Terrorism & Percept of Jihad
Is 'Jihad' cause of terrorism
Nowadays there is a growing concern about Islamic Radicalization and ongoing acts of Islamic Terrorism allegedly committed by Muslim extremists in various parts of the world for achieving their religious or political objectives. Terrifying attacks of 9/11 on WTC, Pentagon and Pennsylvania ground were synchronized attacks in which approximately 3000 innocent people have lost their lives. It shattered world economy and ‘The West’, collectively started an all out war against all those, assumed to be behind the attacks, changing world’s opinion about Muslims Communities around the globe. Muslims Countries were alienated & Islam was projected as the most misunderstood and intolerable faith on this planet.
Although there are various theories about the incidents but the West believes that Muslim in general and Al-Qaeda/ Osama bi-Laden in particular, were behind the attacks on American soil as most of the terrorists involved in that incident, were of Arab descents, having ties to Islamic revivalist movements in some Muslim Countries, indicating Muslims involvement. Infect Osama bi-Laden was created & supported by USA during cold war. He along with his followers was considered ‘freedom fighter’. Once the Russian Block disintegrated, the same freedom fighters were left behind helpless. American influence in Arab countries persuaded Osama to form ‘Al-Qaeda, to stage war against American domination in Middle East that was causing corruption in the societies compelling Arab regimes to soften their stance on religion and consistent supporting Israel with no justification.
It is not certain if the alleged terrorists were motivated by the concept of Jihad or not but acts of terrorism are often carried out by poverty, lack of education, poor economical conditions & constrains, social injustice, discrimination, demand for independent piece of land, foreign invasionthat often persuade people to go against the norm and take revenge and vengeance. However, those allegedly involved do not fit in this spectrum as they were normal, mentally healthy, educated, rational and opinionated Saudi individuals who somehow got together to strike in a synchronized way at financial hub of America. No matter what their causes were for their despicable and heinous acts of 9/11; one has to understand and look beyond common perception, myth, assumption and account for their acts in killing so many people and scarifying their lives.
The incident had changed human lives on many fronts due to the borderless war USA and its allies have initiated to curb terrorism and its repercussions are being felt around Muslim Countries. The atrocities so committed in the name of religion and under the flag of war against terrorism, were done by the terrorists as well as by the Western Forces actively involved in various Muslim Countries. Their killing fields in various regions had destroyed & massacred thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan and other Muslim Countries. Security measured taken under the umbrella of protection has curtailed traveling around the globe especially for Muslims who are being treated as suspicious and second class. They are being picked up for through check up requiring 2nd/3rd security clearance causing humiliations.
Conspiracy - Allegations
Muslim perception of 9/11 attacks is quite opposite to what the West is proclaiming. A large number of Muslims do not believe that 9/11 attacks were conducted by Arab extremist and consider it to be an inside job & presumably a Jewish and American conspiracy, needed to advance a war agenda for the survival of western economy. They seem to be in a state of denial and do not believe Muslim involvements in 9/11 attacks & presence of extremists in their midst. This widespread denial gives moral support to the extremists and they do not recognize their problem. They think that they have moral support from Muslims & rather than realizing that their acts are totally out of phase with basic doctrine of Islamic jurisprudence they are continually involved in acts to terrorism, defaming Islam.
Apparently 9/11 attacks were carried out by a handful of Arabs, having narrowed visions of Islam and motivated by interest group but it is not yet a widespread phenomenon practiced by all Muslims.Debate and discourses on this subject by all walks of lives conclude unanimously that terrorist attacks are pure criminal acts, not approved by any faith. What breeds extremism and terrorism are questionable and there are different views that prevail about this issue including foreign policies of the West, regarded as the root cause of the problem.
The West blames Muslims for being involved in acts of terrorism due to their understanding of the faith where ideology of ‘jihad’, plays an important role. Jihad is regarded as an obligatory part of the faith that presumably persuades Muslims to fight with non-believer and convert them to Islam. Based on one’s understanding, some people still believe that there is some justification behind the acts of terrorism triggered by US foreign policy in Muslim World that has influenced their lives in many respect. Moderate Muslims feel sorry for the attacks but they want people to know what happens every day in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and Waziristan due to US pro-Israeli foreign policy relevant to all military, political and economic fronts without any justification.
Concept of Jihad
We often hear from Muslim clergy that 6th pillar of Islam is Jihad, ordered by the creator in the sacred text, surah Anfaal 8:39 and Toba 9:29 in which God orders Muslim to fight nonbelievers till they accept Islam and worship Allah, believe in the day of judgment and live like Muslims. The word “Jihad” is often used to quote reason behind prevailing acts of terrorism in the world. Jihad could be defensive or offensive (retaliatory) warfare against those who try to harm Muslims.
The Quranic commandments relate to the early expansion of Islam under certain condition. In those days it was necessary for Muslims to join together and engage in warfare in order to spread Islam in compliance with the sacred text, under certain rule and regulations. However, this concept is not fully applicable to the current situation in the world otherwise it would have been considered obligatory for each Muslim to go and fight with every nonbeliever in order to convert him/her to Islam and this is not what is obvious from terrorist acts committed by a handful of Muslims due to their narrow visions. 98% of Muslims population around the globe is law abiding and peace loving people who wants to live in peace and harmony with other people, irrespective of their faiths.
Quranic verses & prophetic hadith relevant to jihad are given below
Surah Anfaal 8:39. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do.
Surah Toba 9:29 Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the religion of truth, until they pay the tribute (Jizyah) readily, being brought low.
The prophet is quoted to have said that Allah has ordered him to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.’ And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah. Hadith Sahih Bukhari vol.1 book 8, #387.
If we go by the literal translation of the text 9:29 implying, fight till the non-believers start worshiping Allah without quoting, in what respect the ayah was revealed, it may miss guide Muslims. They may think that it is obligatory to fight with non Muslims till they become Muslims.
Apparently some Muslims seem to have taken 9:29 as an obligatory duty for Muslim to fight and attack non-believer to bring them to the right path of Islam for salvation in the hereafter & that is a cause of concerns for all. Consequently it is the duty of Muslim Jurists to revisit and do translation and interpretation of 9:29 and say categorically if the message is applicable at this day and time or it was meant for early era of Islam. Those who have taken the message as an obligatory and are involved in terrorism are only a fraction of Muslims population and do not represent the masses otherwise Muslims all over the world, would have been acting, in compliance with the ayah. Hence 9:29 does not correlate with the current acts of Terrorism committed by handful of Muslims, with their narrow vision of Islam.
One has to understand that all acts of terrorism have something common behind that persuades people to take vengeance by any means if they can’t succeed in their approach through dialogue and are not sufficiently strong enough to fight against those behind the cause of their frustrations. Hence it is not appropriate to quote that the concept of jihad is behind the acts of terrorism.
Jihad means ‘struggle’ that one needs to do in the way of God.It is a moral and spiritual struggle against one’s soul to keep it purified from sins and wrong doings in order to be on the right path for salvation in the hereafter. It is an important duty for Muslims to follow.
Traditionally jihad was considered to be a military effort to defend the Muslim land. There are two kind of Jihad in terms of warfare. One is “Offensive (fard al-kifaya)”, and 2nd is “Defensive (fard al-ayn)”. Offensive Jihad was considered obligatory for Muslims to participate while defensive jihad regarded as a personal obligation.
In early era of Islam, Muslims were trying to spread Islam and in pursuit of those efforts it was considered an obligation. Muslim ruler used to send military with invitation to Islam & in those process two things were offered. Accept Islam or pay Juzyah which was sort of a tax to ensure protection & safety of those who would like to keep their faith.Non Muslims were not compelled to accept Islam under the influence of Jihad. It was not obligatory to fight and force people to get converted. Muslims were not allowed to fight with non-believer without any justifiable cause. They were ordered to fight and defend their faith if an aggressor, within and outsider of their tribes, try to force them to change their faith and practices. In that case it would become Jihad against the enemy and even in that situation Islam forbids killing of children, men, women and elderly & innocent people.
Islam is the religion of peace and it is not incumbent upon Muslim to take that route for the propagation of Islam. In early days of Islam, propagation of Islam was deemed necessary and for that offensive war with restrictions were allowed otherwise sacred text sanctions defensive war only. An all out war against non-Muslims depends on the interpretation of the relevant passages as it does not explicitly define the war Muslim are obliged to wage. So it is basically a defensive war for protecting Muslims and Islam. If there is no threat to Islam then there is no justification to go and fight non-Muslims for no obvious reasons.
Pre-requisites for rectification of terrorism
Mindset for organized terrorism by religious groups, mostly by Muslims, has to change if we intend to live in peace and harmony with all in the world. Muslims can do the Dawah work to invite people towards their faith but should not compel each and every nonbeliever to accept Islam and fight with them by terrorist activities. As there is no compulsion in Islam, extremist should refrain taking that rout while a continuation will cause further defamation of Islam.
Incident of 9/11 has forced nonbeliever to change their views about Islam. The vision of Islam that currently prevail, portraits Islam as a militant, reactionary, violent and intolerable faith due to ongoing reports of suicide bombing, hostage taking, harsh capital punishment and slave trading between Muslim countries. The spread of Islam phobia in West is partly due to distorted and imbalanced media coverage. These out of phase reporting are norm of today’s news media, refocusing world attention upon reactionary Islamic extremism. Arabs image on news media stands for terrorism, hijack, kidnapping, cruelty, female segregation and polygamy etc. and news bulletins project Arab and Muslims associated with terrorism.
In order to resolve current situation and bridge the gap between western perception of Islam, Muslim community in general and particularly the extremists group, all sides have to strive hard and change their respective stance about each other. 2ndly there should be a change in western foreign policy to treat all human irrespective of their faith, creed, color and affiliation; normally with respect and dignity and try to address their concerns for resolution.
Collectively if all countries strive hard to address & resolve pending issues on UN slates in order to satisfy the concerns of those linked to the issue as well improve poverty, unemployment, social injustice, better understanding of the doctrine of faith (specially for Muslims), education, economy etc & western government implement a fair and unbiased foreign policies; it is likely that we would be able to reduce acts of terrorism in this world. UN should address and help in creation of an independent Palestine, help & provide right of independence to Kashmeries and resolve other gray areas that are in pending for long & can promote and trigger terrorism. Terrorism is a global phenomenon that can only be stopped by not committing terrorism on state level as acts of terrorism breed terrorism. Muslims, allegedly involved should revisit the doctrine of faith to have better understanding of the faith and stop acts of terrorism in the name of jihad and clergy should do ijtihad to come up with a better interpretation of 9:29 advising follower to take a rational approach in dealing with all faith groups, fairly and justly.
I hope, people of countries and their respective governments will come to senses and adopt appropriate measures based on rationales and fair consciences to eradicate terrorism and establish peace in this world so that people can live in peace and harmony respecting each others.
Winnipeg. MB Canada