Since the 9/11 attacks, the West has believed that terrorism emanates from Islam and Muslims fight the West, its lifestyle and thought. The editor of the French newspaper Le Monde French newspaper “Jean Marie Colombani” has expressed it in his writing, “The Muslims’ hatred of the West is caused by their jealousy of the success and wealth that the West enjoys and represents”.
Many of them, including the American-British historian Bernard Lewis, have justified the existence of violence among Muslims—the violence that leads to their backwardness. There are many such views that confer the status of “terrorist” on Muslims only. Some of them describe Muslims as savages aiming at purifying mankind from the world of disbelief. Some of them have covered Islam with what it has nothing to do, by defaming its form and considering it a religion based on supremacy and oppression. They consider that Islam has no relation with respect to ensuring freedom and tolerance, protecting any covenant or maintaining any treaty. They think Islam is “exploiter” in regard to negotiating and breaking the treaties, that is, if it finds any profit in negotiating treaty it does, and when that profit is achieved, it breaks the treaty.
Undoubtedly Islam strongly emphasizes on supporting the weak and protecting the life and dignity. So the fight is not waged but only for the same reason, as Allah Almighty said, “And what is [the matter] with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and [for] the oppressed among men, women, and children who say, “Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper?” (4:75). Islam also urges to prevent the sedition [Fitnah] and ensure freedom, as mentioned in the divine speech “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers” (2:193). And “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.” (8:39)
Islam also urges to restore the usurped freedoms. It is therefore not an instrument of oppression or force and hence fighting is hateful, as Allah Almighty says, “Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you” (2:216). There are some reasons which make fighting obligatory, however it is governed by laws, as the Quranic verses read, “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.” 92:190) and “And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also]” (8:61)
In light of the aforementioned discussion, can we ask? Where is terrorism in Islam? When was it that Muslims were aggressors or attackers since the advent of Islam till our modern era? Were they so in the Battle of Badr, for example? They had been treated brutally by the enemies, driven out of their homeland and deprived of their wealth and homes? Or in the battle of Uhad? The Army of the Enemy had marched to Medina. Or in the Battle of the Trench [Khandaq]? The enemies had colluded together and become an army that wanted to invade the Madina. If the Muslims defend their homeland, wealth and dignity, does it mean they are terrorists?
The Muslims in the era of the Prophet [peace be upon him] and after him in the era of the companions [Sahaba] were threatened with the sudden violent attack by the forces who used to see Islam with contempt and hostility. So the “defensive war” was immensely necessary at that time. The fight of Islam was defensive and not offensive. It is necessary to understand that sometimes defence wears the dress of offence merely for reasons such as, preventing the obstacles in the preaching of Islam, applying and propagating the principles of humanity, brotherhood, equality among the servants of Allah and social security and deterring the strong from oppressing the weak. So in order to prevent oppression, the Muslims used to lie in ambush. This was the time when the king of Persia was planning to kill the prophet (peace be upon him), when Hercules [Harqul in Arabic] killed everyone who converted to Islam in Syria, Islam was badly treated and when the expectants were looking for an opportunity to wage sudden violent attack on Muslims. At that time, it was not wise waiting for the enemy to invade the homes of Muslims, and hence the defence wore the dress of offence. This kind of war in the modern term is called the “preventive war”.
As for the wars fought by Muslims or their negotiated covenants, they were always governed by the Islamic laws which oblige Muslims to establish peace at the first signs, “And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (8:61). So Peace is a permanent slogan and a distinguishing feature of the followers of Islam, unlike war which becomes necessary only when all roads of peace are blocked, “Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you” (2:216). War is a temporary commitment which stops with the end of sedition [Fitnah] and its necessity, Allah Almighty says, “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.” (8:39)
In the state of fighting and war, the right to life is protected for non-combatants such as old men, children and women, with special care of the injured, and this happens without breaking the covenant if the other party respects its provisions, as mentioned in the divine speech “Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].” (9:6). Islam categorically prohibits sudden violent attack prior to announcing the notice and explicit information.
Islam made this prohibition 1400 years ago, that is, much before than the contemporary laws, which included this prohibition during the Hague Convention of 1907, stipulating the condition that “The contracting Powers recognize that hostilities between themselves must not commence without previous and explicit warning, in the form either of a declaration of war, giving reasons, or of an ultimatum with conditional declaration of war”. The Muslims committed themselves to this prohibition and did not fight but to defend their rights and lives when they were attacked by the enemy or when it appeared that the enemies are preparing for attack. The history is the best witness to that.
The intention of Islam behind ordering Muslims to prepare for confronting the enemies and those who prey on the physical and moral strength was only for preserving peace by intimidating and terrorizing the enemies until their hopes and fantasies, which envisage victory and domination are vanquished. So they will not dare to attack and oppress, as mentioned in the divine speech “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged” (8:60). It should be known here that Islam is not only against the aggressive war but also against terrorism, vandalism and corruption, “whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs” (5:32). It should also be borne in mind that it is necessary to confront the usurper who perpetrates the acts of looting, killing and vandalism.
Islam urges peaceful co-existence among Muslims and all non-Muslims. It calls for establishing goodness and benevolence as long as these non-Muslims are in peace. “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” (60:8)
No matter whether the people of other religions i.e. non-Muslims are expatriates or part of the Islamic community, Islam guarantees for them all rights and privileges as equally as for Muslims, such as freedom, justice, care and protection with regard to opinion, religion, practice of economic and commercial activities, and establishment of religious rituals, even if they are from a country hostile to the people of Islam as long as they have been allowed to enter their homes.
Also as per the majority of jurists, the money of the expatriates acquired in the lands of Islam remain as their property, that is, even if they return to their homes and fight Muslims, they will not lose their ownership of the money. No interference will be made into their personal affairs. They will be allowed to follow as per the requirements of their religions, even if they are contrary to Islam. So it is allowed for the Christians, for example, to eat pork and drink wine. Similarly the Majus (Magi; Zoroastrians) are allowed to marry their daughters; despite the fact that there is a flagrant violation of the fundamentals of Islam and its rules in this regard.
The Ameer al-Mumineen Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz wrote to Imam Hasan al-Basari, seeking the religious decree [fatwa] “Why the rightly guided caliphs left the people of Dhimmah who marry the Maharim, drink alcohol and eat pigs?” Al-Hasan al-Basri replied: “You are follower and not the innovator [Mubtad’i]”
(Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi. This article was published by New Age Islam.)