File: AlAzhar Mosque - Wikimedia Commons File: AlAzhar Mosque - Wikimedia Commons

Forbidden acts: Islam vs. terrorism

Sat, Nov. 25, 2017
CAIRO – 25 November 2017: In the Islamic month of Rabi’ al-Awaal and just one week before the Mawlid al-Nabawi (celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday), a deadly terrorist attack targeting a North Sinai mosque during Friday prayers has resulted in the death of more than 300 innocent worshippers, horrifying Egyptians and people throughout the world – something anathema to the very essence of Islam.

In a time when Muslims are celebrating the Prophet (peace be upon him), about whom God says: {We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds} [Quran 21:107], terrorists are seeking to spread mercy’s opposite – malice, malevolence, destruction and chaos.



The death and carnage witnessed at Rawdah Mosque in Arish, North Sinai on Friday, however, is absolutely no representation of Islam. While those who have carried out this attack and others like it – whether on mosques, churches or security forces – claim to do so in the name of Islam, it is among the most sacred of Islam’s tenets that they in fact transgress.



Abbas Shoman, undersecretary of Al-Azhar, emphasized that the Friday attack is clear evidence that terrorism must not be associated with Islam and that those criminals are “distant from the crux of Islam.” Meanwhile, Egypt's Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam condemned the terrorist attack, stressing that the perpetrators have “no mercy or humanity.”

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb stated that “the shedding of blood, the violation of the sacred houses of God and the terrorizing of worshippers are acts of corruption on earth.”

Previously, in an August meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Tayeb said that “moderation, intellectuality and logic will always remain the main features of Al-Azhar's message, which represents the right form of Islam.”

Indeed, it is with moderation, intellectuality and logic that Muslim scholars from Al-Azhar and around the world – for over a thousand years – have interpreted the Quran and “Sunnah” (the way, sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad) to express the beautiful mercy and light of Islam and counter the ugly abhorrence and darkness of terrorism and ignorance. But what is it that the Quran, Sunnah and Muslim scholars have to say about the evil acts carried out by terrorists.

Scholars

Recently, Sheikh Hussein Abd al-Ghani Salih al-Jafari, a prominent Sufi in Egypt and the grandson of the famous 20th century imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Salih al-Jafari, said, “Arming oneself with true knowledge at the hands of the scholars is [the means of] saving oneself from deviant extremist thought.”

Since the early days of Islam, Muslim jurists and scholars – including Imam al-Haramayn Abd al-Malik al-Juwayni (d. 1085), Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d. 1111), Imam Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi (d. 1388), and others – have “developed a system of higher objectives that correspond to the purposes and aims Islam has come to convey upon humankind and preserve the Sharia’s (Islamic law’s) spirit. This system of objectives is called ‘Maqasid’… Their goal was to extract and classify the ‘higher objectives of law’ (maqasid ash-sharia) and thereby to constitute a general philosophy of Islamic law that can be integrated in the production of legal rulings, fatwas (religious edicts) and good-manners,” according to an article on Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa website.

The article added, “The Maqasid of the Islamic law (Sharia) are the objectives behind its rulings. The Sharia generally has come to the benefit of the individual and the community, and so, its laws are designed so as to protect these benefits and to facilitate the improvement and perfection of the life conditions of human beings. Allah Almighty says: {We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds} [Quran 21:107], which means that the Quran singles out mercy as the most important purpose of the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH)… Muslim scholars have thus considered mercy to be the all-pervasive objective of the Sharia.”

“Accordingly, Muslim scholars agreed on five main objectives to be considered the Sharia’s high objectives. These five objectives are: the preservation of the self; the preservation of reason; the preservation of the religion; the preservation of property; and the preservation of lineage,” it continued.



In a previous fatwa regarding terrorist bombings, Dar al-Iftaa referred to the five Maqasid, saying, “Islamic law obligates the preservation of five matters, which are considered sacrosanct by all religions: life, religion, intellect, dignity and property… Terrorist operations and bombings violate the sanctity of lives and property,” thereby making such attacks “haram”, or forbidden.



Another system developed early on by Muslim scholars is that of utilizing legal principles or maxims derived from the Quran and Sunnah by which to derive rulings and fatwas. One of these legal maxims is that “harm must be removed.” From this, secondary principles are also derived, such as “repelling harm to the extent possible” and “averting what corrupts is more important than generating what benefits.”

Quran

While following the consensus of the scholars – who have an unbroken chain of transmission going back to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) – has been a part of Islam since the beginning, extremists choose to disregard the 1,400 years of scholarship and consensus, instead relying on their own faulty judgments and interpretations of select Quranic verses and “hadith” (sayings of Prophet Muhammad) to suit their own evil agenda.

Surely, many scholars have stated the Quran can only be understood as a whole and not by individual parts, and that taking a text without its complete context is pretext for going astray. Here are some of the Quranic verses that the extremists choose to ignore, which show that murdering innocent people and attacking places of worship are absolutely forbidden in Islam:

{Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.} [Quran 5:32]



{And who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allah from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction. It is not for them to enter them except in fear. For them in this world is disgrace, and they will have in the Hereafter a great punishment.} [Quran 2:114]

{And never is it for a believer to kill a believer} [Quran 2:92]

{But whoever kills a believer intentionally - his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.} [Quran 4:93]

{[They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right - only because they say, "Our Lord is Allah." And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might.} [Quran 22:40]

Sunnah

The Quranic verses denouncing acts of terrorism are supported by the sayings and practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well.



One such practice was the covenant he made with Christians, which is still valid to this day. The covenant was made in a letter sent to Christian monks, in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated:

“This letter contains the oath given unto them, and he who disobeys that which is therein will be considered a disbeliever and a transgressor to that whereunto he is commanded. He will be regarded as one who has corrupted the oath of God, disbelieved His Testament, rejected His Authority, despised His Religion, and made himself deserving of His Curse, whether he is a Sultan or any other believer of Islam. Whenever Christian monks, devotees and pilgrims gather together, whether in a mountain or valley, or den, or frequented place, or plain, or church, or in houses of worship, verily we are [at the] back of them and shall protect them, and their properties and their morals, by Myself, by My Friends and by My Assistants, for they are of My Subjects and under My Protection.”

“No one is allowed to plunder these Christians, or destroy or spoil any of their churches, or houses of worship, or take any of the things contained within these houses and bring it to the houses of Islam. And he who takes away anything therefrom, will be one who has corrupted the oath of God, and, in truth, disobeyed His Messenger,” the letter continues.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) ends the letter by saying, “Their churches must be honored and they must not be withheld from building churches or repairing convents. They must not be forced to carry arms or stones; but the Muslims must protect them and defend them against others. It is positively incumbent upon every one of the follower of Islam not to contradict or disobey this oath until the Day of Resurrection and the end of the world.”



While this covenant clearly shows the severity of harming our Christian brethren, there are many other traditions and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that also denounce the slaying of innocent people, let along the multitude of sayings promoting love, mercy and justice. Here are just a few sayings to help prove the forbidden nature of terrorist acts:

“Whoever kills a non-Muslim under contract will never smell the scent of paradise.” [Bukhari]

“When a Muslim offers protection to a non-Muslim, it is a covenant and it goes for all. Anyone who breaches this covenant shall have upon him a curse from Allah, the angels, and all mankind.” [Bukhari]



“Do not cause harm or return harm.” [Ibn Majiih]

Referring to today’s Islamist terrorists, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There shall emerge a people in the end of time, adolescent, dim-witted, recounting the best words of creation, reading the Quran, but their faith does not pass their throats.” [Bukhari and Muslim]. This shows clearly that even though these extremists claim to follow the outward aspects of Islam, the essence of the religion has not entered their hearts and they are therefore devoid of any mercy.

“The perfect Muslim is he from whom others are safe from his tongue and hand.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Conclusion

It is not difficult for anyone to see how the atrocities committed by an extreme few are forbidden, especially when they do so in the name of the religion that denounces them. Our inherent nature and our hearts tell us exactly what the Quran, Sunnah and Muslim scholars have confirmed: murder and destruction is an evil plague upon the face of this earth, committed by cowards worse than beasts. However, the teachings of Islam also tell us that good will prevail by the will of God, and so it shall, especially with Egypt’s righteous sons risking their lives for the right of us all to live peaceful lives filled with mercy and justice.

God states in the Quran: {Enter Egypt, Allah willing, safe [and secure].} [Quran 12:99]. As the Quran is timeless, the meanings within it are also timeless. So have faith that this beautiful country will prevail, safe and secure, from these terrorists, whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) referred to as the “dogs of Hell.”
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