June 13, 2003 Friday Rabi-us-Sani 12, 1424
No room for terrorism
By Haider Zaman
THERE is a growing impression in some quarters these days that Islam as a religion sanctions the acts of terrorism against the opponents in faith. This impression is based partly on the occurrence of some incidents of terrorism in which Muslims were involved and partly on the complete ignorance about the teachings of the Quran, the main-spring of Islam, as well as about the Sunnah and historical facts.
Let us first examine the above view in the light of what the Quran says. The Quran expects the community of true believers i.e. those who follow its teachings in letter and in spirit, to be the people who are justly balanced (2:143). The people being justly balanced mean the people who follow the principles of golden mean, the people who are given to doing justice to every one, in every matter and everywhere. This has been further affirmed by the Quran when it says they are those who when We give them power in land, establish prayers, and give regular charity: enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong (22:41).
Judged in the light of the above declarations, can terrorism be said to have the sanction of the Quran? Even if some acts of terrorism are the result of some wrongs or injustices perpetrated by the victim, it can still not be said to have the sanction of the Quran for the simple reason that maintenance of balance and the acts of terrorism are poles apart.
The Quran enjoins the prohibition of that which is wrong. But it does not accept the repulsion or prohibition of wrong with wrong. It specifically enjoins repulsion of evil with goodness (41:34), moderation as a way of life (31:19), doing of justice even to enemies (5:8) and kindness even to non-believers (60:8). By no stretch of imagination, terrorism can be equated with goodness, moderation, doing of justice and kindness.
Given the nature of human beings, the Quran allows reprisal but with a clear directive that the harm or injury to be caused to the opponent shall in no case be more than the harm or injury he has caused with due emphasis on the exercise of patience. As it says And if you do catch them, catch them out no worse than they catch you: But if you exercise patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient (16:126).
Another ground on which the critics base their accusation is the number of battles fought during the period of the Prophet (peace be upon him). But they ignore the basic fact that all the battles fought and the expeditions sent by the Prophet were either against aggression, threatened or actual, or against oppressions. During the first thirteen years as a Prophet, he was subjected to worst possible oppressions and when he migrated to Madina, he was subjected to aggressions from all sides while his followers remaining in Makkah continued to live under the yoke of oppressions. It was in this situation that he was permitted to fight against aggression and oppression both (22:39) (4:75) but subject to the conditions that he had not to exceed the limits (2:190) (16:126) and if the enemy inclined to peace he too had to do so (8:61).
The Quran, in fact, lays more emphasis on patience and pardoning than reprisal. It says The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto: but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation his reward is due from Allah: for Allah loves not those who do wrong (42:40). The way the Prophet treated the people of Quraish, who had subjected him to inhuman oppressions, after the fall of Makkah, could be a living example of this admonition.
One of the incidents that Rev Robertson of the United States has made the main basis of his tirade against Islam, labelling it as a violent religion, is the killing of the adult male members of the Jewish tribe of Bani Quraizah in 627 A.D. Since this incident is being frequently quoted to malign Islam, it is necessary to discuss the true facts leading to this incident.
Bani Quraizah was a Jewish tribe of Madina that had entered into a pact with the Prophet which was still in force when the Quraish army comprising ten thousand men besieged Madina. During the siege Bani Quraizah unilaterally renounced the pact thereby exposing the Muslims to the imminent danger of extinction. Their fortress situated on the south eastern side of Madina could provide a safe passage to the enemy to the centre of the city. It was, however, a miracle that the Quraish army couldn't avail the opportunity of entering Madina from that side.
After the siege was over, the Muslims besieged the fortress of Bani Quraizah. In the meanwhile, members of the Aws tribe, one of the two main Muslim tribes of Madina, approached the Prophet with a request to show some leniency to the besieged tribe, their former ally, in the same manner he had shown leniency to another Jewish tribe Bani Qanuqua which was the former ally of Kharaj, another Muslim tribe of Madina.
In reply the Prophet said will it satisfy you if one of yourselves pronounce judgment over them? They agreed and their chief Saad Bin Muaad was brought for the purpose who ruled that all the adult male members of the tribe shall be killed. The judgment was in fact based on Torah, the Jewish scripture, which, regarding the treatment of the people of besieged city said when the Lord thy God has delivered it unto thy hands, thou shall smite every male member therein with the edge of the sword: but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even the spoil thereof, thou shall take unto thyself (Deuteronomy 20:12).
Now, compare the incident of Bani Quraizah with what the Nazis did to the Jews in Germany, what the Americans did to the Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and what they most recently did in Iraq and let your conscience decide whether it was the incident of Bani Quraizah or the indiscriminate and random killing of Jews by Nazis or of Japanese and Iraqis by the Americans which met all the parameters of terrorism.
The attack on World Trade Centre may be seen as a payback but it was an act carried out by a few individuals, not having the backing of any community or nation, and no one can deny that it was an incident of terrorism. Even if some Muslims were involved in that incident and whatever their motive, the act was doubtlessly against the teachings of the Quran.
In fact, it is the persons involved in the incident who shall be blamed for subverting the true spirit of their religion rather than the religion because they happened to be Muslims. But what is more important could be to know the actual reason for which they went to the extent of subverting the true spirit of their religion, if it is desired to seek some lasting solution to the problem.
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