Can the wars of today be just?
As the war drums are becoming louder day-by-day, Muslim leadership and masses are finding themselves drawn into a debate that in the view of many may determine the future direction of their political struggle in this country.
There are four opinions among Muslims as far as a war against Iraq is concerned.
- Many Iraqi Muslims including Shias and Kurds believe that war is the only means to rid the country of a dictator like Saddam. They are supportive of the war designs of President Bush and are keen to see a quick victory for the allied forces.
- Muslim secularists and socialists in America have joined the on going peace movement and are opposed to war. They see the war as an example of American imperialism and feel that the idea of a preventive strikes is detrimental to the ideals of peace.
- The third opinion is promoted by Muslim activists who see the war as another device to expand America's influence and consolidate the Israeli position in the region. They argue that the war is being engineered to ensure regular oil supply to the US and create hegemony for Israel.
- The fourth opinion is upheld by groups who are opposed to war in private but ambiguous on their response to the US position. They feel that the opposition to war specially during the war will be seen anti-patriotic act. They fear that as part of the larger Muslim community, they may also be targeted for hate crimes and violence.
However, what is not sufficiently discussed among Muslims is.. the war and its ramifications. Can one justify a war in our modern world? Is there something called a just war in the modern context? Some Muslim theologians may argue that the denial of justice and liberty and perpetuation of oppression are two strong reasons for going to war. Others argue that armed struggle is the last resort for a Muslim to maintain his freedom and liberty. Still others are of the opinion that preventive war against combatants is justified. However, the fundamental question is still eluding the debate. Can one justify a war in our modern context?
Modern war is not fought on a local level any more - The need to for hand-to-hand combat has been minimized. Now wars are fought with WMD, Weapons on Mass Destruction, MOAB, Massive Ordnance Air Bomb, DUS, Depleted Uranium Shells, TNW, Tactical Nuclear Weapons, DNB, Dirty Nuclear Bomb, etc. This war is fought not only to kill the enemy but to damage the natural resources and habitations belonging to the enemy. It is a war whose impact can last for generations not only on the affected people but on world natural resources as well.
The people of Japan are still paying a heavy price for the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki some 54 years ago. The people of Vietnam are still suffering from the nerve gas sprayed during the invasion of that country by our troops. Korea has not recovered the damages of the war. In Iran and Iraq there are vast areas scattered with land mines and chemical poisons that are totally inhabitable by any human. The Kurdish people have not resumed a normal life after being gassed by the dictator Hussein.
The modern war with its weapons of mass destruction has the capability of killing innocent people and destroying natural resources for generations to come. It is not war in the technical sense of the term. It is a genocide or ethnic cleansing on all sides regardless who the parties are. This type of war cannot be justified and can not be described as a just war. This war cannot be endorsed or sacrificed on the alter of political expediency. This war is wrong even if it is between Israel and Palestine or India and Pakistan. A faith that commands its followers to invite people to the guidance of One God cannot be a passive witness to this concept of war that kills and kills indiscriminately.
Modern weapons of mass destruction have changed the nature of war. Hence the response to war must also be changed. Most of our Islamic jurisprudence on war is based on the notion of a war that was fought as hand-to-hand combat without major ramifications on the environment or ecology. Modern war tends to destroy the ecology and the foundation of the human habitation. From a humanistic and religious point of view this war must be opposed. Indeed, for that all such wars must be opposed.
This war will be wrong even if the Security Council by some chance were to approve the Bush-Blair War game. The issue of unilateral or multilateral decisions on war is a political issue and it has nothing to do with the morality of war. The issue related to the image of America in the Middle East or the world is a social issue and it has nothing to do with the principles of war.
Some Muslim countries and groups have begun to opt for the endorsement of the war for political expediency. One must realize that during the Vietnam war, several thousand Americans took a principled state and opposed the bloodshed risking their image and families. There were many who refused to join the fighting army and paid a heavy price. Muslim groups who will be supportive of war at present on matters of expediency will be doing a disservice to themselves and the people they represent.
The time has come to take a principled stand on war and be ready to face the consequences. The price of truth often is high and let us be prepared to face it. This country has the power to see the truth and accept it.
The position for peace is a just position and one that favors America. It is a peace that would bring out the best of our country. It is peace that will help America regain its strength in the world community. Peace is the way to justice and security of all. Peace is at stake and we Muslims must strengthen the forces of peace for the betterment of our country.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Editor in chief, the Minaret and the Muslim Observer
Topics: Conflicts And War, History
Capitalism has not got the potential to offer peace to the world, for its sole objective is to maximise profit at all cost. Capitalism will make people drink the blood of their own mothers if it meant increase in profit. Capitalism does not understand the meaning of peace.
Dear readers, take action by joining the call for re establishment of islam as world leadership. Other wise it will not be long before the iron hands of capitlaism strangulates you not giving you time even to react.
Also, I personally believe that the Quran - which was recited by the Prophet Mohammad (God bless him!) some 1400 years ago - has not to any extent been abrogated, so to speak, by various innovations in areas such as philosophy, technology and politics. I would say that, whether we are inclined to name America, Israel or Iraq as an agent of oppression, our choice of words is not a suitable alternative to Allah's choice of words.
Allah, who is unequaled and without partner, would appear to have given us instructions as to when we should initiate a war against those who oppress others. Allah, who alone is worthy of praise, has also given us instructions, as I understand them, concerning our responsibility towards those who oppose us, to whom harm comes as a result of our actions.
My thinking is that, if I choose to say nothing about my own country's acts of oppression or about my own country's tolerance of oppression by others, I deserve what I have coming to me. Furthermore, my thinking is that I am responsible for taking at least some interest in what my country is doing (and not doing) that effects the general welfare of people (like myself) in other countries. My thinking is this would be the case, regardless of whether threats, to welfare of others, would appear to have the form of either war or peace.
May Allah protect you and yours. May Allah reward the author of this article for the author's good deeds and intentions.
As Salaamu Alaikum.
war at any time under any circumstances". This is a pacifist philosophy. Islam doesn't promote or encourage war or even a war like behavior but certainly has the provision for it.
2) The author questions: Can one justify a war in our modern world? Is there something called a just war in the modern context? The answer to
this is, of course yes. Islam has a very clear position to this question ... that use of force is permissible in (a) self-defense and (b)only to the extent that the aggressor is contained.
3) The author gives 4 viewpoints of Muslims in America toward war & chief among them in his
opinion is - "They argue that the war is being engineered to ensure regular oil supply and the security of the state of Israel. A substantial number of Muslim American organizations uphold these views." This is not true. For example, Islamicity's current poll disputes the author's theory ... the chief reason people have responded
in the poll is that "US wants to control oil resources". Hence the author's claim is not well substantiated.