ISLAM & TERRORISM

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(In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful)

Concept of Peace And Condemnation of Terrorism in Islam

Introduction:

Islam as a religion is totally committed to peace and security. It views with great contempt, breach of peace, anarchy, rioting and terrorism. Muslims as Ummah are a peace-loving community. Jehad under Islam is allowed subject to certain con­ditions. It is meant for elevating the Word of God (Kalmatullah). Action designated as Jihad has been recommended for securing justice for the suppressed, assisting them in their efforts to secure that. It is also for protecting the places of worship of people belonging to different religions. Its aim is to resist the oppressors and prevent them from committing atrocities. It provides for complete impartiality and full justice in dealing with persons belonging to other religions. All these points have been clarified in Islamic studies in detail.

It is a tragedy that in pursuance of dishonest and sinister intrigues, the concept of Jehad is being consistently misrepresented and misinterpreted by linking Islam and Muslims with sabotage and terrorism. That is contrary to facts. They are being presented as intolerant. For firmly planting the misinformation in the minds of the people, a powerful and widespread campaign is being conducted through the print and electronic media. 

What is Terrorism?

It is surprising that terrorism has not been defined in a com­prehensive and satisfactory manner. There is no unanimity about the concept. The truth is that no serious attempt has been made to clarify . the concept of terrorism. However, there is hardly no hesitation in applying the label on Islam and Muslims. The governing principle is 'might is right'. The powerful commits destruction and brutal massacre of innocent persons, yet claims to be defender of freedom, mankind and torchbearer of justice and civilization.

The struggle or resistance of the weak for securing their legitimate rights, against suppression or aggression is branded as terrorism. The barbarous bombing of several countries by USA, Israeli ag­gression against Palestinians, Russian atrocities in Chechnya and Chinese brutalities against Muslims in Sin kiang are glaring examples of double standards being applied for: defining terrorism.                        :

According to the definition of terrorism by intellectuals, and thinkers of the West, the conduct of the governments of USA, Israel, Russia, Philippine and Burma may be regarded as brazen act of state terrorism. Unfortunately, the organs of United Nations and the media have been utterly unsuccessful in restraining the tyrants and aggressors.

Role of Indian Media and Communal Elements:

Indian media has played a subservient role of the western and Zionist elements in linking Islam and Muslims with terrorism. Instead of adopting the role of an objective and neutral medf6t' in disseminating news about events and ideas relating to Islam and Muslims, they have conducted themselves in a biased and partisan manner.

It is shocking that even at the government level, attempt is being made in a clandestine manner to project Muslims as terrorists. The Government of India brought out a poster after the attack on the World Trade Center, with the photograph of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in newspapers of various Indian languages. The poster was against terrorism and for supporting the cause of peace. Only four pictures were selected that cleverly pointed link of Muslims with terrorist acts.

On the occasion of Republic Day, January 26,2002, a poster was published, in which only the names of Muslims appeared in the list of wanted terrorists. However that advertisement, published in the newspapers carried the names of alleged 'terrorists' of other communities also.

It should be noted that throughout the world, the activities of terrorists, of different groups, are reported without revealing their religious affiliation. In India, the disruptive sectarian activities of RSS and its subordinate bodies like Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, are dubbed as expression of the sentiments of the majority community. By concealing their real character, they are seen as linked with 'patriotism'. The activities of groups affiliated with Ram Janmbhoomi movement, that brought about the demolition of Babari Mosque are ignored and by passed. Instruction in use of arms by Bajrang Dal recurring 'yatras' , communal riots, murder of innocent persons, inflammatory statements, all of them taken together fall within the definition of 'terrorist activities'. With the brute power of the majority, support of the government and safeguards available to the media, all such disruptive activities are classified under 'national honour' and 'patriotism'.

On the contrary, even minor activities of minorities particularly Muslims in self-defence or for safeguarding their identity or merely for registering their viewpoint or stand is branded as act of terrorism and threat tot he security of the country. If that is not so why poor. 'Madaris', supported by public donations, imparting education of peace and humanity are projected as factories producing extremists and terrorists. At national and international level, a sinister campaign is under way to project the distinctive marks of Muslims, particularly their beards and dress as symbols of terrorism, extremism and disruptive activities.

Confusion about 'Terrorism':

A question arises: Why such a confusion about the definition of 'terrorism? If seriously considered, it appears that the confusion has been deliberately created and is being disseminated on a large ­scale as a part of definite plan. There is universal unanimity in the campaign for targeting a particular religion and community. The rival forces control ninety-nine per cent of the media. There fore instead of defining terrorism on the basis of principles, might or use of power has become a governing principle in defining 'terrorism'. The conduct of the governments of USA, China, Russia, Israel, Burma and Philippine are glaring examples of such partisan conduct.

It is a tragedy that the superpowers are holding the United Nations Organization as 'hostage'. The organization is not in a position to undertake any just and effective action that is against their wishes and interests. The superpowers get their decisions endorsed by the international body. The United Nations has not been successful so far in enunciating and enforcing a definition of terrorism that may serve as a guiding principle for action against terrorist activities.

During twenty-nine years from December 18, 1972 to January 18, 2002, the issues related to terrorism were discussed at various occasions, but clarity and unanimity on the subject remained elusive. As a result what is terrorism according to one party is resistance, or movement for freedom or defence of democracy and liberty to the other. After the attack on World Trade Centre in USA on September 11, 2001 and brutal and aggressive bombing of Afghani­stan by USA, the issue was discussed again by United Nations on January 18, 2002. The session was attended by forty nations. All participants agreed on the serious threat from terrorism and stressed its immediate eradication. However, a few countries, particularly Arab countries invited the attention of the participants that so much din has been raised about the threat of terrorism and its eradication. But it should be defined for effective action against the threat. No clear and convincing reply came from any quarter. There was a deliberate attempt to evade the issue. Arab countries upheld their stand that the resistance of Palestinians against foreign occupation of their lands cannot be called 'terrorism'. Illegitimate seizure of foreign territory is the worst type of organized terrorist activity. Stark, the head of the UN Committee diverted the discussion by stating the 'organized terrorism' is not a legal expression and the Security Council should not be dragged in political battles.

It indicates that the superpowers and under their influence UNO and its Security Council desire to continue ambiguity and confusion about the definition of 'terrorism' for keeping the option to act according their interests and requirements. The powers fully realize that if the real causes of the malady are revealed, they shall be found among the culprits. Present terrorist activities are the poisonous fruits of their own misdeeds.

Terrorist activities caused by malice, ill will and dishonesty, are being projected as rooted in the teachings of Islam. In that context, reference is made to three issues of Islamic Shariah. (1) The teaching of Islam about killing a Non-Muslim is Jihad (2) Islam teaches hatred and legitimizes fight against other religions and their followers. (3) It encourages intolerance towards the followers of other religions. All the three breed terrorism.

All the three allegations about Islamic Shariah are miscon­ceived and motivated by malice and ignorance. Jehad finds a place in the teachings of lslam, but not for killing Non-Muslims. There is no provision encouraging perpetual hatred and fight against the followers of other religions. Linking Islam, a religion of peace with terrorism itself amounts to an act of terrorism.

Islam & Terrorism:

The nefarious acts called 'terrorism' are alien to the spirit and ethos of Islam. Terrorism (Eng1ish) Atankvad (Hindi) and Arhab (Arabic) are the products of contemporary age dominated by the West, particularly Europe. It has flourished on their soil. The intellectuals, writers and politicians of the West introduced them in the East. The terms, fundamentalism and totalitarianism as employed by the West have no place in Islam. The votaries of Communist system promoted totali­tarianism. Fundamentalism grew and flourished in the context of the conflict between the Church and the State. With help from the power of the media, the two have been linked with Islam and those reposing faiths in the religion. That is grave injustice.

Respect of Human Life & Importance of Peace in Islam:

The acts classified as terrorism have been strongly con­demned by Islam. Islamic teachings preach that every possible step should be taken for their eradication. Islam has prohibited everything that may pose threat to social harmony, cause breach of peace or may endanger peace and security of citizens. Islamic Shariah stands for maintenance of peace and prevention of riots and disturbances. Islam is against drunkenness, rape, adultery and scandal-mongering about innocent women. Islam strives for elimi­nation of oppression, rioting or anything which adversely affects the culture and civilization of the country.

Terrorism ruptures social peace. Islam strictly forbids terror­izing peace-loving citizens. Religion desires peace, tranquility and social harmony. Acts of terrorist violence destroy the moral prin­ciples, meant for the welfare of human beings. That is a crime and has no place in a religion like Islam, which is deeply committed to peace and security of human beings.

The struggle waged by Muslims of Palestine, Chechnya and Sinkiang cannot be called 'terrorism'. That is a legitimate resistance against aggressors and oppressors for securing their just rights. Terrorism in the true sense of the word is an aggressive act against innocent persons, without legitimacy. The aim is to frighten them. Acts of similar type may be committed by individual, group, nation or the country that may be classified as terrorist activity, if the aim is to terrorize the common person or the opponent for achieving certain ends.

That type of terrorism has no place in Islamic Shariah. The Holy Quran makes it explicit that killing an innocent person is equivalent to killing the whole humankind.

A verse in Surah Maidah states, "If anyone slew a person­ unless it be for murder or for speading mischief in the land­ it would be as If he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life. It would be as if he saved the lift of the whole people.        (Al-Maidah. verse 32)

Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, a disciple of Sheikh-ul-Hind has clarified the intentions of the verse. If somebody kills, anybody that may embolden others to commit similar acts that creates an atmosphere of anarchy. That means opening the doors for massacre, general unrest and lawlessness. If someone saves anybody from an assassin, he sets an example for saving others and peaceful life. As a student of religions, I may assert that respect and sanctity of human life, to the same degree, is not found anywhere else, as in Islam.

In different forms at several places in Holy Quran, unjustified murder has been strongly condemned. Respect and protection of human life has been sufficiently stressed. Holy Quran commands: "Nor take life-which Allah has made sacred-except for just cause. " (Bani Isreal, verse 33) Murder is justified only in case of an assassin, guilty of the murder of an innocent person, as recompense.

 According to the Prophet (Pbuh) the murder of an innocent person is among heinous crimes. (please refer chapter Al-Diyah, Bukhari). It has to be clarified that the power for ordering justified murder vests with the court of a just government. The death has to follow a judicial process. Keeping in view the value of human life the Shariah has found a way out. If the successors of the deceased are agreeable to compensation for the loss of life or if they forgive the assassin, his life shall be spared; otherwise, it is advisable to keep the society free from the existence of an assassin. The presence of an assassin within the society may embolden others to commit similar crimes. That is likely to pose a severe threat to the peaceful atmosphere of the society.