By Asghar Ali Engineer
7 Oct 2008
The terror attacks in India as well as abroad have created an impression that jihad is central to Quranic teaching. First of all, as we have asserted repeatedly, jihad does not mean war in the Quran as there are other words for it like qital and harb. Jihad has been used in the Quran in its root meaning i.e. to strive and to strive for betterment of society, to spread goodness (maruf) and contain evil (munkar).
But supposing jihad means war, as some Muslims believe, even then it isn’t central to Quranic teachings. The word jihad occurs in the Quran 41 times though not a single verse uses it in the sense of war. There are four most fundamental values in the Quran i.e. justice (’adl), benevolence (ihsan), compassion (rahmah) and wisdom (hikmah). Thus, the Quran is an embodiment of these values and a Muslim is duty-bound to practise them above all. One who fails to practise these values can hardly claim to be a true Muslim. Jihad is not even obligatory in Islamic jurisprudence whereas these values are indicative of a Muslim’s character and hence quite important. It would be seen that compassion is most central to Quranic teachings. The words “compassion” and “mercy” in their various forms occur in the Quran 335 times as against only 41 for jihad.
There is great emphasis in the Quran on justice in all social and political matters and it uses three words for justice — ’adl, qist and hakama. These three words occur 244 times in the Quran. To seek revenge is human weakness, not strength. Thus, a devout Muslim tends to forgive like Allah who forgives his servants if they sincerely repent. Those who are waging jihad in the form of terror attacks are bent upon seeking revenge whereas a good Muslim would tend to forgive just as Allah does.
In Shariah law, jihad can be declared only by the state or those empowered by it. Terror attacks, on the other hand, are planned and executed by a few individuals unrepresentative of any state or state institution. So their attacks cannot be legitimate by any Islamic or Shariah law. That is nothing but committing murder of innocent people. Also, according to Islamic laws, in jihad no non-combatant can be attacked, much less women, children and old persons and no civilian property can be destroyed unless it is being used for military purposes or for purposes of combat.
It can be seen that the rules laid down for war by Islamic laws are no different from modern laws of warfare or the Geneva conventions. But terror attacks are a gross violation of all these Islamic rules and there is no way these attacks can be characterised as jihad. The terrorists are described by the media as jihadis. This is a gross misuse of the word as there is no word like jihadi in the Arabic language. It is in fact ‘mujahid’ and it is used in a laudatory sense — one who devotes oneself to a good cause like fighting against social evils.
The Quran advises Muslims: “And cast not yourselves to destruction with your own hands and do good (to others). Surely Allah loves the doers of good.” This advice of the Quran not to throw oneself to destruction with one’s own hands is important and relevant even today. What did the 9/11 attack result in? Did al-Qaeda not invite great disaster to the entire Islamic world, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq? Did they not throw themselves into perdition with their own hands? What good did that attack do to anyone ? Was there any wisdom in that rash and ruthless attack?
Revenge only satisfies our ego and injures the ego of the enemy and thus the war of attrition continues. What terrorists are doing is seeking revenge and that too from a weaker position. Every attack brings nothing but disaster for themselves and others. Various verses quoted to justify jihad are generally taken in a literal sense and ignore the value system of the Quran. It is a well-known fact that be it al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organisation, they do not represent any government or larger Muslim organisation. They succeed in mobilising some angry youth who are carried away by ‘Islamic’ rhetoric and commit terrorist attacks taking lives of innocent people. These attacks violate all Quranic values.
Seventh century Arabia cannot be compared to conditions in the contemporary world. Today’s world is radically different from that period and we should go more by Quranic ethics than injunctions about war. There are several institutions now available for arbitration, reconciliation and solving disputes. One should not rush to resort to violence.
In the Indian context, one cannot avenge communal violence by terrorist attacks on innocent Hindus and Muslims in marketplaces. It is the same sin which communal forces committed against innocent Muslims. Wisdom requires that one should patiently mobilise public opinion through democratic means, win over the hearts of common people and expose communal and fascist forces.
One hopes that the misguided Muslim youth resorting to violent actions will realise the futility of terror attacks and renounce such sinful and criminal acts, concentrating instead on excelling in learning and acquiring a superior moral character. Did not the Prophet say that the “ink of a scholar is superior to the blood of the martyr”?
The writer is an acknowledged authority on Islam and director of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai.
Quran warns us not to become an evil yourself while fighting evil. 42:40 But [remember that an attempt at] requiting evil may, too, become an evil:40 hence, whoever pardons [his foe] and makes peace, his reward rests with God - for, verily, He does not love evildoers.41Muhammad Asad TranslationMuhammad Asad - End Note 40 (42:48)
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2008 10:59:48 +0530 [10/07/2008 10:59AM IST]
From: Ghulam Muhammed
Subject: Misguided scholarship By Ghulam Muhammed
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
It is unclear who is primarily responsible for publishing the article: Making a mockery of Jihad by Asghar Ali Engineer in today's Times of India; the TOI or the writer. But the timing of the publication of the article, when the whole of India is rocked by bombings and riots, cannot be missed as focusing the sin of violence on Muslims, in the pat theory that Islam and Jihad for Muslim go together. Why Asghar Ali Engineer should be targeting some imaginary misguided 'Muslims' for their misconception of Jihad, when there is no definite proof that Muslims enmass or in groups are behind the recent season of violence, that always traditionally precedes the season of 'democratic' elections in India.
Asghar Ali Engineer is led by the nose by his funders, throughout his career, to play the role of a paid piper; just as all think tank scholars invariably do.
However, at least, in such times of acute communal polarisation being on its most sensitive conflagration point, he could have better judgment than to send out his academic discussion on Jihad, to the TOI to bolster the media's propaganda that all the violence in India is perpetrated by Muslims, as neatly supposed to be confirmed by 'their' favourite 'Islamic Scholar', Asghar Ali Engineer- taking such a robust stand in print now at this very juncture.
Without batting an eye, and with enormous volume of facts and analyses so readily available, Asghar Ali Engineer, glibly accepts that 9/11 was the work of Muslim or Islamic 'terrorists' or Al Qaeda and weaves an advice around that 'crime of the millennium'.
He has no need to be skeptical about 9/11, as the Western propagandists have done a successful job of indoctrinating the gullible world.
Asghar Ali's scholarship sticks to religious books with his own amalgam of logic from 'Reform Bohra' ijtehad and liberal Marxist clichés and to the guidelines that the propagandists want him to follow.
He has no independent intelligence to think as he has mortgaged his own thinking and judgment to the highest bidder that comes around at any given time.
He had been covering and writing on communal riots, but could never either figure out or could gather the courage to name Indian National Congress, as the chief organizers of so many riots, with the active help from RSS cadre. In a recent TV panel discussion, Congressman Salman Khursheed ended up responding to BJP's Chari, that it was RSS cadre that helped Congress.
It is left to a foreigner, Professor Bill Brass, to expose the criminality of the political establishment, who used the massacre of Muslims, to achieve their twin game points; at the one end to convince their Hindu vote bank that they and their police are and will remain on their side; while on the other hand, demoralize the Muslim vote bank to the extant that they will be forced to seek security from their known tormentors.
Being in media, Asghar Ali Engineer was used to paper over their criminal conspiracies, by never ever hinting at the time that riots took place, to implicate the state agencies run by the Indian National Congress, while that has been the patent scenario all along.
He writes in the article: "One hopes that the misguided Muslim youth resorting to violent actions will realise the futility of terror attacks and renounce such sinful and criminal acts…". This on the day, Times of India on its front pages reports about a police press conference, where Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor and Crime Branch Chief, Rakesh Maria, had come out with long list of names of Muslim accused of being the media wing of the supposedly Muslim terrorist organisation, "Indian Mujahideen". Thus Times of India has taken full side with the police version, even though that has to be proved in court, if and if not all these arrests had been on fictitious grounds.
So it appears to be a grand conspiracy, for political mobilization to fight the coming elections, by demonising Muslims and unfortunately, the so-called Leftists with Muslim names, have no qualms in enrolling themselves in the noble cause.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai <www.ghulammuhammed.wordpress.com
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 2008 14:41:34 -0400 [12:11AM IST]
Subject: Making a Mockery of Jihad By Asghar Ali Engineer
Well I'm confused. Mr. Ali would have us believe that "jihad does not mean war in the Quran...." He claims that the word is used "in the Quran in its root meaning i.e. to strive and to strive for betterment of society, to spread goodness (maruf) and contain evil (munkar)." And yet he later states that in "Shariah law, jihad can be declared only by the state or those empowered by it." What exactly is the state or those empowered by it declaring here? Striving for the betterment of society? Spreading goodness? Or is it not rather a state of war? Clearly then Shariah law recognizes and defines jihad as war. But in justifying and explaining jihad, Islamic scholars base their injunction on the numerous sura in the Quran (9:5, 9:29-32, 8:65, 2:191, 2:216 to name just a few) which require Muslims to conduct Holy War. In other words, they look to the Quran to define the term. There are numerous examples in the Hadith in which jihad is clearly used to mean war.
The scholar Dr. Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Buti has written, "The Holy War (Islamic Jihad) as it is known in Islamic Jurisprudence, is basically an offensive war. This is the duty of Muslims in every age...." And Sayyad Qutb ridicules those who view jihad as solely defensi ve. "They are ignorant," he says, "of the nature of Isalm...."
Mr. Ali's defense of the posturing of Islam suffers from a weakness common to such arguments. He ignores the abundance of evidence in his sources, including the Quran, that refutes his claims. The writer Ibn Warraq was far more accurate in his judgment when he noted:
"There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. There is no difference between Islam and Islamic fundamentalism: at most there is a difference of degree but not of kind. All the tenets of Islamic fundamentalism are derived from the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the Hadith – Islamic fundamentalism is a totalitarian construct derived by Muslim jurists from the fundamental and defining texts of Islam. The fundamentalists, with greater logic and coherence than so-called moderate or liberal Muslims, have made Islam the basis of a radical utopian ideology that aims to replace capitalism and democracy as the reigning world system."
The writer states:
"There are several institutions now available for arbitration, reconciliation and solving disputes. One should not rush to resort to violence."
Can he mention some issues concerning the muslims throghout the world which have been resolved as a result of the intervention of the 'several institutions' available for this purpose? The fact is that most important disputes of the contemporary muslim world (Palestine and Kashmir) have been created by the colonial powers that have dominant influence in these institutions.
"Kindness is nobler ever than revenge" says Shakespear in one of his plays. Islam is the noblest religion on earth, it does not teaches hatred and anomosity towards others, but teaches love and affection with one and all. The whole of humanity has been created by Aallah and only people differ in their practices of religions. God has created Satan and he sent him down, albeit on his request down to the world, to sway people from the path of Allah. Unfortunately, Satan's followers are more in the world than the lovers of Allah. It is all in the game, Allah wanted to see how many among the people would follow the righteous path as drawn by so many prophets sent by Allah for the betterment of the humanity.
None of the Prophets have ever taught hatred. This is for sure. The Holy Prophet Mohammed in his last sermon over Jable Arfat, directed the Muslims never to spill the blood of the innocent. What kind of Jihad being propagated by these radicals of Islam, where so many innocent people are killed in bomb blasts which include Muslims also. Jihad in its true meaning as rightly narrated by the Islamic Scholar Ali Asghar Engineers, as to strive and to strive for betterment of society, to spread goodness (maruf) and contain evil (munkar). Why these Mullas of Islam have not understood the religion in its totality. These Mullahs have done immense damage to the fair name of Islam, through their half-baked knowledge of Islam, by misguiding the youth of this country. Today, there is a spurt in their activities, where you can see more bearded men among the youth, professing Wahhabi teachings.
These radicals have penetrated into the schools, colleges and Madrasas. Today, these misguided youth have taken up arms struggle which is totally unwarranted and unfortunate to avenge the killings in Gujarat and elsewhere. Violence is no answer but compassion. We must stand united to face the common enemy through democratic means. Why all these Mullahs have not appealed to the youth to take part in politics to fight for their right in a democratic country like India? We need to assert ourselves as we are being used in a vote bank politics every five years, neglecting our interest thereafter. It is then left to other secualr parties to take up our cause. We, the Muslims, must be grateful to certain Hindu leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadev, Laulu Prash Yadev and Maywathi who always stood by the side of the Muslims. Even the Communists have stood behind the Muslims, but they hardly did anything for Muslims in their more 20 years rule West Bengal thanks to the facts exposed in the Sachar Committee Report. Our problems are more than creating an Islamic state.
We need to survive here. Islam is more sinned against than sinning. We need to dispel that misgiving in the same way as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan did to dispel the misgivings about the Muslims after Ghadar. We need to create an impression in the sceptic minds of the majority community that we harbour no ill will against any other community, we do not have any extra-territorial loyalty, we do not look for Pakistan to save our skin here, we do not entertain any anti-patriotic feelings, we do not cheer when Pakistani Cricket team wins, we do cheer our own team whereever they win as our Indian include more Muslims players include more Muslims like Wasim Jaffer, Irfan Pathan, Yousuf Pathan, Zaheer Khan, Mounaf Patel and Khaif.
It is our country and we need to stay solidly behind it. In its prosperity lies our prosperity. We the Muslims of India will remain eternally grateful to leaders like Ghandiji and Nehru, who allowed us to stay back in India, when Jinnah created Pakistan in the name of religion professing two nation theory. What would have to Pakistan, if India had chosen to send back the entire Muslim population to Pakistan as Pakistan was created on the basis of religion. Pakistan would have crumbled to pieces unable to bear the burden of such a huge mass of population.
Pakistan rather than any one else should live in perfect harmony with India for it saved Pakistan from the brink of disaster during partition of the country. Muslims of India would never forgive Mohammed Ali Jinnah for his short term objective in creating Pakistan for he failed to assess the aftermath of paritition vis-a-vis the status of Muslim in the post partitoned India. Muslims became aliens in their own land overnight on 14th August 1947 and were reduced to the status of second class citizens. There were hundreds and thousands of riots where hundreds and thousands were butchered, their properties looted and Pakistan remained mute spectator to the carnage thus negating the policy of Jinnah, who thought otherwise. Muslims in the undivided India were very well off with separate electorate system and representations, they were well represented in the state legislatures and Central parliament.
By population strength wise, Muslims were in majority in undivided Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Punjab, Sindh, North-West Frontiers, Kashmir and wherever they were in minorities, they were well represented through separate electorate system. The Muslims were in commanding position through their strength in Central parliament and were the deciding factors for all legislations. But all these came to nought when Pakistan was created on the religious basis in a two nation theory propagated by Jinnah. He created Pakistan more to satisfy his ego and anger against the Hindu Congress than in the interest of Muslims. India witnessed the biggest exodus of Muslims and Hindus and the killings as well in the history. Today, educated Muslims and intellengtsia feel that the creation of Pakistan was the biggest blunder of the 20th century.
For Jinna's sins, the biggest Muslim population in India is paying. If indepence of India was delayed for next two years, India would not have been partitioned as by the time Jinnah would have died a natural death as he was ill. Congress too to be blamed for the partition of the country. It should not have happened but when it happened, Muslims in India are paying the price, neglected, hounded and looked down as traitors, their loyalty is doubted and their patriotism is questioned. True to the misgivings, these Mullahs have created extremists elements to further fuel the fire.
Today Muslims once again witnessing a stage where they are looked down as not harbingers of peace but terrorism. When India was slowly forgetting the aftermath of partititon, comes once again to haunt their memories through these acts of insanity by the misguided educated youth of the country. All these happened only because of the extreme elements among the Muslims professing Wahhabi views of the religion. As if Islam is in danger, these half-baked Mullahs wanted Islamic state in India.
The worst part of it was the wrong interprettion of Jihad. When there was carnage going on in what was called a pogrom against the hapless Muslims by Modi and his men, where were these Mullahs and their mentors in Pakistan? No Muslim country in the world has the guts of Euorpean Union to come out openly to denounce such atrocities against Muslims in Gujarat. Muslims were left to fend for themselves. When such is the case, where is the justification to look upto these dirty Pakistanis and cheer them up whenever their teams wins.
It is time for Muslims to reorient their thinking and change of attitude is a must. Muslims intelligentsia owe it a duty to carry the message forward and show these Mullahs the door. They have done more damage to Islam than any outsiders.