Given Islam’s clear teaching about all creatures being members of God’s family, it is ironical that some Muslims care nothing about killing innocent people, and that too in the name of Islam.
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
If properly understood, Islam is the very opposite of terrorism and has nothing to do with it. The word ‘Islam’ is derived from the root s-l-m, which means ‘peace’. Hence, Islam, correctly interpreted, is a religion of peace. Naturally, a religion that describes itself as a religion of peace can have no relation with terrorism if that religion is interpreted in the right manner. In the Quran the Prophet Muhammad is referred to as rahmatul-lil-alamin, or ‘mercy unto the worlds’. He is thus a source of mercy for all of humankind, and not just Muslims alone. Naturally, then, his teachings can have no room for terrorism at all.
In a report recorded in the books of Hadith, it is said that every morning, before the fajr prayer and after completing the tahajjud prayer, the Prophet would beseech God, saying, ‘Oh God! I bear witness that all humans are brothers of each other.’ This being the case, how can anyone kill his innocent brethren? All men and women are brothers and sisters unto each other. Hence, they must have love and concern for the welfare of all. This is precisely what Islam requires of its followers.
According to another hadith, the Prophet is said to have declared, ‘All creatures are part of God’s family.’ This is a wonderful expression of true universalism. It clearly announces that all of humankind, irrespective of religion or community, belongs to the same family of God. In this way, this hadith is a declaration of the saying about the world being a global village which we are today so familiar with.
Given Islam’s clear teaching about all creatures being members of God’s family, it is ironical that some Muslims care nothing about killing innocent people, and that too in the name of Islam. This is wholly un-Islamic. When conflicts arise between Muslims and other communities, violence is not the right way, for it gives rise to terrorism. As the Quran instructs us, ‘Reconciliation is best’. (4:128) This means that the proper way to solve conflict is not through violence, which leads to terrorism, but, rather, through peaceful discussion and dialogue. One must adopt constructive, not destructive, approaches to conflict-resolution.
According to another hadith, God gives in return for gentleness what He does not in the case of hard-heartedness. This tradition relates to the consequences of one’s behaviour or approach. If we have a dispute or conflict with someone, fighting him or her will not solve it. In contrast, the only way to do so is through peaceful dialogue and exchange of views. This is what Islam itself demands of us.
Islam, properly understood, does not teach us to hate others. To hate others is haraam or forbidden in Islam. To cite an instance in this regard: One day, the Prophet saw a funeral procession and stood up, as a sign of respect, as it passed. One of his followers pointed out that this was a funeral procession of a Jewish man. In other words, he indicated that the Prophet had stood up as the procession had passed despite the fact that the deceased was a Jew, not a Muslim. In reply, the Prophet responded, ‘Was he not a human being?’ That is to say, are not Jews also human beings? This clearly indicates that we have to respect everyone, in their capacity of being fellow creatures of God, irrespective of religion. This also shows that terrorism has no place in Islam, if Islam is properly understood.
Complete Mockery of Islam
Muslims who engage in terrorism while calling it jihad are making a complete mockery of Islam. Jihad can only be declared by a regular government or state authority, not by ordinary citizens. Today, terrorism takes, broadly, two forms: proxy war and guerilla war. I can say with full confidence that both of these forms of terrorism are completely forbidden in Islam. Proxy war is illegitimate in Islam because Islam requires that declaration of war be explicitly made before war can be actually waged, while a proxy war by definition is one that is unannounced and engaged in indirectly, by using local agents. Likewise, guerilla war is also forbidden in Islam, because such a war involves civilians taking up arms against an established government. It cannot be considered as a legitimate jihad because the right to declare jihad rests only with the state authorities.
Some Muslims complain that the media is being unfair by describing terrorism engaged in by Muslims as ‘Islamic terrorism’. They claim that the media is thereby giving Islam a bad name. But, the question is, when people who call themselves ‘Muslim’ are themselves engaging in terror in the name of Islam, by what other name should the media refer to this violence? It is for Muslims to desist from this completely un-Islamic violence and to denounce those Muslims who are giving Islam a bad name by falsely claiming terrorism to be jihad.