No Heaven for Terrorists

I have spent my life studying Islam and can say with conviction that this kind of violent ideology, while being a permanent threat to world peace, has nothing to do with Islam.

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan The suicide attack on the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel on February 14, 2019, was a dastardly act of cowardice. The assault that was carried out on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is seen as the deadliest terror attack on security personnel since 1989. The terrorist outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JM) claimed responsibility for this ghastly act of terror. JM released a video hailing the 20-year-old suicide bomber, who was a resident of Pulwama’s Kakapora area. He was a Class X school dropout. In a pre-recorded video that was released, the suicide bomber is seen to be saying, ‘by the time people watch this video, I will be in heaven.’ This statement made me shudder at the incongruity of the illusion this youth harboured and gave his life for, as against the facts as they were in the light of Islamic teachings. I am a 94- year-old man. I have spent my life studying Islam and can say with conviction that this kind of violent ideology, while being a permanent threat to world peace, has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a religion wholly based on the principles of peace and tolerance. Violent activism is unlawful in Islam. Under no circumstances are Muslims allowed to adopt violent methods to achieve their goals. According to a verse of the Quran, ‘God, calls to the Home of Peace’ (10:25). If paradise is the Abode of Peace, how can someone who commits violence be granted entry into it? Present-day radicalisation of Muslim youth is derived neither from the Quran nor from the Hadith (the teachings of the Prophet). It is a self-styled upshot of unfounded anger, disillusionment, and negative thinking of some radicalised individuals. This false ideology of violence developed as an attempt to regain the lost political glory of a bygone era. An extremist group of Muslims subscribed to this thought process and began to cascade it as the gospel truth. They misled youth into falsely believing that Muslims are a persecuted lot and that they have to regain their supremacy perforce and using terror. In today’s context, the glaring question before us is, how can this problem of violence and radicalisation be dealt with? As per my research and study, the solution to this problem lies in a twofold approach. The first part relates to the implementation of the institutional framework that is under the control of government authorities. They must enforce all anti-violence laws and take strict action against perpetrators of any such act of violence. The second part relates to the role that non-governmental agencies have to play in society to ensure the restoration of constructive thinking and development of positive and non-confrontational approach. If peace is to be established and maintained, it will require sustained efforts of both governments and social reformers. Extremists have been influenced by a false ideology that completely misinterprets Islamic teachings. Those who commit such acts of terror are made to believe that in doing so, they are offering themselves for religious service. This idea is deeply entrenched in the minds of the youth who commit themselves for a so-called ’cause’. In order for us to succeed in countering this violent ideology, we would have to work towards re-engineering their minds on the lines of authentic Islamic teachings. Islam attaches utmost importance to peace. According to Islamic teachings, if a single person is killed, entire society must respond as if it is not a single individual who has been killed, but, as though the whole of humanity has been slain. Islam urges its adherents to maintain a peaceful sphere of action necessarily. And if things cannot be immediately attained by adopting the peaceful method, they must simply be waited for patiently. Extremists, on the other hand, are carrying out these violent activities in the name of jihad, giving it a violent connotation. From the Islamic perspective, the word ‘jihad’ is derived from the root jahada, which means ‘to strive’ or ‘to struggle.’ It denotes the exertion of oneself to the utmost, to the limits of one’s capacity, for a noble cause. The Quran says, ‘Strive for the cause of God as it behoves you to strive for it.’ (22:78). Islam does not prescribe radical approach in any situation. This is alluded to in the following verse of the Quran, which exhorts believers to ‘Not be extremist in your religion.’ (4: 171) In a tradition, the Prophet once said: ‘Refrain from extremism, it is highly disastrous for you.’ (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith: 3248) In silent language, nature is imparting precisely the same message that a peaceful method is far more effective than a violent approach. The Prophet once observed: ‘God grants to non-violence, what he does not grant to violence.'(Sahih Muslim, Hadith: 2593) Youth who are involved in militancy need to be brought out of their mistaken notion that violence is bravery, and peaceful action is cowardice. Their thinking needs to be transformed, so that they can understand that in this world, the only means to attain success is to resort to a peaceful approach. In reality, violence is not a means of advancement; instead, it is a means of regression. The youth of a nation is a force to reckon with. A misplaced sense of vision among youth can turn the future of a nation into shambles, whereas a conscientious lot is responsible for turning around the fate of any country! I hope and pray that the youth of our nation can realise the true meaning of peaceful coexistence and harmony, and together, they become a positive force to uplift the country and its future. (Maulana Wahiduddin Khan is founder, Centre for Peace and Spirituality International) (speakingtree.in)

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