By IBRAHIM MUHAMMAD
If one is looking for the cause of an act of terrorism, one must look for its source in anti-religious ideologies. Religion enjoins love, compassion, forgiveness, peace and living according to high moral standards. Terrorism, on the other hand, is on the side of cruelty and violence, causing pain, bloodshed and committing murder.For many, those who perpetuate the atrocities are religious extremist, for few, the evils who wants us to go to war in order to disintegrate this country are in operation,
ISLAM DENOUNCES TERRORISM
Turmoil, anger, bitterness, frustrations, hopelessness and how can we help to eliminate them? We will soon realize that the causes are not the doing of God or religion, but merely results of regimes that oppress and policies that kill and subvert. Now more than ever there is a need to investigate the link between terrorism and the support that continues for dictatorial regimes, particularly in the Muslim World.
It is not the case that the Muslim world hates the ‘West’ or indeed America. There are many Muslims living in the West and it would be hypocritical to denounce in a rhetoric of hate the very host country that has welcomed them. Most Muslims realise that there are many similarities extant in the West to Islamic precepts, such as freedom,tolerance, the right to education, and civil liberties. Graham E.Fuller, the former vice-chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, recently wrote in the L.A Times that: ‘If you travel around the Muslim world, it quickly becomes evident that there is immense respect for a great variety of American values.’Rather, the frustration is vented on what is seen as double standards in government policies. People can enjoy such values in the West, but it appears that there has been a concerted effort to keep such values restricted ‘fit for home consumption, but not for export. The Muslims in the West are facing a defining moment. Muslims must recapture the true spirit of Islam, and reclaim it from those who have harmed its integrity and honour. As Tim Winter asserts Main stream Islam will be able to make the loud declaration in public that it already feels in its heart: that terrorists are not Muslims. Targeting civilians is a negation of every possible school of Sunni Islam.
Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, warned his companions to avoid extremes – which he explained was the cause of the destruction of earlier communities. Terrorists it appears, feel that this injunction does not apply to them. Terrorism is an act against God. Anyone who tries to justify such atrocities ultimately fails, since both the Sacred Law and theology abhor such acts as moral sins that run contrary to the essence of Islam. The Qur’an instructs Muslims in times of adversity to act with justice, perseverance and patience. Terrorists apparently never think of relating their acts to the elementary principle that Islam places great value on: the sanctity of human life. ‘If someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind’ is a verse of the Qur’an, which is disregarded by the fanaticism of hate. Traditional Muslim jurists considered terrorist attacks against unsuspecting and defenseless victims as heinous and immoral crimes and treated the perpetrators as the worst type of criminals. It is a well-established Qur’anic precept that the injustice of others does not excuse one’s own injustice.
In the West, the term ‘jihad’ has come to be known as something wholly negative – it has been somewhat simplistically described as waging a holy war against infidels. However, in Islam, jihad is something that is positive. It consists of two dimensions: the inner jihad that seeks to curb negative and self destructive forces within; and the external jihad which is a struggle against violence and tyranny by means of words and actions. As for the latter, it has strict rules of engagement which prohibit destroying civilian life, harming animals and even chopping down trees. The former type of jihad, said to be the most important, is that of the inner self. Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, was reported to have said: “The best jihad one performs is that of helping oneself gain more knowledge of Almighty God.”11 On another occasion, the Messenger of God addressed his companions, saying: “We are now returning from the minor jihad to the major jihad (that of the struggle of the inner self.)”
COMPASSION and MERCY
In the context of the current atmosphere of violence, one might be excused for assuming that jihad is one of Islam’s main pillars.However, this is far from the truth. Islam is ‘not addicted to war,’nor does jihad form any one of the five pillars of faith. On the contrary, the Qur’an stresses compassion, benevolence, justice and wisdom. That compassion and mercy are central themes in Islam should be self-evident when almost every chapter of the Qur’an begins with: In the Name of God, The Most Compassionate, The Most Merciful. In a famous saying of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, he says: ‘The merciful are shown mercy by the Merciful one. Show mercy to those on earth and you will be shown mercy by the One in Heaven.’ The Qur’an declares that Muhammad was sent as a Mercy to the worlds (21:107), something to which he himself testified when he refused to curse a warring tribe: ‘I have not been sent to curse, but as a summoner and as a mercy’. Indeed, such is the centrality of mercy and compassion in Islam, that the aforementioned tradition is the first tradition of Muhammad, may God bless him and grant him peace, that is taught to the student of Sacred Law. Muslim scholars have said that in every matter, Muslims should be just, merciful and wise – anything that is lacking in any one of these principles cannot be said to be derived from Sacred Law.
Compassion in Islam is not restricted to Muslims only, but it also requires sensitivity to the suffering of others. In a tradition, the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace, declared that ‘people are God’s children and those dearest to God are the ones who treat His children kindly. A Muslim cannot be considered to be compassionate while there is suffering and injustice around them. It is for this reason, that Islam requires the community of believers to be one in which caring for your neighbours is an integral component of belief.
The concern for your neighbour (irrespective of whether they are Muslim or not) is so crucial, that the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, used to say that even if one person remains hungry in a particular area, no angel will descend in that area until that hungry person is fed.
TIME to REFLECT
We cannot blame religion for the errors of those who use its name or symbols to justify their heinous actions. All religions have had their share of people who claimed to be strict adherents of their tradition, but who actually grossly misinterpreted their sacred texts to suit their own agendas. All true religious traditions condemn categorically any sort of act of aggression, and certainly any act of terror.
Religion cannot be blamed, but the insanity and hate that drives people to commit such atrocities can be. It would not suffice to leave the condemnation there, it is up to us to seek out the root from which this hate pours forth; what are the causes of their grievances, God has Condemned Wickedness God has commanded people to avoid committing evil: oppression, cruelty, murder and bloodshed are all forbidden. He describes those who fail to obey this command as “following in Satan’s footsteps” and adopting a posture that is openly revealed to be sinful in the Qur’an.
A few of the many verses on this matter in the Qur’an read: But as for those who break God’s contract after it has been agreed and sever what God has commanded to be joined, and cause corruption in the earth, the curse will be upon them. They will have the Evil Abode.(Qur’an, 13:25) Eat and drink of God’s provision and do not go about the earth corrupting it. (Qur’an, 2:60)Do not corrupt the earth after it has been put right. Call on Him fearfully and eagerly. God’s mercy is close to the good-doers. (Qur’an, 7:56) Those who think that they will be successful by causing wickedness, upheaval and oppression, and by killing innocent people are committing a great error. God has forbidden all acts of wickedness involving terrorism and violence, condemned those who engage in such acts and said “God does not uphold the works of those who cause mischief.” in one of His verses. (Qur’an,10:81) In the present age,however, acts of terrorism, genocide and massacres occur all over the world. Innocent people are being savagely killed, and countries where communities are being brought to hate each other for artificial reasons are drowning in blood. These horrors in countries with different histories, cultures and social structures may have causes and sources peculiar to each. However, it is evident that the fundamental cause is a moving away from morality based on love,respect and tolerance that religion brings with it. As a result of lack of religion, communities emerge that have no fear of God and believe that they will not be called to account in the hereafter. Since they believe that, “I will not have to account for my actions to anyone,” they can easily act with no compassion, morality or conscience. There are apparently many reasons for the acts of terror which have now claimed perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. Those who perpetrate such acts have no fear of God. To them, the morality enjoined by religion is completely alien.The existence of hypocrites who emerge in the name of God and religion, but actually organise themselves to commit wickedness condemned by God, is indicated in the Qur’an. One verse talks about a gang of nine men who planned to murder the Prophet by swearing in the name of God: There was a gang of nine men in the city causing corruption in the land and not putting things right. They said, “Let us make an oath to one another by God that we will fall on him and his family in the night and then say to his protector, We did not witness the destruction of his family and we are telling the truth.” They hatched a plot and We hatched a plot while they were not aware.(Qur’an, 27:48-50)
As this incident described in the Qur’an reveals, the fact that people do things “in the name of God” or even swear in His name, in other words that they use the kind of language designed to show themselves as very religious, does not mean that what they do is in conformity with religion. On the contrary, what they do can be quite against the will of God and the morality of religion. The truth of the matter lies in their actions. If their actions are “causing corruption and not putting things right”, as the verse reveals, then you can be sure that these people cannot be truly religious, and that their aim is not to serve religion. It is quite impossible for someone who fears God and has grasped the true morality of Islam to support violence or wickedness, or to take part in such actions. That is why Islam is the true solution to terrorism. When the sublime morality of the Qur’an is explained, it will be impossible for people to connect true Islam with those who support or join groups that aim at hatred,war and chaos. That is because God has forbidden wickedness: Whenever he holds the upperhand, he goes about the earth corrupting it,destroying (people’s) crops and breeding stock. God does not love corruption. When he is told to have fear of God, he is seized by pride which drives him to wrongdoing. Hell will be enough for him! What an evil resting-place. (Qur’an, 2:205-206)
As can be seen from the above verses, it is out of the question for someone who fears God to turn a blind eye to even the smallest action that might harm mankind. Someone who does not believe in God and the hereafter, however, can easily do all kinds of evil, since he thinks he will not have to account to anyone. The first thing that needs to be done to rid the world of the present-day Those who have no concern for events unless they directly affect them are bereft of the insight that espouses unselfishness, brotherhood,friendship, honesty and the service that religion bestows upon people.Throughout their lives, such people try to satisfy their own egos by merely wasting their means, totally unaware of the threats humanity faces. In the Qur’an however, God praises the morals of those who strive to bring good to their surroundings; those who are concerned about the events that take place around them and who call people to the right way. In a verse from the Qur’an, a metaphor is given for those who offer no good to others and those who always act on the path of goodness: God makes another metaphor: two men, one of them deaf and dumb, unable to do anything, a burden on his master, no matter where he directs him he brings no good, is he the same as someone who commands justice and is on a straight path? (Qur’an, 16:76)
As the verse points out, it is obvious that those who are “on a straight path”, are those who are devoted to their religion; fear and heed God, hold spiritual values in high regard, and are filled with eagerness to serve people. In general, such people are there to serve humanity and bring with them great benefits to mankind. For this reason, it is very important for people to learn about the true religion and live by the morals explained by the Qur’an – the final Revelation from God.In the Qur’an, God defines those people who live by such high morals:Those who, if We establish them firmly on the earth, will keep up prayer and pay the welfare due, and command what is right and forbid what is wrong. The end result of all affairs is with God. (Qur’an,22:41)
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