This is a response to Saasi Marvin who in his debut article on campus bee titled Reflections on the Garissa Attack: Are Islam and Violence Intertwined?, sounded totally ambiguous. I did not only find it misleading, but also abhorent, equivocal, spurious, fallacious, frivolous and fictitious.
Marvin tries to list authorities from the Quran and Hadith alleging how Islam and violence go hand in hand. On surface, someone will believe his analysis but a critical reflections on his piece, clearly shows how he is wrong even though at the end, tries to show that Islam to a lesser extent, does not allow violence. Which is also wrong.
Some non-Muslims either through ignorance, seeking sympathy or Islam-bashing, continue taking the verses of the Holy Quran out of context and its history to justify their false propaganda. In order to gain a proper understanding of many verses in the Holy Quran, it is important to understand and know the historic context of the revelations.
So many revelations in the Holy Quran came down to provide guidance to Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and the fellow Muslims based on what they were confronting at that time. The verse 8:12 is one such verse which is always misinterpreted (which Marvin also totally misinterpreted). The verse and its brief explanation follows:
8:12 Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”
This verse and the verses before and after were revealed about the Battle of Badr, which occurred in Arabia in the early seventh century. A battle in which the pagans of Makkah traveled more than 200 miles to Madinah with an army of about 1000 to destroy Muslims. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and fellow Muslims had suffered severe persecutions and torture for 13 years in the city of Makkah.
And now that they had fled Makkah and found a sanctuary in the city of Madinah, they were once again threatened. Muslim Army was only about 300 strong. God Almighty gave the order to Muslims to fight to defend their lives and faith. The enemy came to them with the intent to kill Muslims. It was a war to defend themselves and their Faith. It was a war imposed upon Muslims.
And when you fight, you strive to kill the enemy during the fight. However, even during the war, Islam has the highest moral law of war. You don’t kill children, women or any one who is not fighting with you. If Mr. Marvin, is still doubting, let him read more here Human Rights in Islam.
Let us be objective here. Imagine, if Marvin and people thinking the same way, found the following Biblical paragraph being used in the same way the above verse is used. Muslims know that Jesus (peace be upon him), like all prophets, came with the message of peace to earth. However, a misquotation may change the whole meaning. Read:
“34 Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.“
35 For I have come to turn ” ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—“ KJV-Matthew10
Basing on the above, will another person from a different faith believe that? Absolutely no! A christian will go ahead and defend Jesus showing how he was quoted out of context. So me as a muslim, will i also justify my reasoning when someone misquoted my spiritual teaching? Absolutely yes!
Further more, Marvin goes ahead to quote Buhair out of context. It should be mentioned, that Islam does not allow to deliberately kill women and children (according to sahih hadith), but does allow to kill them indiscriminately, if they are nearby to the enemy and are aware of it. It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b Jaththama, that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: “They are from them”.” [Sahih Muslim 19:4321 & Sahih Bukhari 4: 52:256].
Marvin went ahead to quote the above teaching of islam which applied to polytheists, by using it to mean Christianity. This is ridiculous! There is a very big difference between Christianity and Polytheism which clearly Marvin does not draw a clear cut difference. As a matter of fact, Islam actually talks about Christianity ( read Q 2: 62, 5:69, 5:82 and 61:14)
The debate goes on and on. But let us clear this misconception regarding to the intertwining of Islam and violence and why this debate has its own flaws.
So what does Islam say about terrorism?
But first, what is terrorism? Terrorism is a complex term with a long history and different meanings, depending on the context and who uses it. But the best definition(s) of terrorism according to sage pub, has two meanings. One it means the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes and secondly, the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
So then what is Islam? It is the most complete way of life. The word Islam means, “surrender” to the will of God (Allah in Arabic). Since there is only one God and mankind is one species, the religion that God has ordained for human beings is one. It is a religion of peace (Q: 2:256, 16:82, 6:107, 11:28, 22:67, 48:28, 39:41, 64:12, 60:8 etc)
Unfortunately more and more often, Islam has been associated with terrorism and violence due to the actions of a few extreme individuals who’ve taken it upon themselves to do the most heinous crimes in the name of Islam.
Tragic events dating way back such as the attack on the twin towers in New York, the bombings of Bali, Madrid, London and the latest attack on Garissa University College attack in Kenya, are assumed to be justified by Islam in the minds of some people. This idea has been fueled further by many media channels which defame Islam by portraying these bombers as ‘Islamists’ or ‘Jihadists’, as though they were sanctioned by Islam, or had any legitimate spokemenship on behalf of Muslims.
The actions of a few fanatical individuals who happen to have Muslim names or ascribe themselves to the Muslim faith should not be a yardstick by which Islam is judged. For the same reason, that one would not do justice to Christianity if it where perceived as sanctioning the genocide of the Native Americans, the atrocities of world war II or the bombings of the IRA.
To understand Islam’s stance on terrorism, one must refer to its original sources, the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which are explicit in their prohibition of any form of injustice including that of wanton violence which seeks to instill fear, injury or death to civilians.
The Quran turns our attention to the high value of human life, whether it is Muslim or Non-Muslim and makes it absolutely forbidden to take an innocent life unjustly. The gravity of such a crime is equated, in the Quran, with the killing of all humanity.
“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 be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one 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 )
Not only is human life sacred in Islam but the property, wealth, family and dignity of all individuals in society are to be respected and protected. Those who transgress these rights and sow fasad (corruption) as the Quran describes it, incur the wrath of Allah.
“…and seek not corruption in the earth; lo! Allah loveth not corrupters ” (28:77)
Likewise in another verse
“The blame is only against those who oppress men and wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous” (42:42)
Islam goes further than just prohibiting oppression and safeguarding rights, it commands its faithful to deal kindly and compassionately to all those who seek to live in peace and harmony
“Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just” (60:8)
In times of war and conflict, where enmity can obstruct an individual’s judgement to act morally, Islam commands that justice be upheld even towards one’s enemies.
“O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do” (5:8)
Centuries before the Geneva Convention was drawn up, Muslims were bound by a code of conduct which the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, set. He forbade the killing of women, children and elderly in war. In an authentic narration the Prophet (PBUH) warned that he who kills anyone who has a covenant of peace with the Muslims will not smell the scent of Paradise. In fact, he taught that justice is not only to humans but must be shown to animals and all living things.
In a narration the Prophet (pbuh) informed us about how a lady was sent to hell because of a cat she had locked up until it starved and died. If such is the sanctity which Islam places on the soul of an animal, how much more grave is the killing of hundreds of innocent humans?! Abu Bakr the first Calipha of the Muslims reflected these prophetic teachings when he advised his general Yazid, who was confronting Roman armies,
“I advise you ten things, Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.”
The message of the Quran is clear as i have shown, that the sanctity of any human life is to be respected and any violation in that regard is paramount to the worst crime. Mercy is at the heart of the Islamic call, “We sent thee (O Muhammad) not save as a mercy for the peoples” (21:107); a totally different message to what the terrorists are sadly imparting to humanity.
It hurts me as a muslim, to see extremists claiming to be fighting for Islam yet in actual sense, they are just misleading people. It is them to blame for the media and people thinking that by Boko Haram, ISIS and Alshabab in Nigeria, syria and Kenya respectively killing people, are doing so for Islam which is not true. This is sad.
Conclusively, the Garissa attackers, have there own agenda not affiliated to Islam. Them being terrorists of muslim backgrounds, does not make Islam a religion of violence because if we are to go by that, perhaps we might remind ourselves that the LRA rebels launched their rebellion in Northern Uganda claiming that they are using the Ten Commandments of the Bible. So are they also Christian terrorists? I leave that to you.