Friday, September 12, 2008

What our brother MUSLIMS should know...

Islam is a religion of peace and safety and 'Muslim' means a trustworthy, peaceful and reliable person. Thus when the Prophet Muhammad describes the Muslim he says that the people are safe from his hand and tongue.

It should first be emphasized that one of the greatest sins in Islam is killing a person. Allah says in Surah Nisa (4:93) 'If a man kills a believer intentionally, his reward is Hell for ever. Allah's wrath is against him and He has cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.' The eminent companion exegete Abd Allah ibn Abbas interprets this verse to mean that the repentance of those who kill a believer purposefully will be denied, and they will be doomed to eternal Hell. In fact the Qur'an promises not only the punishment of the killer in the hereafter but also the reward and punishment of the smallest (good and bad) action in the hereafter: 'Who do good an atom's weight and who do ill an atom's weight will see it then.' Interestingly, when we look at the main source of Islam, namely the Qur'an, it will be seen that killing innocent people is mentioned together with associating other gods with Allah. If the Qur'an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad are examined deeply it will be seen that both offer a strong condemnation of terrorism, which is the most catastrophic calamity facing human kind today. Also, while killing a person is considered one of the most grievous sins in Islam, Islam also strictly prohibits suicide. According to Islamic law, one has no right to end one's own life or damage one's body; the argument that one owns one's life or body is erroneous. The reason for this lies in the Qur'an: 'Verily We have honored the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment.' The Qur'an thus gives honor and glory to all mankind equally, and considers killing one innocent person equal to killing the whole of human kind. This point is crucially important because it demonstrates that Islam considers killing to be a crime committed against not only Muslims but all humanity. Moreover, the Qur'an places great emphasis on the virtue of peace and this does not permit anyone to respond to an evil deed with one which is worse; instead, it says 'Repel the evil deed with one which is better...'. Sound reason also suggests this teaching. Injustice should not be resisted by sowing the seeds of revulsion and hatred among the people. The Qur'an and the life of the Prophet show us various peaceful methods in the solution of this problem.

Another important Islamic concept is jihad. Considering the life of human kind the most honorable, and issuing many rules for the preservation of human happiness in this world and the hereafter, Islam acts with proper prudence to stop war, terror, injustice and anarchy. Nevertheless, we know that Islam allows Muslims to fight in particular situations, which, however, it regards as arizi (unnatural) and secondary. Peace, however, is essential in Islam. War is justified only to prevent chaos (which leads to wars), anarchy, tyranny, mischief, rebellion and so on. The Qur'an explains this issue in Surah Baqara (2:191) by stating 'tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter'. Thus war is justified in these exceptional circumstances. Islamic law acknowledges that Muslims have the right to protect their religion, life, property, progeny, and their honor and sacred values. But Islam was the first religion in human history to codify regulations of war on the basis of rights and justice. In Surah Mâida, Allah says 'O those who believe! Stand out firmly for God 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 God for God is well acquainted with all that you do'. Attention should be paid to the issue that Islam allows war only to prevent anarchy; it does not sanctify war undertaken in order to compel people of other religions to convert to Islam or to bring the whole world under Islamic sovereignty, Dar al-Islam. In other words, Islam contains no concept of 'holy war' in this issue. If a Muslim country is secure, war is not obligatory. In addition, it is not legitimate to declare war against any people only on the basis of their disbelief (kufr). There is also no claim in Islam to make the entire world Muslim. The Qur'an states clearly 'Not all people will believe'.

It is therefore a great pity that many people simplify the term jihad by associating it with war, offering shallow arguments concerning its meaning. This reductionist approach to the term narrows the comprehensiveness of the notion of jihad, because this key Qur'anic term is one of Islam's most important concepts, which embraces both the material and the spiritual life of mankind. Jihad does not mean simply a holy war. Although the word jihad and its conjugations are repeated some 34 times in the Qur'an, only four of these usages refer directly to war. Jihad, as Fehullah Gülen has stated in general terms, is every kind of effort made by believers to obtain God's approval and to satisfy Him. There are various dimension of jihad (strife, endeavor and fighting). It is possible to categorize them as physical, psychological, sociological, and intellectual jihads. For instance, the Messenger of God equate those who work for widows and the poor with those who make jihad for God. In an other place the Prophet informs us that the greatest jihad is a jihad made against one's self. As Fethullah Gülen explains: Jihad is purification and seeking perfection to please God; cleansing the mind, by means of Qur'anic verses, from false preconceptions, thoughts, and superstitions; expelling impurities from the heart through prayer; asking for forgiveness; austerity (riyada); and studying the Book, wisdom, and other knowledge with a purified heart and mind. Interestingly, the Prophet's description of war as a minor jihad shows clearly the object of the major jihad: in Islamic understanding jihad means an individual's struggle against Satan. Briefly, jihad is a form of worship which embraces the material and spiritual dimensions of mankind. War is limited to the external/physical aspect of this struggle and constitutes only a small part of jihad. Islam fixes the boundaries of both major and minor jihads and it should be remembered that these boundaries and dimensions are not only legal but also humane and ethical.

We should now examine the Islamic principles concerning the rules of war. First of all Islam states clearly that individuals may not start a war on behalf of Muslims. One cannot issue a fatwa (legal pronouncement) to fight against another country, nation, group or individuals. The reason for this is quite simple: according to Islamic law, the declaration or initiation of a war is the duty of a State in accordance with certain principles. No companion during the lifetime of the Prophet) declared a war individually. When the state initiates a war it must obey certain principles. According to Gülen, in war Islam defines the limits that constrain the treatment of the enemy. We see the best example of this at a time near the death of the Prophet. When he was ill, news came that the Northern Arabs, along with the Byzantine, were preparing an attack on Medina. The Prophet ordered the preparation of an army under the command of Uthama b. Zayd, and gave the following instructions to Uthama: Fight in God's way. Do not be cruel to people. Do not go against your covenant. Do not cut down trees bearing fruits. Do not slaughter livestock. Do not kill the pious who are secluded in monasteries, engaged in worship, or children and women. The instructions of the Prophet were enshrined in Islamic legal literature, to the effect that the killing of non-combatants such as women, children, the elderly, the disabled is expressly forbidden. There is no Islamic text which allows the killing of innocent civilians in war, because they are held to be not combatant (muharib). The Qur'an states clearly 'Fight in the cause of God those who fight you (who are liable and able to fight, and who participate actively in the fight) but do not transgress the limits; for God loves not transgressors' (Baqara, 2:190). The Arabic verb yuqâtilûna in the verse is of extreme importance. To explain this in grammatical terms, the mood (reciprocal form) in Arabic denotes 'participation' which, in this sense, means 'those who fall under the status of combatant'. Thus non-combatants are not to be fought against. This must be obeyed rule in war and applies equally stringently when war has not been declared. In addition to this, according to Islamic law, Muslims may not start a war without informing their enemy, and if the enemy calls on them to negotiate a settlement the Muslim forces must cease fighting.

Thus when the war starts Muslim fighters should not kill civilians; In deed, the Qur'an (Baqara, 2:190) warns Muslims not to transgress the limits of war even against the warriors of the enemy. The meaning of 'transgression' here is not to kill civilians, not to torture enemy's warriors, to respect the dead bodies of the enemy, to meet the basic needs of the enemy and to obey the rules of war. It is important to note that Islam prohibits transgression in the form of reprisal. For example, if the enemy's soldiers rape Muslim women, Muslim soldiers should not rape the enemy's women; this prohibition also applies to the torture of captured warriors, to attacks on civilians, and so on. It is well known that when the Muslims in Andalus (Spain) were expelled from the peninsula, some Muslims asked the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II to expel his Christian subjects from Istanbul as a retaliation for the Christians' attacks on the Andalusian Muslims. However, the Ottoman Shayk al-Islam Zambilli Jamali Efendi objected, arguing that this practice was against Islamic law concerning the rights of non-Muslim subjects. In brief, Islam forbids reprisal and the frame of every action in war is defined by Islamic law, which nobody may transgress.

As shown above, Islam insists on the legal rights of the enemy soldier in war, even though it is difficult to maintain a balance in a combat this situation. If the enemy is protected by Islam, the civilian is protected even more stringently. No one may touch an innocent person; no one may be a 'suicide bomber' who rushes into crowds with bombs tied to his or her body; no one may kidnap innocent civilians and behead them, no matter what their religion. Moreover, as it bans attacking civilians in war, Islam considers attacking civilians in peace as the most grievous sin. The Qur'an, as has been mentioned above, equates killing innocent people with unbelief (Furqan, 25:68; An'âm, 6:151). Thus those who attack the lives of innocent people in the name of religion will lose their happiness in this world and salvation in the hereafter. Islam is a true faith and it should be lived truly.
As Gülen has pointed out, faith cannot be attained by the use of untrue methods. In Islam, just as a goal must be legitimate, so must all the means employed to reach that goal. From this perspective it is clear that one cannot achieve Heaven by murdering another person. Considering that human life is the most precious thing in Islam, the gravity of the present situation is obvious. Gülen, who openly cursed the terrorists behind the attack of 11 September, calls upon everybody to curse the terrorists who are darkening the bright face of Islam, and to take collective action against them. As an Islamic scholar and an expert in this field, Gülen finds it unacceptable to associate Islam with terrorism. He declares that a Muslim must not be terrorist and a terrorist cannot be a true Muslim. The individuality of a crime is basic principle in Islam; whoever commits a crime is the only person to be called to account. As repeatedly stated in the Qur'an 'no bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another' (An'âm, 6:164; Nahl, 16:15; Fâtir, 35:18). Therefore it is not permissible in Islam to issue a fatwa allowing a crime against civilians to be carried out. It is obvious that such attacks are indiscriminate except in the sense that civilians rather than military personnel are deliberately targeted. Such indiscriminate attacks are totally incompatible with one of the general principles of Islamic law. The proposition that any action is legitimate in order to achieve an undefined goal is contrary to Islam. The example used by Gülen is as follows: if there are nine guilty persons and one innocent on a ship, this ship should not be sunk; the innocent should not be sacrificed to punish the guilty majority.
In the Philippines, members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are now engaged in a war targetting even young children, elder women and fellow Muslims. Even the Holy Month of Ramahdan was not spared with their bloody and violent attacks among innocent people. Let us all unite and pray that peace would eventually reign in our beloved LAND.
" Hindi KO nilikha ang Jinn at Tao maliban sa pagsamba sa Akin"
(Qur'an 51:56)

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