Sunday, February 06, 2005

Arab News: "With Islam We Fight Terrorism"

This from Robert Spencer:

I was going to add "Taqiyya alert" to the title of this piece, but this one tends more to kitman. Taqiyya is the Islamic concept of religious deception; kitman is a related Islamic concept that is more akin to mental reservation. For the author of this piece, Nourah Abdul Aziz Al-Khereiji, isn't saying anything that is factually false; he just doesn't give the whole picture. From Arab News, with thanks to Nicolei:

Some non-Muslims, especially those who do not know the basic principles and teachings of Islam, may wonder about the title of this article as Islam has been wrongly used as a synonym for terrorism and most Westerners consider Muslims terrorists.
Actually, Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorism is an international phenomenon and is found in every country and society. All divine religions have categorically rejected terrorism.

Terrorism briefly can be defined as aggression committed by individuals and groups or countries against people including their religions, intellect, honor and land. Terrorism and extremism are the products of wrong thinking. Socioeconomic factors as well as enmity also breed terrorists.

In contrast, I would define terrorism as the targeting of civilians in order to incite fear in a larger population, but never mind. The word "terrorism" is too elastic to be much use; that is why this site is called Jihad Watch instead of Terrorism Watch. Terror is just a tactic used by jihadists. What we are facing is a global Islamic jihad, and until we face that, we aren't fighting the correct foe.

In this article I would like to focus on Islam, which has been unjustly described by those who are uninformed as a religion of violence and oppression. Actually, if we had learned its teachings as explained in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and practiced them in our lives there would be no terrorists in our midst.
Islam was the first religion to combat terrorism and corruption on earth. It prohibited killing and terrorizing people in their homes and countries. The Holy Qur’an says: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: Execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land.” (Qur’an — 5:36)

Another verse emphasizes this point further.

“If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is hell.” (4:93)

Note that that verse only refers to killing believers, not unbelievers. But Nourah Abdul Aziz Al-Khereiji also argues for a wider prohibition. However, if you look closely, he is allowing for the "protection" of unbelievers only under the provisions of the Islamic protection contract, the dhimma -- which mandates discrimination and harassment of non-Muslims:

Allah honored human life in general. Nobody is allowed to kill a man without a genuine reason.
“On that account we ordained for the children of Israel that if any one slew a person, unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would as if he slew the whole humanity. And if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity.” (5:35)

Allah says: “We have honored the sons of Adam.” (17:70)

In this verse, Allah did not restrict his honor to Muslims, rather it covers all mankind. The rights of non-Muslims living in Islamic countries are protected as long as they follow the rules and regulations. Islam has taught us to be tolerant and good not only in our dealings with our Muslim brethren but with all mankind in general.

What are some of those "rules and regulations"? "The subject peoples," according to a manual of Islamic law endorsed by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, must "pay the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)" and "are distinguished from Muslims in dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar); are not greeted with ‘as-Salamu ‘alaykum’ [the traditional Muslim greeting, 'Peace be with you']; must keep to the side of the street; may not build higher than or as high as the Muslims’ buildings, though if they acquire a tall house, it is not razed; are forbidden to openly display wine or pork . . . recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals or feastdays; and are forbidden to build new churches." ('Umdat al-Salik, o11.3, 5).

Also, Nourah Abdul Aziz Al-Khereiji is mainly upset about terrorism not because it victimizes the innocent, but because it gives people a bad picture of Islam:

In order to promote civilization and realize common interests it is essential for us to establish good relations with non-Muslim communities and give them a good impression of our religion. In this way, we attract individuals, groups and nations into the fold of Islam.
On the other hand, violence and terrorism present a bad picture of Islam, and we give enemies a weapon to use to attack our religion as well as our Prophet (peace be upon him). It will also drive away many people from our faith.

Islam advises us to exhibit good behavior even when preaching our religion. The Qur’an says: “Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching.” (16:125)

“It is part of the mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee.” (3:159)

Moreover, the Qur’an teaches us how to hold dialogue with people of other faiths. “And dispute yet not with the People of the Book, except with means better.” (29:46)

Now this part does shade into outright deception:

Islam believes in difference of opinion and allows others to express their views freely without any fear. Even in matters of jurisprudence it did not impose any particular opinion. Differences of opinion among scholars have been considered a blessing.
I have no right to call those who do not follow my school of thought (madhab) as infidels. It’s Allah who decides who must enter Paradise or Hell among His slaves. Nobody else is given the power to decide.

Freedom of religion has been clearly mentioned in the Qur’an. “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error.” (2:256)

The Holy Book also says: “The truth is from your Lord, let him who will believe and let him who will reject it.” (18:29)

Allah has prohibited Muslims from abusing the deities being worshipped by other communities. “Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance.” (6:108)

The aforementioned points and references emphasize the tolerance of Islam and its teachings. Islam respects all human beings despite the differences in their faiths and ideologies as long as they do not attack Muslims.

Note that he is allowing for differences of opinion among Muslims only: "I have no right to call those who do not follow my school of thought (madhab) as infidels." Non-Muslims, remember, must follow the "rules and regulations." Here's another: the "protection" contract between the Muslim community and the dhimmis is violated, leaving the dhimmi subject to execution, if he "mentions something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet, or Islam," ('Umdat al-Salik 011.10(5).)

Posted at February 6, 2005 08:20 AM

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