ALJUMUAH MAGAZINE WOULD like to reiterate its support for the position of the great number of Muslim scholars, jurists and organizations in the world who forcefully reject and condemn terrorism, regardless of the ethnic or religious affiliation of its perpetrators and victims.
There is no doubt that Islam absolutely prohibits shedding the blood of innocent non-combatants, regardless of their religion or political stance. Particularly, we condemn the ongoing carnage against innocent and helpless civilians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen as well as those terrorist attacks that have recently occurred in Turkey and Germany.
(1) These acts of indiscriminate violence against non-combatants are absolutely condemned in Islam, and this is not a matter of debate, difference in opinion or ijtihad.
Trusted Muslim scholars from every region and every school of thought have unequivocally condemned these acts.
(2) Rage and vengeance do not justify injustice.
While the killing of innocent Muslims around the world grieves us beyond measure, our religion teaches us that we cannot respond to an injustice with another injustice. As per the Quran, rage and vengeance do not justify even an ounce of injustice and transgression. Allah says:
O you who believe! … let not the hatred of some people who barred you from the Sacred Mosque cause you to transgress. Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor. Have taqwa of Allah (fear Allah), for Allah is strict in punishment. [Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:2]
Allah goes on to repeat this warning once again:
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and do not let the hatred that others harbor against you cause you to depart from justice. Be just. That is closer to piety, and have taqwa of Allah (God-consciousness). Indeed, Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. [Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:8]
Not only that: The ideal conduct of Muslims is to forgive once they have overpowered their enemies, as the Beloved Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, did at the conquest of Makkah.
(3) Life is sacred in Islam, be it of a Muslim or non-Muslim.
To slay one person is to slay the entire humanity, and to save one soul is to save the entire humanity. Allah says:
For this reason, We prescribed for the Children of Israel that whosoever slays a soul—unless it be for murdering another soul or for working corruption upon the earth—it is as though he slew mankind altogether, and whosoever saves the life of one, it is as though he saved the life of mankind altogether. [Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:32]
The term “soul,” (nafs) in this verse is general, and hence it applies equally to non-Muslims as well as to Muslims.
(4) Killing non-combatants is not allowed even in a just war.
Even in a legitimate war, attacks which are likely to kill non-combatants (women, children, others) –even if accidentally– are emphatically prohibited. The recent attacks against civilians, whether in the West or in Muslim societies, do not amount to war; rather, they are designed to kill randomly. These attacks cannot be called just war. In addition, their methods are unjustified in Islam, which stipulates that all goals and the means of any engagement must be sanctioned by the Shari‘ah. In fact, these attacks bring nothing but more fasad (sedition) and loss of human life in their wake.
(5) In Islam, peace is the norm, and war is an undesired exception.
The occasion of Hudaybiyya (6 AH), Prophet Muhammad accepted humiliating terms in a peace treaty that he concluded with the Quraysh people, the justification being that the real goal of education and invitation to Islam could not be successfully pursued except in peaceful environments. Even in war, Allah ordered the Muslims to never go to excess (by killing non-combatants or by breaking treaties) [2:190], and to “incline towards peace if the enemy inclines towards it.” [Surat Al-Anfal, 8:61]
(6) Muslims must fulfill their pledges and uphold the laws of the lands wherein they live.
When a Muslim enters a non-Muslim country, he has entered into a legal contract with that country, which means that he must meticulously uphold the laws of that country. The Quran says,
O you who believe! Fulfill your contracts. [Surat Al-Ma’idah, 5:1]
Another verse, [16:91], carries a severe warning against those who breach contracts even when the other party to the contract is not aware of the violation
Along the same line of maintaining a contract, Islam clearly instructs Muslims not to commit deception under any circumstances. Prophet Muhammad said,
And deceive not those who deceive you. (Muslim)
(7) The preferred attitude of Muslims towards the West should be that of daw‘ah, presentation of Islam and dialogue, not active hostility.
An overwhelming majority of sincere and knowledgeable Muslim scholars all over the world agree on this, even while speaking strongly against Western foreign policies. Allah addressed the Muslims thus:
You are the best of communities brought forth for mankind, enjoining right and forbidding wrong, and believing in Allah … [Surat Al ‘Imran, 3:110]
Muslims in the West can play a tremendous role in bringing people to God and building bridges—which in democratic countries will mean elimination of unfair foreign policies towards Muslim countries, and other world nations as well.
True, aggression is often initiated by Western governments, but Muslims must strive hard to extinguish the flames of violence, following the example of the Prophet. Use of violence in today’s world, except in self-defense, will only drive people away from God, which is the ultimate loss for humanity.
(8) Muslims should respond not with apologies but with positive civic engagement in the West.
Muslims at all levels, from parents and leaders of small masjids to leaders of national organizations, must encourage young Muslims to establish a strong Islamic identity, and to uphold the true values of Islam, and to refrain from apologetic or defensive behavior. A better approach is to come together and be organized to serve all humanity in whatever community we reside, being civically engaged with others in positive philanthropic projects. Only this can save our youth from harassment, helplessness, depression and radicalization.
(9) Muslim leaders must now do more to ‘speak truth to power.’
Fatwas by prominent Muslim leaders against indiscriminate violence is a well-balanced and commendable response. Now, they must do more to set the role model for young Muslims, by showing courage in criticizing the West’s abuse of power and aggression against Muslims. Otherwise, our leaders may lose their credibility. As the Prophet said in an authentic hadith, slightly rephrased,
The greatest jihad is speaking truth to power. (Al-Nasa’i)
The expression of indignation and concern should not be limited to the atrocities committed by terrorists against Western civilians but, instead, the pain and suffering visited upon the Muslim peoples by the unjust actions of some Western governments should also be condemned and addressed. Muslim leaders must do more to expose the harsh reality and suffering of many Muslims throughout the world. We must do more to pressure political leaders and leaders of public opinion to address the roots of anger and frustration that breed violence.
And finally, all Muslims must do more to present the message of Islam to their fellow humans, and let its truth and beauty speak for themselves.