By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
January 21, 2015
On November 2, 2014, a deadly suicide bomb blast took place at the Wagah border in Pakistan. The attack left more than 60 dead and about 200 injured. Why should there be news of this kind from Muslim countries? Obviously, the purpose of this violence is to achieve some goal. But, whatever may be the goal, the violent method has become quite irrelevant in present times. The violent method was relevant in previous centuries when people lived in a tribal culture. But now we are living in the age of freedom and science. Now, the peaceful approach is far more effective than violence. But, it seems that Muslims are still beset by outdated tribal obsessions and are totally unaware of the fact that times have changed and that peaceful methods have replaced violent methods.
The peaceful approach is far more effective than violence. It is a fact that no religion, including Islam, advocates terrorism or militancy. Islam is a religion of peace. All the teachings of the Quran are based on peace, either directly or indirectly. For example, there is a very relevant verse in the Quran that tells us that the peaceful way is the best one (THE QURAN 4: 128).
Moreover, Islamic teachings are very clear with regard to the sanctity of life. Another Quranic verse says:
Whoever killed a human being—except as a punishment for murder or for spreading fasad (disorder) in the land shall be regarded as having killed all mankind.
The Quran 5: 32
According to this verse, life is the greatest right of every human being.
No one is allowed to take away a life, except by way of a judicial verdict that is issued after passing through the due processes of law.
There is the widespread notion that Islam promotes violence. However, this is the result of sheer misunderstanding. The reason is that people fail to differentiate between Muslims and Islam. All these violent activities we hear of today are launched by Muslims. It is a fact that Muslims are engaged in militancy in the name of Islam. It is the present Muslim community which is to blame and not the religion of Islam. This is an example of the exploitation of Islam and not of the following of Islam.
Under the influence of certain thinkers who have interpreted Islam in political terms, a number of Muslims are obsessed with the politicized ideology of Islam. They have come to believe in the concept of establishing an Islamic system in the world; for this they require political power but when they set out to establish this system, they see that a group is already occupying the political seat. So, they try to overthrow or unseat those who are in possession of political power.
It is this thinking that has led Muslims to perpetrate violence. But this thinking is completely un-Islamic, because Islam enjoins on its followers to follow its teachings at the individual level, rather than foisting them on others by force or violence. The need of the hour is to counter this problem. However, it cannot be countered by means of the gun. Modern Muslim militancy can be eradicated only by providing a counter-ideology. The issue of terrorism is an issue of ideology versus ideology and not one of ideology versus the gun or ideology versus education. The right course is to re-engineer the modern Muslim mind. We should present to them the true ideology of Islam based on peace and tolerance. The real Islamic jihad is based on peace and spirituality. Therefore, the problem of Muslim militancy can be solved only by reviving the real Islam and not by taking recourse to any other means.
We have to present Islam as a religion of peace. Changing minds through this method of education will take considerable time, as it is a long-term method. Countering the problem with the gun cannot make those who are engaged in violence abandon their violent ways. Because these people are engaged in violence in the name of Islam, they can be stopped from indulging in such activities only if the true peaceful nature of Islam is shown to them.
The veracity of this method can be judged from the example of Kashmir. After Independence, militancy became widespread among Kashmiri Muslims. We, at Centre for Peace and Spirituality, quietly disseminated peaceful literature among Kashmiris and today militancy in Kashmir has reduced considerably. The same literary campaign is required in other militancy-affected areas.
Then, there is the question of why religions advocate peace and not violence. The reason is very clear. The objective of religion, including Islam, is to bring about reform in the individual and not in the political system. And, any kind of spiritual or intellectual change can be brought about in an individual only when he is addressed peacefully. Only those who have set political targets for themselves engage in violence, and since religions do not have any political target they do not enjoin violence. Islam has adopted a very practical formula in this matter; that is, idealism at the level of the individual and pragmatism at the level of society.
There is a prophetic saying that Muslims will indulge in un-Islamic activities in their later generations. The Prophet was asked how this would happen. The Prophet answered that Muslims would give Islamic names to non-Islamic activities. What is wrong with the present-day Muslims is that they have given the name of jihad to their militancy to seek justification for their militant activities. The need of the hour is to correct this self-styled interpretation of Islam and then everything will certainly fall into place.