Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Saudi Arabia: Islam religion of "peace," "tolerance," and "pluralism"

Fresh pile of taqiyya, attempting to set the "record straight" about Islam once and for all from the Saudi Gazette. "Islam and concept of peace," by Dr. Ghulam Mursaleen for the Saudi Gazette, August 25: According to Islamic belief, Allah’s original message that was received by Moses and later by Jesus over time had been distorted. Thus Muslims recognize the Torah and Gospel as a combination of original revelation but later human additions were made, such as the elevation of Jesus from Prophet to the son of God. Therefore, the Qur’an is the Islamic scripture, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from God through the Archangel Gabriel, to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the last or ‘seal’ of the Prophets and hence the Qur’an is the eternal, literal word of Allah preserved in Arabic language.

The basic beliefs and tenets of the three beautiful and monotheistic religions are almost similar to each other as well as all the three are descendants of Abraham who worship the same God. However, I have taken this topic to counter the allegations that are being leveled against Islam and Muslims. Actually, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, which does not allow its followers to harm any one.

Sure, if one overlooks the "sword verses" (e.g., 9:5 and 9:29), the doctrine of abrogation, which makes these verses supreme vis-a-vis the "peaceful" verses, the "pattern" of Muhammad's life (his sunna, which Sunnis are to emulate), and which consisted of violence and intolerance to all non-Muslims, the decrees and fatwas of Islam's most authoritative ulema, and sharia's division of the world into Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb that must be in constant struggle until Islam prevails. Once we can move past these problematic "inconveniences," then we can safely say Islam is a religion of peace.

There are numerous verses in the Qur’an which emphasize peace, tolerance and tranquility while it strongly prohibits violence. The term Islam itself means peace and it is based on compassion, love, tolerance, gentleness and forgiveness whereas violence, aggression and cruelty are against its nature.

So, added to Mursaleen's theological distortions, is this linguistic error: Islam means submission; "salaam," means "peace." Subtle but important distinction.

Muslims are made target of violence and terrorism in some places and they are themselves taking resort to violence and terrorism in some other places. Now, some questions arise in mind that in what circumstances Islam allows force and what are the Islamic ethics of war? When does use of force become terrorism and when does Islam allow terrorism in any situation? Can Muslims prevent violence against them by counter-violence?

There are many verses in the Qur’an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which confirm that offensive force is strictly prohibited in Islam.

Oh, as in the famous hadith, where Muhammad proclaimed: "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Yes, surely nothing indicative of offensive warfare in that!

But there are also such cases in the Qur’an according to which violence could have been answered with violence but it was not done, (e.g., Qur’an, 5:27-32)
Permission for use of force that leads to loss of human life and property was granted in a very specific situation. It was the time when Muslims were living in Madina in the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the enemy targeted Muslims, attacked their land and some Muslims living in Makkah were also tortured, only then Allah permitted Muslims to use force against those who hurt them.

This permission to fight was not an offensive war to occupy other people’s land but it was a war to defend Muslims and to prevent such attacks in the future. It was the time when the aggressors were not only attacking Muslims in Madina but they were targeting Muslims elsewhere too and forcing people not to accept Islam. Thus the purpose of fighting a war was to end aggression.

What about the offensive wars for nothing short of land and domination that were launched by the four "righteous caliphs," and which took Islam to the heart of France to the west, and India to the east, in but a few decades? Was that also "defensive" in nature?

Hence, use of force to punish for crimes, or to defend Islam and Muslims or to fulfil Allah’s mission or to regain human freedom and right to choose one’s way of life, is permitted only to the extent that it is necessary. Otherwise, it becomes itself an act of tyranny and aggression, which is strictly forbidden by Islam. The Qur’an does not give people the right to take the law into their own hands. Islam also does not encourage violence in response to violence.

Violence and terrorism

Some individuals or groups who are living under the jurisdiction of any other authority or state and resorting to violence, their use of force will be characterized as terrorism. Terrorism is an act of killing the enemy’s men without discriminating between belligerent and non-belligerent. As a result, innocents, particularly children, women and elderly people lose their lives and their properties are destroyed. Islam strictly prohibits all these acts of violence because as mentioned earlier, there is no place for violence or terrorism in Islam.

But some Muslims have engaged in violence and try to justify their actions. Many people, who have very little knowledge of Islam and Muslims, think as if Islam fosters violence and terrorism. But, this is not the case. Islam, like all other religions of the world, neither supports nor sanctions illegitimate violence. It only permits Muslims in very specific cases to defend themselves, their families, religion and community from aggression.

Violence and the current situation

Now an attempt to examine Islam’s position on violence may be in the fitness of things. For this, the most hot and explosive issue of Palestine may be discussed very briefly and then the cases of American aggression in the name of combating terrorism.

Palestine had been a Muslim majority land, which was occupied and subjected by the Jews who have been unleashing violence and oppressing its inhabitants since 1948 and especially since 1967.

And under what circumstances, pray tell, did Palestine become Muslim majority? By bloody Islamic conquest in the year 636.

The occupiers are not willing to vacate the land despite the UN resolutions and international pressure. The Palestinians are living without a homeland. In view of the known fact and situation of Palestine, one may say that the defensive use of force should be permitted by Islam to the Palestinians to defend their rights.

As a religion, Islam does not put itself in an attitude of conflict towards other heavenly religions. It is a religion of peace and tolerance and has always advocated the cause of human rights, brotherhood, freedom and equality and hence Islam is a model religion for the development of pluralistic society in the modern age of globalization. An Islamic society is not formed of Muslims only, but of Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths living together under the rule of Islam.

Key word: under -- as in, subdued dhimmis, according to Koran 9:29, and as recorded in history.

Today, the world is striving for peace; but unless there is greater understanding among the followers of different religions there is very little hope for success.


Now we get the famous conclusion that all these problems have nothing to do with Islam, but are "misunderstandings" -- since Islam, as opposed to any other religion, is the perpetually misunderstood faith, by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

There is a misconception that Islam and Muslims are a thereat [threat] to the world peace. But my argument is that all this misunderstanding about Islam and Muslims is simply because of lack of proper knowledge about Islam and its followers. As far as Muslims are concerned, they should understand this reality that violence is not at all a strategy to deal with Muslims’ issues and problems. It is only a mistake, a big mistake that Muslims must realize and abandon the path of deviation. They should instead follow the path of righteousness, wisdom, patience and tolerance.

Because, the real weapons of Muslims are their Islamic character and their ideology in which they believe and which they want to communicate to the entire humanity. Since the Qur’an is a message of peace as well as a unique divine book – a source of guidance for the entire humanity, all people have an equal right to benefit from this eternal source of wisdom and guidance.

Thanks Jihad Watch

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