Islam is not a Religion of Terror
In the Name of God the Merciful the Kind
The victims and families of all recent and previous atrocities and attacks on the innocent are in our thoughts and prayers.
We stand in solidarity with the families of those who have lost loved ones, against the perpetrators of blooshed, whose hate we will not allow to divide us.
One of the painful characteristics of the times we live in is the prevalence of violence in our societies. We live in an age where the loss of innocent lives has become commonplace, whether it is a bomb going off in a market place, or on a bus, a random shooting or stabbing, where the lives of innocent people are unjustifiably held to ransom in the name of political or other grievances. Such is the nature of indiscriminate violence, that ‘terrorism’ is considered as one of the greatest threats to peace and security in our societies today.
The word terrorism came into wide usage only a few decades ago. Unfortunately, the definition of terrorism has been limited only to acts of violence 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 real stereotype. Those who place no value on human life can play disparate roles within society. An individual who blows himself up on a civilian bus or callously fires upon innocent men, women and children has committed an act of murder and terrorism. Likewise, ‘carpet bombing’ of entire cities, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture or using the weapon of sanctions that starve tens of thousands of children to death, can also be deemed acts of terrorism.
The narrow definition of terrorism and the acts of a minority of individuals and groups, alongside the mass hysteria in the media, causes ordinary, law-abiding Muslims to be associated with acts of destruction and terror. As a result, Muslims have been victims of hate crime and the rise of Islamophobia. Often the religion of Islam is held responsible for the acts of a handful of Muslims, and even for the acts of non-Muslims.
Could it be possible that Islam, whose light ended the Dark Ages in Europe, now propounds the advent of an age of terror? Could a faith that has over 1.3 billion followers the world over, 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 destruction?
The Importance of Human Life
Islam considers all life as sacred. Human life in particular is accorded a special status. The first and the foremost basic right of a human being is the right to live. Allah says in the Qur’an about the one who kills an innocent person:
‘It would be as if he killed the whole of mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if has saved the life of the whole of mankind.’ [Al-Qur’an 5:32]
Such is the value of a single human life; Allah in the Qur’an equates the taking of even one human life unjustly, with the killing of all of humanity. Thus, Allah in the Qur’an prohibits murder in clear terms.
While Islam in general is misunderstood in the western world, perhaps no other Islamic term evokes such strong reaction as the word ‘jihad’. The term ‘Jihad’ has been much abused and distorted by extremists, conjuring up disturbing images in the public consciousness of violent Muslims spreading their religion by the sword. This misunderstanding has been the key to the mistrust between people of different faith and non, throughout the centuries. Unfortunately, it survives to this day.
The word Jihad comes from the Arabic root verb, which means to struggle/ strive or endeavour in the way of God. So jihad is literally an act of struggling. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that jihad is to struggle with the base suggestions of one’s own soul. Thus jihad primarily refers to the inner struggle to be virtuous and submit to God in all aspects of life.
However, when it becomes necessary to physically fight evil, subjugation or occupation, jihad takes on a martial dimension. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his followers past and present, like many Israelite Prophets before them, fought wars in self-defence and in order to abolish tyranny and oppression.
‘And why should you not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated, Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; rise for us from thee one who will protect; and rise for us from You one who will help’.’ [Al-Qur’an 60:8]
Regardless of how unjust the enemy may be, Islam forbids mutilation, torture or the slaughter of surrendering forces. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also forbade killing by deceit, whether through the treacherous violation of treaties or by assassination during a cease-fire. Hence, jihad is like a surgical operation: it does not exceed the area of infection.
Islam Forbids the Killing of Civilians
As for killing of innocent civilians, it is wholly and utterly forbidden in Islam to attack non-combatants in anyway. On the contrary, Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.’ [Al-Qur’an 4:75]
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘The first cases to be adjudicated on the Day of Judgment will be of bloodshed.’
‘And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you. But do not transgress the limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors’ [Al-Qur’an 2:190]
Not transgressing the limits means not to kill women and children, for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) forbade the killing of women and children. Not transgressing the limits means that civilians, the elderly, the sick, minorities and worshippers are not attacked. Not transgressing the limits means not killing animals wantonly, burning crops and vegetation, polluting waters and destroying homes, monasteries, temples, churches and synagogues:
‘Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Indeed, Allah loves those who deal with equity’ [Al-Qur’an 60:8]
There is no doubt that the act of inciting terror into the hearts and minds of defenseless civilians, the wholesale destruction of their homes, and the killing and maiming of innocent men, women and children are all forbidden and detestable criminal acts according to the divine law of Islam. In fact, all manifestations of injustice and oppression are condemned by Islam and its God-fearing adherents.
The ignorant zealots who sanctimonious and blasphemously justify their mayhem in the name of Islam, passing off the terrorism of cowards as the jihad of the brave, do so only by twisting theological texts and playing upon the fears and prejudices of an uninformed public.
Suicide bombings are contrary to Islam. The renowned scholar, Shaykh al-‘Uthaymeen (ra) was asked: ‘What is the ruling regarding acts by means of suicide, such as attaching explosives to ones-self, whereby he knows without a doubt that he shall die as a result of this action?’ He replied: ‘Indeed, my opinion is that he is regarded as one who killed himself, and as result he shall be punished in Hell, for it is authenticated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
‘Indeed, whoever (intentionally) kills himself, then certainly he will be punished in the Fire of Hell, wherein he shall dwell forever.’
Prince Charles correctly observed how’ … our common attitude to Islam suffers because the way we understand it has been hijacked by the extreme and the superficial.’ [Oxford, 1993]
Thus Islam enjoins upon its believers to strive in purifying themselves, as well as establishing peace and justice in society. Regardless of how legitimate the cause may be, the Qur’an never condones killing innocent people. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness, and the vast majority have nothing to do with the violent acts that are attributed to Muslims.
Tolerance in Islam
Contrary to the excess and brutality of deviant groups who have arisen under the bane of dictatorships, groups who benefit from the thwarting of real democratic reform movements, Western scholars have refuted the myth of Muslims coercing others to convert. The historian De Lacy O’Leary wrote in ‘Islam at Crossroads’:
‘History makes it clear, that the legend of fanatical Muslims, sweeping though the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.’
Muslims ruled Spain for roughly eight hundred years. During this time, the non-Muslims were treated with respect and tolerance. Eight hundred years was ample time for the forced conversion of the entire Iberian populace, had the Muslims been intent upon doing so. Additionally, Christian and Jewish minorities have flourished in the Muslim lands of the Middle East for centuries, often arriving to escape the organised killing by governments in Europe.
Countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Jordon all have significant Christian, Jewish and minority populations. This is not surprising to the Muslim, for his faith prohibits him from forcing others to see his point of view, and in fact guarantees them protection.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘Let there be no compulsion in religion’ [Al-Qur’an 2:256]
Islam is replete with examples of moderation and tolerance. It exhorts its adherents to follow the middle course in all affairs, religious or secular. The life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is a testimony to his moderation in all matters, including worship.
Islam is a religion that is balanced in all aspects. It does not condone any form of extremism. In fact it unequivocally condemns all forms of terrorism such as indiscriminate killing or bombing.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Those who go to extremes are destroyed’ [Reported by Imam Ahmed]
The reality is that Islam is a religion of peace, tranquility, justice, tolerance and truth. Despite the widespread media antipathy towards Islam hundreds of thousands of people each year enter the fold of their own free will.
In today’s highly polarised world, the media has played a pivotal role in demonising Islam. They cynically capitalise on every opportunity to produce lurid headlines, in order to sell newspapers and improve their ratings. Demonising Islam and Muslims is a growth industry. Amidst the clamour the voices of orthodox Islam, respected scholars, Islamic democrats, and faith-inspired social/grass-root activists and representative organisations are drowned out or ostracised. In order to legitimise various distorted views, a small band of fringe individuals with extreme views and lionised ‘ex-extremists’, both sets who have no religious authority and have a case of answerability for their polemics and disinformation, are regularly rolled out in front of the cameras to proffer their offensive ideas.
Islam is a religion and way of life, which has only come to benefit mankind – not to destroy it. If Islam was a barbaric religion that oppresses women, encourages killing innocent civilians, and promotes extremism, then why is it the fastest growing religion in the world today?
It is the universality of its teachings that makes Islam the fastest growing religion in the world. In a world full of conflicts 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.
The Universality of Islam
Far from being an intolerant dogma, Islam is a way of life that transcends race and ethnicity. The Qur’an repeatedly reminds us of our common origin, Allah says:
‘O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honoured 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]
Position of Islamic Scholars on Terrorism
Advice of Shaykh Muhammad Nasiruddeen alAlbaanee
There is no doubt about the effect of these crimes; so it is obligatory upon those responsible from amongst the scholars and leadership to afford these issues great concern, and to exert themselves as much as possible in ending this evil. (Kayfa Nu’aaliJ Waaqi’unaa alAleem – Page 108-109)
Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdullaah Ibn Baaz and Shaykh Muhammad Nasiruddeen al-Albaanee were two emiment scholars of recent times.This is the advice they gave to Muslims on the subject of terrorism and suicide bombings.
Advice of Shaykh Abdul-Azeez Ibn Abdullaah Ibn Baaz
‘Some of the scholars have understood that the person who commits suicide dies as an unbeliever since the one who commits such an act has malice and disdain for His Lord because of the calamities he has faced without patience. Without a doubt, a (true) Muslim could never reach the level whereby he contemplates such a heinous act, let alone carry out the taking of his own life. In most cases the individual who takes his own life is not a true believer. (MasJid al-Aqsa- The Path to its Freedom)
From that which is known to everyone who has the slightest bit of common sense is that random killing and bloodshed and the like are heinous crimes, the world over. Their evil effects are far and wide, as is the great harm caused to the innocent.
This small treatise barely scratches the surface of this important issue – terrorism is a problem that confronts all nations, races and faiths. Terrorist acts run against laws and reason and they are contrary to all religious teachings and customs. It knows no land, race, religion, sect, time or place. All people reject and condemn it and its perpetrators. It is therefore incumbent on everyone irrespective of his race, creed or class to unite and fight against it, whilst also probing the reasons, grievances, double-standards, despair and injustices which fuel it, otherwise the perpetual cycle of violence begetting violence will be difficult to break.
In conclusion, the following verses of the Qur’ an clearly demonstrate the Islamic position, we pray for peace, prosperity, justice and security for all the people of the world:
Allah the Most High say:
‘There is no compulsion in religion. The Right Path has indeed become distinct from the wrong. So whoever rejects false deities and believes in Allah, then they have grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearing, AI-Knowing’.[Al-Qur’an, 2:256]
‘Verily, Allah enjoins justice, kindness, giving help to kith and kin and forbids all illegal acts, evil deeds and all kinds of oppression. He admonishes you that you may take heed. And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have covenanted and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them and indeed, you have appointed Allah your surety.
[Al-Qur’an, 16: 90-91]