By Dr Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui
(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam)
The Issue of Minority Muslims
3. The third situation is present in our country, India. If in a democratic non-Muslim majority country, the Muslim minority is being persecuted and the government fails to protect their life and property or does it deliberately, or even goes one step ahead and patronises those perpetrating violence, as happened in Gujarat in 2002, what should the Muslims do? Can they resort to violence in retaliation to violence?
There is no doubt in the fact that like other Indians, Muslims have the right to defend their life, property and honour. The national law permits them to adopt every method to stop attackers even if the life of the attacker is lost in defending themselves. But under the pressure of the situation, some Muslims also resort to offensive violence which they term as Preventive Strike. In our view it is not right
• To prevent Hindu aggression at a place, attack on Hindu community of the same place or any other place before the attack of Hindus.
• Or if after an attack of a group, an attack on other group at some other place is made.
• Or if Muslims consider it right to avenge violence perpetrated against them by subjecting any innocent Hindu individual or group.
People who think on these lines argue that by doing so the attackers can be deterred against further attacks. Apprehensive of the retaliatory violence of the Muslims, the general Hindu population will reign in their aggressive elements and the state governments and the police supporting the communal elements will also take preventive measures to control attacks on Muslims. Some people also present examples of some places where the above mentioned three methods were successful in curbing aggression. Empirical research is needed to confirm or repudiate the theory of deterrence the means for which we do not possess. In this article, light can be shed only on its ethical aspect and views can be expressed on its efficacy.
In our view, out of the three situations discussed above, the third, that is, the use of violence against the Hindus is against the teachings of Islam. An innocent person cannot be punished in retaliation for the crime of a criminal. We are also under limitations as citizens of a democratic country not to do so. On this issue, the violation of the laws of the country is also against Islamic teachings. The principles of war between sovereign countries cannot be applied to the internal strife of communities living in the same country. As for the first and the second situation mentioned above, in our view, that too is a violation of the Islamic teachings. Attacks on a peaceful non-aggressive group cannot be made in response to the attacks of an offensive group, neither before the attack nor after it.
As for the question as to what the Muslims should do in response to the violence perpetrated against them to prevent the violence and to stop the wave of Hindu aggression, if they should abstain from violence, the author has presented the answer in another article. Some more suggestions will be presented in next pages.
US Aggression against Muslims
The US has declared a war against terrorism in the whole world on the basis of the attacks on World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11/2001. Under this campaign, its target are those Muslim individuals and groups that are unhappy with the US, or with the government of their country or have decided to cause damage to America or its interests as they consider the growing influence of the US in the world as a threat to Islam and Muslims. Since the US considers some countries the patrons of such groups or individuals, those countries have also been declared its target. Therefore, after attacks on Afghanistan and then on Iraq, the US and its allies have set their eyes on Iran, Syria and some other Arab countries. Apart from this, the US is engaged in arresting and punishing individuals of Pakistan and south eastern Asian countries who have committed acts of terrorism or can do so.
Under the influence of the US, and as allies in the war against terrorism, the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are treating Islamic groups more harshly than ever and their attitude towards religious madrasas is changing. Due to all this, the Muslims across the world are extremely apprehensive towards the US. They fear that as the US attacked first Afghanistan and then Iraq on the pretext of punishing the perpetrators of the guilty according to its preconceived plan, it also wants to eliminate Islamic circles around the world which it considers a threat to its interests. Under the veil of war on terror the US also wants to suppress the trends that challenge America’s hegemony and the groups that want to protect their society from the sexual waywardness of the US. In support of their apprehension, Muslims present as proof the revision of religious text books being done in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the cleansing of the Imams of mosques and preachers being carried out there.
Muslims all over the world are apprehensive of the intentions of the US but the Indian Muslims are particularly worried because even the section propagating aggressive Hindutva has similar intentions. They are also after the religious madrasas. They are carrying out surveys of religious madrasas and have a hawk’s eye on the Tablighi activities. They are also bringing laws against religious conversions. Indian Muslims are apprehensive that the aggressive Hindutva will use the global war on terrorism of the US for the fulfilment of their own anti-Islam agenda and in this task they will have the cooperation of Israel and its intelligence agencies.
It is not possible for us to present an objective analysis of these apprehensions because this discussion will get lengthier. The mutual relations of America and Islam or of America or the world Muslims cannot be understood merely in the light of recent developments nor would it be right to regard the relations a hostage to the present ruling section of the US. To understand the relations between the US and Islam or the US and the world Muslims, we will have to keep the possible scenarios in view. This job requires comprehensive study or books. In this article, our focus is only on the question: Is it appropriate for the Muslims to adopt the violent ways in response to American violence? As for other aspects of the issue out of which some have already been discussed above, some good writings are available which can be studied.
Our stance is that in the present circumstances, the use of violence by Muslims against the US is neither permissible nor beneficial. On the contrary, it is causing damage and loss to Islam and Muslims themselves. However, when the US attacks any Muslim country unjustifiably as it has done in Iraq, Muslims have definitely the right to defend their country but this method can only be adopted by those concerned adhering to the same principles that govern the rules of war between two sovereign countries and which have been recorded in various international conventions. On the basis of the aggression of the US against any Muslim country, exhorting common Muslims to kill any American citizens wherever they find them or attack American interests, installations or embassies as some Muslim groups are allegedly doing, is against Islamic tenets. Not only that these actions transgress the limits under which any violence is permissible but also these actions are causing greater damage and loss to Islam and Muslims than they have caused or can cause to America. We will explain it further in the forthcoming pages.
Complete Abstention from Violence Is Necessary
In our view, we should not adopt violence against the US. The individuals or groups that have adopted this path should be prevented from it. The path of violence in the present circumstances is against the interests of Islam and the Muslims and so no cooperation should be made with those adopting this path. They should neither get financial aid nor manpower.
Our stance on the abstention of violence is based on the following points.
• Under the present circumstances, the violence of the Muslims takes the shape that is haram and comes under the definition of fasad (mischief) on earth. These methods can never be used for any purpose.
• The violent activities carried out by some Muslim individuals and groups so far have proved counterproductive to the Muslims and Islam causing immense damage and loss. On the one hand, the media has used these activities to distort the image of Islam and to prove Muslims devoid of any human traits like kindness, compassion, mercy etc. As a result, the distance of the common man from Islam has increased and on the other, the rulers succeeded to garner the support of the American people and their representative bodies in their aggression against Muslims in the name of fighting a global war against terrorism. In this way, these violent actions have in fact served as arguments for the American right wing Christians and the Zionist and Israeli lobbies.
• Muslims don’t have the power to do violence in the face of the American violence. In the field of violence, fighting the US means inviting our own defeat. If Muslims think that fighting the US is necessary (though, we believe that it is not necessary) then this fight should be in the field of ideologies and culture and not in the battle-field.
Moreover, this view is also not right that the violence against the US will act as deterrence and will prevent the US from further use of violence against Muslims. The experiences so far do not support this view. The balance of power is tilted in favour of the US so heavily that it is unimaginable that the violence of Muslims against the US may be so powerful that it will prevent a super power like America from violence against Muslims.
We are advising Muslims to avoid violence completely also because due to their resorting to violence, the Muslim society is suffering a lot of damage internally. Their valuable resources and able manpower is being exhausted in secret activities, acquiring arms and ammunition and chalking out plans to carry out attacks instead of being used for constructive purposes like education and training, media, politics and economic development.
As we have already indicated when an individual or group living in a country, prepares to carry out violent attacks on his own country or any other country, this has to be carried out secretly and the law of the land has to be violated at every step. In an open society which is found in India, America and other democratic and quasi-democratic countries, a new leadership emerges for the secret and illegal activities. The political and religious leadership working in any country for the last fifty years cannot do the illegal work of illegal arms production, acquisition of weapons and conducting violent actions. Therefore, the help of those who know how to break the laws, smuggle illegal weapons, travel under fake names with fake passports etc is taken for carrying out these activities. Sooner or later, they also have to take the help of international criminals and experts of smuggling. Any secret act of violence cannot be carried out under the limits prescribed by Islam, nor can these activities can be carryout out by the righteous people.
This internal corruption bears long term consequences. We consider it very unwanted that to confront the Hindutva aggression, we should hand over our leadership to the non-Islamic elements. We would like that, on the contrary, our best people who represent Islam both in word and deed come forward in this interaction with non-Muslims. Even if they pick up arms in defence, they would do it with the Islamic character. Apart from the fact that we have been ordained to do so, it is also a fact that when during the riots, Muslims adopt an ethical attitude, say, provide protection to the non-combatant non-Muslims and groups, then non-Muslim groups also come forward who reciprocate this action of Muslims and provide shelter to weak Muslims and stop their own people hell bent on aggression. Whether it is India where we are faced with the aggressive Hindutva or it is the current global situation in which we are faced with the American aggression under the leadership of Zionist, right wing Christian and American neo cons, in both the fields our main weapon is our moral values, character and ideology which we vouch for and which we have been appointed to convey to the world. When we adopt the path of violence under temporary pressure, our moral status is hurt and we are compelled to set aside the human mission of Islam and do acts that are anathema to it.
Dr Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui is a leading Indian Islamic scholar, whose specialisation is Islamic Economics. Recipient of the King Faisal Award for Islamic Studies, he has taught at the Aligarh Muslim University and the King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
URL of Part 2: http://www.newageislam.com/radical-islamism-and-jihad/dr-mohammad-nejatullah-siddiqui,-tr-new-age-isla/violence,-islam-and-the-islamic-movement--can-terrorism-be-at-all-justified-in-islam?--part-2/d/99845