Juan Cole’s Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism


Top Ten Ways Islamic Law forbids Terrorism

Posted on 04/17/2013 by Juan Cole

Erik Rush and others who hastened to scapegoat Muslims for the Boston Marathon bombing are ignorant of the religion. I can’t understand why people who have never so much as read a book about a subject appoint themselves experts on it. (Try this book, e.g.). We don’t yet know who carried out the attack, but we know they either aren’t Muslims at all or they aren’t real Muslims, in the nature of the case.

For the TLDR crowd, here are the top ten ways that Islamic law and tradition forbid terrorism (some of these points are reworked from previous postings):

1. Terrorism is above all murder. Murder is strictly forbidden in the Qur’an. Qur’an 6:151 says, “and do not kill a soul that God has made sacrosanct, save lawfully.” (i.e. murder is forbidden but the death penalty imposed by the state for a crime is permitted). 5:53 says, “… whoso kills a soul, unless it be for murder or for wreaking corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind; and he who saves a life, it shall be as if he had given life to all mankind.”

2. If the motive for terrorism is religious, it is impermissible in Islamic law. It is forbidden to attempt to impose Islam on other people. The Qur’an says, “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” (-The Cow, 2:256). Note that this verse was revealed in Medina in 622 AD or after and was never abrogated by any other verse of the Quran. Islam’s holy book forbids coercing people into adopting any religion. They have to willingly choose it.

3. Islamic law forbids aggressive warfare. The Quran says, “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” (8:61) The Quran chapter “The Cow,” 2:190, says, “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”

4. In the Islamic law of war, not just any civil engineer can declare or launch a war. It is the prerogative of the duly constituted leader of the Muslim community that engages in the war. Nowadays that would be the president or prime minister of the state, as advised by the mufti or national jurisconsult.

5. The killing of innocent non-combatants is forbidden. According to Sunni tradition, ‘Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave these instructions to his armies: “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Malik’s Muwatta’, “Kitab al-Jihad.”)

6. Terrorism or hirabah is forbidden in Islamic law, which groups it with brigandage, highway robbery and extortion rackets– any illicit use of fear and coercion in public spaces for money or power. The principle of forbidding the spreading of terror in the land is based on the Qur’an (Surah al-Ma’ida 5:33–34). Prominent [pdf] Muslim legal scholar Sherman Jackson writes, “The Spanish Maliki jurist Ibn `Abd al-Barr (d. 464/ 1070)) defines the agent of hiraba as ‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty of hirabah . . .”

7. Sneak attacks are forbidden. Muslim commanders must give the enemy fair warning that war is imminent. The Prophet Muhammad at one point gave 4 months notice.

8. The Prophet Muhammad counseled doing good to those who harm you andis said to have commanded, “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

9. The Qur’an demands of believers that they exercise justice toward people even where they have reason to be angry with them: “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”[5:8]

10. The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.

Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”

In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.

When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:

5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”

So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.

 

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If you want to know who are politicians’ favorite whipping boy, look no farther than American Muslims


Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

If you want to win election to Congress, demagogue the Muslim or the Shariah problem in America and you are a shoo-in to get elected.

Suburban Muslims are refuting claims made by Congressman Joe Walsh about the growth of “radical Islam” in the suburbs, saying instead that their religion is increasingly becoming a “punching bag” for Republicans.

“They took it very offensively,” Jamil Zara, General Secretary at the Midwest Islamic Center Masid Al-Huda in Schaumburg said of remarks Walsh made Wednesday at an Elk Grove Village town hall meeting. “It seems Republicans lately are doing this for the political gain. They make Islam a punching bag. They’re using Islam to scare people.”……..

In a statement, Walsh Thursday did not back down from the comments he made at the town hall. Instead, he said, “We cannot let political correctness blind us to reality. While most Muslims in America and around the world are as peace loving as the rest of us, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that there is a radical minority that simply wants to destroy America and the values that we stand for. … It is our responsibility as members of Congress to protect American families.”

I guess Walsh’s Muslim constituents aren’t considered American, or maybe he doesn’t want them to be?  After three years of ridiculous speculation whether the President is Muslim or even foreign, and further equally absurd conjecture of some sort of Islamic takeover of the government or the stealthy encroachment of Islamic law, shariah, in the US judicial system, ambitious politicians realize the path to success is to demonize a group of Americans and play to society’s fear and prejudices in order to succeed.  That’s call demagoguery, ‘seeking support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.’  Of course there’s no truth to or reason for this blatant lie; with the exception of 911 that happened over a decade ago, Muslims have not been the violent group on the verge of reeking havoc on America as politicians or media would have you believe, but in the absence of accurate reporting on political violence and the abundance of false and or misleading information about what American Muslims are supposed to have done, it has become easy for politicians like Walsh to erroneously assert the untruth. If a politician is dishonest about something as important as life and death and the rights of citizens of the republic about what else can they expected to be dishonest? What’s equally distressing is knowing that American politicians aren’t presenting them with clear choices of leadership and integrity  too many of the electorate  are willing to bet the aberrant behavior to “fudge” on the truth will only apply when politicians talk about Muslims and not when issues which directly affect them are up for discussion. Fat chance…and so confidence in Congress will continue to diminish because lawmakers haven’t been called on the lies they tell us about people or things we don’t like. Wake up America!

What is it about people’s religious scriptures that drives other people insane?!?


America is in the throes of Shariah lunacy.  It seems US lawmakers on the state and federal level are going out of their way to promote the idea that America is in danger of being overwhelmed by “Shariah” the legal code of Islam.  The very notion has caused some to border on the verge of insanity, and almost half of the states in America have or will consider some form of anti-Shariah law for a threat that simply doesn’t exist, legally or in reality.  Or take the recent talk about the dreaded Muslim Brotherhood which has gone so viral that John McCann had to go on the Senate floor to denounce the accusations that a long-time Hillary Clinton aide is some kind of conduit for the organization which now is represented by the newly elected President of Egypt.   We have also heard a lot about the desecration of the Quran on the part of  various and sundry folks, from the deranged Florida pastor to the US military’s burning of the Quran in Afghanistan and the resulting public outcry such heresy brings.

Here now is another case of some whack job driven insane by the New Testament; unfortunately for us he is a member of our ally, Israel’s government.   Michael Ben-Ari, pictured above,  decided to make his desecration a very public act, calling in cameras to record it for all the world to see.  Evidently he thinks the existence of the New Testament is responsible for the persecution and murder of Jews all over the world.  One has to wonder if he thinks the United States, a reportedly Christian country, is also responsible for the same?  What I also found enlightening was the language used by Ben-Ari in relation to the people who sent him the copy of the Bible and the followers of it.  Taking a page out of the Iranian president’s reference to the state of Israel, Ben-Ari said the place of the book and its messengers is in the trash of history.  There’s no doubt this Ben-Ari is so radical and enraged a member of the Israeli parliament that he’s been denied a visa to come to the US twice and after this latest outrage some within the Israeli government, to their credit, have denounced his actions.  However, it’s troubling that our only ally in the region, as they like to call themselves, elects members to its government that hold such strident and racist notions about Christians and Christianity and no doubt about their benefactor, America.

Just who are the Muslim Brotherhood


They certainly haven’t infested every branch of American government or life that many of the Islamophobes claim.  I found this excerpt revealing

It has become accepted wisdom in some circles that the Muslim Brotherhood is a force for progressive change, even democracy, in Egypt. Since the mid-1980s when the Brotherhood entered electoral politics in a coalition with the allegedly liberal Wafd party, its leaders have embraced the rhetoric of political reform. On the eve of the 1990 parliamentary elections, the Brotherhood’s then Supreme Guide Mohamed Abul Nasr penned an open letter to President Mubarak in which he boldly stated, “Freedom is dear and it is preferable for you to avoid your nation’s anger and riots. It cannot be imagined that any people will remain under subjugation and repression after hearing and witnessing surrounding nations achieve their freedom and dignity…A nation’s power is derived not from material power, but from the entire citizenry’s liberty, the people’s trust in the government, and the government’s trust in the people.” Those are reassuring (and prescient) words–even 22 years after the fact–but the Brothers have always been rather fuzzy about what democracy means to them, falling back on the concept of shura or “consultation,” which could or could not be the foundation of Egyptian democracy. They have also been vague about shari’a. While Morsi and Brotherhood big wallas have said that they will implement Islamic law, members of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party told the American foreign policy establishment during a visit in March that they support “the principles of shari’a, but not necessarily its particular legal rulings.” I guess that sounds fine to the uninitiated, but the statement amounts to nothing more than obfuscation.

It is entirely possible that the Brothers are democrats despite themselves. Here is the theory: Hammered as they are between the military, which still controls the guns, and other political forces including revolutionaries who mistrust the Islamists and thus can stir up trouble, the Brotherhood could determine that their only source of power is through the ballot box. As a result, the Brothers will seek regularly scheduled, free and fair elections as the only way to legitimate their power. In time, this will transform the Brothers into committed democrats. Never mind (cliché warning) that elections don’t make democracy, but this is roughly what happened in Europe and how theocratic parties of the 19th century became today’s Christian Democrats. There are many insights to be gleaned from Europe’s experiences, but it is important to remember that history can be a guide, but it is not a blueprint.

In the end, the intellectually honest answer about the Brothers’ commitment to democracy is, we just don’t know. It’s an empirical question. Let’s pay less attention to what they say and focus on what they are doing.

The last line is especially insightful and mature given the topic at hand.

Muslim countries? What Muslim countries!?


Islam

Islam (Photo credit: rogiro)

As if to put “Muslim countries” in their place, someone suggests that there aren’t any. I wish I had written this

What makes a good Islamic country? Is it one where the people dress conservatively (or even severely in the case of women), adhere strictly to the rituals of Islam, where shariah laws apply?

Or is a good Islamic country one that keeps to the substantive teachings of Islam, more concerned with the content rather than the form of the religion? Where fairness, justice, honesty are the cornerstones of government policies and of its citizens’ daily dealings.

How is a good Muslim judged? By the number of times he prays a day, by how assiduously he keeps to the rules? Or by how he lives the true meaning of his faith?

A study by Scheherazade S Rehman and Hossein Askari from George Washington University, published in the Global Economy Journal Vol 10 drew surprising conclusions.

The study examined if policies of Muslim countries (or Muslim majority countries) were founded on Islamic principles in comparison to non-Muslim countries. 208 countries were studied.

The criteria: economic opportunity, economic freedom, corruption, financial systems and human rights were used to measure the level of ‘Islamicity’ (based on an information website about Islam and Muslims).

The study found that most Islamic countries did not conduct themselves according to Islamic principles concerning economic, financial, political, legal, social and governance issues.

This is reflected in the governments in those countries but also the practices of the citizens in their daily dealings. Even at a social level it was found that many non-Muslim countries did much better in keeping to Islamic values.

The most ‘Islamic’ country the study found was actually non-Muslim – New Zealand. Luxembourg came second. The top 37 countries in the study were all non-Muslim.

Imaddudin Abdulrahim, one of Indonesia’s leading thinkers on Islamic monotheism claimed that Ames, a small city in Iowa, represents an exemplar of an Islamic state.

Yet Islam does not play a part in the day-to-day social, economic and political life of the city. The population does not observe Islamic rules on food or dress.

Imaddudin was not interested in form; he used parameters which reflect what he considered true Islam – trust, justice, fairness, freedom.

He found that people did not lock their doors when they went out and yet no one trespassed.

If you returned a broken egg to the grocer he accepted that it was broken when you bought it and replaced it without question.

People were honest in their dealings irrespective of the value of the transaction.

The government was fair and non-discriminatory. People were accepting of ethnic or religious differences.

He saw Islam beyond shariah and beyond its textual appearances. He was more concerned with the substantive elements of the religion.

Recently I enquired through a friend the possibility of getting a scholarship (from a certain university funded by a Muslim tycoon) for an Indian girl who had done very well in her exams but whose parents were poor and unable to send her to university. I was told in no uncertain terms that scholarships were only given to Muslims.

How does this reflect the true values of Islam?

When I was in Sudan I visited villages where artesian water was pumped out by equipment donated by Christian charities. I saw clinics and schools built and maintained by Christian foundations. Every village involved was however 100 percent Muslim!

Is there anywhere in any ‘Christian’ country where Muslims are forbidden to build mosques? As long as they comply with the local building codes they have every right to do so and the law will protects their rights.

Yet this is not the case in many Muslim countries. No wonder so many non-Muslim countries score higher than Muslim ones based on Islamic principles.

It’s no use spouting chapter and verse of the Quran if our deeds do not match the words we mouth.

We can follow all the rituals – fast, do the haj, pray five times a day, abstain from non-halal food, and cover ourselves. They all count for little if our deeds do not reflect the values of the religion.

If we are corrupt, if we discriminate against others because of ethnicity or religion, if we deny freedom of worship to others or even to one’s own, are we living by the true values of Islam?

Are our economic policies geared to help those at the bottom of the ladder or do they benefit the top disproportionately? Is our political system fair?

Do we respect human rights? Have we an untainted legal system? Is our governance transparent and accountable?  Are we tolerant of other religions and not impede their practice?

By any of the above criteria Malaysia has failed to live up to Islamic principles.

The authorities obstruct the building of non-Muslim places of worship – or even demolish them.

Christians are persecuted on dubious grounds. Our government discriminates on race and religion. Corruption is rife especially in high places.

The poor (the majority of whom are Malays) are left behind while the rich get richer. There is no respect for human rights and the political system is skewed.

On every count we fail to live up to Islamic values.

Lately radical Muslims have started to see ‘Christians under the bed’ – an Islamic form of the infamous McCarthyism of the fifties in the US.

They imagine that Christians are out to proselytise their fellow believers. They don’t believe that other Muslims can be more sophisticated than they and can make up their own minds what to believe in.

More than that, they demand Christians desist in doing whatever may remotely be a threat to them.

If these people were in charge in Sudan there would have been a lot of thirsty people and a lot of people without medicine and children without schooling.

I suppose they will now pass a fatwa that no Muslims must go to Christian hospitals. The Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Penang has been servicing the people for a long time and a lot of Muslims use the hospital.

There are symbols of Christianity everywhere and there are Bible tracts for those who want to read them.

Going by recent events the hospital could be charged with proselytising. If so I think they would have failed miserably – I doubt a single Muslim patient has converted.

You go to a hospital because you are sick and because you think it gives good service. You send your children to a school because you think it gives your children the best education, you drink because you are thirsty, you don’t care who paid for the pump that brought the water out.

Religion does not come into the reckoning for most people in this way.

Conversely you provide care irrespective of that person’s religion or give scholarships because the person is poor and deserving, irrespective of her skin colour or her religion.

If Malaysia lives up to the real values of Islam and not its superficiality, the country would be much better off.

Radical Muslims should be careful that the Christians they imagine lurking  under their beds may turn out to be better Muslims than themselves.

But then maybe that’s the crux of the problem, they are being exposed for what they are, faux Muslims.

How an article of clothing brings out the worse in US


What’s the difference between this and that?  What are we told should be our reaction to the image on the right versus the image on the left?  Mankind has been struggling with women’s sexuality since the beginning of time and inevitably we end up objectifying women either as objects of pleasure or revulsion, yet legally speaking, in most western democracies women were allowed the freedom to choose what they could wear and we as a society were told to respect that choice or face legal consequences for our indiscretion.  You will not find one politician who will claim the woman on the right has an ulterior motive to subvert the American way of life by wearing such an outfit in public, yet women who appear as the image on the left we are told want to impose a way of life on us that is akin to the terrorist attacks of 911 and therefore the weight of the law should be brought to bear against them…..not their detractors.  Raising the cry of No Sharia, politicians, pundits and the general public alike have likened such an article of clothing as an act of sedition.  In fact, too many societies in the West are even deciding to remove the right of women to choose what they, women, want to wear or what they should do with their bodies or the bodies that grow inside their bodies.  Legally, no woman is responsible for the inappropriate behavior of a male  towards her if she appeared as the image on the right.  Rape, a crime of violence is rarely if ever excused because the attacker gave in to an uncontrollable desire to ravage a woman’s body because she was wearing clothing that excited him.  As a society, we’ve come to accept the notion that regardless how a woman may appear, we are not to infringe on her ability to appear that way or punish her with our male notions of how we can behave as a result, yet far too many people feel compelled to punish women who wear niqab, either by restricting their right to wear it or denying them access in society.

Authorities have given in to their uncontrollable desire to assault the body of women who choose to wear the niqaab with the full weight of a government that has ingrained in its law freedom of religious and personal expression by removing the freedom or right to those that offend government.   The silence of an American public so beat up with the fear of Muslims and Islam is more than deafening, its complicit.  That no one can see the charade of charlatans who invent an object of fear and then say the only way it can be dealt with is to undo the fundamental precepts on which this country were built in order to make people feel comfortable is not only an absurd notion but highly treasonous.  After more than a decade of intense fear mongering which has produced not one scintilla of an outcome we were told was inevitable, more straw dogs, like the niqab, have been erected to convince a weary public that more needs to be done to assuage their fear and rid us of a menace.  Yet, what we’re being rid of is a woman’s right to choose how she wants to behave in this society. This battle is being fought by Muslim women, pregnant women, teenaged women, of all races and ethnic backgrounds.  They should join one another in standing against a trend that can only lead to them losing control of how they define themselves.  Ours should not be a society that fears or objectifies women.

The Racist’s Playbook exposed


People for the American Way have compiled the strategy used by the Right to inflame public passion against Muslims and gain political power.  The work entitled The Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism, contains such tidbits as this

Anti-Muslim sentiments are commonplace among Republican Party officials, candidates and activists. Right-wing activist David Horowitz maintains that “between 150 million and 750 million Muslims” are known to “support a holy war against Christians, Jews and other Muslims.” Religious Right leader Pat Robertson has likened Muslims to Adolf Hitler and said that Americans should fight Muslims in the same way the country fought Nazi Germany. Radio talk show host and American Family Association political chief Bryan Fischer calls Muslim-Americans “parasites” and a “toxic cancer” who are “out to eliminate and destroy western civilization.”

Presidential candidate Herman Cain said he would never consider appointing a Muslim to his administration, telling Fischer on his radio show, “I wouldn’t have Muslims in my administration”. Newt Gingrich defended Cain’s position in a Republican presidential debate, arguing that Muslims lie about their loyalty to the country and comparing them to Nazis. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC), in an ad before the 2010 election, equated all Muslim-Americans with the terrorists who committed the September 11th attacks. Rep. Allen West (R-FL) claimed Muslims are naturally “wild” because God cursed Ishmael and his (Muslim) descendents.

The American Center for Law and Justice, the conservative legal foundation founded by Pat Robertson and Jay Sekulow, claims that Muslims are compelled by their religion to fight America and other countries: “Because Islam grew out of the belief in complete world domination, every Muslim is obligated to labor in his own way toward achieving that goal, no matter where he lives or what sovereign claims his allegiance,” the group writes in Shari’a Law: Radical Islam’s Threat to the U.S. Constitution. The ACLJ is one of the driving forces behind the attempt to block construction of the Park 51 Muslim community center in Manhattan and offers elected officials legal advice to crack down on the supposed ‘Sharia threat.’ In its Shari’a Law pamphlet, ACLJ makes clear its view that Muslims cannot be loyal Americans, asserting that “devout Muslims cannot truthfully swear the oath to become citizens of the United States of America.”

Attempts by Muslims to defend their faith and community are rendered meaningless under this Right Wing framing, because anti-Muslim activists dishonestly argue that Muslims are mandated by their religion to lie in order to further their violent objectives.

Now Cain, thank God is gone…..effectively removed from the power landscape of the GOP, but the others mentioned in the excerpt are still recognized, vocal, visible and quoted by far too many across the width and breath of this country.  The fact that in today’s America, people have become popular, powerful and influential because they have incited public passions against certain segments of the society is not only disgraceful, but an indication of how far America has to go and just how backwards it has become in the second decade of the 21st century.  Those who pooh pooh the need for a discussion of race in this country are disillusioned, with their heads in the sand.