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Misinterpreting Quranic Verses: Theological Refutation of Recent Al-Qaida Video Exhorting Indian Muslims, Among Others, To Perpetrate Violent Lone Wolf Attacks

By Sohail Arshad, New Age Islam

26 October 2019

Ever since the fall of the ISIS, the Al Qaeda has been trying to regain it's foothold in Muslim societies. During the rise of the ISIS, the influence of Al Qaida had diminished because the ISIS's so-called 'caliphate' had held greater appeal to Muslims. However, they belatedly realised that the 'caliphate' was only an eyewash to muster Muslim support. As the ISIS lost its hold, the Al Qaida started efforts to spread its tentacles in new areas. A few months back, the Al Qaeda's head Ayman Al Zawahiri had released a message exhorting Muslim youth of Kashmir to wage jihad in Kashmir. Zawahiri considers himself the self-styled leader of Muslims whereas the reality is that Al Qaida is a terrorist organisation and the Islamic jurists have unanimously declared them Kharijites. Kharijites are the extremist Muslims who fought even Hazrat Ali (RA) and assassinated him, although they were a breakaway group of his own party.

Recently, the Al Qaida has released a video in which Ayman Al Zawahiri, Rantisi and other terrorists appear and give a call for terror attacks against 'infidels'. The main points on which the terrorists stress in the video are as follows:

1) Muslims can survive only through violence and so they should fight abuse, corruption and exploitation by making terror attacks against their governments.

2) All Israelis are to be considered to be combatants and no Israeli citizen should be considered a civilian because they support the occupation of Palestine.

3) Muslims should make lone wolf attacks wherever possible and should not expect any help from Al Qaeda.

4) Muslims should 'surveil the enemy and make your own preparations'.

The video also suggests terror attacks on India, the US, Afghanistan and all the Democratic Muslim countries because according to them these governments are un-Islamic.

This is not the first time; the Al Qaida has exhorted Muslims to resort to terror and violence for the solution of their problems. Since the death of Osama bin Laden, the organisation is going through severe financial crunch and so it has been advocating home grown terror attacks and lone wolf attacks. Charlie Hebdo attack is an example. To blackmail Muslims emotionally, it has tried to espouse the cause of Kashmir and only solution according to them is terrorist attacks. Since the 9/11 attacks till the rise and fall of the ISIS Muslims of the world have suffered irreparable damage due to the acts of these terror outfits and now they want Indian Muslims to embark on the path of terrorism and destroy themselves.

The arguments that the Al Qaida leaders present in favour of their ideology of violence does not find support in the Quran and Hadith and in the opinion of prominent Islamic jurists. Their arguments have time and again been refuted by Islamic jurists and by New Age Islam. We are once again refuting those arguments.

1) The video is titled 'And they shall continue to fight you.' The title is taken from the verse no. 217 of Surah Al Baqarah. It tries to create the impression that the Jews, Hindus and Christians will keep fighting Muslims and so Muslims should always be at war with all the non-Muslims.

In fact, the verse was revealed during the hostility between the Muslims and Arab polytheists and is purely contextual, i.e., not applicable to Muslims today. The terrorist organisations have universalized these contextual verses to mean that Muslims are asked to keep fighting non-Muslims in all ages. The verse runs thus:

"They ask you concerning fighting in the prohibited month, tell them it is a grave sin, and hindering people from the way of Allah and disbelieving and hindering people from the sacredly mosque and driving it's people from there is a graver sin near Allah; and the disbelievers will keep fighting you till they force you abandon your Deen if they have control over you”

This is clearly revealed in the context of the hostilities in the initial period of Islam. The universal message of Islam is peaceful propagation of Deen without pressure or coercion. See these verses:

"Have discussion with the People of the Book in a better way except with those Ami g them who are unjust, and say unto them that we believe in what was revealed to us and to you and we worship the One and we both obey Him only." (Al Ankabut:46)

Another verse gives the same message:

"And preach them with Quran so that no one gets indulged in his own wrongdoings."Al Ana'am:70)

There are a number of verses in the Quran that ask Muslims to treat peaceful non-Muslims with care and respect. The quoting of the contextual verse of Quran as the title of the video shows their ignorance of the true Quranic spirit. The Quran advises Muslims to have dialogue with non-Muslims to solve bilateral issues. But Al Qaida calls for violence as solution to all the ills plaguing Muslims. The truth that terrorism by Al Qaida has provided the enemies of Islam justification to use force against Muslims and has further aggravated their problems.

2) The Al Qaida leaders and other leaders of terrorist organisations justify the killings of innocent civilians including children and women by giving the argument that the citizens of the US, Israel or any other government that perpetrates violence on Muslims vote their government to power and so they can be presumed to be involved in the atrocities. So there is no civilian in the fight. This argument is against the policy of the Quran. Quran is totally against killing of innocent persons in any circumstances. One of the earliest Islamic jurists, Imam Abu Yusuf (735-798) says,

"Peace loving citizens will not be penalised for the wrongs of their co-religionists."(Kitab Al Kharaj page78)

Killing innocent people and non combatants is transgression in the eyes of the Quran. Quran permits Muslims to fight only those who fight them.

"Fight those who fight you and do not transgress."(Al Baqarah: 190)

The Quran enjoins on Muslims to hold on to justice in all circumstances, in war and peace.

"O you have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, that is nearer to righteousness"(Al Maidah: 8)

3) The Al Qaida advises Muslims to execute individual attacks because it can't extend financial support. It's billionaire founder bin Laden has died and so it is short of funds. It therefore wants every Muslim to carry out terror attacks against their own governments. This way the Al Qaida wants every Muslim youth to become terrorists. It wants to promote culture of violence among Muslims and take them away from the message of peace, harmony, fraternity, patience, forbearance and fellow feeling that the Quran time and again preaches. The Al Qaida wants to make Muslims rebels of their own government and society and take them away from the mainstream of education and social growth. Any group that rebels against the popular elected government is called Kharijites and un-Islamic and fighting them is obligatory upon all the Muslims. The eminent Islamic scholar Abdul Rahman Al Jaziri writes:

"If a group rebels against the Muslim government and violates Huququl Ibad and Huququllah or refuses to accept the orders of the government and tries to overthrow it ---- even if the government is unjust ---- it is obligatory upon the government to give warning to the rebels, but if they defy government orders, the government must fight them with sword"(Al Fiqh Ala Al Mazahib Al arba'a, 5:419)

According to Islamic Ulema and jurists, the Al Qaida and it's followers are Kharijites and rebels and are out of the fold of Islam. They are outlaws and criminals who attack residential areas, markets, hospitals and peaceful congregations killing innocent people. The so called leaders have scant respect for the Quran and Hadiths and create mayhem and chaos wherever they find an opportunity.

4) Mr Zawahiri and his ilk have realised that their ideology of violence and self destruction is now exposed and various Islamic scholars have refuted their unIslamic ideas, so they have become desperate to regain credibility. The recent videos are part of their efforts to misguide Muslim youth by turning them against their governments. To them even Democratic Muslim governments are their enemy and so they should keep hatching conspiracy against them. This ideology of hate and distrust will only take the Muslim youth to the path of destruction and violence. The Muslim youth should hold on to Quran, Hadith and the tradition of Sahaba and seek solution of their social, political and communal problems in them. Quran exhorts Muslims to obey Ulil Amr (the representatives of government) and not to commit violence against them or conspire against them.

The political disputes between governments are the concerns of governments and not of civilians. An individual can't fight a government. The issues concerning Muslim countries should be dealt with by the Muslim countries or by a confederation of Muslim countries. Terrorist organisations like Al Qaida that operate from jungles and mountains cannot solve the problems of Muslims. They have only created new problems for them.

(The contents of Al Qaida video have been taken from media reports)

S. Arshad is a regular columnist for


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