What is next after the Fatwa?
The North American Fiqh Council issued a religious decree last week condemning acts of terrorism against non-combatants and declaring those who participate in such acts as criminals. This is a positive step and it confirms to what many of us have always been advocating for long.
However, the problem of terrorism or violence among Muslims is not due to the issuing or non-issuing of fatwas. The problem emanates from a multiplicity of religious, economic, social and political factors that deserve to be addressed if the religious decree has to have any meaning for those who commit these acts or inclined to commit them. Even then, one cannot eliminate violence or terror altogether.
A religious decree is based on the interpretation of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet within the contextual framework of the times of interpreters. However, in essence, it is the reassertion of the divine commandments and prophetic teachings in an idiom that can be understood by common people without any ambiguity. Obviously, the strongest fatwa is that of God Almighty and His messenger and both have categorically condemned terror, violence and social disorder (fasad).
The crucial question many of our scholars and leaders have often failed to ask is why do some Muslims view and continue to view and use violence as a legitimate means to resolve their differences and express their opinions within the community of believers or outside of it. Is this view supported by the divine commandment and prophetic teachings or is it a due to their noncompliance?
During the last 60 years a lot of killing has been executed by people, groups, and governments claiming to represent Muslims. Shia-Sunni conflicts, Kurds and non-Kurdish fighting, Bangladesh-Pakistan and Arab-Persian wars, Algerian anarchy, persecution of political and religious dissidents and the killing of others are not uncommon in the Muslim world. On each of these issues, some of Muslim scholars and leaders have taken a biased approach often justifying the action on the basis of the Quran or sunnah. Only a few stand out who have spoken against violence as an ideology or methodology to bring about changes. Ironically, they don't matter for those who indulge in these acts.
The socio-economic and political conditions in our world are often unbearable to most simple mind people who work day in and day out to give their families a dignified existence. In the Muslim world the situation is no better. Poverty, homelessness, deprivation, exploitation, injustice and inequality, persecution and denial of basic human rights and dignity are common. The conditions are ripe to make any thinking person go insane. For generations, millions and millions people have lived a life of hopelessness and desperation. The prevalence of alcohol, drugs, and many social ills among them speak of the frustration level among people.
On the basis of their Quranic perceptions of change, those who claim to be the leaders of Muslims developed three major solutions to the problem of the masses.
One group blamed Muslims for their failure to live up to ideals of Islamic moral life and argued that unless Muslims change their moral character on the basis of the Quran they would continue to live in the miseries God has consigned them to. However, these people failed to take into account of the massive social change that marks the modern era as well as the sociological factors that cause social alienation and religious apathy.
The second group put the blame on outsiders for every incident of misery of Muslims. Jews and Christians, communists or Hindus were always seen as the source of much of the problem of the Muslim world. This group too failed to understand the politics of the time and the developments that were taking place in the world faster than the imagination of many of the religious leaders.
The third groups put the blame of social deprivation upon the power elite and corrupt system, which must be changed if the social conditions of the people have to be improved. They too failed to understand the social dynamics of change and the role that people play in changing themselves.
The three groups developed strategies to promote their ideas. However, not many of them identified with the masses to improve their social conditions or to enhance their understanding of their religion. Worst was the language that these three groups used against each other. They declared each other a traitor or even a non-believer if it didn't agree with their understanding of Islam or the Quran.
All the three groups focused on promoting their understanding as the only interpretation of the Quran without acknowledging their limitations in understanding the Quran or the teachings of the Quran.
Despite all their efforts little changed in the conditions of the Muslim people. In fact, if any change occurred, it was due to the secular structure of the state that used law and order to impose its ideology of social transformation.
The internal strife among Muslims claiming to be the only keeper of the truth within their community caused immense loss to three sections of the society. Non-Muslims were absolutely confused and baffled at the internal chaos within the Muslim community and they could not develop a genuine understanding of Islam. Shia sunni differences, salfi and non salafi fights, traditionalist and modernist debates all confused non-Muslims. If Islam is so simple and the final divine message then why is there so confusion about its interpretation. Aren't there certain universal truths acceptable to all, many of them asked. Many young people got frustrated with what they were witnessing, hence many lost their confidence in the ability of Islam to offer any meaningful change in the world. If the religion that came to reform the world cannot reform the ranks of its followers, then what is the purpose of having this religion as a guidance to one's life, they questions.
The third group that suffered the most dispossessed people whose sufferings continued to prolong. Why has God abandoned us and made us the lowest of all? After all none of us wanted to be born in a state of helplessness, they wondered.
None of the group offered any satisfactory answer to any of these questions. Yet, the mosques continued to be built and Islamic organizations continue to spring up and Muslim leadership continued to build hierarchies after hierarchies.
Everyone, of these groups referred to the Quran as the constitution of people and the Prophet as the real model. However, when it came to actually living a simple life as the Prophet lived or as the Quran suggested, most betrayed their own values.
These were the revolting conditions that increased the level of anger among Muslim masses. Muslim intellectuals or those who were well versed with modern realities focused on themselves rather than on their communities and Muslim masses became like untended sheep.
Within this context every national and international issue became a point of contention among Muslims. Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, and so on so forth continued to add fuel to the existing fire raging in the hearts of many. With no hope from anywhere, violence became a legitimate means of change. Suicide bombing, blowing public places, causing public panic by bombing public places were all the means to carry on senseless violence. The legitimacy was further gained from the practices of the dominant cultures of the world that praised violence as the only means to bring about justice. Many of the social and religious leaders from the three groups tried to justify the violence because they feared losing their own legitimacy in the community.
Many Muslim scholars know it well, that a fatwa remains a legal opinion as long as there is no authority to implement it. If this fatwa is to be implemented, the issuing scholars have to go to those dictators and despots in the Muslim world as well as many democratically elected leaders in the world who have shown total disrespect to human life.
There is confusion and helplessness among Muslims. For ordinary Muslims like myself a possible course of action is to identify with the masses with our strong Islamic identity and through positive actions convince the world that violence is not the divinely recommended methodology or ideology for change. Through working for the upliftment of people at large without looking into their religious backgrounds, we the ordinary people have to prove as we have proven throughout history that peace is the desired goal of the divine and nonviolence is the way to move forward.
At stake are not Iraq, or Palestine or Kashmir, Afghanistan or Iraq or Chechnya, but the teachings of a divine message that we Muslims believe are the final commandments given to humanity by their creator. The Muslim masses must hold the Quran steadfast and do not let the political or economic or social agenda of others make us deviate from the path of sincerity, and submission to God in peace.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is the editor of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada and director of the Muslim Electorates Council of America (MECA).
Topics: Fatwas (Religious Advice), Violence
"The Einstein-type intelligence is a natural one - one cannot work to get it. But for normal human beings by hard-work we can be reasonably intelligent. We, Muslims, do not put effort in this regard - thats my opinion." Man, are you having some kind of disability? All intelligence is natural, animals have it, dude! You meant knowledge could be acquired through earning, hard work didn't bring any knowledge to people but low wages and frustrations.
What is this supposed to mean?"And before you condemn us to being liberals or 'bad Muslims', my friend is well-known for his dawah activities in Chi (and Toroto, Can) and if you were to see my family you would think that we are from Saudi Arabia." What dawah? Dawah could be of a distorted kind of Islam that personally I've encountered, especially from those coming from India. The devil himself could dress in Saudi clothes and parade as a Muslim. You "don't impress me much", you know.
And in my email exchanges with people in other companies, I rarely see Muslim names. Instead you choose to denigrate me. The Einstein-type intelligence is a natural one - one cannot work to get it. But for normal human beings by hard-work we can be reasonably intelligent. We, Muslims, do not put effort in this regard - thats my opinion.
And before you condemn us to being liberals or 'bad Muslims', my friend is well-known for his dawah activities in Chi (and Toroto, Can) and if you were to see my family you would think that we are from Saudi Arabia.
Your example of Can-US relation is very valid - don't blame America for it. You have to dominate your environment.
Your point of slavery is exactly what irks me - I don't care what happened 400 yrs ago. Look at Muslims and see how much respect we give to a black person. I belong to Ind/Pak community and I know what terms are used - it would do KKK proud. At least Americans gave the effort to change. We, despite our Prophets last khutbah, choose to treat dark-skinned people as sub-human.
Don't live in past. Face upto modern realities.
As for Shias/Sunnis killing each other, it happens in Iraq based on Shia and Sunni beliefs amongst other fighting. Pakistan is another pathetic case of Sunni/Shia violence. Don't kid yourself into thinking it doesn't
That is why US is in such a big budget deficit - I am simplifying a lot but this is the essence of the system. Lets blame ourselves for not implementing such a system not America.
My tax dollars, actually, represent a small portion that go to military.
But by your argument, do you then not support the American lifestyle in all its good and bad?
For your first paragraph, in which you mentioned that all countries take advantage over others? Don't go far. Canada cannot do much on her own, although a sovereign country, she sent troops to Afghanistan to relieve US troops to be used in Iraq at US request. Could have Canada say ,'no'? Not without serious consequences. 97% of Canadian business is linked to US. Imagine what would mean US to close her borders to Canadian comerce? Total economic collapse. US would suffer too, but since her business with Canada is not so significant as for Canadians, she would probably counterbalance that with other markets. So, professor Asif, Canada is not Afghanistan and still she cannot do what she exactly would want to do. Learn more about economics, politics and capitalism, eventually you will understand the means of imperialist colonialism and how they work.
For your second point, Shia don't kill Sunni or vice versa. There were as they are, government forces and anti-government forces. In both parties you have Sunni and Shia as well. There is an occupation that is fought and everything that that occupation brought, including the puppet government.
Yes,US took advantages over the honesty of people, her own as well as those from foreign lands. US didn't respect any contract she made with either ME or African countries. She used her economic superiority that she acquired through the most despicable ways(robbing the lands of an indigenious American people and almost exterminating them, and of course the free labour they got from the black slavery) to manipulate the world as she pleased. This is not an honorable intellect. This is a criminal intellect,disgusting and murderous.
What do Muslims countries have? Modern times slave
From Saddam Hussein killing of Shias to now Shias doing the same to Sunnis, are you going to blame America for this - don't these people have their own minds and can tell right from wrong. Or are they this dumb that however America manipulates them they will do like robots.
The reality is that American policies take advantage of the weakness that already exists within Muslim community - it is not that Muslim weakness exists because of American policies.
As for intellectual jihad - I thought it was a pretty good term I came up with. If you can look beyond mocking me, perhaps you can see that even America cannot push India around anymore because US needs India - ditto for China.
What do Muslim countries have to offer in terms of intellect - don't give me that 400yrs ago we invented algebra/chemistry etc.. That is past news. Live in present and face upto modern realities.
"Stop getting your news from CNN, FOX, CBS, ABC etal., you have distorted and misinformed views of the so called Terrorists/Terrorism. And, you will remain misinformed and mislead if you continue to get your news from the above sources".
I think you are pretty new to world affairs.
Second, I don't apologize for anyone, neither Muslim nor non-Muslim. If someone is wrong, they're wrong.
Third, I never listen to Fox or CNN, because there is no reason to.
Fourth, I'm not convinced that the people issuing fatwas know any more than I do.
Finally, I know who has put many of the current despots in the world in power and keeps them there. But the problem of the Middle East is in the willingness to trade short-term personal benefit for long-term public misery and in priding themselves on being Saudis, Palestinians, Jordanians,"friends with America," whatever.
They really need to struggle to find a way out of that and pull themselve up by their bootstraps. Otherwise, the "colonists" win. My view is that the struggle in Iraq against American troops is totally justified. Bombing the World Trade Center is not. The economic terror the US and other Western countries visit against the so-called 3rd world, to achieve Western-style comforts, is wrong. It will stop once the Middle East unites and empowers itself and believes in its own entitlement and in Allah's promise that He will help those who follow Islam. There's no other way.
I don't know what kind of a bubble Asif Zaidi is living in - maybe it is the American bubble. But Muslims have been struggling against despotic rulers for decades and decades - before, during, and after colonialism.
Maybe picking up a history book other than the New York Times might help? It is the United States that arms these regimes to the teeth - the opposition leadership are slaughtered before they even have a chance to get off the ground.
Iran is one exception, where the people were sucessful in their jihad against the despotic Shah - and watch how the "United States" is preparing to destroy that country.
Maybe instead of preaching from some American bubble you need to do your part and stop funding these regimes through your tax dollars! Lets see you do that - while you carry on about "intellectual jihad" and what not...
You will never stop paying taxes because if you do that, you will lose your social status in the "United States."
Saddam Hussein was put into power by the United States - and fully armed and supported against Iran - and helped to weaken the revolution.
Of-course, you are not interested in such history, since you are more into just repeating garbage you hear on FOX and CNN. The problem is really with Muslims like yourselves and these fatwa givers who have lost all backbone.
Soon you will be cheering on and apologizing for the United States as they nuke Muslim countries, and round everyone up to go to the concentration camps. You will be cheering 'cause it is people like you who will oversee the killings of Muslims.
"...Muslims from all parts of the world could have united and deposed Saddam Hussein if they had wanted to..."
We never complain or act against injustices by our rulers (any country in ME, Pak, Africa). Only when US/UK do something in their interest (and why not - every country actis in its own interest) do we even protest and start blaming everything on Israel.
Muslims should look no further than India and China to learn the power of intellectual and economic jihad and realize that armed jihad is not the only way. But then the approach by India and China involves changing oneself and that is something which Muslims of today are loath to do (unfortunately)
These times are no worse than the times of the Prophet -- yes, I can say that, so there are no excuses. The brutality and life conditions of that time are well-documented. In Islam there are "major" sins, and one of them is murder. Terrorism against civilians is murder both for Muslims and non-Muslims.
We can see by looking at Iraq today that Muslims from all parts of the world could have united and deposed Saddam Hussein if they had wanted to -- they are doing this to American troops right now. They are not winning the war, but are not losing it either.
I have a related question for Osama bin Ladin and other terrorists; "Why didn't you gather your forces and resources, depose your own dictators/kings, and purify and unite the Musims in the Middle East?
If you had followed this course and become a sentient force for Allah's justice in the Middle East, the united people of the Middle East would have been able to secure their own needs in their own lands and perhaps even contribute something to the world at large -- besides oil. They would have had power and confidence to bring to any negotiating table in the world.
In fact, if you are Muslim you MAY NOT submit to any dictator, no matter who he/she is, without trying to get rid of him. It is a Muslim's obligation to try to depose all dictators and establish Allah's justice on earth. And I mean Allah's justice, not your own. Clean your own house first.
cousins againt cousins.
brother against brother, father against son. for one cause or intention that is to follow Gods command.
"amal bil maroof nahe un munker"
And ask people to do good and stop them to commit bad deeds.
First, I think the problem is so simple but we always like to complicate it and make differences and than form little circles of debates and arguments (Which result from Differences). God teaches us right front of our eyes but we don't look, and the process is simple.
1- We live in times of Fitnah - Lack or no amount of religious scholars exist and there is no true leader for Muslims. This results in more confusion to the puzzle. But there is a answer which is so simple but we either neglect or forget, which revolves around fixing our ownselves first (and that depends on an individuals piety and conduct). The process of purification has been lost centuries ago and today we get a sich ummah on different levels and spheres
I often read the comments to take the pulse of this community and quite often I think that many of you miss the point, or points.
Occupation, oppression or injustice does not cause terrorism. Terrorism is one of the many choices one could use to respond to these ills. To claim otherwise is self serving justification of wrong doing.
When muslims in Pakistan blow themselves up during Friday prayer that is terror and it is not caused by occupation. When muslims riot and kill each other because some misguided non-muslim desecrates the Quran that is self defeating terror.
It is mind-boggingly unrealistic to think that muslims have the power to go around arresting anyone.And yes, muslim leadership in this country has been critical of the "powers that be".
There are many stories of our prophet responding to abuse, ignorance and opression with patience kindness and showing lineancy, even to people who were responsible for the death of many believers. Yes, permission was given to fight and sometimes we have to. But there are rules of engagement. Allah SWA and his messenger puh prohibited us from killing ourselves, innocent men, women and children, destroying property etc. and we can't make what is haram halal using the pretex that the enemy has better weapons and technology than us. At Badr they did too, but Allah sent his forces to help the believers. Allah SWA can overcome anyone's weapons and technology and if we don't believe that,then we are not truly believers. Allah SWA told us we are the best community because we enjoin what is right and forbid wrong, and when we do that then He SWA tell us that He will give us victory and we will be succesfull.
How can we be better and successful if we respond to oppression and injustice with worst opression and injustice. That is the behavior of jahili people, not believers.
I agree with Hudd, this is the problem with articles like these - they are dismissive of all of the efforts to address root issues. While claiming to look at the issues, the author just ends with the same flippant talk about Qur'an and hadith - as if they exist in some kind of a vaccum.
Qur'an , and Qur'anic interpertation exist within a context of our times - you cannot set aside the exisiting conditions on our planet, and then proceed to interpret the Quran and hadith - as if we live in some kind of a utopia.
We live in a terrible period - for Muslims, for our planet, for everyone - and countries like the United States is pushing the world into a corner. Abdullah needs to provide serious concrete answers to how we are to resist American imperialism, occupation and the enviornmental disaster that the West has created - and is exporting to the rest of the world. Until he does that these articles are largely lip service he pays to his masters in the White Man's House.
1. Yes there is need for fatwas (TO MUSLIMS) in Islam, in fact this is part of Islam. The misconception is that a fatwa could be accepted or ortherwise by a muslim without that person committing any sin. As I'm oblige to accept your opinion or not. But where this fatwa (opinion) comes from the council of Ulemas of a particular Community in a particular corner of the world it is only logical for such community to abide with such a fatwa, unless of course the fatwa clash with any ruling within the Quran or the Sunna, which more often is not the case. And certainly in the fatwa of the clergies of South america there is no single contradiction to Islam as per as I can surmise but then I stand to be proven wrong.
2. Islamic fatwas are for MUSLIMS only to comply and as per a fatwa to non-muslims I consider that a misnomer. I stand to be corrected also. So how do we (the muslims) communicate to the rest of the world,that the attrocities being meted by the west to our brethren in the ME are acts if not "the acts" terrorism being encouraged here not by individuals but by governments? The answer to me is simple. The west are using their media (the most important tool) very well why not us?
3. The major work rest on you guys (as you say in the US) in the west to continue as it has started already a ferrocius campaign usin all the available means to produce information about Islam and the belief of the muslims, by deeds and action. This in my opinion is the only way. Alhamdulillah you are doing well but you need to do more and more. The honor certainly rest squarely on you.
It's time to cut the fatwa crap and arrest the real criminals...
If the people in the west are so civilized and LOVE the Muslims, why support a war based on 100% lie? Why send $4,000,000,000 to ZIONISTS in the Middle East to kill Muslims?
Why start multiple wars in the Middle East in the name of resources?
I think Muslim leaders are smarter than that. They need to speak the truth right in the face of unjust ruler... Hello! I thought you were Muslims! Gotta speak the truth even if the truth goes aginst your stay in America!
There should be an immediate fatwa to arrest Bush and all the other criminals in the U.S. gov't...
It's too bad the criminals are scared and living in insecurity...They got to blame themselves and no one else. After all, AL-Qaeda was the American's bosom buddy not so long ago....
That's the truth. If anyone has hard time swalllowing the truth then that just too bad... Next time, I am going to come to your (the Americans) living rooms and repeat the truth with a loud speaker...NOT A JOKE!
Terrorism is not part of Islam, it never was, but it was always the desperate struggle of a people that lost all hope and reason to living.