Murder, Manslaughter & Terrorism I. Introduction
All in the **** of Allah
Often, criminals are of two kinds: there are those who know that the wrong they do is wrong -- and there are those who think -- who actually believe -- that their deeds are virtuous. When those of the latter category have a religious basis for their activities, they can rarely be dissuaded by legal and penal measures alone, for bearing chastisement is in itself sublime to them -- something that gives them a cause to rejoice in being 'persecuted for righteousness' sake' -- something that only adds to their commitment. The best Defence against these people is an attack on the religious foundation their leaders use to convince them. A fortiori, legal and penal measures must be accompanied by propagation of counter arguments. For this purpose, arguments developed on the basis of superficial study won't do. No one is easily convinced into becoming a murderer on religious grounds and no one is easily dissuaded once so convinced. Only arguments truly emanating from the Qur'an and the Sunnah and cogent enough can be effective. Unfortunately, very little work has been done in this regard by government as well as private institutions.
It is important to know what arguments the militants use to justify their deeds and to see whether these arguments have any basis in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. This dissertation discusses some pertinent issues in this regard, including incendiary questions as the following:
- Does Islam give an individual or a group the right to use violence to end wrong?
- What arguments do the militant Islamists have to justify their acts of terrorism and violence?
- Is the government of Pakistan un-Islamic?
- When is an individual or a group allowed by Islam to rebel against the State?
- What are the punishments in Islam for those who rebel against the State or cause disruption in society?
- What exactly is the meaning of Jihad and who has the right to wage it?
- Is 'turning the other cheek' a Christian belief only?
- What are the rules for a preacher in Islam?
- What is the actual responsibility of religious leaders?
- Does an individual or a group have the right to declare a Muslim a Kafir?
- What are the rights of the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic State?
- Who has the authority to punish a person or a group for blasphemy?
- What steps does the government need to take to end violence and terrorism now rampant in our society in the **** of religion?
This dissertation, a major part of which is ****d on Javed Ahmad Ghamidi's research work (a meritorious religious scholar and founder of Al-Mawrid, an institute of Islamic education), has three main sections:
- The first gives a summary of the main conclusions drawn in the article,
- The second recommends certain strategies to the government for dealing with sectarian violence and terrorism, and
- The last section contains the main article. An appendix at the end responds to some criticisms on the views expressed in the dissertation.
II. Summary of the main conclusions
A. Taking the law into one's own hands amounts to either Fasad fi'l-Ard (creating disorder) or Muharabah (rebellion) -- both of which are punishable by death in Islam.
B. The Prophet's saying (saws) usually cited to give credence to the idea that Islam allows an individual or a group the use of force to end wrong is actually related to the use of power within the confines of the social and legal authority.
C. In Islam, there is no concept of Jihad (Qital to be more precise -- that is militant struggle in the way of Allah) or the implementation of punishments without the authority of the State.
D. The argument that the government in Pakistan is not Islamic is ****less. In an independent State, any government formed on the basis of amruhum shura baynahum (their affairs are by consultation among them) -- in modern times through the vote of the Muslim citizens in an election -- is an Islamic government so long as the rulers do not un*****ocally deny Islam or their faith in it.
E. Rebellion against the State (Khuruj) is allowed -- that is it is permissible not obligatory -- only when all of the following three conditions exist:
- The Rulers un*****ocally deny Islam.
- The government is a dictatorship and does not have the support of the Muslims and cannot be changed by their vote.
- The leader of Khuruj is one who, without any doubt, has the support of the majority of the nation.
Moreover, in case of an armed rebellion, there is an additional condition: the leader of the Khuruj must migrate with his followers to another land and form an independent State.
In the absence of even one of these conditions, those leading the Khuruj can be sentenced to death by the State under Islamic law.
F. Allegiance to the Islamic State and obedience to its government are obligatory on a Muslim even if the rulers are morally corrupt. According to a reported saying of the Prophet (saws), he who detaches himself from the collectivity of the Muslims and dies in that condition dies the death of ignorance.
G. No individual or group has the right to declare a person a Kafir (one who deliberately denies Islam even after its truth has been made clear to him/her by the Prophet (saws); plural: Kuffar). Takfir -- declaring someone a Kafir is the prerogative of the Prophet (saws) -- who does that through Divine revelation. Declaring someone a non-Muslim is the prerogative of the collectivity of the Muslim community represented by their State.
H. The argument of the militant Islamists that their aggression is in self-Defence is ****less. The difference between self-Defence and aggression is manifest. Also, the law of Qisas in Islam is to be implemented by the State not by any individual or group. The aggrieved person has the right to demand Qisas, and it is the responsibility of the State to provide him with justice. The aggrieved or his heir also has the authority to forgive the offender and demand penalty. But there is no room in Islam for personal vendettas, in which people take the law into their own hands.
I. Religious scholars and leaders of religious movements can best serve Islam by staying out of politics and confining themselves to academic work and Da'wah (propagation of religion). They must remember that their primary responsibility is Indhar (admonition) and Da'wah. Their goal should be conquering the hearts of people rather than killing them. For the conquest of hearts one has to be slain rather than slaying others. One has to forgive rather than avenge. And one has to repel evil with goodness.