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Peace or War

One cannot find words strong enough to condemn the tragedy that has been inflicted upon this nation on September 11, 2001. It is not human if one does not share the pain and suffering that the affected families are going through and will endure for a long, long time to come.

Muslims have nothing to do with this action, even if, after a thorough investigation, those that perpetrated it turn out to have Muslim names or have come from Muslim lands. Islām does not permit indiscriminate violence. Unfortunately many ignorant Muslims and the majority of non-Muslim citizens of this country are not fully aware of this fact or choose not to acknowledge it or may overlook it because of the pain that we all are feeling at this time. This oversight makes many to do or say things that hurt those who are innocent.

Those who choose to define this violent act as jihad ("holy war") need to know that Islām is such a structured and comprehensive guidance that even the procedure to attend to the call of nature is explicitly taught to us by the Messenger of Allāh . If one follows those rules while going to the bathroom, it becomes an act of worship. Otherwise it is no different than a beast easing itself.

Jihad with its multitude of branches has very strict rules, especially when it relates to confrontation with an enemy. Indiscriminate killing or harming of women, children, old men, people who take refuge in their houses, animals and even plants, especially those of economic value, is forbidden.

War is permitted in Islām, just as it is permitted in many other religions. While permitting it, Allāh says in Qur'ān: "Fight in the cause of Allāh against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. Allāh does not love transgressors." (2.190). "If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in Allāh for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things." (8.61). War is the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the shariah. So anyone who perpetrated this heinous crime against humanity should fear what Allāh our Lord has said about killing of human beings without justification: "We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear Signs yet even after that many of them continued to commit excesses in the land." (5:32).

It is thus absurd to associate what terrorists have done with Islām. However, if one looks at history especially since the rise of Europe first, and of the United States now, and what has been the effect of this rise on Muslims, one can easily see why there is so much resentment against this domination. The Crusades, the super-holocaust in Spain and many other parts of Europe, oppressive demolition of the Khilafat, more than two century of colonial oppression, and more recently fifty years of oppression and bloodshed in Palestine and Kashmir, more than 50,000 children dead in Iraq, and innumerable other unjustifiable massacres and oppressive wars, have driven many impatient Muslims to desperation. In desperation people commit insane deeds.

In spite of this horrible historical background, if the aim of the Bush administration is to bring those who committed this colossal crime to justice, he will find no Muslim against it, especially those who are totally committed to the law of Allāh on this earth, and that includes the Taliban in Afghanistan. True to their commitment, mullah Omar has agreed to bring whoever the US accuses for this act before the court of justice. If the US government is not comfortable with the court in Afghanistan, the Pakistan government, a government totally supporting the US government at this moment, also has a supreme Shariah court. Negotiations should be made to bring the accused before that court, and let it decide their fate.

President Bush and many others who are displaying a guarded tolerance toward a subservient Islām, are quite aware that Islām is growing all over the world, especially in the Western hemisphere. Presently there are at least as many Muslims in the US as Jews. This number cannot be ignored indefinitely, and sooner, we pray to Allāh, then later there will be an issue over which all of them will come to the same conclusion and display a united front. At present almost all Muslims agree that as far as the September 11, 2001 acts are concerned, they are not excusable, but this may change quickly if innocent Muslims in Afghanistan or elsewhere become the victims of indiscriminate violence by the US and its allies' armies.

Let President Bush therefore not make a Christian-Muslim confrontation issue of the terrible incident by rallying people to continue with the "Crusade". This is unwise speech. It not only provides justification for the crimes of the terrorists and may provoke them further, it also makes the work of those who wish to bring about a change in the world through peaceful means harder. President Bush must learn from history what congressman Paul Findley has learned, as he writes in his recent book, "Silent no more".

"Even a favorite hymn, 'To the Knights in the Days of Old', perpetuated false images. Seventy years later, I remember its page number 219 in the hymnal, as well as the tune and the words. Opening exercises always included group singing, and we sang Hymn 219 lustily. It is a rollicking song that celebrates the Christian Crusades in the Holy Land. "To the knights in the days of old, keeping watch on the mountain heights, came a vision of holy grail and a voice through the waiting night, calling, 'Follow, follow the gleam, banners unfurled, over all the world, follow, follow the gleam of the chalice that is the grail."'

"The hymn conveys a distorted view of Islam that is still widely accepted as accurate by many Christians, perhaps most of them. Its words give no hint that the knights, cast in the hymn as heroes, actually slaughtered thousands of innocent Muslims and rejoiced in the carnage. Calling themselves Christians, the Crusaders ignored their religion's commitment to tolerance, compassion, and justice. They acted instead like vengeful, bloodthirsty savages.

"The hymn would have lost all appeal had I known what one of the Crusaders wrote on July 15, 1099, from the bloody scene in Jerusalem: 'With drawn swords our people ran through the city; nor did they spare anyone, not even those pleading for mercy. The horses waded in blood up to their knees, nay, up to the bridle. It was a just and wonderful judgment of God.' The slaughter was not confined to Jerusalem. The Crusaders, seeking out "heathens and infidels," killed Muslims, Jews, and even other Christians throughout the Middle East, notably in Antioch and Constantinople. In contrast, on the three separate occasions when Muslims took control of Jerusalem, no blood was shed." (Amana Publications, 2001).

We pray to Allāh that efforts presently being made to drive a wedge between "radical" Taliban on one hand and the Muslims of ornate Islāmic Centers of America and Pakistan are fruitless. We pray to Allāh that Muslims stand shoulder to shoulder with the Taliban if they are subjected to the inhumane treatment that Iraqis, Palestinians and Kashmiris are going through. We pray to Allāh that he will continue to guide the Taliban leadership to try their human best to follow the Fundamental tenets of Islām and continue to practice self-chosen meekness.

We Muslims, especially those here in the USA, must work hard to defeat the confrontational, domineering and "crusade-minded" attitude of the US government through dialogue and peaceful means, to the best of our endurance, and not let those who are ignorant of Islāmic law and impatient in their attitude take unjustifiable and unlawful shortcuts through terrorist attacks. It does not serve Islām well and is despised in the sight of Allāh. "But Allāh loveth not mischief" (2:205). We must also remember what Zaboor says: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalms 37:11).


Published: September 2001


Last modified 08/12/05 09:25 AM - Iqra - ISSN #1062-2756