New Age Islam
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Islam and Politics ( 3 Jun 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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In Islam Only Peaceful Struggle Is Permitted Even Against Tyrants, Though Speaking The Truth In Front Of A Dictator Is Considered The Highest Form Of Jihad

A Hadith Report

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

A sermon or Khutba of the Prophet Muhammad is recorded in different Hadith collections. According to this narrative, a Companion of the Prophet reported that the Prophet once stood up and narrated all the things that would happen from his time till the Day of Judgment. In this sermon, he strongly forbade his Ummah from political rebellion. He said that even if their rulers oppressed them, so much so that even if they whipped their backs and looted their wealth, they must still obey them. After this, the Prophet spoke about rulers among his people who would mislead them, adding that when the sword emerged among his Ummah; it would not be lifted until Judgment Day.

If this Hadith report is studied in the light of similar Hadith reports, one learns that in political matters the Prophet was very strongly against violent behaviour. Instead, he advised people to act in a peaceful manner. This is because once violence becomes an established tradition; it is exceedingly difficult to uproot it.

There are several Hadith reports in which the Prophet clearly forbade rebellion against rulers. On this basis, the Ulema unanimously agree that it is forbidden or haram to revolt against an established government under any pretext.

On the one hand, Islam completely forbids violent politics against rulers. On the other hand, the Prophet is said to have remarked, as a Hadith report contained in the collections of at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Ahmad and al-Nasai relates, that the best jihad is for one to speak a word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler.        

If one ponder on these two types of Hadith reports, one learns that in the face of an oppressive ruler, the most that one is permitted to do is to verbally express one’s opinion in front of him, and certainly not to engage in agitational politics against him or to try to destroy him and his government. In other words, in Islam only peaceful struggle is permitted. Violent struggle is not permissible in Islam, no matter under what pretext and irrespective of the conditions that prevail. Probably the greatest tragedy of the later Muslim history is that, despite this rule, a tradition of violent politics emerged among later generations of Muslims. This mentality became so deep-rooted and widespread among Muslims that the religion of mercy came to be thought of as the religion of jihad in the sense of Qital or war, in complete contradiction of the following Quranic statement (21:107):

            We Have Sent You Forth As A Mercy To All Mankind.

Accordingly, the literature produced by later generations of Muslims reflected this mentality, directly or indirectly. The commentaries on the Quran or Tafseer that were written in this period also clearly indicate the deep-rootedness of this mentality. In these works it was argued that after the revelation of verses in the Quran that sanction war, the Quranic verses about patience and avoidance had been abrogated. Hadith reports were collected and compiled, and chapters about jihad were prepared in great detail. Yet, none of the books of Hadith had chapters on Dawah and Tabligh. The same is true with regard to all the books of jurisprudence or Fiqh. The Fiqh texts discuss jihad and related matters in very great detail, but not a single Fiqh text has a chapter on Dawah and related issues.

The entire corpus of Islamic literature produced in the later Muslim period suffers from the same lacuna. From Ibn Taimiyah to Shah Waliullah, and from Shah Waliullah to present-day writers, almost no Muslim scholar could write even a single volume on the topic of Dawah.  If some book was given the title or sub-title of ‘Dawah and Tabligh’, it did not mean that these books were really about Dawah. They might just have been books on politics but which were given a different title.

As a result of the mindset that was created among Muslims through this sort of literature, Muslims developed a mentality according to which men who adopt the method of confrontation become heroes for them, while those who do not adopt this method of confrontation become unpopular.

Because of this, our preachers and writers greatly highlighted the actions of Imam Husain, who fought against the tyrant Yazid, but did not do so in the case of his brother, Imam Hasan, who did not resort to this path. Salahuddin Ayyubi, who fought the Crusaders, won great popularity among Muslims, but our history books are silent on the men who, using peaceful methods, helped convert the Tartar invaders to Islam and make them servants of the faith. Today, men like Osama Bin Laden who talk about violence very easily become heroes among Muslims, but if someone talks about peace and respect for humanity, he will not be able to gain general acceptance among Muslims.

The greatest damage caused by this mentality is that humanity in general no longer remains the concern of Muslims. Muslims have come to divide God’s servants into two categories: ‘my community’, on the one hand, and ‘other communities’, on the other and view them accordingly. But according to you Dawah-oriented approach, Muslims should view themselves as Da’is and others as Mad‘us. In contrast, in the worldview is based on jihad in the sense of Qital, Muslims see others as their enemies.

Following the rise of the domination of Western peoples and powers, this latter way of thinking has received a tremendous boost. Muslims began to feel that Western peoples had snatched from them their superior status. As a result, their enmity was further exacerbated and turned into visceral hatred. And so, generally speaking, Muslims began seeing other communities as their enemies.