By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
20 May, 2015
Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009)
It is said and rightly so that even the most intelligent and ultra-careful killer or criminal makes a false move at a moment of thoughtlessness and that takes him to the gallows.Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made that false move by his latest declaration that “Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting.”
Anybody with very intellect who has any familiarity with the common religious rituals of Islam will know it for sure, that all Islamic rituals are totally devoid of any gesture of violence. Muslims daily or Congregation prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage and recitation of the Qur’an are all spiritually fulfilling and free from any association with violence. There are countless millions of Muslims living far below the poverty line in many Muslim and secular countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Egypt for example, who spend all their life in abject poverty and abysmal misery without showing any outburst of violence – except the criminals among them who, however, do not act according to any religious principle. The truth is, had Islam been a religion of violence, there would have been violence at the grass root level among all Islamic societies and Islam would have died soon after its birth – the Muslims killing each other as part of religious dictate. But to the contrary, Islam flourished. Almost totally annihilated by the Mongols and the Crusaders after the collapse of the Abbasid dynasty, Islam won over the Mongols by peace, revived and grew. In fact, as testified by some of the most eminent scholars of the Christian West, Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace and human rights:
“The Eastern thinkers of the ninth century laid down on the basis of their theology, the principle of the Rights of Man, ....of which the humane and chivalrous prescriptions would have put to blush certain belligerents in the Great War; expounded a doctrine of toleration of non-Muslim creeds so liberal that our West had to wait a thousand years before seeing equivalent principles adopted.” [Count Leon Ostrorog, quoted by Asaf A.A. Fyzee, Outlines of Mohammedan Law, 5th Edition, New Delhi 2005, p. 53/54.]
“Concepts of prophesy, inspiration and revelation must be re-examined in view of the undoubted revelation of God in Muhammad and the Qur’an. Then much more real charity and generous understanding must be shown to members of other faiths. The example of Islam towards other People of the Book often put us to shame.” [Geoffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, One world Publications, U.S.A., 196, p.173.]
“….the Muslim faith enjoins toleration and freedom of religious life for all those followers of other faiths who pay tribute in return for protection …, The very existence of so many Christian sects and communities in countries that have been for centuries under Mohammadan rule is an abiding testimony to the toleration they have enjoyed, and shows that the persecutions, they have from time to time been called upon to endure at the hands of bigots and fanatics, have been excited by some special and local circumstances, rather than inspired by a settled principal of intolerance."[Thomas W. Arnold, Preaching of Islam, 2nd revised edition, 1913, reprinted Delhi 1990, p. 419/420.]
It is indeed true that the Prophet had to wage armed struggle for the survival of his followers who were oppressed and persecuted in Mecca for some 12 years (610-622) and came under increasing attack in Medina (622-630). It is also true that two Jewish tribes of Medina suffered exile and in one case, some execution, while the Prophet led some expeditions during the last two years of the revelation to save Islam from potential extinction after his imminent death. However, the Qur’anic allusions to the contemporaneous events are very sketchy and have given rise to diverse speculations since the Prophet’s death (632). As if to avoid any obfuscation of its universal message in polemics and debates that continue unabated down the centuries regarding the historical context of each revealed verse and the true motive of the Prophet, the Qur’an calls upon humanity to seek the best meaning in it (39:18, 39:55), focus on its definitive commandments - such as those free from any ambiguity (3:7), and treat the Qur’an as its own best explanation (25:33). It further warns that it will touch the heart of only those who approach it with a positive state of mind (56:79), and reminds that it is concluded as a divine guidance (5:3)in the form of a most beautiful discourse that is self-corroborating (39:23) and calls upon the prudent to probe its verses (38:29, 47:24), unless their hearts were sealed up.
In the context of today’s most barbaric representation of Islam by ISIS and its ideological affiliates, it is essential to produce a counter narrative drawing on the Qur’an which is the core scripture of Islam and preserved word for word in the memory of countless memorizers among each generation of Muslims since the Prophet’s era down to this very day. Any objective study of the Qur’an in accordance with its above stated guidelines can help evolve a counter-narrative against all forms of terrorism in the following 5-Point charter of relevant Qur’anic verses:
1 Killing of an innocent person is declared "haram" or forbidden (6:151, 17:33, 25:68), and as grave a sin as killing entire humanity (5:32).
“ ... We laid it down for the Children of Israel that whoever killed a human being
– except as a punishment for murder or for causing violence (fasad) in the land -shall be regarded as having killed all mankind, and that whoever saved a human life shall be regarded as having saved all mankind. Our messengers came to them with clear signs, but many of them continued to commit excess in the land (5:32)."
“Say (O, Muhammad to your people), Come! I will tell you what your Lord hasmade mandatory (forbidden/binding) to you!"
"Do not associate anything with Him; be good to your parents; and do not kill your children for fear of poverty – We shall provide sustenance for you as well as for
them – refrain from committing abomination, whether openly or in secret; and do not takeany life which God has made sacred, except when lawful. That is what He has enjoined upon you, so that you may use your reason” (6:151).
“Do not take life which God has made sacred – except when lawful. If anyone is killed wrongfully, We have given authority to his heirs to demand retribution,butlet them not transgress the prescribed limits in exacting retribution; for surely,then he (the victim) will be assisted [by the law]” (17:33)."
(Among the virtues of the Servants of God is that) they never invoke any other deity besides God, nor take a life which God has made sacred, except when lawful, nor commit adultery. Anyone who does that shall face punishment” (25:68).
2. The perpetrators of anarchy and violence (fasad)(2:204-205, 28:77) will incur divine wrath and are barred from Paradise (13:25, 28:77 & 83).
“There is a kind of man whose views on the affairs of this life may please you. He even calls on God to witness what is in his heart, yet he is the most contentious of enemies (2:204). Whenever he prevails, he ravages the land causingviolence (fasad) in it, destroying crops and cattle, for God does not love those who cause violence (mufsidin)." [2:205]
“Those who have broken their bond with God, after it has been established andcut asunder what God has bidden to be joined, and cause anarchy (fasad) on earth will have the Curse and theirs will be the worst home!" (13:25)
Do good (to others) as God has done good to you (out of His pure grace). Do not seek violence (fasad) in the land, for God does not love those who cause violence (mufsidin)" (28:77).
“As for the Paradise (literally abode of the Hereafter), We will assign it to those who do not seek tyrannical power ('uluwwa) on earth nor cause violence (fasad) – the final destiny is for the God-conscious (muttaqin)” (28:83).
3. Terrororim (baghya) is forbidden (16:90, 42:42-43).
“God commands justice, kindness and giving their (due to) near relatives/ fellowmen (qurba), and He forbids all evil deeds, injustice and terrorism (baghya).Headmonishes you so that you may be mindful!” (16:90)
“Blame falls only on those who wrong men and wreak terror (baghya) on earth without justification – such will have a painful punishment. (42:42) But whoever is patient and forgiving, acts with great courage and resolution.” (42:43).
4. Muslims are commanded not to overdo in retaliation and forgive people (16:126-128, 42:40, 45:14).
“If you were to retaliate, retaliate in the same measure as the injury done to you, but if you resort to patience- it is better for the patient (16:126). So be patient.Your patience is solely from God. And do not grieve over them, and do not be stressed by their schemes (16:127). Surely, God is with those who are morally upright (attaqu) and those who are the champions of goodness (muhsinun) (16:128).
“The recompense of an affliction is a similar affliction, but whoever pardons and reconciles will find his reward with God. Indeed, He does not love the wrongdoers.” (42:40).
5. The Qur’an expressly forbids any compulsion in religion (2:256, 10:99, 50:45, 88:21-22).
“There shall be no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error;therefore, anyone who denies false deity and believes in God has taken hold of the strong handle that will never break” (2:256).
Reverting to the commentary, in light of the Qur’an explicit prohibition of different forms of terrorism as illustrated above, any claim that “Islam was never a religion of peace. Islam is the religion of fighting” blatantly denies the core of the Qur’anic message.
Of course, one may quote fromthe secondary sources to give a totally different picture of Islam as ISIS has been practically doing in this era. But Islam must be judged on the basis of what the Qur’an says and the authenticity of the secondary sources that evolved out of oral accounts passed down some five to six generations since the Prophet’s era must be judged against the Qur’an’s testimony and not the other way round.
Hence, let no new convert to Islam or one ignorant of its message entertain any false notion about Islam by al-Baghdadi’s claims, and let the world entertain no doubts that all kinds of terrorism is forbidden in Islam – as preserved in the Qur’an.
The ISIS and Its Likes – The Muslim Violent Extremists of This Era Must Be Outlawed on Historical Precedent to Save The Middle East from A Tsunami of Bloodshed and The World from A Clash of Civilizations
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.