By Muhammad Yunus, New Age Islam
(Co-author (Jointly with Ashfaque Ullah Syed), Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009.)
May 30, 2013
Introduction to the Taliban’s Global Call to Jihad
This write up is targeted at the oppressed, dispossessed, bereaved and marginalized segment of the global Muslim community. These are the people who never hit the media and are largely forgotten by the world or blamed for their misfortunes and seldom if ever compensated for their losses. They do not belong to al-Qaida or the Taliban. They are the unfortunate civilians – the underdogs of the global society who have borne the brunt of the recent allegedly just invasions of Muslim lands (Afghanistan, Iraq), the war on terror by any country - non-Muslim (America, France, Britain) or Muslim (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria), Israel’s occupation of Muslim lands and allegedly defensive military operations, India’s counter-terror activities in Kashmir, repressive actions and marginalization in any Muslim minority country from China in the East to Spain in the West.
Its Approach Is Ingenious
It lays out tiers upon tiers of arguments, often repetitively, and cites seemingly/ literally pertinent supporting quotations from the Qur’an and the Prophet’s sayings (Hadith) to establish one core message: the victimized Muslims of the world must wage a militant jihad in their respective countries to establish a Pan- Islamic state or Khilafah transcending national boundaries and following the Islamic Sharia Law, with Taliban leading the way. While generally adopting a casual religious-cum-political tone, the discourse is punctuated with naked calls to commit terror and high treason. Thus:
- It purports to exhort the Muslim minority countries of the world in these terms: “..the brothers and sisters who are living in the countries of Kufr can target the enemy within their own territories and this is what terrifies the crusader-Zionists of the world. They call it ‘home-grown terrorism’. We call it the most beautiful obligation that Allah, the Exalted Has Ordained for the Muslims.”
- Adnan Rasheed, one of Taliban heroes has this message for the members of Pakistan armed forces: “They must kill their co-workers and defect and reach to us somehow; our hands are open for them. At least they must have matches in the canteens to burn the AIR CRAFT, POL, or Weapon Cache or Engine of Naval Warship or to at least put sand in their engines.”
The discourse thus aims at forming independent, unconnected pool of militant jihadists, who will operate either on their own or as very small secretive, sleeping and invisible groups as ‘home-grown terrorists.’ Given that one single terrorist with kitchen knives in his blood stained hands can terrorize a whole nation, if not the whole world (recent London attack), and just a few suicide bombers and ruthless killers can kill scores, if not hundreds of civilians in the most casual and sensational manner and upset the communal harmony in a society, political stability of a country, provoke a deadly backlash and set off a cycle of violence – a daily norm in some Muslim lands, the plot is deadly for the broader humanity. There is no reference to the virgins in paradise. There is no emotion or anger. It is a business document written on the acclaimed strength of the religion asking the readers – Muslim youth and intelligentsia for demanding settlement of loan from defaulting clients.
While may be 99.9% of educated Muslim youth may not have the time, patience and interest to read through their long discourse, and keep away from it because of its jihadist character, there is still the 0.1% or one out of a thousand youth reading it and if it radicalizes one out of a hundred readers, we have one out of a hundred thousand Muslim youth (an arbitrary figure that will vary regionally of course) getting radicalized, ready to kill innocent civilians, blow himself up in public place or commit other acts of ‘terror’ branded as Jihad. An ingenious plot is thus designed in the name of Islam to shake its foundation, trigger a terror cycle in the world, rock and stain the Muslim world and destabilize and terrorize the global human society. Since it is an ideological war that purports to turn Islam from a religion of peace, harmony and universal brotherhood into a cult of bestial violence and naked terrorism – a grand betrayal of faith, it must be challenged on its own turf to defend the faith and to diffuse the menace of terror that a violent version of Islam poses. Hence, this refutation!
Objective and Modality Of This Exercise
The object of this exercise is to screen the discourse in light of the Qur’anic message and investigate whether the Qur'anic verses quoted (in rendition) are relevant to the tabled arguments or simply force fitted. As the discourse is virtually a multifaceted and coordinated attack on the religion of Islam, it is essential to shed light on the key facets of Islamic religion under Terms of Reference to refute the discourse in an objective, convincing and religiously sound manner.
This Paper Or Refutation Is Divided In Two Parts:
A Summary Refutation of the main theme of this discourse: The Call to militant Jihad to establishing a Pan-Islamic politically integrated state or Khilafah transcending national boundaries. This is drawn on the key facets of Islamic religion as captured under Terms of Reference (TOR).
Scrutiny of key elements of arguments and claims and quoted Qur’anic verses and refute those of its arguments, claims and interpretations that are untenable in light of the Qur’anic message.
Terms of Reference (TOR) – Some ground realities and fundamental truths referenced in the exercise.
1. Summary Introduction to the Qur’an and Islam’s Secondary Sources, The Hadith And The Sharia Law.
The Qur'an: It is the infallible word of God which was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a span of 23 years (610-632 C.E.). It was revealed, recited, recorded and memorized at the same time, that is, in full light of history, and compiled and authenticated within twenty years of its completion. Therefore, it does “does provide a firm basis of undoubted authenticity,” as a historical document [#]. Hence, the Qur'an alone is the final authority for supporting or refuting any proposition or ruling of Islam’s secondary theological cum juristic sources including the Hadith.
The Qur’an has unique textual features, and is otherwise very challenging as a reading material in Arabic as well as translated form. To facilitate comprehension, it commands humanity to probe its verses (38:29, 47:2), follow its definitive verses (3:7) and seek the best meaning in it (39:18, 39:55) and claims to be its own best interpretation (25:33) and the divine Sharia (Code) of Islam (5:48, 45:18).
“We have revealed to you this divine Writ (kitab) setting forth the truth, confirming (whatever) remains of the divine writ (sent earlier), and determining what is true in it. Therefore, judge between them by what God has revealed, and do not follow their whims after what has come to you of truth. For each of you We have made a (different) code (Shi’a), and an open way (of action) (Minhaj). If God so pleased, He would have made you (all) into one community. Therefore vie (with each other) in goodness (so that) He may test you by what He has given you. (Remember, you) all will (eventually) return to God, and He will tell you in what you differed” (5:48).
“Then We set you on a code (Sharia) in accordance with the divine order, so follow it, and do not follow the whims of those who do not know” (45:18).
The verse 5:48 admits of “an open way of action” (Minhaj). This allows for flexibility in jurisprudence with passage of time and geographic spread that led to the evolution of diverse law schools in early Islam. The verse acknowledges the differences in the code (Shir‘ah) and the way of action assigned to the divergent communities of the world in the historical matrix but reminds them all to ‘vie with each other in goodness’
“Everyone has a direction (a code of life) to which he turns: so vie (with each other) in goodness, (and remember,) wherever you may be, God will bring you all together. Indeed God is Capable of everything” (2:148)
“O People! We have created you as male and female, and made you into races and communities* for you to get to know each other. The noblest among you near God are those of you who are morally most upright (atqakum). Indeed God is All-Knowing and Informed” (49:13).
#. Maxime Rodinson, Muhammad, English translation, 2nd edition, London 1996, p.x [Foreword].
The Hadith: These are narrations or sayings attributed to Prophet Muhammad, compiled more than at least 200 years after his death. The early compilers of the Ahadith (sing. Hadith) - notably Imam al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim had warned about massive presence of historically unreliable (weak) reports in their compilations [#1, #2]. Therefore, any statement or account that is in conflict with the letter and spirit of the Qur'an must be treated as forged and fabricated or specific to a context or era and thus apocryphal.
#1. A hadith in Imam Bukhari’s compilation reads: “Why do people impose conditions which are not in Allah’s book (kitab il lah)? Whoever imposes such conditions as are not in Allah’s Laws (kitab il lah), then that condition is invalid even if he imposes one hundred such conditions, for Allah’s conditions (as stated in the Qur’an) are truth and more valid” - Acc. 364, 735/Vol.3. Sahih al-Bukhari, English translation by Mohsin Khan, New Delhi 1984.
#2. In the concluding part of the Muqaddimah of his compilation, Imam Muslim states: "If we discuss about all those accounts which are held authentic (Sahih) before the learned, and suspect by a critical scholar (who demands a proof of personal meeting between the narrators and transmitters of Hadith in each generation), we would simply be tired (because they are so large in number)."- Sahih al-Muslim, Urdu translation by Wahiduz Zaman, Aeteqad Publishing House, New Delhi (year not mentioned).
The Classical Sharia or popularly, the Sharia Law of Islam represents the juristic traditions of Islamic civilization. Scores of law schools evolved in the early centuries of Islam within the broader framework of Qur’anic message and the traditions (Sunna) of the Prophet. These were inevitably informed by the customs and traditions, state of knowledge, social values and political and historical needs of the different historical points/ eras in which they evolved and were developed by the application of a foundational juristic doctrine - usul al fiqh (Principle of rational logic and reasoning). This is an umbrella concept drawn from the Qur’anic vocabulary (root FQH, verse 6:65…) and embraces such notions as i) Qiyas (parallelism), ii) Ijma/ Jama’ah (consensus of the scholar/ community) iii) ‘urf (established custom and practice of the community), iv) Islah (community good), v) Ijtihad (critical thinking or independent intellectual probe), and vi) Istihsan (one’s best judgment).
According to Prof. Khaled Abou Fadl of the University College of Los Angeles, Islamic Shari’a law refers to positive Islamic law or the Ahkam, the positive legal commandments deduced and expounded through centuries of cumulative legal practice. However, as the classical jurist passed a ruling privileging their own opinions in any legal mater over the Qur’an [#1], the Sharia Law of Islam is NOT a word of Allah. Not surprising, it contains such rulings as stoning to death for adultery, capital punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, punishment for homosexuality, slavery, rape law, temporary marriage, on the spot divorce, parental immunity against child abuse, wife beating, exclusion of women from public life, the division of world between Muslim and non-Muslim and knowledge between Islamic non-Islamic and so on, that are antithetic to the Divine Sharia of Islam – the Qur’an. Such is the case of the highly misogynist, primitive and symbol driven version of Islamic Sharia that the Mujahideen are enforcing in their lands, facing strong resistance from the mainstream Muslim society, let alone America and the non-Muslim world.
No doubt the amputation punishments are prescribed in the Qur’an but the related Qur’an verses (5:34, 5:39) incorporate forgiveness clauses offering scope of flexibility and even softening of punishment. It must have been this Qur’anic spirit that led Caliph Umar to introduce jailing for lower offences, and reserving the Qur’anic exemplary punishment (5:38) for grave offences (5:33). [#2]
#1. “Any Qur’anic verse which contradicts the opinions of ‘our masters’ will be construed as having been abrogated, or the rule of preference will be applied thereto. It is better that the verse is interpreted in such a way that it conforms to their opinion.” [Ahmad Hussain, Doctrine of Ijma in Islam, New Delhi, 1992, p.16].
#2. Shibli Noumani, al-Faruq, Delhi 1898, Karachi reprint 1991, p. 198.
The evolution of Islamic Umma under the Prophet (622-632).
The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad over a span of 23 years (610-632 C.E.). From a social perspective, it had the singular role of “lifting the burden that was upon humanity from before” (7:157), that is, to bring about a sea change in the social, cultural and political milieu of the pre-Islamic Arabia. As is essential for any all embracing reform in any society at any era, it must be introduced in a phased way to be durable. Accordingly, the revelation that incorporated, among other tenets, social, moral, commercial and legal reforms, and family and inheritance laws required phased implementation in the community. This called for the evolution of a truly Islamic community. Such a community (Umma) evolved in Medina under the leadership of the Prophet as the Qur’an records:
“Let there be a community among you who will invite (others) to be good, enjoin the good (Ma‘ruf), and restrain the evil (Munkar), and it is they who shall succeed” (3:104).
“You are the best community brought forth for humanity; you enjoin the good, and restrain the evil, and believe in God. If the People of the Book would only believe - it would be best for them: some of them have true faith (Muminun) while most of them are perverse” (3:110).
But the Muslim community under the Prophet’s spiritual and temporal leadership was far from being an Islamic state. The Qur’an has been unequivocal about the Prophet’s singular role as God’s Messenger. Therefore, to describe him as a head of state or commander in chief will be tantamount to putting additional words into the Qur’an. Moreover, the Qur’an remains silent about the political, civil, financial, or military administration that goes with a state. As in case of all other fields of knowledge, sciences and human pursuits, it understandably left statecraft to evolve with the progress of civilization.
3. The Birth and Flowering of the Islamic Caliphate.
Following the death of the Prophet, his immediate successors (by definition Khalifas) formed a religio-political Caliphate or Khilafah (632-661). All activities of the Caliphate were carried out under the aegis of faith, and were directed at establishing Islam as an historical reality. These successors (Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali), remembered as the Rightly guided Caliphs were the most trusted companions of the Prophet, who had each marital tie with him [#], had lived with him as the members of a family, had been groomed by him for more or less two decades as early converts to Islam, and were reputed for their wisdom, austerity, devotion, honesty, commitment to justice and selfless zeal. They succeeded in establishing Islam as a powerful spiritual, social, intellectual and political force that took the world by surprise, and established Islam as a regional power by conquering and effectively administering a vast empire that stretched from Egypt to the West to Persia in the East. However, with the passing away of this generation, the rein of the caliphate fell in the hands of people who had converted to Islam after the assimilation of Mecca, some 20th year into the prophetic mission: people who were neither tutored by the Prophet nor had encountered the explosive impact of the revelation first hand, and were driven only by personal ambitions and were thus unfit to perpetuate the heritage of the early Caliphs. These were the Umayyads (661-750). They retained the title of Khalifah (Caliph) or successor, and in theory assumed the position of the elected head of the community in both temporal and religious matters. In reality, they were dynastic rulers and temporal heads only. Thus the religio-political Islamic state came to an end and Islamic history changed its political character less than forty years after the death of the Prophet.
This leaves us with the question whether the Qur’an envisions the division of world demography in religio-political lines with an Islamic Caliphate leading all humanity. To find an answer to this question we have to see whether the Qur’an singles out the Muslims as a community, set apart from the rest of humanity or regards them as part of global human society with equal standing and accountability to God and parallel role in the advancement of civilization.
#. Abu Bakr and Umar gave their daughters in marriage to the Prophet, while Uthman and Ali married the daughters of the Prophet.
The Qur’an enjoins all humanity to promote good and restrain evil and thus espouses a universal brotherhood of humanity.
The verses 3:104 quoted under 2 above is often interpreted as an eternally valid pronouncement of the Qur’an, claiming a privileged position and distinction of the Muslim community for all times.
This is misleading. In the context of the revelation, the verse was addressed to the immediate audience of the Prophet that included the Christians and Jews. Accordingly it invites them to embrace Islam. The verse, however, does not distinguish between the Muslims and ‘some of the People of the Book who had true faith in God (Muminun)’. Therefore citing this verse to claim the exclusivity of Muslims (the followers of the Prophet Muhammad) will be misleading. However, the verse encapsulates a universal message binding for all time: “to enjoin the good, and restrain the evil, and believe in God.” The Qur’an directs this message to all humanity regardless of religion and repeatedly declares that only those people who do good and restrain their evil temptations may earn divine grace at the Final Reckoning. This general statement can be substantiated as follows:
4.1. The Qur’an distinguishes good deeds as a common criterion for earning divine grace for people of different religions.
“Those who believe, and those who are Jews, Christians and Sabians - and (in fact) anyone who believes in God and the Last Day, and does good deeds - shall have their reward with their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they regret” (2:62).
“Indeed! Anyone who submits his whole self to God and is a doer of good - will get his reward from his Lord. They have nothing to fear nor will they regret” (2:112).
“Anyone - be it a man or a woman, who does good deeds, and is a believer in God – it is these that shall enter the Garden and will not be wronged at all” (4:124).
“Those who believe, and those who are Jews, Sabians and Christians - (in fact) anyone who believes in God and the Last Day, and does good deeds - they have nothing to fear, nor will they regret” (5:69).
“On the day that God assembles you - the Day of Assembly, that is the Day of reckoning; and anyone who believes in God and does good deeds, He will efface his evils from him and admit him into Gardens watered by streams - to live in it forever: that will be a supreme triumph” (64:9).
“The Messenger conveys to you clear messages from God, so that he may bring forth those who believe and do good deeds from darkness into Light, and anyone who believes in God and does good, He will admit him into Gardens watered by streams; to live in it forever - God has indeed made for him a generous provision” (65:11).
4.2. The Qur’anic verses on restraining the evil or moral uprightness (taqwa) expressly directed to all humanity:
“God has intricately balanced human ego (Nafs) (91:7) and imbued it with (the polarity of) moral depravity and moral uprightness (Taqwa) (91:8). Only those will attain to a happy state who attain to Zakah (purify their Nafs by curbing their evil temptations) (91:9).
“Anyone who is generous and stands by Taqwa (restrains the evil) and enjoins good (92:6) - We shall facilitate him to the easy way (92:7). But one who is niggardly and self-cantered (92:8) and gives a lie to all that is good (92:9) - We shall facilitate him to the hard way” (92:10).
“Far away (from the blazing fire) will remain one devoted to Taqwa (restraining the evil) (92:17), who give from their wealth to become pure (92:18) seeking nothing in return (92:19), seeking only the acceptance of their Lord, the Most High” (92:20).
The Qur’an privileges Taqwa over the symbolism associated with some of its core spiritual tenets. Thus, it warns the Muslims undertaking the hajj and performing its slaughtering rite as follows: i) “Take provision for the journey, but the best of provisions is Taqwa” (2:197), ii) “Neither their flesh nor their blood reaches God, but your Taqwa does indeed reach Him…” (22:37). It also describes fasting as an austerity regime to help acquire Taqwa (2:183, 2:187). While referring to the role of personal clothing in covering nakedness, it describes the cloak of Taqwa as the best dress (7:26). It also declares that in God’s sight, those imbued with Taqwa stand above those who obsessively acquire luxuries of life (2:212, 47:36).
To avoid any exclusivist interpretation of the pivotal notion of Taqwa, the Qur’an describes some of the ‘People of the Book’ (Christians and Jews), as epitomes of Taqwa (Muttaqin):
“They are not the same: among the People of the Book is an upright community: they recite God’s messages through the hours of night as they bow down before Him (3:113). They believe in God and the Last Day; enjoin good, and restrain evil and hasten to good deeds - it is they who are among the righteous (114). Any good they do, they will not be denied it as God knows the morally upright (Muttaqin)” (3:115).
4.3. Every human being regardless of religion or godlessness is a repository of Taqwa.
The Qur’an describes God as the wellspring of Taqwa and forgiveness (74:56). It says that in the final stage of human’s creative process God breathes into him some of the divine Spirit (15:29, 32:7-9, 38:72). Thus, from the Qur’anic perspective, every human being, regardless of religion or atheism, is a repository of Taqwa that remains embedded in the deeper recesses of his subconscious self, and thus remains a shadow taproot of his moral values, his ‘Nafs ul Lawwama’ or the conscience (75:2). But the divine creative scheme also vests humans with a counteracting instinct – the ‘Nafs ul ammara’, the base or animal instinct that prompts him to commit evil (12:53). Thus all human beings regardless of religion can attain the height of moral uprightness (Taqwa) or fall into the depth of moral depravity or evil (verse 91:8, 4.2 above). The Qur’an puts the innate polarity of good and evil in humans in its cryptic vocabulary as follows:
“Indeed We have created human being in the finest frame of Taqwa (ahsani taqwim) (95:4), but then We debased him to the lowest of the low (95:5) - except those who believe and do good deeds: theirs is a reward unending” (95:6).
The Qur’anic broader notion of Taqwa and its association with the deeper impulses of all humanity demolishes any distinction of people on religious ground. A Muslim person (regardless of gender) most visibly given to religious symbolism or devoted to religious rituals, may lag behind or even fail in Taqwa and disqualify for divine rewards, while a non-Muslim person, probably even an atheist, who has no lesser share of divine Spirit in his/her subconscious soul, may excel in Taqwa and earn divine reward despite his lacking in religious symbolism and visible or regimented devotion – though God knows best who all will earn divine reward.
In a word, the three core tenets that bind all believing humanity are belief in God, good deeds and Taqwa (curbing one’s lowly instincts or restraining the evil, or moral uprightness), with the latter (Taqwa) looping the polytheists and atheists into the divine order. This, in light of the Qur’an express pronouncements on the diversity of Sharias (2:148, 5:48 TOR-1) and among humanity (49:3, TOR-1) demonstrates the Qur’an’s acknowledgment of religious pluralism and universal brotherhood of humanity.
With this we probe the Qur’anic notion of the religion of Islam.
Islam is a universal din (divine moral law) for all monotheists and does not espouse the notion of a Pan-Islamic state or Khilafah exclusively for the Muslims.
In the Qur’anic vocabulary, the din al-Islam or the divine moral law (religion in popular vocabulary) of Islam has a specific (exclusive) as well as universal (inclusive) connotation. In its specific sense, it is the religion of the followers of the Prophet Muhammad. This is defined by one of the concluding revelations of the Qur’an:
“…This day, those who reject (this Qur'an) despair of (ever harming) your religion. Therefore, do not fear them; fear Me. This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor on you, and have chosen Islam for your religion (din)*…” (5:3).
*In Qur’anic vocabulary, din is the embodiment of moral laws.
In its generic sense, it is the universal din (divine moral law) that all the prophets who came before Muhammad, whether mentioned in the Qur’an or not, preached to their followers. The Qur’an defines the essence of this common religion (Islam, root - SLM) as follows:
“Indeed! Whoever commits (Asslama) his whole being [lit., face] to God, and is a doer of good deeds (Muhsin) - will get his reward from his Lord. There will be no fear upon them nor shall they grieve.” (2:112).
“And who can be better in religion* (din) than the one who orients (Asslama) his whole being to God, and does good deeds, and follows the way of Abraham, the upright one, and God took Abraham as a friend” (4:125).
“And who is finer in speech than the one who invites to God, does good deeds and says: ‘I am of those who orients himself to God (Muslimun)’” (41:33).
Accordingly the Qur’an describes ‘din al-Islam’, as the universal religion that was enjoined on earlier prophets, who were all true Muslims (2:131-133), and conveyed the same essential message.
“When his Lord said to him (Abraham), ‘Submit (aslim)’, he said, ‘I submit (aslamtu) to the Lord of the worlds’ (2:131). Abraham enjoined his sons to do so, as did Jacob: ‘O my sons, God has chosen the religion (din) for you; so you should not die unless you have oriented yourself to God (Muslimun)’ (2:132). Were you witnesses when death came to Jacob? He said to his sons, ‘What will you serve after I am gone?’ They said, ‘We will serve your God; the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac - the One God; and to Him we have truly oriented ourselves (Muslimun)’” (2:133). [See also verse, 3:52, 28:52/53]
A section of Muslim scholars cite the following verse in isolation from its preceding verses to claim the exclusiveness of their faith:
“If anyone seeks other than Islam as a din (religion), it will not be accepted of him, and in the hereafter he will be among the losers” (3:85).
However, its preceding verses 3:83/84 that form an integral part of the passage 3:83-85 demonstrate that the word Islam in the verse 3:85 refers to the universal religion and not to the faith of the followers of Prophet Muhammad.
“Do they seek any (religion) other than the din (religion) of God, to whom all in the heavens and on earth have submitted, willingly or unwillingly, and to whom they will all be returned (3:83)? Say: ‘We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us, and in what has been revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and to Jesus and Moses and (other) prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them; and surely to Him do we all submit (Muslimun)” (3:84).
6. The Fighting / Context specific Verses of the Qur’an
The Quraysh of Mecca (a pagan tribe to which Muhammad belonged) were hostile to the Prophet since the beginning of the revelation (610 C.E.). Their hostility only increased with time. As the Prophet emerged as the chief arbiter of the mixed community in Medina after his migration to Medina (622), the Quraysh and Meccans as a whole became desperate and sent powerful armies to destroy him. Accordingly the Qur’an authorized the Prophet to defend against attacks. Therefore, the verses that relate to defending against the pagans or dealing with their believing allies (hypocrite Muslims and rival Jewish tribes) related to a transitional period of the revelation and do not constitute its definitive commandments (3:7, TOR-1). The same holds for the verses directly relating to the material aspects of life, or specific to the context of the revelation such as employing hunting animals to catch birds (5:4), travelling to the Kaaba on lean mounts (22:27) for example.
The verses relating to fighting must, however, be retained in the Qur’an to attest to the defensive character of the Prophetic mission, the agony and trauma that he and his followers lived in on a day to day, and at times moment to moment basis fearing annihilation at the hands of their attackers. However, Qur’anic verses enjoining fighting and killing are complemented by reconciliatory verses. Thus, a passage dating from the late Medinite period asks the Muslims to be just and virtuous to those who did not fight against them over religion, nor expelled them from their homelands (60:8), and reminds them that their enemies could eventually become their friends (60:7). The revelation also clarifies that it forbade the Muslims to befriend only those who fought against them over religion, and expelled them from their homelands and helped (others) in their expulsion (60:9).
God does not forbid you to be virtuous and just to those who did not fight you over religion, nor drove you from your homelands. Indeed, God loves the just (8). God only forbids you to befriend those who fought against you over religion, and expelled you from your homelands, and backed (others) in your expulsion; and whoever befriends them – it is they who are unjust” (60:9).
Quoting a context specific verse in isolation as an eternal dictate can grievously distort the message of the Qur’an. Accordingly the Qur’an commands humanity to follow its definitive commandments and seek the best meaning in it (3:7, 39:18, 39:55/ TOR-1)
1. Global Islamic State/ Khilafah: The Qur’an’s espousal of a universal brotherhood of humanity (TOR-4) and Islam’s expansive spiritual umbrella as a universal din (belief system) for all monotheists (TOR-5) negates the notion of a global Islamic state or Khilafah uniting only the Muslims of the World as one political body. A religio-political state had grown in the immediate aftermath of the Prophet’s death but it lasted only for forty years (TOR-3) and Islamic history changed its political character to dynastic rule. Besides, the Qur’an’s complete silence about the political, civil, financial, or military administration that goes with a state indicates that it left statecraft to evolve with the progress of civilization (TOR-3). Hence, in the context of present day globalized society, the notion of Khilafah or a Pan-Islamic state is antithetic to the Qur’anic message.
In historical perspective, even at the time of Caliph Umar the Muslim Umma was spread over a number of counties, notably, Arabia, Iraq, Syria and Egypt, and each had retained its national identity. Today, almost 14 centuries after his era and the spread of Muslims across the entire globe with dominant Muslim population in some 57 countries and minority in the others, thinking of one consolidated country without any national boundary can only be a dream or the imagination of a child. History testifies that all great empires like the Roman Empire, Soviet Russia, British Empire and Islamic Caliphate have all broken down into their component countries simply because it becomes impossible for any ruler to govern a large empire. Even Pakistan, the birthplace of the Taliban got divided into two countries at the expense of colossal loss of life and destruction, and further dismemberment cannot be ruled out. Hence, any suggestion for the reunification of all Muslim countries into one combined political body is outrageously absurd.
2. Islamic Sharia Law.
As the Islamic Sharia Law is informed by the customs and traditions, state of knowledge, social values and political and historical needs of the different historical points/ eras of Islam, and privileges the opinions of jurists over the Divine Sharia of Islam, the Qur’an, the Islamic Sharia Law is NOT a word of Allah (TOR-1).
As the Sharia laws that evolved in the early centuries of Islam were inevitably informed by the customs and traditions, state of knowledge and social values and political needs of their era, ending some half a millennium from this day, they are no more relevant in the drastically changed historical realities and civilisational paradigms of this day.
Hence, any version of Islam’s Sharia Law that does not draw on the universal, noble and progressive aspects of the Qur’anic message and is instead based on the harshest rulings of its own cumulative traditions, such as the version championed by the Talibans / Mujahideen (TOR-1) is un-Islamic and is accordingly being resisted by the mainstream peace loving Muslims all over the world.
3. Terrorism In The Name Of Jihad.
Every Friday congregation prayer all over the world, the Imam (who leads the prayer) audibly recites the following Qur’anic verse to mark the end of his pre-prayer sermon:
“God commands justice and goodness and giving to fellowmen, and He prohibits (yanha) the abominable, the evil, and terrorism (Baghya), and instructs you that you may be mindful” (16:90)
Terrorism (Baghya) which includes killing of innocent people and all forms of sabotage and destructive activities is declared Haram or forbidden (7:33), while killing of innocent people is expressly forbidden (Haram) except by process of law or when lawful (6:151).
“… your Lord (O People) has made binding (Harrama) on you (these): do not associate anything with Him, be kind to (your) parents, do not kill your children on account of poverty - We provide for you as well as for them, keep away from abomination - whether open or secret, do not kill any person as God has forbidden (Harrama) this - except when lawful.’ Thus does He command you, that you may use your reason (6:151)
“Say, ‘My Lord has forbidden (Harrama) abominable deeds - whether open or secret, sin, and unlawful terrorism, and that you should associate (others) with God for which He has not sent down any authority, or say things concerning God that you do not know’” (7:33).
The Qur’an also forbids the killing of enemy non-combatants caught in the middle war seeking peace (9:6).
“And if anyone of the pagans (caught in an armed encounter) seeks your protection, give him protection so that he may hear the Word of God; then escort him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” (9:6).
Finally, in yet another passage (5:27-30) dating from the closing phase of the revelation, the Qur’an illustrates a model of non-violence in an episode involving the two sons of Adam (not named as such) that concludes with the rejoinder:
“For that reason We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever kills any person - unless it be (in punishment for) murder or causing corruption on earth - it shall be, as if he had killed all humanity, and whoso saves a life, it shall be, as if he had saved the life of all humanity…” (5:32).
In historical perspective, it is a well established fact, testified by the Qur’an that during the long twelve years of the Meccan period (610-622) the Muslims were oppressed and persecuted:
“And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but God provided a safe place (Medina) for you, strengthened you with His Help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful” (8:26).
However, there is not one single instance of the Qur’an asking them to respond by violence. Instead, it commanded them to repel evil with good.
“Those who patiently seek the Countenance of their Lord, keep up prayer and spend out of what We have provided them, secretly or publicly and repel evil with good – such will attain the eternal life” (13:22).
“Repel evil with that which is good. Indeed We are aware of what they are working (in their minds)” (23:96).
“Goodness and evil are not equal. Therefore repel the latter with that which is good, and then the one between whom and you is hatred, will indeed become your friend (41:34). None can attain this except those who show perseverance; and none can attain this except the very fortunate” (41:34).
Later in the Medinite period (622-632), when there was no more persecution, the Muslims were commanded to forgive their past enemies (5:2, 48:34) and assigned the role of the moderator or peace maker (2:143):
“Thus We have made you a justly balanced community, that you may be witnesses to humanity, and the Messenger, a witness to you…”(2:143)
“...And let not the hatred of a people who (once) obstructed you from (entering the) Sacred House, lead you to be hostile. Therefore, help each other to virtue and piety (taqwa), and do not collaborate with each other in sin and enmity. Heed God, and (remember,) God is severe in punishment” (5:2).
“And God it is Who withheld their hands from you and your hands from them in Mecca, after He had made you victorious over them..”. (48:24).
In light of the Qur’anic clear testimony borne by a cross section of its verses, it follows that any notion of terrorism is simply antithetic to the Qur’anic message. Hence, the call to militant Jihad by killing innocent civilians in terror attacks or instigating sedition and home-grown terrorism constitute a grand betrayal, if not complete hijacking of Islamic faith.
All in all the Taliban’s call dated. March 2013 to wage violent Jihad to establishing a Pan-Islamic politically integrated state or Khilafah transcending national boundaries and governed by their version of Islamic Sharia Law is nothing short of a blue print to conquer hearts, minds and lands by exploiting the sentiments of the oppressed, marginalized and victimized segment of Muslim masses (Introduction). An ideological war is thus being spearheaded globally to turn Islam from a religion of peace, harmony and universal brotherhood into a cult of bestial violence and naked terrorism – a grand betrayal of faith, a monstrous conspiracy, let alone its bloody fallout.
It is hoped this paper exposes the incompatibility of the proclaimed Jihad call with the message of the Qur’an and reminds its ideologues that it is too late in history to try to overturn the faith of Islam. The earlier they understand this, the better.
In a grand irony of history the divine scheme has set the mightiest nation on earth to defend the faith of Islam on pressing political and terrorism grounds, but which country can be more suited for this noble task than the One that has the name of God engraved on each of its trillions of coins and printed on billions of currency notes. To wrap up this Refutation, let the following concluding remark, appearing in a recent exegetic publication [#] warn the ideologues of terror and assuage the anxiety of the terrorized humanity:
“Finally, as a word of reassurance, the violent extremists – the modern Kharijites and Qaramites (brutally fanatic sects of early Islam) are no more than poisonous sediments of history, and like their counterparts of almost a millennium ago, they are bound to be increasingly marginalized, and eventually jettisoned from the world of Islam.”
May Allah (God) show us all the right path.
#. Muhammad and Ashfaque Ullah Syed, Essential Message of Islam, Amana Publications, USA, 2009 Amana
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. Though originally from the South Asian sub-continent, he now spends most of his time in North America. He is a regular contributor to New Age Islam. His columns are translated in New Age Islam's Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and French sections too.