentiments of the majority community. By concealing their real character, they are seen as linked with 'patriotism'. The activities of groups affiliated with Ram Janmbhoomi movement, that brought about the demolition of Babari Mosque are ignored and by passed. Instruction in use of arms by Bajrang Dal recurring 'yatras' , communal riots, murder of innocent persons, inflammatory statements, all of them taken together fall within the definition of 'terrorist activities'. With the brute power of the majority, support of the government and safeguards available to the media, all such disruptive activities are classified under 'national honour' and 'patriotism'.

On the contrary, even minor activities of minorities particularly Muslims in self-defence or for safeguarding their identity or merely for registering their viewpoint or stand is branded as act of terrorism and threat tot he security of the country. If that is not so why poor. 'Madaris', supported by public donations, imparting education of peace and humanity are projected as factories producing extremists and terrorists. At national and international level, a sinister campaign is under way to project the distinctive marks of Muslims, particularly their beards and dress as symbols of terrorism, extremism and disruptive activities.

Confusion about 'Terrorism':

A question arises: Why such a confusion about the definition of 'terrorism? If seriously considered, it appears that the confusion has been deliberately created and is being disseminated on a large scale as a part of definite plan. There is universal unanimity in the campaign for targeting a particular religion and community. The rival forces control ninety-nine per cent of the media. There fore instead of defining terrorism on the basis of principles, might or use of power has become a governing principle in defining 'terrorism'. The conduct of the governments of USA, China, Russia, Israel, Burma and Philippine are glaring examples of such partisan conduct.

It is a tragedy that the superpowers are holding the United Nations Organization as 'hostage'. The organization is not in a position to undertake any just and effective action that is against their wishes and interests. The superpowers get their decisions endorsed by the international body. The United Nations has not been successful so far in enunciating and enforcing a definition of terrorism that may serve as a guiding principle for action against terrorist activities.

During twenty-nine years from December 18, 1972 to January 18, 2002, the issues related to terrorism were discussed at various occasions, but clarity and unanimity on the subject remained elusive. As a result what is terrorism according to one party is resistance, or movement for freedom or defence of democracy and liberty to the other. After the attack on World Trade Centre in USA on September 11, 2001 and brutal and aggressive bombing of Afghani stan by USA, the issue was discussed again by United Nations on January 18, 2002. The session was attended by forty nations. All participants agreed on the serious threat from terrorism and stressed its immediate eradication. However, a few countries, particularly Arab countries invited the attention of the participants that so much din has been raised about the threat of terrorism and its eradication. But it should be defined for effective action against the threat. No clear and convincing reply came from any quarter. There was a deliberate attempt to evade the issue. Arab countries upheld their stand that the resistance of Palestinians against foreign occupation of their lands cannot be called 'terrorism'. Illegitimate seizure of foreign territory is the worst type of organized terrorist activity. Stark, the head of the UN Committee diverted the discussion by stating the 'organized terrorism' is not a legal expression and the Security Council should not be dragged in political battles.

It indicates that the superpowers and under their influence UNO and its Security Council desire to continue ambiguity and confusion about the definition of 'terrorism' for keeping the option to act according their interests and requirements. The powers fully realize that if the real causes of the malady are revealed, they shall be found among the culprits. Present terrorist activities are the poisonous fruits of their own misdeeds.

Terrorist activities caused by malice, ill will and dishonesty, are being projected as rooted in the teachings of Islam. In that context, reference is made to three issues of Islamic Shariah. (1) The teaching of Islam about killing a Non-Muslim is Jihad (2) Islam teaches hatred and legitimizes fight against other religions and their followers. (3) It encourages intolerance towards the followers of other religions. All the three breed terrorism.

All the three allegations about Islamic Shariah are miscon ceived and motivated by malice and ignorance. Jehad finds a place in the teachings of lslam, but not for killing Non-Muslims. There is no provision encouraging perpetual hatred and fight against the followers of other religions. Linking Islam, a religion of peace with terrorism itself amounts to an act of terrorism.

Islam & Terrorism:

The nefarious acts called 'terrorism' are alien to the spirit and ethos of Islam. Terrorism (Eng1ish) Atankvad (Hindi) and Arhab (Arabic) are the products of contemporary age dominated by the West, particularly Europe. It has flourished on their soil. The intellectuals, writers and politicians of the West introduced them in the East. The terms, fundamentalism and totalitarianism as employed by the West have no place in Islam. The votaries of Communist system promoted totali tarianism. Fundamentalism grew and flourished in the context of the conflict between the Church and the State. With help from the power of the media, the two have been linked with Islam and those reposing faiths in the religion. That is grave injustice.

Respect of Human Life & Importance of Peace in Islam:

The acts classified as terrorism have been strongly con demned by Islam. Islamic teachings preach that every possible step should be taken for their eradication. Islam has prohibited everything that may pose threat to social harmony, cause breach of peace or may endanger peace and security of citizens. Islamic Shariah stands for maintenance of peace and prevention of riots and disturbances. Islam is against drunkenness, rape, adultery and scandal-mongering about innocent women. Islam strives for elimi nation of oppression, rioting or anything which adversely affects the culture and civilization of the country.

Terrorism ruptures social peace. Islam strictly forbids terror izing peace-loving citizens. Religion desires peace, tranquility and social harmony. Acts of terrorist violence destroy the moral prin ciples, meant for the welfare of human beings. That is a crime and has no place in a religion like Islam, which is deeply committed to peace and security of human beings.

The struggle waged by Muslims of Palestine, Chechnya and Sinkiang cannot be called 'terrorism'. That is a legitimate resistance against aggressors and oppressors for securing their just rights. Terrorism in the true sense of the word is an aggressive act against innocent persons, without legitimacy. The aim is to frighten them. Acts of similar type may be committed by individual, group, nation or the country that may be classified as terrorist activity, if the aim is to terrorize the common person or the opponent for achieving certain ends.

That type of terrorism has no place in Islamic Shariah. The Holy Quran makes it explicit that killing an innocent person is equivalent to killing the whole humankind.

A verse in Surah Maidah states, "If anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for speading mischief in the land it would be as If he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life. It would be as if he saved the lift of the whole people. " (Al-Maidah. verse 32)

Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, a disciple of Sheikh-ul-Hind has clarified the intentions of the verse. If somebody kills, anybody that may embolden others to commit similar acts that creates an atmosphere of anarchy. That means opening the doors for massacre, general unrest and lawlessness. If someone saves anybody from an assassin, he sets an example for saving others and peaceful life. As a student of religions, I may assert that respect and sanctity of human life, to the same degree, is not found anywhere else, as in Islam.

In different forms at several places in Holy Quran, unjustified murder has been strongly condemned. Respect and protection of human life has been sufficiently stressed. Holy Quran commands: "Nor take life-which Allah has made sacred-except for just cause. " (Bani Isreal, verse 33) Murder is justified only in case of an assassin, guilty of the murder of an innocent person, as recompense.

According to the Prophet (Pbuh) the murder of an innocent person is among heinous crimes. (please refer chapter Al-Diyah, Bukhari). It has to be clarified that the power for ordering justified murder vests with the court of a just government. The death has to follow a judicial process. Keeping in view the value of human life the Shariah has found a way out. If the successors of the deceased are agreeable to compensation for the loss of life or if they forgive the assassin, his life shall be spared; otherwise, it is advisable to keep the society free from the existence of an assassin. The presence of an assassin within the society may embolden others to commit similar crimes. That is likely to pose a severe threat to the peaceful atmosphere of the society.

Prohibition of Targeting Innocent & Unrelated Persons:

According to Islamic Shariah, whether it is the matter of an individual, group or ideological difference, persons who are not concerned or related to a particular action, cannot be held respon sible for the action of others. For example, if the communal elements suppress or victimize members of Muslim minority of India, destroy the mosques and madrasas, it is not incumbent on the people of Muslim-majority areas to ill treat the Non-Muslim minority or destroy their places of worship. It is injustice and atrocity to blame someone not concerned with an act, for the act committed by others.

However, legitimate possible methods may be adopted for opposition to oppression and excesses. Holy Quran makes it clear,"Namely, that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. " (AI-Qamar, verse 38)

Before the advent of Islam, the custom of "Saar" was prevalent. If someone was killed, the members of the tribe of the victim had their revenge by killing a member of the tribe of the assassin. It was not necessary that the assassin be killed for revenge. In that process, several innocent persons got killed merely due to their affiliation with a particular tribe.

The Prophet (pbuh} strictly prohibited the practice as it belonged to the era of ignorance and darkness. As in the case of 'Saar' persons were killed due to their tribal affiliation, likewise killing persons on account of their religious, linguistic or national affiliation also is a crime. In the Age of Great Caliphate and subsequently, the just rulers did not interfere in the religious matters of their enemies, even during the battles.

During the crusade, Salahuddin Ayyubi did not victimize the Christians of Syria, Palestine and other places although he was at war with their co-religionists. Instructions in detail have been given in the books of Islamic jurisprudence & Sunnah about the treatment of Non-Muslim subjects and those under contract.

Islamic jurisprudence allows punishment of the culprit accord ing to the gravity of the crime, permitting revenge equal to the injury caused. Pardon is preferred to punishment.

Holy Quran has several verses, elaborating the point, "And so for all things prohibited, there is the law of equality. If then anyone transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves." (Surah Al Baqarah, verse 194) .

"And if ye punish, let your punishment be proportionate to the wrong that has been done to you: but if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient. "(Surah Al Nahl, verse 126)

It means that if you suffer injuries and if you are competent, you may take revenge of the same degree. Revenge is permitted but self-restraint or forbearance is preferable. If you are patient that would be better for you and those who are witness. (Fawaid-e-Usmani).

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. " (Surah Al Baqarah, verse 190)

Refraining from committing excesses in this context implies that during the battle, children, aged persons and women should not be killed. Revenge against a tyrant should be of defensive type, limited to the degree of injury suffered. The intention is to dissuade the tyrants and oppressors from committing further atrocities and excesses.

The orbit of suppression should not grow wider. Vindictive action against persons belonging to the tribe or the community of the assassin, but who have nothing to do with an atrocity, leads to further enlargement of the area of hostility. Accordingly Islamic Shariah permits action directly only against the culprit.

That covers all terrorist activities, which affect innocent persons, or others not directly or indirectly connected with the cause of hostility. There is no clear direction or instruction applying to kidnapping innocent persons for the acceptance of certain demands or slow torture with the intention of killing in the most inhuman and brutal manner.

However the principles laid down, prohibiting killing or tar geting innocent persons are applicable to such cases also. Arson, racial cleansing, atrocities on people worshiping according to the practices laid down for their creed, rampage and destruction have no place in the teachings of Islam. Islam has strictly forbidden arson and murder of an envoy even in the course of battle.

The Prophet (Pbuh) has strictly forbid assassination in a brutal and painful manner. Likewise animals too should not be killed in that manner. Passengers of hijacked planes and persons taken hostage too, suffer in the same manner. Hijacking too is a threat to peace and freedom so it has no support in the Islamic Shariah. Such acts done, even with the most noble and great cause in mind have no justification under Islamic jurisprudence.

Concept of Divine Compassion and Peace in Islam:

Any terrorist activity, which targets innocent persons, is against the concept of Divine Compassion and peace, which are synonyms in Islam. That point has been elucidated from different angles. Islam views any human act that violates Divine Compassion or peace with great contempt and derision. According to Holy Quran the Prophet (Pbuh) is the instrument of Divine Compassion for the whole world.

"We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures. " (Surah Al Anbiyaa, verse No. 1 07). Holy Quran has described the Prophet (Pbuh) as 'very compassionate.'

According to a famous tradition of the Prophet (Pbuh) he has described all creatures as the 'family of Allah' and has instructed that they should be treated well. 'He is the most beloved of Allah, who treats His family well. (Mishkat Shareef, Chapter about Good Behaviour). The Almighty has emphasized that aspect of Divine Compassion. One who is kind to others is qualified for Divine Compassion. The Quran makes it very clear,"My Mercy extendeth to all things. " (Surah Al A 'raf, verse 156) Evidently, that points to world peace and not to atmosphere of terror or lawlessness. A climate of anarchy violates Divine Compassion and blessings of the Prophet (Pbuh).

Eradication of Anarchy:

Islamic Shariah has emphasized adoption of every possible step for promotion of peace and checking anarchy. In the verse No.56 of Surah Al Aaraf, it has been made very clear:

"Do not mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, " The Holy Quran has further elaborated the point at another place; "That Home of the Hereafter we shall give to those who intend not high-handedness of mischief on earth: and the End is (best) for the righteous. " (Verse83 of Surah Al Qasas). Accord ing to Islamic Shariah, peace should be a priority. Even in the course of battle, the opponent proposes peace, that offer should be im mediately accepted. It recommends strict punishment for murderers and aggressors, because they disturb peace. The aim is to ensure respect for human life. The books of Sunnah and Islamic jurisprudence contain elaborate instructions for curbing terror and fear in social life.

The Holy Quran states "0 ye who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: The free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with hand some gratitude. This is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave chastisement. In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you. 0 ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves. " (Surah Al Bakarah, verse 178-179)

That provision carries great wisdom. If the assassin knows that he shall receive capital punishment for unjustified murder, he will not dare commit murder pf an innocent person. The fear of the imposition of capital punishment, checks bloodshed, rampage and destruction. Due to that, there is peace and tranquility in social life.

Islamic Shariah provides stringent punishment for highway robbery, because the bandit destroys the trust, security and mental peace of the traveler. Quran describes it as battle against Allah and the Prophet (Pbuh). (For details please refer to Surah al Maidah, Verses 32 & 33). Causing fear and terror in peaceful social atmo sphere has been held as a crime, Even if that is of minor type, Islam recommends every possible step for checking it for an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

Concept of Tolerance in Islam:

Islam presents the best practical model of tolerance. It is a baseless fabrication that Islam is not disposed to tolerating people belonging to other creeds, ideologies and religions. The history of Islam offers models of religious tolerance and best treatment of persons belonging to different faiths. Islam certainly claims to be the right religion, but doesn't teach that the persons holding different creeds and different ideas should be eliminated by forte. It aims to create suitable atmosphere for the principle "live and let live." While emphasizing and preaching truth, it stands opposed to eliminate 'untruth' by force or suppression.

Surah Al Kafiroon makes it clear, "To you be your Way, and to me mine." "Let there be no compulsion in religion. " (Surah Al Baqarah, verse256).

The great authority on the interpretation of Islam, Ibn-e-Kaseer may be cited in support of the view. He said that none should be forced to embrace Islam. The logic in support of Islam is crystal clear; the arguments in its support do not require that anybody should be compelled to adopt Islam. He has expressed the view while explaining the verse from Surah Al Kafiroon. According to Islam blasphemy, infidelity, and paganism are heinous and unpardonable crimes. However, reviling the practices and worship of anything other than Allah has been forbidden.Verse 108 of Surah Al-Inaam makes it clear, "Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah. " Besides infidels Islam advocates co-existence with the Christians and Jews in an atmosphere of peace and tolerance. Several important points have been laid down to ensure that. If those are observed and put into practice, social and religious conflict of every type may be avoided. The most important among them is adoption of agreed and unanimous approach about common issues.

In the. Verse No. 64 of Surah Aal-e-Imran, the Holy Quran states, "O People of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. "Islam equally respects all prophets and messengers of God. Discrimination among them in respect of their being prophet is regarded as blasphemy. Faith requires belief in all those who have preceded our Prophet. Without the acceptance of that faith remains incomplete. Difference and distance among the followers of different religions arises, when one starts differentiating among the leaders of mankind. For sanctity of Faith belief in the unity of prophet hood is necessary.

"The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith, each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His Messengers.

"We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of his Messengers. " (AI Baqarah. verse 285)

Islam has invited attention to another important point, "The concept of unity of mankind"

"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 honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most rightenous of you." (Surah Al Hujurat, verse 13)

From the human angle there is no impediment to the treatment of persons belonging to other religions and ideologies in a fair and equitable manner. The Holy Quran guides in the matter.

"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loveth those who are just. "(Surah Mumtahina, verse 8)

Justice and fair play are pre requisite for a healthy and peaceful society. Disruption of peace is the reaction of terror, injustice and atrocity. In view of that Islam has placed great emphasis on adhering to justice and fair play irrespective of distinction of creed and community. Islam has prohibited partiality in the matter of justice, even if it concerns your blood relation.

“O ye who Believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah. even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. " (Surah Al Nisaa, verse 135)

"O ye who Believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fiar Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. " (Surah Al Maidah, Verse8)

According to Islamic ideology all human beings stand equal for respect and kind consideration.

"We have honored the sons of Adam. " (Surah Bani israel, verse 70)

Therefore a human being who is respectable should not be subjected to atrocity and unjust treatment because that is disrespect and dishonor to him. The Prophet (pubh) declared that the protest of the victim of atrocity, irrespective of his creed and religion has the prospect of being heard by Allah. Discrimination among human beings is against humanitarian considerations.

According to Imam Mohammad when there was famine in Mecca, the Prophet (Pbuh) sent goods for their relief, although he knew that the people of Mecca were not Muslims. (AI Sharh-ul-sair-I-Kabeer, Part I, pp144)

According to Shariah, the Prophet (Pbuh) has urged the help of neighbors. It is not necessary that the neighbor be a Muslim. It is enough that he is neighbor. The Islamic State assures the security of life and property. It also guarantees religious, economic, commercial and educational freedom for Non-Muslim subjects. Islamic Shariah does not permit discrimination between Muslim and Non-Muslim in the matters of security of life and property. According to Imam Abu Yusuf, harassing a Non-Muslim of Islamic State invites Divine Wrath. (Kitab-ul-Khiraj, pp125)

If a Muslim borrows money from a Non-Muslim subject of an Islamic State, and does not pay back, the Qazi may imprison him till he returns the amount. It is the obligation of an Islamic State that it should redress the grievances and sufferings of its Non-Muslim subjects. Speaking against them also is prohibited.

According to Allama Shami, oppression of Non-Muslim subjects is a grave and serious crime.

(For details please refer to Durre Mukhtar ma-al-Shami Volume III pp344 t0346)

If the Non-Muslims subjects of an Islamic State are poor and needy, they should be supported and helped from the funds of Islamic Bait-ul-Mal.(Kitab-ul-Khiraj pp144)

Under the regime of Hazrat Umar a treaty was executed with the people of Quds that provided for security of life and property as well as protection of the church, the cross and other religious symbols. Assurance was given that there shall be no interference in the affairs of the Church. The churches will not be demolished or desecrated, the cross shall not be taken away or the funds seized. There shall be no force or compulsion in the affairs of religion. Nobody shall be harassed. (Tarikh-e-Tabari, Part IlL pp 609)

The treaty executed by Hazrat Khalid bin Valeed with the people of Aanaat, provided for the freedom to ring bells any time throughout day or night whenever they liked and move about with the crosses during their festivities. (Kitab-ul-Khiraj, Imam Yusuf. pp146)

The authorities of Islamic jurisprudence have discussed in detail, the commercial freedom of Non-Muslim citizens under Islamic regime. Only trade in liquor is forbidden because it leads to disorder in society. Excluding that they have complete freedom to carry on any other trade or industry. That totally refutes the allegation that Islam or Muslims do not believe in co-existence with Non-Muslims, or under Islam there is no scope of tolerance of persons professing other religions. The false propaganda, carrying such series of al legations is regrettable and is based on ignorance of facts.