IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL

ISLAM VERSUS TERRORISM

[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]

INTRODUCTION: In the present context of the world, anything that can be considered as "the most oppressed", it is Islam and the Muslims around the world. It is alleged by many in the West that Islam advocates terrorism and promotes war. It is because of ignorance about Islam and Muslims. It is the creation of a hysterical propaganda campaign that has been let loose by the secular press, the vested interests and the missionary zealots. The events leading to the establishment of the state of Israel and what it brought in its wake have added fuel to the fire. Consequently, the firmament of the entire Western world is surcharged unnecessarily and illogically with unfounded prejudices against Islam and the Muslims. The tragedy lies in the fact that the entire hue and cry against Islam is devoid of any effort to understand it. In view of the growing misgivings, Islam, its teachings and its history are looked upon with concocted and distorted visions and prejudiced minds. I, therefore, would like to put down some of the bare facts about Islam, its Messengers in historical perspective from the dawn of humanity to the present day, as briefly as possible, in order to get the misunderstandings clear. It will hopefully remove the allegation of terrorism against Islam.

What Is Islam?

Islam means commitment to Allah, the Creator, the Sustainer. Islam is a way of life (Deen) and not a religion of dogmas or rituals, as the West commonly understands it. One who completely commits to the Creator is called Muslim. Allah Himself has given this name to one who follows Islam in its entirety. Islam was the way of life (Deen) of ADAM, NOAH, ABRAHAM, ISAAC, JACOB, MOSSES, DAVID, SOLOMON, JESUS and MOHAMMAD (Peace Be Upon All of Them - PBUT). The fundamental message of Islam from ADAM to MOHAMMAD (PBUT) can be summarized as:

  1. Commitment/obedience to Allah in all walks of life.
  2. Accountability in the life after death.
  3. Following the Messenger, the Prophet of the time and laws (code of conduct) as revealed to him by Allah.

According to Islam, only the Messengers of Allah bring in the Scripture (the code of conduct). It remains applicable until it is mutilated or lost by the people. When it is so, Allah appoints another Messenger, who brings in a fresh code of conduct and replaces the previous one that either stood lost, corrupted or mutilated. Prophets are appointed to remind the people of the Scripture (the code of conduct) which was in force at that time. Accordingly, Mohammad (PBUH) is the last Messenger and the Quran is the last Book of Guidance from Allah. For governing the affairs of this world, now the Quran is the final code of conduct for mankind.

I have used, "Allah" in place of God. Allah has no plural in Arabic and no gender. As such it is more meaningful to express the concept of Monotheism of the Abrahamic faith.

Who Are the Israelites?

After Noah (Peace Be Upon Him), prophet Abraham was the messenger of Allah and Prophet Moses was in his progeny. The assignment of Moses was to evacuate the Sons of Israel out of the clutches of the Pharaohs of Egypt and to establish the authority of Allah on earth. The code of conduct given to him by Allah was the Torah to follow and guide the destiny of mankind. The Sons of Israel were appointed by Allah to lead the world. But in due course of time, the original Torah was lost. Instead of inviting others to follow the guidance, Bani Israel kept it restricted to them and follow it partially. Consequently, they lost the position assigned to them by Allah. Along with it, they also lost the title to their original name, the "Muslim", and preferred to be called "the Jews".

The Place of Jesus (PBUH):

Jesus (PBUH) was appointed to the people of Israel to reinstate the teachings of Moses (PBUH). He was given the Bible to correct the conduct of his people. The way he was rejected and the way he was tried to be condemned to death is a part of history. Unfortunately, the eloquent speeches of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) were lost. The original Bible is not available any more in the world. The followers of Jesus (PBUH) too, lost their original name "the Muslim" and preferred to be called the "Christians".

The tragedy in the case of Jesus (PBUH) was aggravated further when he, in the council of churches at NICAEA in 325 A.D. was declared as the "Son of God". The concept of Trinity became an integral part of Christianity about 400 years after the departure of Jesus (PBUH). Thus the spring of Monotheism, oneness of God, for the establishment of which all the Messengers/Prophets were appointed to this world, was polluted with the germs of polytheism. Along with it, the concept of accountability in the Hereafter receded in the background, and the guidance from the Creator was lost. As a result, mankind was left to moan in the darkness of gloom, frustration and oppression under the tutelage of BYZANTINE and PERSIAN empires. The human civilization, by the middle of the sixth century A.D., was devoid of any Divine Guidance. Both Torah and Bible stood lost or mutilated

The Position of Mohammad (PBUH):

In this background, Allah appointed His last Messenger Mohammad (PBUH) in the beginning of the seventh century A.D. to lead the destiny of mankind. The last and final Guidance of Allah was revealed to Mohammad (PBUH) in the Book, Al-Quran. The fundamental message of Mohammad (PBUH) and that of Quran is the same as that of other Messengers. The code of conduct described in the Quran is perfect, comprehensive and covers the entire gamut of human affairs: the social, the economic and the political aspects of life. It is present in the original words of Allah in which it was revealed. It is free from any kind of human manipulation. It is now the only authentic Book of Guidance, the code of conduct, which also presents the fundamental teachings of Moses, Jesus, Abraham and others (PBUT) correctly and perfects the guidance to mankind to lead its destiny till Doomsday.

Teachings of The Qur'an:

The Qur'an advocates establishing justice and equality for all. The oppressed and the downtrodden must be taken care of. There should be no disorder and bloodshed on this earth. Life, honor and property of each must be protected as sacred trust. No one should usurp the rights of others, either as individual or as a nation. The "haves" should take care of "haves-not" on their own accord as obligation from Allah. There should not be any class war in the society. Everyone, whether high or low, should love each other. All are obedient to their Creator and are ever conscious of the accountability on the Day of Judgment. This concept of life makes every man/woman responsible and well aware of his/her responsibilities on this earth as servant of Allah.

The World Today:

Contrary to this desired position, the present world is full of tyranny, oppression, bloodshed, exploitation and class struggle. Everyone, to the extent of craziness, is involved in maximizing his/her personal pleasure and comforts. Both, individuals and nations are busy, day in and day out, in increasing the standard of living, at the cost of others.

Who Will Bring Forth the Order?

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Who will correct the situation?

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Who will replace the injustice with justice and fair play?

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Who will restore peace and order on this earth?

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Who will eradicate the exploitation in all its forms?

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Who will show the Guidance to mankind that can make his/her life balanced and save the humans from becoming slaves to their physical urges.

The Messengers of Allah did it in the past. Their followers did their best too. According to Islam, no Messenger or Prophet is to come anymore. It is now the obligation of all those who believe in Allah - the followers of Moses (PBUH), the followers of Jesus (PBUH) and the followers of Muhammad (PBUH), to come forward united and call humanity back to the fold of their Creator and make the concept of accountability in the Hereafter as blood artery of their lives. The Book of Guidance is intact in the shape of the Qur'an and the life of the Guide, Mohammad (PBUH) is available in its totality to inspire the people.

The advocates of Islam whether they call themselves Jews or Christians or Muslims, whether they come from the USA, Europe, Asia or Africa, have first to convince mankind that their salvation and the solution to their problems lie only in obedience to their Creator ands Sustainer, Allah, and accepting the concept of accountability. No "UN", no "President", no "Commune System", no "Dictator", or no "Parliament", can bring peace to earth. Only following the last Book of Guidance, the Qur'an, humanity can now establish the peace and order on this earth. It is a tedious process. The advocates of Monotheism have to persuade the people to accept the authority of Allah. All moral means should be adopted to convince them to that effect. All means to educate the people should be used.

Use of Force as a Last Resort:

In the real world, however, there may be a usurper, an oppressor or a tyrant who may not believe in God or is not willing at all to accept the path to righteousness. Such case may need some intervention here and there to remove the transgressors. But it will be the last resort when all other means of persuasion, appeals and education have failed and he has become a stumbling block in the way of truth. The philosophy of Jehad, as suggested in the Qur'an, should be studied only in this perspective. This is the last choice to remove the tyrant who wants to perpetuate his tyranny in his land and on his people. The entire history of Islam and the battles fought by David, Solomon and Muhammad (PBUT) should be seen in this perspective. It will then be clear that Islam is not fostering terrorism in any shape or promoting war but prescribing a kind of intermuscular injection to save the ailing humanity from the clutches of its die-hard enemy when he is willing neither to surrender to his Creator nor resolving to live in a state of coexistence under Truth [Haqq], but bent upon to make his will supreme over the will of his Sustainer.

Is there any room of terrorism in Islam? No, not at all. Why then Islam and Muslims are pin-pointedly blame for Terrorism? Terrorism and Islam are contradictory to each other. Have you ever heard the curse "Jewish or Christian terrorists" though they are in thousands? Will the world try to understand this anomalous situation and give up its rhetoric for the sake of peace [Islam] and order?

The Concept of Jehad and Its Misuse:

The West appears to be very much scared of Jehad. Let us try to understand this terminology to clarify our present day situation. Jehad does not mean, "Holy War" as its generally understood in Europe and America. It stands for the total effort or struggle, which a "Muslim" makes in his lifetime. It starts from the effort that he makes to improve his personal character to the total sacrifice of self and resources that he renders for the establishment of Allah's authority on the earth. His or her entire effort is called "struggle in the way of Allah" [Jihad fi Sabeel Allah]. For fighting against transgressors, as discussed above, the Qur'an has used the word Qital (the fight).

Muslims fighting for freedom against the tyranny of Russia at Chechnya, India at Kashmir, and Israel at Palestine are involved in Jehad, struggling for their human rights. In Afghanistan, it may turn into Qital, if America attacks to remove the established Islamic Government of Taliba'n. It would then be called both Jehad and Qital. It would be a total war against the aggressor.

In fact, Qital is the last resort of the oppressed people. It is used in a very restricted sense. It has no bearing with terrorism, which is secular in concept and hence cannot be a weapon of a "Muslim". A struggle, if it is not made in the way of Allah for the establishment or for the protection of His way of life (Deen), cannot be termed either Jehad or Qital. Thus, there is no place of terrorism (a word synonymous with killing innocent people) in the vocabulary of Islam.

To fight for the right of independence or for the homeland or for human rights against usurpers or tyrants is a different issue. Each case should be dealt with on its own merit. The usurpers must be condemned by every champion of human rights and the sufferers be given every moral and material support by those who love these human values. Justice must prevail in every nook and corner of the world. Anyone who is using the term "terrorists for the freedom fighters or for those who fight for the fulfillment of their national inspirations is totally wrong. Equally, the "Enlightened West" is totally incorrect when it, out of ignorance, terms these human efforts as terrorist activities and let loose a campaign of hate against Islam and Muslims. This is a very dangerous situation. The secular world especially its press must understand this anomaly. In this process of spreading hate, intentionally and unintentionally, it is drifting away from Islam, the only source that could deliver the good to the West and the World at large.

Islam Means Peace:

I think now, one can well understand the position of Bani Israel, the Christians and Muslims vis--vis Al-Islam in its true perspective. It will also be equally clear to him that why and when the use of force is recommended in the Quran as the last resort. These facts are hidden behind the thick curtains of ignorance, false propaganda and prejudices against Islam and its Messengers. Although I have discussed very briefly only some of the salient features, I am more than sure who studies it with an open mind, the rays of truth will beam into him/her to grasp the light of Guidance from the Creator, which now lies buried deep under various prejudices and unfounded misgivings.

Islam does not allow to breed hate against any individual or nation nor does it allow terrorist activities against innocent people. Islam stands only for peace. West should not be scared of it but should study the Qur'an and the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) without any prejudice and see truth by its own naked eyes. It should rather encourage, if somewhere, some people are really fighting for Islam and for authority of Allah. If a true Islamic state emerges somewhere in the world, it will stand only for justice, peace and equality to all. All peace loving people should make genuine efforts in that direction. All the parties concerned - the Christians, the Muslims and the Jews have every right to look towards "Islam" as a common heritage and source of Guidance which mankind needs so desperately today. Islam today is the only guarantee for the peace in the world.

Shamim A Siddiqi

Dated 10-02-2001