"And strive in the cause of Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He has exalted you and has laid no hardship on you in religion; the faith of your father Abraham." (Qur’an;22:78).“Behold, God has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them paradise in return,[and so] they fight in God's cause, and slay, and are slain: a promise which in truth He has willed upon Himself in [the words of] the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur'an. And who could be more faithful to his covenant than God? Rejoice, then, in the bargain which you have made with Him: for this, this is the triumph supreme!”(Qur’an;9:111)
In the present environment of universal turmoil especially in the post 911 scenario, the Muslims have become a target of universal hate propaganda. Some verses from Qur’an are mostly misquoted to defend killing of non believers and to project a permanent state of armed conflict (Jihad) between Muslims and non believers. The ignorant terrorists thus facilitate the anti Muslim lobbies to propagate and project all Muslims as intolerant, war mongers and terrorists. Even some ignorant Muslims also fall pray to this fallacy. It is important that the misconceptions are removed by understanding the concept of Jihad in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. ‘Tolerance’ has always been hallmark of Islamic heritage; as evident from abridged version of the 1927 Lecture of Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, included in the 2nd part below.
Jihad - Important Doctrine:
Jihad is a very important doctrine of Islam, which lays down guidelines and principles, to be adhered by a Muslim while striving against various forms of resistance, internal (against selfish desires and evil temptations) or external for the cause of Allah. Muslims are required to make persistent effort to serve the cause of Islam. That effort, whatever its future, falls within the meaning of the term “jihad-fi-Sabi-Lillah” (Jihad for the cause of Allah). Jihad is derived from the Arabic word ‘Juhd’, which means “effort”. The verb Jahida means ‘to be tried as a result of exerting an effort or energy; striving, making endeavor’. So Jihad is to contend with difficulties and to work continually, especially with strenuous effort. The term presupposes that such an effort will be made against resistance. Narrated Abu Sa'id al-Khudri: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best fighting (Jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler. (Sunan of Abu Dawood:2040). While term ‘Jihad’ has wider application, the term Qital is used in the meaning of ‘warfare’ or armed struggle. Qital may be part of Jihad but every Jihad is not necessarily warfare.
After thirteen years of worst oppression and persecution by the pagans of Makkah, the early Muslims had to migrate to
as they were not permitted by God to fight even in self defence.
Ultimately the armed struggle was initially permitted to defend the frail
expanding Muslim community at Medina ; strategically it was defensive in nature: “To those against whom war is
made permission is given (to fight) because they are wronged and verily Allah
is Most powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from
their homes in defiance of right (for no cause) except that they say "Our
Lord is Allah." Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another
there would surely have been pulled down monasteries churches synagogues and
mosques in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah
will certainly aid those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is Full of
Strength Exalted in Might.(Qur’an;-40).” “Those who believe
and adopt exile and fight for the faith in the cause of Allah as well as those
who give (them) asylum and aid these are (all) in very truth the believers: for
them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous.”(Qur’an;8:75). Medina
Later in order to enable the Muslims to extend the influence of Islam outside Arabia, they were enjoined to confront the non-Muslim powers to extend the sovereignty of the Islamic State to grant the freedom to the nonbelievers to accept Islam with free will or choose to follow their old faith, provided they paid Jizyah (poll tax) for their protection and exemption form military service:
“O believers! Fight the unbelievers who hem you in, to let them know how tough you are; you should know that Allah is on the side of the God fearing.””(Qur’an;9:123).
Meanings of Jihad: The term “Jihad” has much wider significance than a military campaign and open warfare as commonly perceived. Jihad could be with “the heart” (intentions or feelings), with “the hand” (weapons etc) a simple action, such as standing firm in defense of the cause of Islam or “with tongue” (expression through speech or writing etc). This may require speaking out in public, for extending invitation of Islam to non believers (Dawah, preaching), against ignoring Islamic principles, and writing articles or publishing books to promote Islam. Since Islam is the faith of “Peace”, the early Muslim community was urged to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an, i.e. preaching of Allah’s message. Allah says in Qur’an: “therefore, do not yield to the unbelievers, and make Jihad (strive) against them with this Qur'an, a mighty Jihad (strenuous striving).”(Qur’an;25:52). The aim of making Strenuous Efforts (Jihad) is three fold:
(1) The first and foremost is to; ‘Strive Against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Eman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God and His Apostle. Allah says: “The Bedouin Arabs say: "We have believed." Tell them: "You have not believed; rather say 'We have become Muslims;' for faith has not yet found its way into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Apostle, He will not deny you the reward of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;49:14), “(We take our) color from Allah, and who is better than Allah at coloring. We are His worshippers.”(Qur’an;2:138). Abu Bakr is reported to have said; To fight against the infidels is Jihad, but to fight against your evil self (Nafs ammarah) is greater Jihad. It may also take the form of reminding people of their Islamic duties and motivating them to conduct their lives according to Islam. God says: “The true believers, both men and women, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil; they establish prayer (Salah), practice regular charity (Zakah), and obey God Allah and His Apostle. It is they on whom God will have His mercy; surely God is Mighty, Wise.”(Qur’an;9:71).
(2) Secondly, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity(Dawah) because Allah says: “Thus We have appointed you (Muslims) a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you.”( Qur’an;2:143), : “You (Muslims) are the best of peoples evolved for mankind enjoining what is right forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah.”(Qur’an;3:110), “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen”.(Qur’an;35:32). The Prophet (peace be upon him) in his last sermon said: “O’ People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness oh Allah that I have conveyed your message to your people.” As true followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the obligation of Muslims to pass on the Guidance and the Religion of Truth (Islam) to the humanity. This is a great responsibility so Muslims have to gain knowledge of Islam, practice it and then convey to the humanity.
(3) Thirdly Jihad is to be conducted to provide protection to Muslims and non Muslims against oppression. Allah says: “He is the Lord of the east and the west: there is no God but Him, therefore, take Him as your Protector”(Qur’an;73:9), “And what reason do you (Muslims) have not to fight in the cause of God, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: "Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your grace and send us a helper from Your presence?”(Qur’an;4:75). All out efforts are to be made to preserve Islam, and to create conducive environments for freely conveying the message of Islam to all the people, without any coercion. So that they may ponder and accept or reject it by their free choice using their reason and intellect in line with the teachings of Qur’an: “as for those who are bent on denying the truth and on barring (others) from the path of God - all their (good) deeds will He let go to waste;'”- - - “Now when you meet (in war) those who are bent on denying the truth, smite their necks until you overcome them fully, and then tighten their bonds; but thereafter [set them free,] either by an act of grace or against ransom, so that the burden of war may be lifted: thus [shall it be]. And [know that] had God so willed, He could indeed punish them [Himself]; but [He wills you to struggle] so as to test you [all] by means of one another. And as for those who are slain in God's cause, never will He let their deeds go to waste: (Qur’an;47:1 & 4). Hence like any other struggle, Jihad also has defensive as well as offensive implications depending upon social, geopolitical, socioeconomic, military, religious and other considerations. According to the traditional procedure of Allah, the rejection of Message by the direct recipient form the Apostle (Rasool) are entitled to Divine punishment through the messenger and his followers. This Divine punishment was accomplished in case of Arabs in the life time of Apostle and for the neighboring powers through his companions. It is no more applicable now. Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslim as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational and political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, scientific progress, dignified character and honest actions. Its top and most noble form is to fight the enemies of Islam in battle in order to foil their attempts to suppress the Muslims and the invitation to Islam.
Forced Conversion to Islam not Permissible:
Conversion by force is prohibited in Islam. Allah says: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of ) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “So if they argue with you, tell them: "I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and so have those who follow me." Then ask those who are given the Book and those who are illiterates (not having revealed scriptures): "Will you also submit yourselves to Allah?" If they become Muslims they shall be rightly guided but if they turn back, you need not worry, because your sole responsibility is to convey the Message. God is watching all His servants very closely.”(Qur’an;). “Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and best advice, and reason with them, if you have to, in the most courteous manner: for your Lord knows best who strays from His Way and He knows best who is rightly guided.”(Qur’an;16:125). “O Muhammad, declare: "O mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord! He that follows guidance (
follows it for his own good, and he that goes astray does so at his own risk;
for I am not a custodian over you."(Qur’an;10:108). “Say "The Truth
is from your Lord": let him who will believe and let him who will reject
(it): for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire…. (Qur’an;).
“Will they not then ponder on the Qur'an?..”(Qur’an;4:82). “Say, O Muhammad:
"Would you dispute with us concerning God, who is our Lord and your Lord
as well? We shall be accountable to Him for our deeds and you for yours; to Him
alone we are devoted.”(Qur’an;2:139). “And argue not with the followers of
earlier revelations unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of
them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us
and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we
surrender.(Qur’an;29:46). “Have you ever seen the one who has taken his own
desires as his god? Would you take the responsibility of guiding
him?”(Qur’an;25:43). “If there are some among you who believe in the message
with which I have been sent and others who disbelieve it, then be patient until
Allah judges between us, for He is the best of all judges.”(Qur’an;7:87). “He
creates man out of (mere) drop of sperm: and lo! This same being shows himself
endowed with the power to think and argue”(Qur’an;16:4).
It is well known historic fact that after eight centuries of the Muslims in
they were totally eliminated from that country after Christian reconquest. If
the Muslims had used force, military or economic there would not have been any
Christian left in Spain to have kicked the Muslims
out. One cannot charge Muslims with using the sword to convert Spaniards to the
Islamic religion. Today, Islam is still spreading all over the world and
Muslims have NO sword!! The Muslims were also the masters of Spain for
almost thousand years, but they did not force Islam down the Hindus. In India and
in Spain , the Muslims were no paragons of virtue, yet they obeyed the
Qur'anic injunctions. Indonesia and Malaysia in the Far East and The majority
of the people on the East coast of Africa as far down as Mozambique, as well as
the bulk of the inhabitants on the West coast of the continent are Muslims, but
history does not record any invading hoards of Muslims from anywhere. The
Muslim traders and preachers through their good conduct and moral righteousness
achieved the miracle of conversion. This
forced De Lacy O'Leary in to write : ‘History makes it clear however, that the
legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the
point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians
have ever repeated.’ ("Islam at the Crossroads'' India , 1923, p.8). London
Myth to Kill The Non Muslims Wherever You Find Them : Killing of innocent people whether Muslim or non Muslim is strictly forbidden in Islam. Allah says: “..whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land, it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed all the human beings and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the human beings..”(Qur’an;), “You shall not kill anyone whom God has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;). The verse number 5 & 6 of Surah Tuba (Chapter Number 9 - The Repentance) from Qur’an are most frequently misquoted, out of context by critics of Islam, to create misunderstanding, as a part of deliberate campaign to malign and project Islam as barbaric religion. Killing is only permitted in the state of war. Allah says: “But when the forbidden months are past then fight and slay the idolaters wherever you find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5), “If anyone from the idolaters ask you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to the place of safety: this should be done because these people do not know the truth.”(Qur’an;9:6).
It is made to appear that the Muslims have been given free hand to kill the pagans or non believers. It may be kept in view that some verses of Qur’an were revealed for specific occasions and carry instructions for similar circumstances if they ever exist again, out of context quotation of such verses in parts, by any one is misleading. Such efforts to twist the meanings with ulterior motives result in tarnishing the image of Islam. A look at verses (Qur’an;9:1-6) in Qur’an revealed before conquest of Makkah, provide the context, thereby leaving no room for misunderstanding. Allah says in Qur’an: “A declaration of immunity from Allah and His Messenger is hereby made to those of the pagans with whom you have made a treaty: "You have four months to go around in the land unmolested; but you should know that you cannot frustrate the will of Allah, and that Allah will humiliate the unbelievers." This is a public proclamation from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the Great Hajj (Pilgrimage) that Allah and His Messenger do hereby dissolve treaty obligations with the pagans. Therefore, if you repent, it will be better for you but if you turn away, then you should know that you cannot frustrate the Will of Allah. O’ Prophet, proclaim a painful punishment to those who are unbelievers. Except (this proclamation does not apply to) those pagans who honored their treaties with you in every detail and aided none against you. So fulfill your treaties with them to the end of their term; for Allah loves the righteous.”(Qur’an;9:1-4), “But when the forbidden months are past then fight and slay the idolaters wherever you find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5), “If anyone from the idolaters ask you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to the place of safety: this should be done because these people do not know the truth.”(Qur’an;9:6). “How can you trust them? If they prevail against you, they respect neither treaty nor ties of relationship. They just flatter you with their tongues, but their hearts reject you, and most of them are transgressors.”(Qur’an;9:8). “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and humiliate them. He will grant you victory over them and soothe the hearts of a believing people.”(Qur’an;)
The part of verse (Qur’an;9:5); “fight and slay the idolaters wherever ye find them,” if quoted separately would give different meanings to what is actually intended. Therefore if complete verses (Qur’an;9:1-6) are read together the context and meanings are self evident: The emphasis is on the first clause; it is only when the four months of grace are past, and the other party show no signs of desisting from their treacherous designs by right conduct, that the state of war supervenes-between Faith and Unfaith. When war becomes inevitable, it must be prosecuted with vigour. The fighting may take the form of killing, capture, or siege, or ambush and other stratagems of war. But even then there is room for repentance and amendment on the part of the guilty party, and if that takes place, then the duty is forgiveness and the establishment of peace. The repentance must be sincere, and that is shown by conduct-a religious spirit of true prayer and charity. In that case the gate against the repentant should not be barred. On the contrary Muslims must do all they can to make their way easy, remembering that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. Even among the enemies of Islam, actively fighting against Islam, there may be individuals who may be in a position to require protection. Full asylum is to be given to them, and opportunities provided for hearing the Word of Allah. If they accept the Word, they become Muslims and brethren, and no further question arises. If they do not see their way to accept Islam, they will require double protection: (1) from the Islamic forces openly fighting against their people, and (2) from their own people, as they detached themselves from them. Both kinds of protection should be ensured for them, and they should be safely escorted to a place where they can be safe. Such persons only err through ignorance, and there may be much good in them. These verses contain excellent rules for conduct of war, which are so humane that never in the history of mankind one can find grant of privileges and rights to the fallen enemies.
Renowned scholar Muhammad Asad in his commentary on Qur’an has strongly refuted misconception of deducing any justification for forced conversion or killing of unbelievers: It may be kept in view that every verse of Qur’an must be interpreted against the background of Qur’an as a whole. The verse (Qur’an;9:5) which speaks of a possible conversion of pagan to Islam with whom the believers are at war, must therefore, be considered in conjunction with several fundamental Qur’anic ordinances. One of them: “there will be no coercion in matters of faith”(Qur’an;2:256), lays down categorically that any attempt at a forcible conversion of unbelievers is prohibited.-which precludes the possibility of the Muslims ‘ demanding or expectation that a defeated enemy should embrace Islam as the price of immunity. Secondly, the Qur’an ordains, “Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.”(Qur’an;2:190) ); and, if they do not let you be , and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them wherever you come upon them: and it is against these that We have clearly empowered you (to make war)”(Qur’an;4:91). “if they desist –behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace”(Qur’an;2:192), and, “If they desist, all hostility should cease except against the oppressors.”(Qur’an;2:193). As far as the enemy’s conversion to Islam –expressed in the words; “if they repent, and establish prayer and pay Zakat”, is no more that one, and by no means the only, way of their “desisting for hostility”; and the reference to it in verses 9:5 & 9:11 certainly does not imply an alternative of “conversion or death” as some critics of Islam (as well as some ill informed scholars) choose to assume. The verse 9:4 and 9:6 give a further elucidation of the attitude which the believers are enjoined to adopt towards such of the unbelievers as are not hostile to them: “Except (this proclamation of war does not apply to) those pagans who honored their treaties with you in every detail and aided none against you. So fulfill your treaties with them to the end of their term; for Allah loves the righteous.”(Qur’an;9:4). It is further clarified in Qur’an: “Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who had neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact Allah loves the equitable. Allah only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion. Those who will take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;60:8-9).
On the expiry of warning period, the pagans who had violated the treaty, could either accept Islam by choice, leave the holy places, or face war, yet those pagans who had not previously taken the Message seriously and seek asylum were to be taken to the place of safety and provided protection to ponder and make their decision to accept Islam by free choice. The war orders (Qur’an;9:5) to kill the pagans were issued for the State of War, it is erroneous to assume that pagans be killed where ever found even in the normal state of peace, as evident in verses (Qur’an;9:4, 9:6 & 60:8-9) above. History is witness to the fact that the non believers have been living peacefully under Muslim rule for centuries and still continue to live in the countries with majority Muslim population.
Divine Punishment for Rejecting the Messenger of God:
: It must be understood that the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) is two folds; firstly on short term basis, specifically the people
around him i.e. the people of Mission Arabia were to be guided to the Truth of Islam and trained to become
torchbearers of Islam. Secondly on the long term basis these devout Muslims had
to pass on this “Torch of Guidance” to the fellow brother to guide whole
mankind till the end of the world. His universal mission could not have been
achieved if Arabia was not purged of disbelief and pantheism during the lifetime of
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Hence believer were commanded:
“Believers, fight those of the non-believers who are near you and let them find
you tough; and know that Allah is with those who are Allah-fearing.”(Qur’an;9:123).
Therefore “war was declared against them, as per the war instructions, enough
warning time was given to the pagans of Makkah.
Pagans of Makkah: According to the traditional procedure of Allah, if a Messenger (Rasool) himself delivers the message of guidance to the community or nations, and if not obeyed, then those nations and communities were punished by Allah, through the hands of followers of the messenger if they are strong enough, but if they are weak in numbers and strength then the Divine punishment befalls upon them through natural calamites resulting in their destruction. The example of Divine punishment to the nations of Nuh, Aad, Samood and Loot (peace be upon them) in the form of destruction through natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, tornados etc are well known. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land based on the gravity of their offense. This will be their humiliation in this world and in the Hereafter they will have grievous punishment, except those who repent before you apprehend them, in such a case, you should know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;-34),“Messenger have been mocked before you (O Muhammad), but I always gave respite to the unbelievers and finally I seized them, so see how terrible was My requital!”(Qur’an;). In the case of pagan Arabs, the Divine punishment for disobeying him and Allah was in the form of their destruction through killing by the believers (mostly their relatives) after expiry of warning period continuing in the same Chapter (Number 9; ‘The Repentance’). Allah says: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and humiliate them. He will grant you victory over them and soothe the hearts of a believing people.”(Qur’an;). Similar punishment was ordered for the Jews, who worshiped the calf (Qur’an;) also mentioned in Bible: “then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me. "And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, `Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.”(Exodos;32:26-28).
In 630 C.E the bloodless fall of Makkah followed by defeat of pagans at Hunain and fall of Taif paved the way for making the whole of
Arabia the 'Abode of Islam' (Dar-ul-Islam). The result was that
hardly a year had passed after the of Hunain, when the major portion of Battle Arabia came within the fold of
Islam. The first part of his mission was almost accomplished during the
lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) except few pockets of
resistance in the Arabian peninsula. Arabia was cleansed of pagans and their evil. In 631 C.E Prophet Muhammad
(peace be upon him) personally lead expedition to Tabuk, on information of
concentration of Romans, but on hearing that the Prophet is himself leading the
forces of Islam, they avoided the conflict. This was the year of Deputations
(631 C.E), people form all over Arabia came to accept Islam, thus increasing the numbers many folds.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died in 632 C.E.
Roman and Persian Empires: Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), prior to his death had invited the rulers of neighboring powers to Islam (Byzantine, Persians, and in
Arabia) through epistles and emissaries. Due to their negative response,
they were entitled for Divine punishment as per the rule of God. Due to death
of Prophet (peace be upon him), this pending task was accomplished by his
successors through Jihad. It is no more applicable now. Apart from Divine
punishment the object of Jihad was
not to coerce them to accept Islam, but to ensure that freedom of choice is
provided to the people of neighboring areas to choose between truth (Haqq) and falsehood (Batil). Hence they were enjoined to
subdue the non-Muslim powers to establish the sovereignty of the Islamic State.
The world was much different from the present, wherein as per international law
every human being is free to adopt and practice any faith, (at least in theory)
but this was not the case at that time. The great Roman (Christian) and Persian
(Zoroastrian) Empires were the biggest hindrances in conveying the message of
Islam to their population. They were to be prevented from thrusting forcibly
their disbelief upon their subjects and the future generations hence the
conflict with them was inevitable. By the period of Caliph Omar bin Khattab
(634-644 C.E), not only Arabia was purged of non believers but other areas as far as and Afghanistan were also brought under the folds of Muslim rule. Egypt
Warfare in Bible:
Warfare [armed struggle, Qital] was also permissible in the previous scriptures. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “Indeed God has purchased from the believers their persons and their wealth and in return has promised them paradise; they fight in the cause of Allah and slay and are slain. This is a true promise which is binding on Him mentioned in Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an; and who is more true in fulfilling his promise than Allah? Rejoice, therefore, in the bargain which you have made, and that is a mighty achievement.”(Qur’an;9:111). As regards actual ‘fighting with the sword’ there has been some difference in theological theories at different times, but very little in the practice of those who framed those theories. The Jewish wars were ruthless wars of extermination; the Old Testament does not mince words: “And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus;26:7-8). “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm;149:6-9). Moses ordered the killing of Jews, guilty of idol worship; "And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.”(Qur’an;, also mentioned in Bible in the book of Exodos;32:26-28.). “O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you. Turn not in flight, for surely ye turn back as losers: They said: O Moses! Lo! a giant people (dwell) therein, and lo! we go not in till they go forth from thence. When they go forth, then we will enter (not till then).(Qur’an;-22). (Their Lord) said: For this the land will surely be forbidden them for forty years that they will wander in the earth, bewildered. So grieve not over the wrongdoing folk.(Qur’an;). “Bethink thee of the leaders of the Children of Israel after Moses, how they said unto a Prophet whom they had: Set up for us a King and we will fight in Allah's way. He said: Would ye then refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you? They said: Why should we not fight in Allah's way when we have been driven from our dwellings with our children? Yet, when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, all save a few of them. Allah is Aware of evil-doers.”(Qur’an;2:246). “So they routed them by Allah's leave and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of that which He willeth. And if Allah had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures.”(Qur’an;2:251).
In the New Testament the Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) says: “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”(Luke; ). Saint. Paul, in commending the worthy fruits of Faith, mentions the warriors of the Old Testament as his ideals: “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews; 11: 32-34). "Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and Kill every woman (female) that hath known man by lying (having sex) with him. "But keep Alive for yourselves all the Girls and all the women who are Virgins."(Numbers;31:17-18). The Jews salvaged for themselves; “and thirty-two thousand persons in all, women who had not known man by lying with him.”(Numbers; 31:35). “But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, (O’ Jews) you shall save alive nothing that breathes,(Deuteronomy;). 'And they (the Jews) Utterly Destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep, and Ass, with the edge of the sword"(Joshua;),"He (Joshua) let None remain alive." (Joshua;). The monkish morality of the Gospels in their present form has never been followed by any self-respecting Christian or other nation in history. Pope Urban II (1088-99 C.E) coined the phrase ‘Holy War’, launched the Crusades movement which was subsequently vigorously supported by his followers for two centuries(1095-1291 C.E), causing death and destruction to millions besides sowing seeds of hatred and enmity among the followers of two great civilizations which still haunts the humanity. The association of Missionaries with Crusades posed a moral theological problem that troubled medieval Christian thinkers. Thirteenth-century Christian theologians held that conversion could not be forced, but most agreed that force could legitimately be used to preserve a situation in which peaceful propaganda was possible, and they continued to support the Crusade. Furthermore,
Europe's fear was such that the
Crusade idea persisted well into the 17th century, and the conviction that, in
certain circumstances, war might be just became more deeply enrooted in the
conscience of the West. Along with the now generally accepted use of the word
‘Crusade’ to denote any ‘Common Endeavour in a Worthy Cause’ (Christian Jihad),
this is one of the most enduring results of the movement. After the
bloodstained conversions in South America, the colonization of most of the free world by diplomacy,
intimidation aggression and coercion took place. Pope
Pius XII was obliged, under the pressures of World War II, to clarify
and redefine the church's teachings on war and peace as well as to work out a
strategy of survival. Pope Pius XII
, tacitly condoned the Nazi holocaust.
The deadly wars and large scale killings of people among weaker nations
mostly Muslim which goes unabated on the pretext of war against terror lead by
the American Evangelist and Neocons, the claim of love and peace by the Western
(Christian) world appears to be hollow. They have forgotten the saying of Jesus
(peace be upon him):“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and
then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”(Mathew;
Islam Laid Down Ethics and Rules for Conduct of Warfare:
It is irrational to ignore the lust of blood in stubborn man as a form of evil which has to be combated “within the limits”, set by Allah. At the time of creation of Adam: “The angels said: Will You place there one who will make mischief and shed blood? ..”(Qur’an;). It may undoubtedly be realized that human beings often resort to war without solid justification, at times over petty matters. One has to look at history, the past and present. The motives of war could be many, broadly they are; (1) Pursuit of trade and to gain economic advantage, (2) Spread of influence or religion, (3) Desire for security and political power, and (4) Combination of one or more of these three. At different times and in different places, different motives are dominant. War is a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between political units, such as states or nations or between rival political factions of the same state or nation. War is characterized by intentional violence on the part of large bodies of individuals who are expressly organized and trained to participate in such violence. Wars between nation-states may be fought to gain reparation for a particular injury; to acquire a particular territory or advantage; to gain recognition of a particular claim; or to achieve the extermination or unconditional surrender of the enemy. War may take defensive or offensive forms or combination of both according to the objectives and resources. Hence, the great religion as Islam, that provides a complete code of life, must address the possibility of war. The Qur’an certainly does so, and the code it provides is more civilized than any in the whole history of humanity.
Jihad for Allah's Cause Only: Jihad [including the form of warfare] is not for self glory or spoils of war but for the cause of Allah only. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) highlighted the importance of Jihad and participants. It is narrated by Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; "The person who participates in (Jihad by sword) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then I would not remain behind any sariya (small force of 5 to 400) going for Jihad and I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:1.35). Narrated by Ibn Masud: A man asked the Prophet; "What deeds are the best?" The Prophet said: (1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) To be good and dutiful to one's own parents. (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.625).
Non Aggression, Self Defence: Initially the Muslims were not allowed to fight even for self defence, however when oppression exceeded the limits, Allah granted permission to the Muslims to fight for self defense: “Permission to fight back is hereby granted to the believers against whom war is waged and because they are oppressed; certainly Allah has power to grant them victory.”(Qur’an;). Allah says: “Fight for the cause of Allah those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression. Allah does not love aggressors. Kill them wherever you may find them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away; for oppression is even worse than killing. However, do not fight them near the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you first there. Should they fight you, then kill them. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded. But, if they desist, know that Allah is Much Forgiving, Merciful. Fight them until there is no more oppression and submission is made to Allah. If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;2:190-193). The weakness invites aggression, hence the Muslims are urged to develop their military power. God says: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of God and your enemies and others besides whom you may not know but whom God does know. Whatever you shall spend in the cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you and you shall not be treated unjustly.”(Qur’an;8:60).
Just War against Oppression: Jihad is meant to serve Allah's cause ALONE to eliminate oppression and to ensure that people are given an opportunity to freely submit to the will of God. Qur’an says; "Fight against them until there is no more oppression, and all submission is to Allah alone."(Qur’an;). The whole earth is populated by human beings that are being subjected to tyranny and oppression by fellow human beings, holding reign of power. Why does Islam, then, move forward to fight, and why has Allah bought the believers' souls and property, so that "they fight for Allah's cause, kill and get killed"? The answer is that jihad has a reason which is totally different from compelling other people to accept Islam.
Kindness and Equity to Non Aggressors: Allah says: “As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably. Allah only forbids you to turn in friendship toward such as fight against you because of your faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid others in driving you forth. Those who turn toward them in friendship are truly wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;60:8-9).
Killing a believer, major sin: “Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell to live therein forever. He shall incur the wrath of Allah, Who will lay His curse on him and prepare for him a woeful punishment.”(Qur’an;4:93). How far it is justifiable to kill some Muslim who believes in all the fundamentals of Islam but lack in practice. Does Qur’an or any authentic Hadith directly mention to kill such a Muslim? Is there any example where the Prophet (peace be upon him) executed such a Muslim? If the answer is not in affirmative, then how stateless groups like Taliban can justify killing such Muslims on the basis of their skeptical analogy, rejected by majority scholars including Imam Abu Hanifah.
Killing of innocent human not permitted: Allah says: “..whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land, it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed all the human beings and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the human beings..”(Qur’an;); Allah says: “You shall not kill anyone whom God has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;)
Mischief on Land Rejected: Allah says: “.. and do not seek mischief in the land, for Allah does not love the mischief makers.”(Al-Qasas;28:77) Allah says: “When it is said to them: “Do not make mischief on earth,” they say: “We make peace. Be aware! They are the ones who make mischief but they do not realize it.”(Al-Baqara;-12 similarly also at 2:60, 206, 3:63, ). “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, 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: that is their disgrace In This world, and a heavy punishment is theirs In the Hereafter. Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;5:33-34). The double crime of treason against the State combined with treason against Allah, and His Messenger as shown by overt crimes, four alternative punishments are mentioned, any one of which is to be applied according to the crime committed. In any case sincere repentance before it was too late was recognized as a ground for mercy.
Kindness to Non Combatants: Allah says: “As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity.”(Qur’an; 60:8).
Suicide is not permissible in Islam: Allah says: “.. do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands…” (Al-Baqarah,2:195); Allah says: “..do not kill yourselves by adopting unlawful means….”(An-Nisa,).Narrated Thabit bin Ad Dahhak: The Prophet said; “whoever commits suicide with something, will be punished with the same thing in the (Hell) fire”.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126). Narrated Jabir ibn Samurah: (The dead body) of a person who had killed himself with a broad-headed arrow was brought before the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), but he did not offer prayers for him.(Sahih Muslim Hadith. Number.486).
Resist Persecution: The believers are told; "Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah. That is best for you if you understand" (Qur’an;). "And strive in the cause of Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He has exalted you and has laid no hardship on you in religion (Deen); the faith of your father Abraham." (Qur’an;22:78). "So those who have migrated and were driven forth from their homes and have been persecuted in My Cause, and have fought and have been slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens."(Qur’an;3:195). "And whosoever strives, strives only for himself, for verily Allah is altogether independent of His creatures of the world" (Qur’an;29:6).
Freedom of Faith: Indeed jihad seeks to guarantee the freedom of belief. Islam lays down rule stating in Qur’an that: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of ) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). The choice is granted to humanity in the limited Free-will which involves a corresponding personal responsibility.
Killing by Burning not Allowed: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said: It is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, kill them.(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.259). Narrated Ikrima : Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260).
Mutilation of the Dead Bodies is Prohibited : Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited to mutilate the dead bodies. (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804).
Treachery: “If you fear treachery from any of your allies, you may fairly retaliate by breaking off the treaty with them (through properly notifying them to that effect), for Allah does not love the treacherous.”(Qur’an;).
Peace offer be Accepted: Allah says:” If the enemy is inclined towards peace, do make peace with them, and put your trust in Allah. He is the One Who hears all , knows all.”(8:61)
Care of Sick & Hungry Captives: Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said, "Free the captives, feed the hungry and pay a visit to the sick.(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.282).
Fulfilling Safe Conduct: Muslims have to fulfill commitment and not to kill by false promise. Yahya related to me from Malik from a man of Kufa that Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to a lieutenant of an army which he had sent out, "I have heard that it is the habit of some of your men to chase an unbeliever till he takes refuge in a high place. Then one man tells him in Persian not to be afraid, and when he comes up to him, he kills him. By He in whose hand my self is, if I knew someone who had done that, I would strike off his head. (Al Muwata Hadith, Number.21.12).
Grant of Asylum : Allah says: “If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum grant it to him so that he may hear the word of Allah and then escort him to where he can be secure: that is because they are men without knowledge.”(Qur’an;9:6).
Taking Prisoners of War : Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield smite their necks and, when you have thoroughly subdued them, then take prisoners of war and bind them firmly. After the war lay down her burdens, then you have the choice whether you show them favor or accept ransom. Thus are you commanded. If Allah wanted, He Himself could have punished them; but He adopted this way so that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.(Qur’an;47:4).
Offer to Prisoners of War: Allah says: “O Prophet! Tell the captives in your custody: "If Allah finds goodness in your hearts He will give you even better than what has been taken from you, as well as forgive you. Allah Is Forgiving, Merciful. But if they have treacherous designs against you, O Prophet, they have already shown treason against Allah. That is why He made them your captives. Allah is Knowledgeable, Wise.”(Qur’an;8:70-71).
Providing Cloths to Prisoners of War: Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: When it was the day (of the battle) of Badr, prisoners of war were brought including Al-Abbas who was undressed. The Prophet looked for a shirt for him. It was found that the shirt of Abdullah bin Ubai would do, so the Prophet let him wear it. That was the reason why the Prophet took off and gave his own shirt to Abdullah. (The narrator adds, "He had done the Prophet some favor for which the Prophet liked to reward him."). (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.252).
Prohibitions-of Killing Religious People, Women, Children, Aged, Sick People, Animals and Cutting Trees in Military Expeditions : Narrated Abdullah: During some of the ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved and forbade the killing of women and children. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.257,258). Abu Bakr advised Yazid, the commander of Muslim Military Expeditions to Sham (
"You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to
Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. You will find a
people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved
with the sword. "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." (Al Muwata Hadith. Number;21.10). Syria
Safety of Mosques, Churches and Synagogues: Killing of Muslims or other worshipper is prohibited: “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God's name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin, [although] they have no right to enter them save in fear [of God]? For them, in this world, there is ignominy in store; and for them, in the life to come, awesome suffering.”(Qur’an;2:114). “Had not Allah repelled some people by the might of others, the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah's praise is daily celebrated, would have been utterly demolished.”(Qur’an;)
Mutilation of the dead bodies is prohibited: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited to mutilate the dead bodies. (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804).
Women’s Role : The women are not required to participate in Jihad, as per Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.128, Narrated by Aish’a (The mother of the faithful believers); “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by his wives about the Jihad and he replied, "The best Jihad (for you) is (the performance of) Hajj.” However it is evident form a Hadith that in the initial days the women has been providing support. Narrated Ar Rabibint Muauwidh :We used to take part in holy battles with the Prophet by providing the people with water and serving them and bringing the killed and the wounded back to
. (Sahih Al
Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.134). Medina
Exemption for Physical Disability: Allah says: “Those believers who stay at home - having no physical disability - are not equal to those who make Jihad (struggle) in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their persons. Allah has granted a higher rank to those who make Jihad with their wealth and their persons than to those who stay at home. Though Allah has promised a good reward for all, Allah has prepared a much richer reward for those who make Jihad for Him than for those who stay at home”(Qur’an;4:95).
Exemption of Non Muslim Subject from Warfaare: The non Muslims subjects who pay poll tax (Jazya) are exempted form military service and provided protection by the state.
Multi Religious Tolerant Islamic Societies:
The Muslims granted the freedom to the nonbelievers if they chose to follow their old faith, provided they paid tax (Jizyah) as a sign of their submission to the Islamic State and protection. The existence of statue of Buddha for fourteen centuries of Muslim rule at
stood as testimony to the same till its regrettable destruction by
intolerant Taliban. The long history of Islamic rule spread over hundreds of
years is witness to the fact that Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and
followers of other faiths lived in peace under the Muslim rule. There was no
forced conversion as a policy of state in the light of Qur’anic verses (2:256
& 10:100) Afghanistan and Spain are the examples with majority non Muslim population despite Muslim
rule for centuries. It is not permissible in an Islamic state to start killing
the unbelievers unless they are in a state of war or convicted by courts for
specified offences. One has to live in peace and preach Islam by inviting them
to the real message of Qur’an. The Constitution
also known as the Charter of Medina (622 C.E) was the first written constitution signed
between Muslims, Jews and other commnities living at and around Medina. It
concerns the rights and responsibilities of the Muslim, Jewish, and other Arab and
tribal communities of Medina during peace and
war between that city state and its neighbours. The Constitution of
Medina was a social contract in the form of a a treaty. The contract was built
upon the concept of one community of diverse faiths and tribes living under the
sovereignty of One God as one nation - Ummah. The Medina Constitution also
instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups living
as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture.
This can still serve as a model. India
Faith, Jihad and Salvation:
There is very strong link between Faith, Jihad and Salvation .The faith must be strong and find its way in to the heart. Allah says: “The Bedouin Arabs say: "We have believed." Tell them: "You have not believed; rather say 'We have become Muslims;' for faith has not yet found its way into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Apostle, He will not deny you the reward of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;49:14). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is jihad in the way of Allah."(Fiqh As Sunnah: 1.75). Allah provides the key to salvation for the believers: “O believers! Should I tell you of a bargain that will save you from a painful punishment? It is to believe in Allah and His Apostle and strive your utmost in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your persons. That is best for you, if you but knew it.”(Qur’an;61:10-11).
Traditional Zones of War & Peace: The Muslims are not required to wage wars for the sake of acquiring worldly glory and power. The concept of Jihad was nevertheless used by some medieval Muslim rulers to justify wars motivated by purely political ambitions, keeping in line with the practice in vogue in the world by other powers of the time. Gradually, however, Jihad came to be interpreted more in defensive than in offensive terms. In the 20th century the concept of jihad inspired Muslims in their struggle against Western colonialism. The traditional scholars considered the world comprising three zones: the House of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), where Muslims are ascendant; the House of Peace(Dar-ul-Aman), those powers with whom Muslims have peace agreements; and the House of War(Dar-ul-Harab), the rest of the world. In the present world all the nations are members of United Nations Organization and signatory to its charter of peaceful coexistence and basic human rights, whereby every human being is free to adopt and practice any faith. Hence now whole world could be termed as House of Peace (Dar-ul-Aman), except the conflict zones, where Muslims are under oppression and subjugation.
Oppression and Exploitation of Muslims: It is a well known fact that most of Muslim societies are under the state of ‘utmost oppression and exploitation’ by non believers as well as their own brothers in power. Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar: “Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor..." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 3.622). There is menace of conflict, injustices, ignorance, illiteracy, corruption and moral degradation, generally considered as the legacy of colonialism. The ‘Submission to Allah Alone’ is mostly oral; in actions they mostly follow their vain desires. According to Qur’an; “And Allah would turn to you in mercy; but those who follow vain desires would have you go tremendously astray.”(Qur’an;), “..Do not transgress the bounds of truth in your religion, and do not yield to the fancies of those people who went astray before you, They misled many others and have themselves strayed away from The Right Way.”(Qur’an;5:77).
Preaching is Bigger Jihad “Jihad Kibira”: Requirement of “Jihad Kibira” (Bigger Jihad- Qur;an;25:52) seems to be the need of hour, which has to be launched against the evils and deviations, to adhere to the true faith and establish just Islamic welfare societies. This struggle should be aimed to provide knowledge (religious and secular) justice, fair play, development and equal opportunities for their people. This should enable them to become good practicing Muslims. After Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the duty of every Muslim to spread the message of Islam all over the world being true inheritors of Qur’an: “Then We have given the Book (Qur’an) for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen (Muslims)……” (Qur’an;35:32). Thus Muslims will be able to contribute towards the betterment of humanity as a whole.
Extremism: Today the Muslim society finds itself at the crossroads. There are divergent views on conduct of Jihad. One group feels that due to suppression and exploitation of Muslims by neocolonialist powers (Western) on one hand and politico-military suppression of Muslims at
Palestine, Chechnya and occupation of Kashmir, Philippines , Iraq , on the other hand, there is no other option but to resort to Jihad
with arms. Due to ineptness of world and Muslim powers, the extremist non
government armed groups are resorting to violence and extremism. Being weak in
the modern weaponry, they follow the old dictum. “Every thing is fair in love
and war”. The terms Jihad is being used by such groups of desperate people who
are at times are involved in suicide bombing and violence against innocent
civilians including women and children. Such heinous crimes against humanity by few zealots are having disastrous consequences for the entire Muslim community (Ummah). Afghanistan
Doctrine of Takfir: The doctrine of Takfir; is being used by extremists like Taliban, in sanctioning violence against leaders and simple Muslims who are deemed insufficiently religious. Takfir is a pronouncement to declare any (non practicing Muslim), to be an unbeliever (Takfir), apostate, (Murtad) hence liable to be killed. It has become a central ideology of militant groups such as those in
, Egypt and
across the world including so called ‘Taliban’, now also in iraq and adjoining tribal areas of Afghanistan .
The doctrine of Takfir is claimed to be derived from the ideas of
Sayyid Qutab, Maududi, Ibn Tymiyyah and Ibn Kathir. Mainstream Muslims and
Islamic groups reject the pseudo concept of ‘Takfir’ as a doctrinal deviation [bid’at], heresy. Leaders such
as Hassan al-Hudaybi (died,1977) and Yousf al–Qaradawi reject ‘Takfir’ as un-Islamic and marked by
bigotry and zealotry. The Takfiri doctrine is not based upon any direct clear
commandment or ayah of Qur’an, it is
derivative, based upon analogy (taweel),
which can have more than one opinions. “The fact is that most of them follow
nothing but mere conjecture and conjecture is in no way a substitute for the
truth. Surely Allah is well aware of all that they do.”(Qur’an;).
However through their violent terrorist acts, Taliban are violating the clear
verses (Ayahs) and Hadiths. No Muslim
worth the name will ever dare to even think of rejecting or violating the
unambiguous commandments of Allah, clearly mentioned in Qur’an and Hadith. Such
narrow mindedness has exacerbated the evil of sectarianism and the resulting
intolerance among the masses has led to a dangerous trend towards sectarian
militancy. Recently the Saudi scholars also condemned and strongly rejected the
‘Takfir’ doctrine. Pakistan
Pessimism: The other group think that due to the weak state of their faith and non adherence to the fundamental Islamic practices, the Muslim societies of today in general may be considered closer the initial Makkan period of Islam (initial 13 years at Makkah, 610-622 C.E) when Jihad with sword (Qital) was not permitted, they were instructed by Qur’an; “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness(Jihad Kabira) with the (Qur'an).”(Qur’an;25:52). The Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira) through Qur’an is preaching Allah’s message orally, through pen or other means. They think that this is the time to understand, practice and preach Allah’s message orally, through pen or other means of communication. The achievement of the spiritual perfection in faith and Islamic practices, should lead towards establishment of firm Islamic Welfare States on the pattern of State of Medina established by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and later by four Rightly Guided Caliphs. These Islamic Welfare states while being politically, economically and militarily independent may be grouped like European Union. They should facilitate amicable resolution of problems of Ummah and spread of the real message of Islam through peaceful means.
The Middle Course:
The Muslim Ummah has to find a solution collectively. The Muslim states have to first put their own house in order through Jihad Kabira then decide about conduct of external Jihad for particular situation to help brothers under oppression. The decision by a state for the level of participation and type of support to the Jihad declared by others has to be taken in consultation with their genuine religious scholars (Ulema) while keeping in view their national political, economic, social, geographical and strategic interests. The Organization of Islamic Countries may also play enhanced role. In any case the Muslim states have to follow the path of development in all affairs. All out efforts should continuously be made against tyranny and suppression of humanity especially against Muslims. Efforts of Dawah (preaching) should be enhanced by teaching and preaching on regular basis. One of the purpose of Jihad is to provide freedom of choice to the people to opt for Islam or otherwise. In the modern democracies there is complete freedom of preaching (Dawah) or practicing any faith including Islam (at least in theory).
Generally most of the governments in the developed world, do not impose restriction on peaceful preaching, consequently Islam is considered as the fastest growing religion in
Europe and North America. While difference
on their other policies does exist, violence against innocent population is not
justified on this account alone. The European people opposed the attack on ,
there were massive demonstrations but their governments ignored public opinion.
Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo were also supported by them, Qur’an forbids
killing of innocent people: “As for such [of the unbelievers] as
do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you
forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to
behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves the equitable.(Qur’an;60:8) Iraq
Such violations have negative effects on preaching and spread of Islam due to tarnishing of the image of Islam by presenting it as a religion of violence and bloodshed. The crude reaction by some European extremist in the form of sacrilege was forewarned: “But do not revile those (beings) whom they invoke instead of God, lest they revile God out of spite, and in ignorance:”(Qur’an;6:108).
Requirement for tolerant, moderate, modern, progressive but powerful and strong Muslim society having a say in the international affairs proportionate to their ideology, population and resources to safeguard their interests is the need of the hour, which will help to achieve the main objectives of Jihad.
Challenges Faced by Muslim Ummah:
While violence and terrorism [by oppressor states] is to be rejected unanimously, it is difficult to agree to any one thought in totality. One may have to look for the middle course. There is dire need to lay down the basic parameters for conduct of Jihad. Firstly the existence of a well recognized legitimate political authority or government in the area where armed struggle is to be conducted against oppression be prerequisite. Secondly laying down of objectives to be achieved and parameters. Thirdly the availability of means and resources to achieve the objectives. The peace as and when visible should be given a chance. However one has to find answers to the questions like: Is killing of innocent civilians, women and children whether Muslims or non Muslims justified on the name of Jihad? Can the declaration of Jihad with arms be left at the discretion of few individuals, religious zealots and stateless groups? Or should it be the responsibility of the Islamic states keeping in view the teachings of Islam, national interests and the prevalent system of international relations (UN, OIC and other forums)? Muslim scholars and leadership through dialogue with the international community, have to analyze the reasons of this pathetic state and find out practicable, realistic and just solutions on long term basis to make the world safer place for every one.
At present the Muslim scholars are mostly devout and sincere but (with some exceptions), they generally lack in the knowledge of science and technology. They know little about other Social Sciences i.e. sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, and history. Only few have studied ‘comparative religions’ in-depth. The research to deal with the issues and challenges of present time in realistic and practicable way is very limited, rather nonexistent. This state has been reached over a very long period, due to the negligent attitude, fixing of wrong priories and lack of interest by the Muslim societies, besides many other reasons. Consequently a very medieval face of Islam is presented, which appears to be extremely rigid, primitive, intolerant to difference of opinion and at times aggressive, which is far from reality. Against all the odds and despite all these limitations, it goes to the credit of traditional Ulema (clergy) which is keeping the candle of Islam alight. It is high time that the Muslim societies besides developments in the field of education, science, technology and industrialization, address this problem by injecting the fresh intellect in the field of religious scholarship. Thus the ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ proposed by great modern Islamic philosopher Dr.Muhammad Iqbal over seventy five year ago to meet the challenges of this time through Ijtehad could be achieved by modern Muslim intellectuals and scholars. This will enable the Muslims to regains the lost glory and gain respectable position in the community of nations in this modern world. While there could be divergent views on the conduct of ‘Jihad’ as an ‘armed struggle’, in the present scenario, but there is unanimity ‘Jihad Kabira’; the peaceful struggle with the Qur’an.
Tolerance in Islam
An Abridged Version of the 1927 Lecture of Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, Compilation by Dr. A. Zahoor; by Dr. Z. Haq
In the eyes of history, religious toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Before the coming of Islam, tolerance had never been preached as an essential part of religion. If
Europe had known as much of Islam, as Muslims knew of Christendom, in
those days, those mad, adventurous, occasionally chivalrous and heroic, but utterly
fanatical outbreak known as the Crusades could not have taken place, for they
were based on a complete misapprehension.
Innumerable monasteries, with a wealth of treasure of which the worth has been calculated at not less than a hundred millions sterling, enjoyed the benefit of the Holy Prophet's (Muhammad’s) Charter to the monks of Sinai and were religiously respected by the Muslims. The various sects of Christians were represented in the Council of the Empire by their patriarchs, on the provincial and district council by their bishops, in the village council by their priests, whose word was always taken without question on things which were the sole concern of their community.
The tolerance within the body of Islam was, and is, something without parallel in history; class and race and color ceasing altogether to be barriers. One of the commonest charges brought against Islam historically, and as a religion, by Western writers is that it is intolerant. This is turning the tables with a vengeance when one remembers various facts: One remembers that not a Muslim is left alive in
or Spain or Sicily Apulia. One remembers that not a Muslim was left alive and not a mosque
left standing in after the great rebellion in l821. One
remembers how the Muslims of the Balkan peninsula, once the majority, have been
systematically reduced with the approval of the whole of Europe, how the
Christian under Muslim rule have in recent times been urged on to rebel and
massacre the Muslims, and how reprisals by the latter have been condemned as
quite uncalled for. Greece
under the Umayyads and in Spain under the Abbasid Khalifas, Christians and Jews, equally with
Muslims, were admitted to the Schools and universities - not only that, but
were boarded and lodged in hostels at the cost of the state. When the Moors
were driven out of Baghdad , the Christian conquerors held a terrific persecution of the Jews.
Those who were fortunate enough to escape fled, some of them to Spain
and many hundreds to the Morocco Turkish Empire, where their descendants still live in separate communities, and
still speak among themselves an antiquated form of Spanish. The Muslim empire
was a refuge for all those who fled from persecution by the Inquisition.
The Western Christians, till the arrival of the Encyclopaedists in the eighteenth century, did not know and did not care to know, what the Muslim believed, nor did the Western Christian seek to know the views of Eastern Christians with regard to them. The Christian Church was already split in two, and in the end, it came to such a pass that the Eastern Christians, as Gibbon shows, preferred Muslim rule, which allowed them to practice their own form of religion and adhere to their peculiar dogmas, to the rule of fellow Christians who would have made them Roman Catholics or wiped them out.
The Western Christians called the Muslims pagans, paynims, even idolaters - there are plenty of books in which they are described as worshiping an idol called Mahomet or Mahound, and in the accounts of the conquest of Granada there are even descriptions of the monstrous idols which they were alleged to worship - whereas the Muslims knew what Christianity was, and in what respects it differed from Islam. If
Europe had known as much of
Islam, as Muslims knew of Christendom, in those days, those mad, adventurous,
occasionally chivalrous and heroic, but utterly fanatical outbreak known as the
Crusades could not have taken place, for they were based on a complete
misapprehension. I quote a learned
“Every poet in Christendom considered a Mohammedan to be an infidel, and an idolater, and his gods to be three; mentioned in order, they were: Mahomet or Mahound or Mohammad, Opolane and the third Termogond. It was said that when in
Christians overpowered the Mohammedans and drove them as far as the gates of
the city of Spain , the Mohammedans went back and broke their idols. Saragossa
“A Christian poet of the period says that Opolane the “god” of the Mohammedans, which was kept there in a den was awfully belabored and abused by the Mohammedans, who, binding it hand and foot, crucified it on a pillar, trampled it under their feet and broke it to pieces by beating it with sticks; that their second god Mahound they threw in a pit and caused to be torn to pieces by pigs and dogs, and that never were gods so ignominiously treated; but that afterwards the Mohammedans repented of their sins, and once more reinstated their gods for the accustomed worship, and that when the Emperor Charles entered the city of Saragossa he had every mosque in the city searched and had "Muhammad" and all their Gods broken with iron hammers.”
That was the kind of "history" on which the populace in
Western Europe used to be fed. Those were the ideas which inspired the rank and file of the crusader
in their attacks on the most civilized peoples of those days. Christendom
regarded the outside world as damned eternally, and Islam did not. There were
good and tender-hearted men in Christendom who thought it sad that any people
should be damned eternally, and wished to save them by the only way they knew -
conversion to the Christian faith.
It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant; and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance and other evidences of the highest culture. Therefore the difference evident in that anecdote is not of manners only but of religion. Of old, tolerance had existed here and there in the world, among enlightened individuals; but those individuals had always been against the prevalent religion. Tolerance was regarded of un-religious, if not irreligious. Before the coming of Islam it had never been preached as an essential part of religion.
For the Muslims, Judaism, Christianity and Islam are but three forms of one religion, which, in its original purity, was the religion of Abraham: Al-Islam, that perfect Self-Surrender to the Will of God, which is the basis of Theocracy. The Jews, in their religion, after Moses, limited God's mercy to their chosen nation and thought of His kingdom as the dominion of their race.
Even Christ himself, as several of his sayings show, declared that he was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel and seemed to regard his mission as to the Hebrews only; and it was only after a special vision vouchsafed to St. Peter that his followers in after days considered themselves authorized to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. The Christians limited God’s mercy to those who believed certain dogmas. Every one who failed to hold the dogmas was an outcast or a miscreant, to be persecuted for his or her soul’s good. In Islam only is manifest the real nature of the Kingdom of God. [“whereas those who have attained to faith and do righteous deeds, and have come to believe in what has been bestowed from on high on Muhammad - for it (Qur’an) is the truth from their Sustainer – (shall attain to God's grace) He will efface their (past) bad deeds, and will set their hearts at rest” (Qur’an;47:2)].
The two verses (2:255-256) of the Qur’an are supplementary. Where there is that realization of the majesty and dominion of Allah, there is no compulsion in religion. Men choose their path - allegiance or opposition - and it is sufficient punishment for those who oppose that they draw further and further away from the light of truth.
What Muslims do not generally consider is that this law applies to our own community just as much as to the folk outside, the laws of Allah being universal; and that intolerance of Muslims for other men's opinions and beliefs is evidence that they themselves have, at the moment, forgotten the vision of the majesty and mercy of Allah which the Qur’an presents to them.
In the Qur’an I find two meanings (of a Kafir), which become one the moment that we try to realize the divine standpoint. The Kafir in the first place, is not the follower of any religion. He is the opponent of Allah’s benevolent will and purpose for mankind - therefore the disbeliever in the truth of all religions, the disbeliever in all Scriptures as of divine revelation, the disbeliever to the point of active opposition in all the Prophets (pbut) whom the Muslims are bidden to regard, without distinction, as messengers of Allah.
The Qur’an repeatedly claims to be the confirmation of the truth of all religions. The former Scriptures had become obscure, the former Prophets appeared mythical, so extravagant were the legends which were told concerning them, so that people doubted whether there was any truth in the old Scriptures, whether such people as the Prophets had ever really existed.
Here - says the Qur’an - is a Scripture whereof there is no doubt: here is a Prophet actually living among you and preaching to you. If it were not for this book and this Prophet, men might be excused for saying that Allah’s guidance to mankind was all a fable. This book and this Prophet, therefore, confirm the truth of all that was revealed before them, and those who disbelieve in them to the point of opposing the existence of a Prophet and a revelation are really opposed to the idea of Allah's guidance - which is the truth of all revealed religions. Our Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself said that the term Kafir was not to be applied to anyone who said “Salaam” (peace) to the Muslims. The Kafirs, in the terms of the Qur’an, are the conscious evil-doers of any race of creed or community. I have made a long digression but it seemed to me necessary, for I find much confusion of ideas even among Muslims on this subject, owing to defective study of the Qur’an and the Prophet's life. Many Muslims seem to forget that our Prophet had allies among the idolaters even after Islam had triumphed in
Arabia, and that he “fulfilled his
treaty with them perfectly until the term thereof.” The righteous conduct
of the Muslims, not the sword, must be held responsible for the conversion of
those idolaters, since they embraced Islam before the expiration of their
So much for the idolaters of
Arabia, who had no real beliefs to
oppose the teaching of Islam, but only superstition. They invoked their local deities for help in war and put their
faith only in brute force. In this they were, to begin with, enormously
superior to the Muslims. When the Muslims nevertheless won, they were dismayed;
and all their arguments based on the superior power of their deities were for
ever silenced. Their conversion followed naturally. It was only a question of
time with the most obstinate of them.
It was otherwise with the people who had a respectable religion of their own - the People of the Scripture - as the Qur’an calls them - i.e., the people who had received the revelation of some former Prophet: the Jews, the Christians and the Zoroastrians were those with whom the Muslims came at once in contact. To these our Prophet's attitude was all of kindness. The Charter which he granted to the Christian monks of Sinai is in existence. If you read it you will see that it breathes not only goodwill but actual love. He gave to the Jews of Medina, so long as they were faithful to him, precisely the same treatment as to the Muslims. He never was aggressive against any man or class of men; he never penalized any man, or made war on any people, on the ground of belief but only on the ground of conduct.
The story of his reception of Christian and Zoroastrian visitors is on record. There is not a trace of religious intolerance in all this. And it should be remembered - Muslims are rather apt to forget it, and it is of great importance to our outlook - that our Prophet asked the people of the Scripture to accept the
, to abolish priesthood and thus restore their religions to their
original purity. Islam (surrender to Will of God), the religion preached by all
prophets. The question which, in effect, he put to everyone was this: “Are you for the Kingdom of Allah which includes all of us, or are
you for your own community against the rest of mankind?” The one is obviously the way of peace and human progress, the other
the way of strife, oppression and calamity. But the rulers of the world, to
whom he sent his message, most of them treated it as the message of either an
insolent upstart or a mad fanatic. His
envoys were insulted cruelly, and even slain. One cannot help wondering what
reception that same embassy would meet with from the rulers of mankind today,
when all the thinking portion of mankind accept the Prophet's premises, have
thrown off the trammels of priest craft, and harbor some idea of human
brotherhood. Kingdom of God
But though the Christians and Jews and Zoroastrians refused his message, and their rulers heaped most cruel insults on his envoys, our Prophet never lost his benevolent attitudes towards them as religious communities; as witness the Charter to the monks of Sinai already mentioned. And though the Muslims of later days have fallen far short of the Holy Prophet's tolerance, and have sometimes shown arrogance towards men of other faiths, they have always given special treatment to the Jews and Christians. Indeed the Laws for their special treatment form part of the Shari’a.
the Copts were on terms of closest friendship with the Muslims in
the first centuries of the Muslim conquest, and they are on terms at closest
friendship with the Muslims at the present day. In Egypt the
various Christian communities lived on terms of closest friendship with the
Muslims in the first centuries of the Muslim conquest, and they are on terms of
closest friendship with the Muslims at the present day, openly preferring Muslim
domination to a foreign yoke. There were always flourishing Jewish communities in the Muslim
realm, notably in Spain, North Africa, Syria, Iraq and later on in Turkey.
Jews fled from Christian persecution to Muslim countries for refuge. Whole
communities of them voluntarily embraced Islam following a revered rabbi whom
they regarded as the promised Messiah but many more remained as Jews, and they
were never persecuted as in Christendom. The Turkish Jews are one with the
Turkish Muslims today. And it is noteworthy that the Arabic-speaking Jews of
Palestine - the old immigrants from Syria and
Spain - are one with the Muslims and Christians in opposition to the
transformation of Poland into a national home for the Jews. Palestine
To turn to the Christians, the story of the triumphal entry of the Khalifah Umar ibn al-Khattab into Jerusalem has been often told, but I shall tell it once again, for it illustrates the proper Muslim attitude towards the People of the Scripture....The Christian officials urged him to spread his carpet in the Church (of the Holy Sepulcher) itself, but he refused saying that some of the ignorant Muslims after him might claim the Church and convert it into a mosque because he had once prayed there. He had his carpet carried to the top of the steps outside the church, to the spot where the Mosque of Umar now stands - the real Mosque of Umar, for the splendid Qubbet-us-Sakhrah, which tourists call the Mosque of Umar, is not a Mosque at all, but the temple of Jerusalem; a shrine within the precincts of the Masjid-al-Aqsa, which is the second of the Holy Places of Islam. From that day to this; the Church of the Holy Sepulcher has always been a Christian place of worship, the only things the Muslims did in the way of interference with the Christian's liberty of conscience in respect of it was to see that every sect of Christians had access to it, and that it was not monopolized by one sect to the exclusion of others. The same is true of the Church of the Nativity of Bethlehem, and of other buildings of special sanctity.
Under the Khulafa-ur-Rashidin and the Umayyads, the true Islamic attitude was maintained, and it continued to a much later period under the Umayyad rule in
. In those days it was no uncommon thing for Muslims and Christian
to use the same places of worship. I could point to a dozen buildings in Syria
which tradition says were thus conjointly used; and I have seen at Lud (Lydda), in the plain of
Sharon, a Church of St. George and a mosque under the same roof with only a
partition wall between. The partition wall did not exist in early days. The
words of the Khalifah Umar proved true in other cases; not only half the church
at Lydda, but the whole church in other places was claimed by ignorant Muslims
of a later day on the mere ground that the early Muslims had prayed there. But
there was absolute liberty of conscience for the Christians; they kept their
most important Churches and built new ones; though by a later edict their
church bells were taken from them because their din annoyed the Muslims, it was
said; only the big bell of the Holy Sepulcher remaining. They used to call to
prayer by beating a naqus, a wooden
gong, the same instrument which the Prophet Noah (pbuh) is said to have used to
summon the chosen few into his ark. Spain
It was not the Christians of
who desired the Crusades, nor did
the Crusades care a jot for them, or their sentiments, regarding them as
heretics and interlopers. The latter word sounds strange in this connection,
but there is a reason for its use. Syria
The great Abbasid Khalifah Harun ar-Rashid had, God knows why, once sent the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher among other presents to the Frankish Emperor, Charlemagne. Historically, it was a wrong to the Christians of Syria, who did not belong to the
asked for no protection other than the Muslim government. Politically, it was a
mistake and proved the source of endless after trouble to the Muslim Empire.
The keys sent, it is true, were only duplicate keys. The Church was in daily use.
It was not locked up till such time as Charlemagne, Emperor of the West, chose
to lock it. The present of the keys was
intended only as a compliment, as one would say: “You and your people
can have free access to the Church which is the center of your faith, your goal
of pilgrimage, whenever you may come to visit it.” But the Frankish Christians
took the present seriously in after times regarding it as the title to a
freehold, and looking on the Christians of the country as mere interlopers, as
I said before, as well as heretics. Western Church
That compliment from king to king was the foundation of all the extravagant claims of
in later centuries. Indirectly it was the foundation of Russia's even more extortionate
claims, for Russia claimed to protect the Eastern Church against the
encroachment of Roman Catholics; and it was the cause of nearly all the ill
feeling which ever existed between the Muslims and their Christian Dhimmis. France
When the Crusaders took Jerusalem they massacred the Eastern Christians with the Muslims indiscriminately, and while they ruled in
Eastern Christians, such of them as did not accompany the retreating Muslim
army, were deprived of all the privileges which Islam secured to them and were
treated as a sort of outcasters. Many of them became Roman Catholics in order
to secure a higher status; but after the re-conquest, when the emigrants
returned, the followers of the Eastern Church were found again to be in large
majority over those who owed obedience to the Pope of Rome. The old order was
reestablished and all the Dhimmis
once again enjoyed their privileges in accordance with the Sacred Law (of
Islam). But the effect of those fanatical inroads had been somewhat to embitter
Muslim sentiments, and to ting them with an intellectual contempt for the
Christian generally; which was bad for Muslims and for Christians both; since
it made the former arrogant and oppressive to the latter socially, and the
intellectual contempt, surviving the intellectual superiority, blinded the Muslims
to the scientific advance of the West till too late. Palestine
The arrogance hardened into custom, and when Ibrahim Pasha of
occupied Egypt in the third decade of the nineteenth century, a deputation of the
Muslims of Damascus waited on him with a complaint that under his rule the
Christians were beginning to ride on horseback. Ibrahim Pasha pretended to be
greatly shocked at the news, and asked leave to think for a whole night on so
disturbing an announcement. Next morning, he informed the deputation that since
it was, of course, a shame for Christians to ride as high as Muslims, he gave
permission to all Muslims thenceforth to ride on camels. That was probably the
first time that the Muslims of Damascus had ever been brought face to face with
the absurdity of their pretentions. By the beginning of the Eighteenth century
AD, the Christians had, by custom, been made subject to certain social
disabilities, but these were never, at the worst, so cruel or so galling as
those to which the Roman Catholic nobility of France at the same period
subjected their own Roman Catholic peasantry, or as those which Protestants
imposed on Roman Catholics in Ireland; and they weighed only on the wealthy
portion of the community. The poor Muslims and poor Christians were on an equality,
and were still good friends and neighbors. Syria
The Muslims never interfered with the religion of the subject Christians. (e.g., The Treaty of
There was never anything like the Inquisition or the fires of Orihuela, Spain . Nor did
they interfere in the internal affairs of their communities. Thus a number of
small Christian sects, called by the larger sects heretical, which would
inevitably have been exterminated if left to the tender mercies of the larger
sects whose power prevailed in Christendom, were protected and preserved until today by the power of Islam. Smithfield
Innumerable monasteries, with a wealth of treasure of which the worth has been calculated at not less than a hundred millions sterling, enjoyed the benefit of the Holy Prophet's Charter to the monks of Sinai and were religiously respected by the Muslims. The various sects of Christians were represented in the Council of the Empire by their patriarchs, on the provincial and district council by their bishops, in the village council by their priests, whose word was always taken without question on things which were the sole concern of their community.
With regard to the respect for monasteries, I have a curious instance of my own remembrance. In the year 1905 the Arabic congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, or Church of the Resurrection as it is locally called, rebelled against the tyranny of the Monks of the adjoining convent of St. George. The convent was extremely rich, and a large part of its revenues was derived from lands which had been made over to it by the ancestors of the Arab congregation for security at a time when property was insecure; relying on the well known Muslim reverence for religious foundations. The income was to be paid to the depositors and their descendants, after deducting something for the convent.
No income had been paid to anybody by the Monks for more than a century, and the congregation now demanded that at least a part of that ill-gotten wealth should be spent on education of the community. The Patriarch sided with the congregation, but was captured by the Monks, who kept him prisoner. The congregation tried to storm the convent, and the amiable monk poured vitriol down upon the faces of the congregation. The congregation appealed to the Turkish government, which secured the release of the Patriarch and some concessions for the congregation, but could not make the monks disgorge any part of their wealth because of the immunities secured to Monasteries by the Sacred Law (of Islam). What made the congregation the more bitter was the fact that certain Christians who, in old days, had made their property over to the Masjid al-Aqsa - the great mosque of
- for security, were receiving income yearly from it even then.
Here is another incident from my own memory. A sub-prior of the Monastery of
St. George purloined a handful from the enormous treasure of the Holy Sepulcher
- a handful worth some forty thousand pounds - and tried to get away with it to
He was caught at by the Turkish customs officers and brought back to Jaffa . The poor
man fell on his face before the Mutasarrif imploring him with tears to have him
tried by Turkish Law. The answer was: "We have no jurisdiction over
monasteries," and the poor groveling wretch was handed over to the tender
mercies of his fellow monks. But the
very evidence of their toleration, the concessions given to the subject people
of another faith, were used against them in the end by their political
opponents just as the concessions granted in their day of strength to
foreigners came to be used against them in their day of weakness, as
I can give you one curious instance of a capitulation, typical of several others. Three hundred years ago, the Franciscan friars were the only Western European missionaries to be found in the Muslim Empire. There was a terrible epidemic of plague, and those Franciscans worked devotedly, tending the sick and helping to bury the dead of all communities. In gratitude for this great service, the Turkish government decreed that all property of the Franciscans should be free of customs duty for ever. In the Firman (Edict) the actual words used were "Frankish missionaries" and at later time, when there were hundreds of missionaries from the West, most of them of other sects than the Roman Catholic, they all claimed that privilege and were allowed it by the Turkish government because the terms of the original Firman included them. Not only that, but they claimed that concession as a right, as if it had been won for them by force of arms or international treaty instead of being, as it was, a free gift of the Sultan; and called upon their consuls and ambassadors to support them if it was at all infringed.
The Christians were allowed to keep their own languages and customs, to start their own schools and to be visited by missionaries to their own faith from Christendom. Thus they formed patches of nationalism in a great mass of internationalism or universal brotherhood; for as I have already said the tolerance within the body of Islam was, and is, something without parallel in history; class and race and color ceasing altogether to be barriers.
In countries where nationality and language were the same in
, Syria and
Egypt Mesopotamia there was no clash of ideals, but in ,
where the Christians spoke quite different languages from the Muslims, the
ideals were also different. So long
as the nationalism was un-aggressive, all went well; and it remained
un-aggressive - that is to say, the subject Christians were content with their
position - so long as the Muslim Empire remained better governed, more
enlightened and more prosperous than Christian countries. And
that may be said to have been the case, in all human essentials, up to the
beginning of the seventeenth century. Turkey
Then for a period of about eighty years the
Turkish Empire was badly
governed; and the Christians suffered not from Islamic Institutions but from
the decay or neglect of Islamic Institutions. Still it took more
than a century of ceaseless secret propaganda work to stir ups spirit of
aggressive nationalism in the subject Christians, and then only by appealing to
their religious fanaticism. Russia
After the eighty years of bad government came the era of conscious reform, when the Muslim government turned its attention to the improvement of the status of all the peoples under it. But then it was too late to win back the Serbs, the Greeks, the Bulgars and the Romans. The poison of the Russian religious-political propaganda had done its work, and the prestige of Russian victories over the Turks had excited in the worst elements among the Christians of the Greek Church, the hope of an early opportunity to slaughter and despoil the Muslims, strengthening the desire to do so which had been instilled in them by Russian secret envoys, priests and monks.
I do not wish to dwell upon this period of history, though it is to me the best known of all, for it is too recent and might rouse too strong a feeling in my audience. I will only remind you that in the Greek War of Independence in 1811, three hundred thousand Muslims - men and women and children - the whole Muslim population of the Morea without exception, as well as many thousands in the northern parts of Greece - were wiped out in circumstances of the most atrocious cruelty; that in European histories we seldom find the slightest mention of that massacre, though we hear much of the reprisals which the Turks took afterwards; that before every massacre of Christians by Muslims of which you read, there was a more wholesale massacre or attempted massacre of Muslims by Christians; that those Christians were old friends and neighbors of the Muslims - the Armenians were the favorites of the Turks till fifty years ago - and that most of them were really happy under Turkish rule, as has been shown again and again by their tendency to return to it after so called liberation.
It was the Christians outside the Muslim Empire who systematically and continually fed their religious fanaticism: it was their priests who told them that to slaughter Muslims was a meritorious act. I doubt if anything so wicked can be found in history as that plot for the destruction of
When I say “wicked,” I mean inimical to human progress and therefore against
Allah's guidance and His purpose for mankind. For it has made religious
tolerance appear a weakness in the eyes of all the worldlings, because the
multitudes of Christians who lived peacefully in Turkey are made to seem the
cause of Turkey's martyrdom and downfall; while on the other hand the method of
persecution and extermination which has always prevailed in Christendom is
made to seem comparatively strong and wise. Turkey
Thus religious tolerance is made to seem a fault, politically. But it is not really so. The victims of injustice are always less to be pitied in reality than the perpetrators of injustice. From the expulsion of the Moriscos dates the degradation and decline of********************************
. Spain was
really wiser and more patriotic in his tolerance to conquered San Fernando
and Seville, Murcia than was the later king who, under the guise of Holy warfare,
captured Toledo and let the Inquisition work its will upon the Muslims and the
Jews. And the modern Balkan States and Grenada
are born under a curse. It may even
prove that the degradation and decline of European civilization will be dated
from the day when so-called civilized statesmen agreed to the inhuman policy of
Czarist Greece and gave their sanction to the
crude fanaticism of the Russia . There is no doubt but that, in the eyes of history, religious
toleration is the highest evidence of culture in a people. Let no Muslim, when
looking on the ruin of the Muslim realm which was compassed through the agency
of those very peoples whom the Muslims had tolerated and protected through the
centuries when Western Europe thought it a religious duty to exterminate or
forcibly convert all peoples of another faith than theirs - let no Muslim,
seeing this, imagine that toleration is a weakness in Islam. It is the greatest
strength of Islam because it is the attitude of truth. Allah is not the God of the Jews or the
Christians or the Muslims only, any more than the sun shines or the rain falls
for Jews or Christians or Muslims only. Russian Church
Extremism, Terrorism & Jihad: