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Terror Attacks in a Nuclear Age – Jihad or Transgression? Global Muslim Community Should Introspect

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

09 March 2019

Let us Muslims explore all ghastly terror attacks perpetrated by terror outfits all around the globe and weigh up all limits set by Allah Almighty in clear terms. Several years of exploration have pushed me to pick out a firm resolution to believe, to the fullest surety, that the terror outfits committing crimes in the name of Jihad and Islam are transgressors.

Unlike the sword-fighting age wherein Jihad was initiated for repelling religious persecutions but with some terms and limits set by Allah Almighty and His beloved Prophet (peace be upon him), this twenty first century is the age of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. In the days of sword-wielding warriors, Jihad-related conditions and limits could be maintained, but now in the age of WMDs, IEDs, Drones, etc, it is impossible for warriors to escape from transgression.

The Islamic concept of Jihad is classified into two parts: Jihad by fighting and Jihad by Nafs (inner spiritual struggle). Jihad by Nafs as a striking feature of Taqwa that can be performed anywhere. But Jihad by fighting, as you know, is the responsibility of Islamic governments. In this case, Only an Islamic administration can declare Jihad by fighting in a bid to defend its territory and civilians including Muslims and Non-Muslims, to fight against terrorism, violence, oppression and any other sort of persecution. Meanwhile the government will have to compulsorily explore the all-round war-related condition and ensure itself that Jihad by fighting in defence will surely not turn out to be an act of transgression.

We are living in modern democratic countries which constitutionally guarantee religious freedom and security. Jihad by fighting should not be applied in such democratic countries. What we can do here is wage Jihad by Nafs (Jihad al-Nafs) which renders inner spiritual struggle against personal evil desires, ideas, lust, anger, lies, cunning, deceit, fraudulent behaviour, prejudice, growing extremism and desire of retaliation. Indeed, the practice of Jihad by Nafs gives us spiritual power to retain peace of mind and enables us to have patience and perseverance when facing the unwanted consequences of political, religious or worldly clashes.

As for another concept of Islamic Jihad, that is, Jihad by fighting which intrinsically aims at defending religious rights and security of life under the banner of Islamic governance on the declaration of an Islamic government; this can’t be waged in this nuclear age for several reasons; the most important one of which is transgression.

All knowledgeable people know that doing anything beyond the war-related terms and limits set by Allah Almighty and His beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) is known as an act of transgression. The Arabic word repeatedly used in the Quran and Sunnah to render transgression is i'tida and its derivative mu'taddin or mu’taddun rendered in English as transgressors.

The Quran and Sunnah have strictly called their believers to refrain from transgression in several issues including war. Let us sincerely and deeply study some of the relevant passages.

Allah Almighty says, “Do not exceed the limits; and Allah does not like the transgressors” (2:190).

This command of God Almighty, as per majority of classical Islamic scholars, is Muhkam and not abrogated (mansukh). They use this Divine command to discuss the usual rules of war, such as the prohibition against killing women, children, old people, monks, hermits, the chronically ill and peasants etc.

Hazrat Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “The phrase “do not exceed the limits” renders “do not kill women, children, old men, or those who offer peace and restrain their hand. If you do that, you will have transgressed against them”. (Jamiul Bayan, vol. 2, p. 110-111, printed at Beirut Darul Ma’rifa)    

Whenever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) dispatched a commander of an army, he would exhort him personally to fear Allah and prohibited against transgression, killing of children, mutilation and treachery. (Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud etc)

Hazrat Abu Bakar al-Siddiq used to instruct the army soldiers, “kill neither a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone” (Muwatta Imam Malik p. 466)

Let us see more Quranic verses in which Allah Almighty has commanded Muslims to refrain from transgression.

“Do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors” (5:87)

“Pray to your Lord crying humbly, and softly; indeed He does not love the transgressors.” (7:55)

“We seal over the hearts of the transgressors” (10:74)

“...they returned towards Allah’s wrath; that was because they disbelieved in Allah’s signs and wrongfully martyred the Prophets; that was for their disobedience and transgression” (2:61)

“And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, "Be apes, despised” (2:65)

“O you who have believed, prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered - the free for the free, the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. But whoever overlooks from his brother anything; then there should be a suitable follow-up and payment to him with good conduct. This is alleviation from your Lord and a mercy. But whoever transgresses after that will have a painful punishment.” (2:178)

“.... These are the limits of Allah, so do not transgress them. And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah - it is those who are the wrongdoers” (2:229).

The full verse specifically deals with issues of divorce (talaq) but like other verses this verse has also a general application to render that one should not transgress the limits of Allah in any issue.

“...And when you divorce women and they have [nearly] fulfilled their term, either retain them according to acceptable terms or release them according to acceptable terms, and do not keep them, intending harm, to transgress [against them]. And whoever does that has certainly wronged himself” (2:231)

“And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits - He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein, and he will have a humiliating punishment” (4:14)

“...And do not let the hatred of a people for having obstructed you from al-Masjid al-Haram lead you to transgress. And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty” (5:2)

Let us stop here and spend more time on this verse to take Divine guidance which commands us to cooperate in righteousness and refrain from cooperating in transgression and aggression. The believers are commanded not to transgress even against the people who have hatred against them.

“And you see many of them hastening into sin and aggression and the devouring of [what is] unlawful. How wretched is what they have been doing.” (5:62)

“O People who Believe! Do not forbid the pure things, which Allah has made lawful for you, and do not cross the limits; indeed Allah dislikes the transgressors.” (5:87)

“And indeed do many lead [others] astray through their [own] inclinations without knowledge. Indeed, your Lord - He is most knowing of the transgressors.” (6:119)

“In respect of the believers, they do not keep regard for any relations nor any pacts; it is they who are the rebels.” (9:10)

“..Whoever crosses Allah’s limits has indeed wronged himself” (65:1)

We have observed massive destruction and heavy casualties in Syria and Iraq in wake of repeated brutal war and attacks. The killers and the peaceful civilians killed as a result of terror and anti-terror attacks were from among those who called themselves Muslims. The killers used Islamic titles to punish their “enemies” and took the state law in hands and caused excessive transgression. Both the countries are still in hot water and it will take them years to come back to peace, tranquillity and stability.

Almost all Muslims today find themselves looked upon with suspicion and distrust by their fellow citizens. They want to cry out and tell the world that they are not terrorists and that those who commit terror attacks are not part of them. It is extremely hard to have patience when we hear or read the speeches or words which blame Islam for violence, terrorism and destruction. But we will have to have patience, come what may, as the credit of creating such an unbearable situation goes to those who used our Islamic titles and appearances, causing havoc and transgression. This gave non-Muslims a justification to see us with eyes of suspicion. The deep feeling of Islamic faith and light lies within us and only we can understand it well. Without being offended we just need to do some effective work in this ground, for example, share the peace-objective of Islam not just with such non-Muslims but primarily in a bid to correct those Muslim youth who fall prey to wrong understanding of Islam. If we fail to do anything as such, at least we should live our life with patience and peace of mind, leaving everything up to the Divine Power (Qudrat).

Many modern Muslims make fun of Sufism (Islamic mysticism) in this age, on the basis of their theology or their understanding of Sharia. They see and present Islamic mysticism or Sufis away from the Quran and Sunnah. But this is not the case; Sufis understood well the spirit of Islam as well as the need of the age. They understood well how Islam was used by rulers for achieving their nefarious and unjust ambitions. They had sensed the changing phase of time well and therefore they presented Islam through their Taqwa and Jihad by Nafs (inner spiritual struggle).

It is a great dishonesty to claim that Sufis had no idea of Islamic Sharia including theology and Jurisprudence. In fact, they understood Islamic Sharia with its core essence under the silsila or patronage of spiritual masters, like Sarkar Ghaus-e-Azam Abdul Qadir Jeelani, Hazrat Maulana Rumi, Hazrat Shams Tabrez, Hazrat Ibn Arabi, Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Chishti, Hazrat Khawaja Qutubuddin, Khawaja Nizamuddin to name a few. All of these divines were not only the masters of theology and jurisprudence but also of Islamic mysticism. Taking the training of both Shariat and Tariqat, they attained an understanding of Haqiqat. Apart from gaining depth of Shariat and Tariqat and better understanding of their respective age, they walked on the path of non-transgression that attracted millions of people across the world towards Islam and its beauty.

We are missing pious spiritual masters in this nuclear and internet age; however you should look for them and try to attain under their patronage the exact understanding of Islam which will definitely fill your mind with power of peace, patience, perseverance and guidance leading to salvation. Besides, we can have either of the options; keep away from all politics of war being committed in the name of Islam and Jihad or come forward to support the initiative towards peace and winning the hearts of the people, declaring that any war waged in this nuclear age of various WMDs will turn out to be nothing but transgression – which Allah Almighty, the Lord of the universe, does not like at all. 

A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf).


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