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First Prize Winning Entry in the GIC Annual National Essay Competition, 2011

First Prize Winning Entry in the GIC Annual National Essay Competition, 2011

I’m publishing here, a copy of my winning entry in the 2011 edition of the Annual National Essay Competition of the Glorious Islamic Centre (GIC). This is against the backdrop of the 2012 edition of  the competition currently opened. Although this year’s edition comes with different topics, reading last year’s winning entry can provide invaluable insights and inspiration for readers and intending entrants.

Don’t just use all the brain you have…borrow insights from others too

The piece is long, but I do strongly assure you it’d be well worth your time. You may choose to read it below or download the PDF file by clicking: Terrorism Is Not Permitted In Islam by Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

 

 

So please read, relish, leave comments and share the piece.

Terrorism is not permitted in Islam

Introduction

In the present times, there is a widely propagated misconception that Islam is a violent religion established by the naked force of the sword. The media, especially in the West, often indoctrinate the poor masses by painting the image that the Prophet spread the message of Islam holding the Qur’an in one hand and the sword in the other, and slicing the throat of anyone who would refuse to accept his message.[1] Not only is this conception erroneous and blasphemous, it is a wicked concoction for which there exists no iota of evidence. There is therefore the urgent need for an examination of the state of peace and violence in the world before, during and after the revival of Islam by Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

However, before scanning through the annals of Homo sapiens, it is apposite that the concept of “terrorism” be defined. According to the Microsoft Encarta Premium, terrorism is “the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear for bringing about political change.”[2] In many advanced countries of the world, the term has been given statutory definitions. In the United Kingdom for example, the Terrorist Act, 2000, defines it as “the use or threat of action . . . designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public . . . for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.” This definition, unlike that given by the Microsoft Encarta Premium, suggests that the motive behind a terrorist act need not be political. It may in fact be for other reasons including economic, religious, social or cultural. As Bruce puts it, terrorist acts are often staged to protest “political oppression, cultural domination, economic exploitation, ethnic discrimination, and religious persecution.”[3] Terrorism is often staged by smaller groups to frighten larger groups. The tactics is: “Kill one, frighten 10,000”.[4]

Terrorism before the revival of Islam

The first known incidence of the acts which are now dubbed terrorism were perpetrated by the Zealots[5], a radical Jewish sect in protest to the imperialist Roman Empire in the first century of the Christian Era. This group resisted the Roman Empire’s suzerainty over what is today known as Israel through a determined campaign primarily involving assassination with primitive daggers in broad daylight. These were often done in crowded market places or on feast days—basically wherever there were people to witness the violence and become sympathetic with their cause. Ever since, humanity progressively developed a penchant for violence and feud. Man grew into a dangerous beast with an insatiable appetite for the indiscriminate spillage of human blood. Prophets after Prophets were sent by Allah to reform him and cleanse him of the quagmire of vices into which he had slipped. However, no sooner had each of the Prophets left him than he returned to his vomit and relished it.

The prevailing social condition in Arabia before the emergence of the Apostle was vividly depicted by Ja’far ibn Abi Talib in the court of the Negus when he said they were a people who committed abominations, broke natural ties, oppressed their neighbours and their strong devoured the weak. In the same vein, while describing the warlike temperament of the Arabs in the pre-Islamic era, Nadwi wrote:

A most trivial incident could touch off a bitter inter-tribal war. The war, for instance, between the descendants of Wa’il, Bakr and Taghlib dragged on for full forty years. There were innumerable casualties in this war.[6]

So valueless was human life that as many as 30,000 persons lost their lives in the economic uprisings of 532 A.C. in Rome[7]. The untold savagery and unprecedented bickering that prevailed is aptly described in the Glorious Qur’an:

Corruption had appeared on the land and the sea because of what the hands of men had earned, that [Allah] might give them a taste of some of their deeds, in order that they might turn back [from evil].[8]

The arrival of Islam

The emergence of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the revival of Islam shunned terrorism and brought about peace and tranquillity to humanity. By its sheer nature, terrorist acts target innocent and helpless persons for attack so as to create tension in the hearts of others, especially those at the helm of affairs. This makes terrorism antithetical to the fundamental principles of the Islamic faith. Several evidences attest to this historical fact. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an in unambiguous terms: “that no bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another.”[9] It is therefore unjustifiable in Islam that a set of vulnerable people be punished for the atrocities committed by the ruling class. This is corroborated by the Prophet’s decree that “A man will not be made liable for misdeeds of his ally.”[10]

The sanctity of human life and its protection is one of the prime objectives of the sharia. By the decree of Islam, a person’s life can legally be terminated only by the due process of the law. Hence:

Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that 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.[11]

This establishes beyond every reasonable doubt that Islam frowns at terrorist acts.

Jihad distinguished from terrorism

One of the most potent propaganda tools often adopted by anti-Islamic crusaders is the equation of jihad with terrorism. They claim that Islam was preached by the Prophet with a sword and the Qur’an in either hand – even when the Qur’an was not compiled until after the Prophet’s death. The scope of jihad – physical combat to propagate the belief and check oppression – is captured thus: “Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits.”[12]

The proviso, “but do not go beyond the limits,” is an important distinction between jihad and terrorism. While the former is regulated by strict rules of engagements, the latter is executed indiscriminately. Contrary to the Islamic concept of jihad used to checkmate wrong-doers and mischief-makers, terrorism is launched against innocent persons. Allah commands:  “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for God.  But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers.[13] It is obvious from this that jihad is aimed at curbing the wrongful activities of oppressors and not blameless souls. In a plethora of Prophetic narrations, arbitrary slaughtering of innocent women, children and civilians is outlawed.

So succinctly has a writer highlighted the conspicuous features of jihad which differentiate it from terrorism in the following words:

If the Prophet could preach in Mecca for 13 years under much persecution and eventually migrate to Medina rather than cut the throat of his adversaries, what basis does religious violence have in Islam? War only comes as a last resort when the enemy’s persecution has attained its climax. And even then, the combat is guided by strict rules. first, the enemies are not to be attacked unaware; they must be notified of a declaration of war against them so as to give them the opportunity of preparing their military forces. Then, during the battle, women, children, the disabled, the old, non-combatant males, monks in their monasteries, those in places of worship, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers must not be killed, corpses must not be cremated or mutilated, places of worship, houses, farmlands and other properties must not be burnt, plants and animals must not be killed and there must be no looting.[14]

Jihad is launched openly and only by an established Islamic authority, while terrorism is executed by faceless groups striking unsuspecting civilians indiscriminately and returning back into hiding.

Terrorism often targets innocent civilians in order to create an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and insecurity. Some terrorists deliberately direct attacks against large numbers of ordinary citizens who simply happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. More selective terrorist attacks target diplomats and diplomatic facilities such as embassies and consulates; military personnel and military bases; business executives and corporate offices; and transportation vehicles and facilities, such as airlines and airports, trains and train stations, buses and bus terminals, and subways.[15]

Terrorist acts by Muslims

Having proved that Islam prohibits terrorism, one may wonder why Muslims often commits these dastardly acts under the guise of Islam. This is clearly a discrepancy between the text and the practice – or context – of Muslims. The explanation for this is that there would often be erring, non-conformist individuals in any group. This however does not make the group or every other member in the group vicious. If a Law student steals, does that make all Law students become pilferers? If a Jew commits adultery, will every other Jew be deemed adulterous?

When Anders Breivik, a Christian, committed terrorist acts in Norway, he was held personally liable and his vicious act was not interpreted as what Christianity preaches. In like manner, the Holocaust was staged by Hitler and his about 60 million German Roman Catholic Christian followers; yet, no one blamed the brutal acts on Christianity.

Also, the media often allege that the mainstream Muslims do not speak against terrorism and as such, they aid and give tacit approval to it. This assertion is careless and uninformed. Muslims have always condemned in the strongest terms, indiscriminate carnage against hapless masses wherever they exist.

A survey conducted between July and September, 2008 by WorldPublicOpinion.org in collaboration with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) reveals that in nearly all countries polled, more than 7 in every 10 say they disapprove of terrorist attacks on American civilians.[16] As found in the 2007 survey of the Pew Research Center, only 1% of Muslims in the US say that suicide bombing is justified while 81% say it is never justified.

Conjured terrorism to blackmail Muslims

In actual fact, many of the terrorist acts associated with Muslims by the media are masterminded by journalists and political figures who are Islamophobes. Ben Gurion, the former Israeli Prime Minister captured this fact when he confessed: “We do not fear socialism, revolutionalism and democratism in the region; the only thing we fear is Islam, the giant that has slept for long.”[17]

The bombing of the World Trade Center exemplifies how Western propagandists and misinformation experts can go to ridiculous lengths to malign Muslims. For instance, John Kaminski in his dissertation, “The Day America Died,” proved with incontrovertible facts that many of the American leaders not only knew that the tragedy was about to happen and did nothing to stop it, but actually participated in planning and executing it.[18]

Conclusion

Islam is a creed which advocates peace not only in theory but also in observance. As argued above, many Qur’anic verses and Prophetic pronouncements prohibit the staging of terrorist acts and the fact that some Muslims have been guilty of wilful contravention and the Islamic ideal does not derogate from this. Finally, the ‘power that be’ is chiefly responsible for many of the terrorist acts with which innocent Muslims are accused. What they seek to attack is not terrorism; it is Islam.

 Bibliography

  1. Abubakre, Abdur Rasheed. Muslims and the Threat of Media.
  2. Full Text of the Madina Charter. Available online at < http://www.constitution.org/cons/medina/macharter.htm > accessed on 30 November 2011.
  3. Ghazzali, Imam Abu Hamid Ihya Ulum al-Din. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 3rd ed., 1991 Vol. III.
  4. Haruun, AbdulHakeem. September 11 Before & Beyond (Nigeria: Islamic Heritage Foundation, 2004).
  5. Khan, Muhammad Zafrullah. Islam and Human Rights (Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 1988).
  6. Kheuman and Leister. History of France.
  7. Kull, Stephen et al, Public Opinion in the Islamic World on Terrorism, al Qaeda, and US Policies (February 25, 2009).
  8. Mawdudi, Sayyid Abul A’la. “Human Rights in Islam” AlTawhid, A Journal of Islamic Thought and Culture 4, no. 3 (1987).
  9. Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.
  10. Muhammed, Abdullahi, “The Boko Haramic menace: religion or politics?”, The Muslims Weekly Newspaper (22 July 2011).
  11. Nadwi, Abul Hasan Ali. Islam and the World (Riyadh: International Islamic Publishing House, 2006).
  12. Oba, Abdulmumini. “Human Rights and Islam: Some Precedents from the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” The Al-Maslaha Vol. 4, (2007-2008) 105.
  13. Ali, Yusuf. English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary of the Qur’an.


[1] Prominent among those who have championed this cause of calumny are Islamophobes like Pamela Geller of the Atlas Shrugs, Robert Spencer, Eliana Benador, Brigitte Gabriel and David Yerushalmi. For instance, Kheuman and Leister in their “History of France”, a book for primary school pupils wrote in pp. 80-81: “Those Arabs have forced people to join the religion. They said to them; join Islam or you will be killed, whereas Christ’s followers won souls by their righteousness and steady love.” In the same vein, “Islam Watch” asserts that “terrorism … is the real Islam.”

[2] Hoffman, Bruce. “Terrorism.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Haruun, AbdulHakeem. September 11 Before & Beyond, p. 8.

[5] Hoffman, Bruce. “Terrorism.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008.

[6] Nadwi, Abul Hasan Ali. Islam and the World, p. 49

[7] Ibid. pp. 28-29

[8] Qur’an 30, verse 41.

[9] Qur’an 53: 38

[10] Article 41, Full Text of the Madina Charter. Available online at < http://www.constitution.org/cons/medina/macharter.htm > accessed on 30 November 2011.

[11] Qur’an 5, verse 32.

[12] Qur’an 2, verse 190.

[13] Quran 2:193

[14] Muhammed, Abdullahi, “The Boko Haramic menace: religion or politics?”, The Muslims Weekly Newspaper (22 July 2011), p. 4.

[15] Hoffman, Bruce. Ibid.

[16] Kull, Stephen et al, Public Opinion in the Islamic World on Terrorism, al Qaeda, and US Policies (February 25, 2009)

[17] Jews Animosity to Islamic Movement, p. 45 quoted in Haruun, AbdulHakeem. September 11 Before & Beyond, p. 116.

[18] For a detailed analysis of this, see Abdur Rasheed Abubakre, Muslims and the Threat of Media, p. 19.

 

Download PDF version here: Terrorism Is Not Permitted In Islam by Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.

Comments

  1. The writers should keep it up.

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