Terrorist groups who flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up acts of violent extremism cannot hide their serious ideological flaws. These reveal the warped logic and ill-informed and unauthentic sourcing from religious texts as they try to justify what in reality is an insatiable desire for power, control and bloodshed.
The first ideological flaw is related to the terror groups’ abominable crimes against the Quran and hadith, or reports of prophetic statements, when they take the Quranic verses and the Prophet’s words out of context and imbue them with savage meanings. The terrorists are totally ignorant and incapable of comprehending the Quran and hadith or the objectives of Islamic law and its principles.
As a result, the words of God in the Quran or of the Prophet—which should fill hearts of believers with peace and mercy and reverence for religion—are replaced with ugly distortions that fill hearts with repulsion and fear. The radicals willfully misquote or misuse Quranic verses, and then hold tight to their deviant interpretations.
These groups have the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses that don’t fit their claims. They declare unilateral war against both Muslims and non-Muslims who don’t share their barbarous mentality. They completely disregard the Quranic conception of human brotherhood and peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
For example, in the Quran, God says, “O Mankind. We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things” (49:13).
The Quran urges the embrace of people from different religious affiliations, cultural backgrounds and racial origins. Yet the radical groups insist that anyone who rejects their extremist ideology is a legitimate target who may be killed. This lunacy stands in total contrast to the clear Quranic message in which God says, “If anyone kills a person, it is as if he kills all mankind while if anyone saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind” (5:32).
Second, the radicals narrow the concept of jihad and restrict it to combat and slaughter while claiming that such distortions represent the jihad legislated by God. The truth is that jihad, in essence, is the human endeavor of striving to improve the individual and the society and to bring life closer to the divine model. The extremists have made physical jihad an end in itself, when in fact it is one means of seeking individual spiritual understanding of God’s path for us, or guidance.
Whenever jihad deviates from this goal it backfires, becoming a means of outright harm that repels people from God’s religion. The extremists cannot declare “jihad” on behalf of 1.5 billion Muslims. Simply put, the declaration of armed struggle is the prerogative of the ruler of the state or his deputy. These terrorist groups, as nonstate actors, are not allowed to declare it.
Third, it is delusional for these terrorists to think that those who were killed in the line of “duty” are considered martyrs and will be rewarded with paradise. The terrorists who are killed aren’t considered martyrs according to Islamic law, even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions don’t justify illegal acts—and it is totally prohibited by Islam to kill innocent people. Thus terrorist acts like 9/11 in the U.S., 7/7 in London or any other similar horrendous attacks are sheer murder and have nothing to do with jihad.
In sum, the noble form of physical jihad—which is waged by legitimate state authorities to fend off aggression and establish justice—has nothing to do with the supposed jihad of these terrorists, who practice nothing more than the ruthless mass murder of innocents. Jihad is a war fought with honor and guided with moral codes of conduct.
Since terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas, their deviant ideology must be debunked by intellectual responses. The fight will be stronger with the help of the international media and academia in publishing and broadcasting the voices of authentic Muslim scholars who can counter the extremists’ false claims and their warped interpretation of the Quran.
Dr. Allam is the grand mufti of Egypt.
Written by Theresa Corbin
I often wonder if Islamophobes and Islamic extremists realize that they are just different sides of the same coin.
They both promote fear and hatred of large groups of diverse peoples. Both groups wish to sweep as many people up in their seriously dangerous causes. They both want war, and use any manner and means to get it, including promoting a distorted view of Islam. They take verses out of context and employ weak or questionable hadith (sayings, actions, or approvals of the Prophet) to reach their own political ends.
If I have one hope for society, it would be that these groups can go off and deal with each other and leave the rest of us, the majority of us, to live in peace and cooperation, free from their detrimental rabble-rousing. I hear that Antarctica is nice this time of year. Maybe they can snuggle up together for warmth and find some common ground in the fact that we are all human beings.
What follows is a sampling of Quranic verses reductionists and hate mongers love to take out of context. Now put back into context.
1. Qur’an 5:51—O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
In this verse, the words “Awliya”- plural- or “wali” –singular- has been (badly) translated as “friends” or “friend”; however, the more appropriate translation would be a “guardian, protector, or advocate”. Muslims are to be advocates and protectors for each other. And friends with everyone.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was kind to the pagans of Mecca and fought them only when they fought him. He made treaties with the Jews of Madinah and honored the treaties until they broke them. He received the Christians of Najran with kindness in Madinah. They argued with him about Islam, but he treated them with honor and respect. 1
2. Qur’an 8:12— Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.”
This verse was revealed about the Battle of Badr. The pagans of Mecca travelled more than 200 miles to Madinah with an army of about 1000 to kill the Muslims who numbered around 300. The Prophet Muhammad and fellow Muslims had suffered severe persecution, torture and even murder of their brethren for 13 years in the city of Mecca at the hands of these very same pagans.
And once the Muslims had fled Mecca and found a sanctuary in the city of Madinah, they were followed by the pagans of Mecca. By this verse God gave the order to Muslims to fight to defend their lives and faith, as they had previously been forbidden from defending themselves. 2
Another verse in the same chapter (8:61) that is often overlooked states:
But if the enemy incline towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God: for He is One that hears and knows (all things).
Another oft-ignored verse is Qur’an 2:190:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah does love not transgressors.
3. Qur’an 9:29—Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah (tax) with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
4. Qur’an 9:73—O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.
These verses are also historical in context. They are about the Battles of Mu’tah and Tabûk.
These verse were in reference to The Byzantine Empire instigating war against the Muslims. They murdered an ambassador of the Prophet (pbuh), who was carrying a message to the ruler of Busra. The Chosroe of Persia even ordered his commander in Yemen to kill the Prophet, and they mobilized their forces to fight the Prophet. The Muslims confronted them. 3 & 4
There are many people who throw hissy fits about theJizyah (a tax on non-Muslims living under the protection of a Muslim authority), mentioned in 9:29, saying that it is discriminatory. But the truth is that Muslims are not exempt from taxes, they just go by a different term.
The tax collected from non-Muslims is only imposed on adult males. It exempts them from military service; affords them protection under the law; and freedom to practice their religion. And Muslim taxes go to welfare programs.
Also, in the same chapter (9) Verse 6 God tells the Muslims:
And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.
5. Qur’an 9:111—Surely Allah has bought of the believers their persons and their property for this, that they shall have the garden; they fight in Allah’s way, so they slay and are slain.
But they omit the rest of the verse:
[It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.
Why would they leave off the part about this promise being found in the Torah and the Bible?
This verse again, is applicable to the Muslims during the time of the Prophet – historical Muslims – who were terrified of fighting in the battles to defend themselves because they were out numbered. 4.2
God bolstered their bravery by assuring them that they would be rewarded.
6. Qur’an 9:123—O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).
This verse is speaking about the hypocrites who were among the Muslims in the time of the Prophet (pbuh).The “unbelievers who are near you” were, in actuality, non-Muslims posing as Muslims who sought to corrupt the believing Muslims from within. The instruction was to fight them (here, “fight” means to resist the hypocrites’ skepticism, as we will see in the next verse) without preferential treatment for the social or economic standing. 5
The next verse (9:124) calls them what they really are:
And whenever a new chapter is revealed some of thehypocrites ask the believers (in jest): “Whose faith has increased because of this?” As for those who believe, it will certainly increase their faith, and they are joyful over that.
7. Qur’an 48:29—Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.
Once again the “disbelievers” in the verse refers to those who persecuted and attacked the Muslims. This is not a verse directing Muslim to just go out and just be awful to non-Muslims. 6
In fact there is a lot in the Quran and hadith collections that command Muslims to be compassionate and kind to all of God’s creation. One such hadith states:Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of all good. (Muslim, Abu Dawood)
It is also reported by Abu Dawood (a hadith collection) that the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgement.”
8. Qur’an 98:6—Verily, those who disbelieve from among the people of the Scripture and Al-Mushrikun will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.
One of the basic teachings of Islam is that God does not have a favorable opinion of those who knowinglydeny His right to be worshiped alone (as He alone is responsible for our creation, our sustenance, and our judgement) and reject any of His messengers.
This is not to say that there will be conveyor belts for each religion, and we just jump on and go to either Heaven or Hell according to what we call ourselves. Each person will be judged based on their understanding of God’s message, as well as his or her capability and intentions to follow the path to God as best he or she could.
Muslims are not allowed to say that someone will go to hell just because they call themselves a Christian, Jew, or Polytheist. Muslims are not allowed to speak without knowledge. And each person’s destination in the Hereafter is known only to God.
It is interesting to note that some people of different faiths insist on telling everyone who does not go to their specific place of worship that they will certainly be going to Hell (knowledge they do not have). But when they see this verse, they are upset by it.
9. Qur’an 5:101-102—O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which, if made plain to you, may cause you trouble. But if ye ask about things when the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be made plain to you, Allah will forgive those: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Forbearing. Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith.
This is in reference to those who asked useless questions about revelation. If all their questions were answered, it would have made the duties of faith more specific and, therefore, more difficult to perform. There is mercy in leaving questions alone and specifics unspecified. 7
In Chapter 2 of the Qur’an, when the Children of Israel were told to slaughter a cow, they began to ask useless questions about what type of cow. All the questions were answered to the point that it became very difficult for them to find such a cow. If they had not asked, any cow would have been acceptable.
Useless, petty questions are just a stalling tactic; ask any mother or teacher. But asking honest, sincere questions to clarify matters of faith is, in fact, encouraged.
Every prophet faced people wanting to kill him and his followers. The Prophet Muhammad was no different in facing enemies. However, the Muslims were not only establishing a faith, they were establishing a nation. And because of this, the Muslims, after years of persecution in Mecca, were permitted to defend their lives, their faith, and their nation from attack. Just like any other person or nation has the right to do.
However, even in war, Islam demands that morals be upheld. Muslims are forbidden form killing children, women, the old, the infirm or any one who is not fighting against them. Even combatants have rights. (“I”SIS must have skipped this class) Rules of engagement here: http://www.islam101.com/rights…
There is a certain methodology to interpreting the Quran that God speaks about in the Quran itself (that Islamophobes and Extremists dismiss). The Quran, in several places, warns its reader about distorting its meaning, concealing parts of it, or using it for ones own personal/worldly/political gains. In these verses, God is warning Islamophobes and Extremist alike. Because, as we well know, distorting religious texts has disastrous effects.
Indeed, they who conceal what Allah has sent down of the Book and exchange it for a small price – those consume not into their bellies except the Fire. And Allah will not speak to them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. And they will have a painful punishment. 2:174
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