By Dr Habib Siddiqui
March 25, 2016
The Qur’an says: ‘Mischief and corruption have appeared on land and sea because of (the evil) which men’s hands have done, that He may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return.’ (Surah ar-Rum, 30:31)
We are living in an age of Fitnah and Fasad (trials and tribulations) when terrorism has become a reality in many parts of our world. Ordinary people are either being terrorised or getting lynched from all sides — the enemies from within and without. So miserable is the Muslim experience that they often don’t know why they are getting killed! Their own authoritarian governments, many subservient to foreign masters, have abandoned them, and act, as if, they have no accountability either before those ruled or before their Creator.
With few exceptions, Muslim lands, one after another, have been attacked by invaders, people killed wantonly and everything destroyed forcing many to settle for a life of a stranger in a foreign land. Thanks to the merchants of war and advances in the killing machines like the drones, even the places of worship, hospitals and children’s schools are no longer safe from deadly attacks from the air, ground and sea. The lack of safety is causing adverse ripple effects in every sphere of life. Many youngsters are traumatised either by living within the killing fields or from watching television programmes (or the Internet) outside. Some are, sadly, becoming radicalised and are hitting back in a nihilistic madness.
Truly, the sense of hopelessness looms so unbearable that many young folks are angry. They are being misled and duped into joining extremist groups like the Daesh and Boko Haram.
Look at Syria and Yemen where some half a million Muslims have died in the last few years, and at least another seven million displaced as a result of heavy bombardments, which qualify as war crimes, inflicted by two criminal governments. What was their crime? In both of these countries, the victims come from the majority sect — the Shi’as in Yemen and the Sunnis in Syria — who wanted a change from the unpopular minority rule.
To understand the deplorable condition there let’s ponder for a moment on some Ahadith. Prophet Muhammad (S) in a well-known Hadith, narrated via Ibn Umar (RA) which is mentioned in Sahih Bukhari, said, ‘O Allah bestow your blessings on our Shaam. O Allah bestow your blessings on our Yemen.’ The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, and our Najd.’ The Prophet (S) again said, ‘O Allah bestow your blessings on our Shaam and Yemen.’ The people said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, and our Najd.’ On that the Prophet (S) said, ‘There (in Najd) will occur earthquakes, trials and tribulations, and from there appears the Horn of Satan.’ In another Hadith: Muhammad (S) said, ‘O Allah bestow your blessings on our Medina, O Allah bestow your blessings in our measuring, O Allah bestow your blessings in our Sham and our Yemen.’ A person said, ‘And Najd, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘From there arises the horn of Satan and the trials and tribulations would come like mounting waves.’ (From al-Awsat by at-Tabarani from Hadith of Ibn Umar and authenticated by Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Haythami in Mujma az-Zawaa‘id, 3/305)
As a result of the chaos left behind by Bush-Blair and Obama, Daesh has become a major player in the conflict in Iraq and Syria. They are savvy with the use of the internet and have been able to dupe many religiously ignorant youths.
Is Daesh the neo-Khawarij (ie, heretics) of our time? The Muslim scholars have long condemned their heretic, un-Islamic acts, declaring them Khawarij. When Daesh burnt Jordanian pilot Muath alive in a cage, filming his agony, the Muslim world erupted. Fire as a punishment is strictly forbidden in Islam. Daesh beheaded some hostages, and killed some members of Nestorian Christian and Yazidi communities that have been living safely in Syria and Iraq for the last 14 centuries. However, far more Muslims have died from their evil, which Trump and his buddies don’t tell their audience.
Some Ahadith may help to understand the heretic characteristics of Khawarij. Yusair bin ‘Amr narrated: ‘I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, “Did you hear the Prophet (S) saying anything about Al-Khawarij?” He said, “I heard him saying while pointing his hand towards Iraq: There will appear in it some people who will recite the Qur’an but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts through the game’s body”.’
Ali (RA) said, ‘I heard the Holy Prophet (S) as saying that as the Day of Qiyamah (Doom’s Day) approaches there will appear a group of youths with a low mental capacity and understanding (literally, stupid youths), apparently they will talk of good but their Iman (faith) will not go beyond their throat and they will leave the true Deen (religion) like an arrow leaves the prey. Wherever you find them, you should make Jihad with them.’ (Bukhari)
Abdullah ibn Umar (RA) used to say about them, ‘These people took some verses that had been revealed concerning the disbelievers and interpreted them as describing the believers.’ He also said, ‘They will go out of the Islam as an arrow darts out of game’s body.’ (Bukhari)
The violence and Takfir associated with these neo-Khariji movements of our time bear more than a coincidental resemblance to the policies and mindset of the Khawarij of the Prophet Muhammad’s (S) and Ali’s (RA) time. It is no accident that these neo-Kharijis of our time blow up Muslim worshippers even inside mosques as if those targeted are worse than non-Muslims. They are a renegade movement and should not be taken as an Islamic movement.
Fourteen centuries ago, Raba’y bin ‘Aamir (RA), a Muslim companion of the Prophet Muhammad (S), addressed the general of the Persian garrison in the following words: ‘[Islam summons] mankind from the lowliness of the earth to the heights of the heavens, from the servitude of each other to the service of the Lord of the Universe, and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam.’ Yes, that was precisely the role that Islam tried to play in the global arena. Through its concept of tauhid or pure monotheism and universal brotherhood, it offered the world a road to salvation. Instead of making God manlike, it tried to make man godlike. And this it tried by providing three basic elements — faith in one God without any associate, reform of the self and reform of the society at large.
Genuine Islamic movements around the globe over the centuries, therefore, remained a religious commitment, a socio-economic-political programme, but above all, a vehicle for the continuous reform of the society. And who can deny the importance of such forces and principles that make our world better for common good of all humanity?
Yes, terrorism has become a serious phenomenon today, which needs to be defeated. Extremism has no place in Islam. While we condemn Muslim deviants, let’s not overlook the more heinous crimes, state terrorism practised by the non-Muslim governments around the globe — from Buddhist Myanmar to Hindu India to Catholic Philippines to Orthodox Serbia and Russian to Anglican Britain to Protestant America to Jewish Israel to communist China. Let’s also not forget that in the recent decades (since the days of Jimmy Carter) the most powerful state on earth has elected some presidents who enjoyed huge support from the Evangelical, Christian Right whose crusading zeal for spreading Christianity and killing ‘infidel’ Muslims is more dangerous than those non-state actors in the Muslim world. With all the powers at their disposal, plus the criminal doctrine of pre-emptive strikes, they are, indeed, a greater threat to peace and security in our time.
In the post-colonial era, Muslims are not scripting world events but are in the reactive mode. It is not illogical to construe that if the Soviets had not invaded Afghanistan in the mid-1970s, and the US government and its CIA had not popularised ‘Jihad’ against those invaders there won’t be any Taliban and al-Qaeda today. If Bush and Blair did not invade Iraq in 2003 under the false pretext of finding the WMDs and carry out their indiscriminate murderous orgy, let alone stupid de-Ba’athification programme, terrorists like Zarqawi (long dead) and Daesh won’t have existed today. And who knows how many new ‘Spartacus’, i.e., the so-called Jihadists, would emerge out of the ashes of recent wanton bombing campaigns by Putin’s Russia inside Syria!
We have refused to learn the lessons from history and, are therefore, doomed to repeat them!
Far from the unsubstantiated claims of Trump, the religion of Islam is neither violent nor a problem in our age. However, how individuals choose to lead their own lives may vary. Thus, while the Muslim world has produced many saints like Ibrahim ibn Adam (R) and Maulana Rumi (R), it has also produced despots like Bashar al-Assad and Al-Sissi. And the same is true for any religion, including Christianity which has produced saints like mother Teresa and also genocidal criminals like Bush and Blair.
The noble teachings of Islam can be antidotes most of our man-made problems, if we truly care to find out. (Interested readers may like to read this author’s book: Akhlaq: A Manual for Character Development)
Mr Trump may like to read Karen Armstrong’s books to broaden his narrow world-view about Islam. In reviewing false charges of violence lodged against Islam and its Prophet (S), she commented, ‘Far from being addicted to warfare, Islam insists on the importance of peace. The message of the Qur’an is a plural vision; it respects and values other traditions.’ He may also like to listen to veteran journalist John Pilger who said, ‘Far from being the terrorists of the world, the Islamic peoples have been its victims — that is, the victims of American fundamentalism whose power, in all its forms, military, strategic and economic, is the greatest source of terrorism on earth.’ (New Statesman, September 17, 2001)
In closing, let me state that the Muslim world is going through a period of unprecedented Fitnah and Fasad. Muslim societies are falling apart setting in motion a deep sense of despair, which is not healthy for anyone — neither its adherents nor others. They can complain and cry, and blame others for their miserable condition. But what they need more is to look inward to find the practical life-giving formula (of humanity’s victory over animality, victory of knowledge over ignorance, of justice over injustice, of equality over inequality, of virtue over corruption, of piety over faithlessness, of the oppressed over the oppressor) that once helped them to reach the zenith of civilisation.
In closing let me share something which may be a starting point in that rediscovery.
Some 13 centuries ago, Ibrahim Ibn Adam (R) (a disciple of Imam Abu Hanifah (R)) was asked, ‘Allah declares, “O My creatures! Ask from Me. I will accept, I will give.” Whereas we ask, but He does not give, why?’ Ibrahim Ibn Adam (R) replied, ‘You entreat Allah, but do not obey Him. You know Muhammad (S), but you do not follow him. You read the Qur’an, but you do not follow the way it guides to. You utilise Allah’s blessings, but you do not thank Him. You know that Paradise is for those who worship, but you do not make prostrations for it. You know He has created Hell for those who are disobedient, but you do not abstain from disobeying Him. You see what happened to your fathers, grandfathers, but you do not take warnings. You do not see your own defects and you search for defects of others. Such must be thankful because it does not rain stones on them, because they do not sink into the earth and because it does not rain fire from the sky. What do they want next? Would not this suffice as the result of their prayers?’ (Tadhkirat al-Auliya; Husayn Hilmi Isik, Endless Bliss; Habib Siddiqui, Wisdom of Mankind)
Dr Habib Siddiqui is a peace and rights activist.