By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
October 23, 2013
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009.)
The al Shabab’s target shooting of non-Muslim shoppers in the Nairobi Mall adds an expressly religious dimension to the most heinous phenomenon of terrorism. It renders the global Muslim community a tacit and unsolicited ally of the terror outfits and is designed to globalize Islamophobia, fuel anti-Muslim hatred provoking alienation of and radicalisation in Islam and thus helping the terrorists recruit fresh blood and expand their network. There can be no doubt that it was an ingenious strategy to earn the terrorists a permanent though shifting space in the political landscape of the world, facilitated by heavyweight counter terror measures and drone attacks. As this new development purports to serve the interest of the War Industrial complex, the Islamophobes, the Israel Lobby, the external and internal enemies of Islam keen to keep the Ummah in a state of perpetual anarchy, to the grave detriment of common peace seeking Muslims globally, it must be resisted. All that is needed is to call a spade a spade and expose the true nature of the terrorists by digging into their historical roots.
Terrorism under the ambit of Islam can be traced to the ideology of its first breakaway faction. ‘al-Khwarij’ or the Kharijites, meaning those who seceded from the faith, an euphemism for apostasy. It was a brutally fanatic sect, and as recorded in the annals of history, “it raised swords against the caliphs and made lawful their blood and their wealth and justified the killing of the children of polytheists, one’s own parents, and all the non-Muslims of the world  and “caused rivers of blood to flow in the first three centuries of Islam” . The present day terror outfits seem to have appropriated the terroristic ideology of this sect.
It is relevant here to summarily introduce the Kharijites giving as little detail of history as possible to avoid taxing the lay readers.
The Kharijites emerged in the immediate aftermath of the Siffin war (657 AD) in which Caliph Ali had agreed to an arbitration with Muawiya, his rebelling governor of Syria. A group of his fanatic followers argued that Ali, as a Caliph, defied the word of God by conceding to reconcile with a rebel who was to be fought and subdued. They rose in arms by quoting the statement of Qur’anic verse 6:57 "… command rests with none but God…” (6:57) and added a homicidal dimension to the notion of Takfir by treating any Muslim who opposed their political or theological opinions as apostate and enemy of Islam, deemed worthy of being killed. Thus, they called for killing Caliph Ali, Mu'waiya and all those who participated in the arbitration and any other Muslim who differed with them. Initially the non-Muslims did not feature in this scheme as the entire Arabia had come in the fold of Islam.
Today’s terrorist factions do not identify themselves as the Kharijites, but their express policy to kill all those Muslims who differ with them and innocent civilians in places of worship - mosques and churches, and public places - cafes, busses, trains, railway stations, hotels, and office buildings, let alone planes and the Twin Tower are emblematic of the Kharijite doctrine.
The loud self identification of these terror groups with Islam as echoed in their Arabic titles, their conspicuous display of the Shahadah on their arms and foreheads, their waving out of the Qur’an held in their hands and uttering of Qur’anic invocations from their mouths while boasting of their suicide bombings and terror attacks, and the target shooting of non-Muslims in Nairobi Mall virtually overturns the image of Islam from a religion of peace to a religion of violence and brushstrokes with terrorism the global Muslim community, which is no less averse to and remote from terrorism as the rest of humanity.
The early Kharijites conceivably belonged to the same genre of nomadic tribes whom the Qur’an finds – in the context of the revelation, intense in Kufr (denial of truth) and hypocrisy (Nifaq) (9:97), describe as Rijz (disgrace) (9:94) and Fasiq (9:67, 9:96) and condemns eternally (9:68, 9:95).
The Flawed and Force-Fitted Fatwas of Islamic Terror Apostates
Pioneering terrorist outfits like al-Qaida and Taliban have their Ulema issuing ‘Fatwas’ (religious rulings) to justify killing of innocent civilians such as in 9/11 attacks. But as noted under the conclusions of an exhaustive part by part refutation  of a recent 8 part fatwa by their ideologue, Yousuf al-Abeeri, “the concluding claim of the Fatwa of being authenticated by the Qur’an and the Hadith is a blatant lie…, and the eight parts cumulatively do not table a single Qur’anic verse or authenticated (Sahih) Hadith narration (such as from Imam Bukhari or Muslim) to support its theme - though any Hadith narration would not have lent it any credence as the Qur’an refutes each part of the Fatwa and all the eight parts cumulatively .”
The concluding part of the Refutation  of their Fatwa “AZAN: Call To Jihad On The Road To Khilafah” declares: “In light of the Qur’anic clear testimony borne by a cross section of its verses, it follows that any notion of terrorism is simply antithetic to the Qur’anic message. Hence, the call to militant Jihad by killing innocent civilians in terror attacks or instigating sedition and home-grown terrorism constitute a grand betrayal, if not complete hijacking of Islamic faith.”
The conclusion of the Refutation of Part-1  of Yousuf al-Abeeri’s 8-part fatwa declares: “A deadly spiritual potion is thus being brewed under the cloak of a fatwa which contradicts the Qur'an on many counts, is self contradictory, bizarre and untenable on others, suicidal for Islam and the broader Muslim community and a grave threat to human civilization.”
Conclusion: In consideration of the foregoing historical and Qur’anic analogy, and the concluding remarks of the Refutations of two recently issued comprehensive global Fatwas by the al-Qaida and Taliban terror ideologues, it may be a fitting response to declare the al-Qaida, Talibans, al Shabab, Boko Haram and others, including lone terrorists who justify killing of innocent men, women and children in terror attacks and suicide bombing as apostates and renegades of Islam and refer to them as Terrorist Apostate of Islam rather than Islamic terrorists, unless they commit to abjure terrorism and militant jihad and embrace the greater jihad of Islam that the Meccan Muslims were commanded to launch at the back of the Qur’an such as by promoting peace and harmony in the world, vying with other faith communities in goodness (2:148, 5:48), forgiving past enemies (5:2), and acknowledging the plurality of human society (49:13) – to cite just a few examples.
The writer of this paper has simply discharged his responsibility to bear witness to the truth as honestly as standing before God and it is for the terror ideologues to think how they will defend their position in the divine court.
Finally, the readers of this proposal are reminded of the following concluding remarks of a recent publication  to see the phenomenon of terror in its historical perspective without blaming the beautiful faith of Islam or the common peace loving Muslims of the world:
“The violent extremists – the modern Kharijites6 and Qaramites,7 of Islam are no more than poisonous sediments of history, and like their counterparts of almost a millennium ago, they are bound to be increasingly marginalized, and eventually jettisoned from the world of Islam.”
1. Abdul Quader Jilani, Ghunit al-talebin, Urdu translation by Shahir Shams Barelwi, Arshad Brothers, New Delhi p.178-180.
2. Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, 1937, 10th edition; London 1993, p. 247.
3. Summing Up: Refutation of Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri's Fatwa Supporting Wanton Killing of Innocent Civilians under Special Circumstances and Thus Justifying the 9/11 Attacks – Part - 8
4. A Comprehensive And Conclusive Refutation Of “AZAN: Call To Jihad On The Road To Khilafah”
Refutation of Sheikh Yousuf Al-Abeeri's Fatwa Appearing In Taliban Website Nawa-E-Afghan Jihad Supporting Wanton Killing Of Innocent Civilians And Thus Justifying The 9/11 Attacks - Part-1
6. Muhammad Yunus and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009, p. 364.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
Dear Sultan Shahin
I fully agree with you
that the terrorist outfits are quoting Syed Qutub, Maududi, Abdul Wahab and Ibn
Taimiyyah in their terror narratives and drawing inspiration from them, it will
be virtually impossible to make a case akin to apostasy against the present day
terror outfits unless we connect them directly with the archetype of terror in
Islam, that were regarded as those expelled from the pale of Islam (as their
title denotes) - one member of which assassinated Caliph Ali - the Kharijites.
Besides, if we bring
in too many historical figures in our ideological assault or counter-terror
discourse, it will be like killing a scarecrow and expanding the constituency
of terrorists and lumping the terrorists with many ordinary people who venerate
the above noted Imams. Lastly, if any group/ faction is closest to the present
day terrorists both in ideology, political ambition, courage and determination,
ruthlessness, it is the Kharijites. Though the detailed narratives supporting
this sect may not be on hand, suffice it to know that one of its chiefs was the
selfsame person, Hurqus ibn Zuhair, who had the temerity to rebuke the Prophet
after the battle of Hunain over sharing the spoils of war (the chief source of
revenue for that era) (9:58-59, 9:76-77).
As regards your
concern about mosques and madrasas bearing the name of Imam Ibn Taimiyah, you
have to bear in mind that as a religious person, he has gone down the history
as one of the most pious and greatest Imam of his era. There is no doubt that
some of his rulings are being quoted by the terrorists, but in all probability
they were in the context of the terrifying atrocities that were inflicted upon
the Muslims by its twin ‘enemies’ of that era – the Mongols and the Crusaders
that any half way educated person will know. So the common Muslim people who
venerate him may hardly know any of the rulings that are attributed to him as
is true for their ignorance of the sword verses of the Qur’an. Thus,
questioning the peacefulness of any Muslim venerating Ibn Taiyama will be no
different from questioning the peacefulness of a lay Muslim reciting the Qur’an
– a question most non-Muslims unaware of the common Muslim’s reverential
remoteness from the Qur’an often entertain.
You must understand that in a pluralistic
world we must be inclusive rather than exclusive. We will have to accept
Wahabis as a sect of Muslims, or else we commit the same error of Takfir as the
Kharijites. All that the Wahabis and specially the Saudi monarchy must do is to
launch an international campaign to reinvigorate the spirit of the non-violent
and internally directed ‘greater jihad’ as the Qur’an commanded the Meccan
Muslims to wage (25:52), and elaborated in my article referenced below the
opening and concluding stipulations of which are noted below :
stagnancy of Symbolism and Ritualism, deluded by a quixotic dream of world
domination through militant jihad – the Muslims have turned misfit among the
civilizations of the world and urgently need a major paradigm shift in their
religious thoughts to the dynamic spirit of the Greater Jihad.
The condition of the
minority Muslim communities in predominantly non-Muslim or secular countries –
in many ways, is akin to those of the Meccan Muslims in the Prophet’s era.
Though not necessarily physically abused or oppressed institutionally as
citizens of secular world, they remain utterly deprived and marginalized as any
realistic statistics on asset/ real estate ownership, academic performance, and
representation in administration, civil service, armed forces, professions,
upper echelons of corporate business world, and arts and sports arena is bound
to reveal. This abysmal social, educational, cultural and performance decline
together with the advent of militant jihad and the cancerous outgrowth of
radicalization adversely affects the peace, prosperity and wellbeing of the
global Muslim community and must be resisted by reviving the true spirit of the
Greater Jihad. This, in light of the Qur’an’s key enunciations of its
concluding phase, needs be attained through cultivation of exemplary conduct
and behavior and excellence in good deeds and all forms lawful pursuits in
positive competition with the global community (49:13, 5:48), and broad
compliance with the social, moral and ethical paradigms of the Qur’an as it had
directed the Meccans in the Prophet’s era (25:52 above).
Qur’anic Perspective on Jihad and Greater jihad: SOS to Global Muslim Community
PS: I know you did not
mean it literally when you speculated: “It is possible that Kharji ideology was
one of the inspirations of Ibn-e-Taimiya. But hardly any Kharji literature was
available even in Ibn-e-Taimiya's time half a millennium ago.” I think with
what was unfolding before his eyes and with his level of scholarship and
erudition, he did not have to borrow any ideology from the Kharijites – but
this is a digression from the theme and between you and me.
Dear Yunus Saheb, Islamist terrorism has
not come down from Kharjiites directly to Al-Qaeda, Taliban of today. There is
a long chain. Islam has been there for 14 centuries. Takfirism and killing of
those declared kafir among Muslims has had many practitioners down the ages.
Even the terrorism of today, even its ideologues like Maulana Maudoodi and Syed
Qutub learnt their lessons not so much from Kharjiites or Qaramites - hardly
any literature of theirs justifying violence exists - but from Ibn-e-Taimiya
and Mohammad Ibn-e-Abdul Wahhab. The literature produced by the latter are most
influential. The leaders of al-Qaeda read this literature. Our youths today,
even in Indian madrasas, are reading this literature. Major madrasas bearing
the name of Ibn-e-Taimiya are being opened today. I just came to know of one
very big one in north Bihar. I saw several last year in Kerala. Mosques and madrasas
and even book-stores are being built in Kerala that declare themselves to be
Salafi, something unthinkable a couple of decades ago.
Salafi and Wahhabi text books exported by
Saudi Arabia denounce Kharjiites. I agree with you that the starting point of
Islamist terrorism is Kharjism. It is possible that Kharji ideology was one of
the inspirations of Ibn-e-Taimiya. But hardly any Kharji literature was available
even in Ibn-e-Taimiya's time half a millennium ago. So the ideological fount of
Islamist terrorism today is the original and very influential work of
Ibn-e-Taimiya and Mohammad Ibn-e-Abdul Wahhab. I can see that resemblance with
Kharjism is unmistakable. But while kharjism can be mentioned as the original
fount, we can't leave it at that. Of course, in a small article there is not
much space for everything. But I just thought I should bring it up.
A sign of far-farsightedness I have traced in this article is a
better solution to decrease the burden of moderate Muslims in a bid to save
Islam from terrorists. Thanks Mr Muhammad Yunus for saying “it may be a fitting
response to declare the al-Qaida, Talibans, al Shabab, Boko Haram and others,
including lone terrorists who justify killing of innocent men, women and
children in terror attacks and suicide bombing as apostates and renegades of
Islam and refer to them as Terrorist Apostate of Islam rather than
hats off, you probably didn't understand that Kharjiites were Muslims.
Misinterpretations have also come from Muslims. Concocters of ahadees were also
Muslims. Character assassins of the Prophet were also Muslims. The killers of
prophets family were also Muslims. Mohd Yunus Saheb is actually trying to look
within and not blaming outsiders.
like Hindus, Christians and Jews, Muslims too have a habit of blaming the Other
for their misfortunes. As Muslims are faced with more misfortunes today their
tendency to blame the other is more in evidence. I am sure we ourselves are
mostly responsible for our misfortunes, though outsiders have definitely played
a role by interfering in affairs of Muslim countries. Has colonialism not
played a role? Is neo-colonialism not playing a role? Is the Other not
responsible at least partly for what is happening in Iraq, Libya, Syria,
Palestine, even Afghanistan and Pakistan? Did the West not invest massively in
creating the ideology of Jihadism and training, financing and arming the
Jihadis and then left them alone to do what they liked? Is the US not
supporting Saudi Arabia even after 9/11 in its massive export of Wahhabism? Is
the US not financing Pakistani export of terrorism with which we Indians suffer
most? Surely the US knows to what use Pakistan puts the billions of dollars it
gets from the US. However, it's not the west that is asking Shias and Sunnis to
kill each other, for Taliban to bomb Sufi shrines and girls schools, Malaysia
to ban the use of the word Allah for Christians, the Egyptians to kill
Christians and so on. So what we are facing is a war within Islam and it is
Muslims who have to look within for the culprits as well as for solutions. But
we can also not overlook the global environment in which we are operating.