Muslims: who ya gonna believe?

Monday, June 05, 2006
In response to the trauma suffered by the Canadian multiculti empire by the recent uncovering of a terrorist cell with plans to blow up something big time, the CBC is pleased to report:
Islam not violent, Toronto Muslims say

Muslim leaders and police took pains Sunday to distinguish between the religion of Islam and the 17 people accused of plotting bomb attacks in Ontario.

"Canadian Muslims absolutely condemn an act of violence or threat of violence," Muhammad Alam, president of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, told a crowded hall where many Muslims expressed concern about the arrests.

"This is not about religion or faith," but about political and social situations around the world, he said.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair agreed, saying the accused were motivated by an ideology based on politics and violence, not by faith. "This is not the action of the Muslim community."

The Muslim leaders thanked Blair for his assurances that the police would try to protect Muslims from angry responses to the arrests. Vandals who damaged a Toronto mosque overnight may have been motivated by hatred after the arrests earlier in the weekend, Blair said.
Not violent? not about religion or faith... but about political and social situations? One might wonder then, how, when cruising the web, one can come across this page from the Muslim Students Association at the University of Souther California. The page is devoted to clearing up misconceptions about Islam.
Misconception 1

Islam is `the religion of peace' because:

the Arabic word Islam is derived from the Arabic word "Al-Salaam" which means peace.

It might seem strange to think of this as a misconception, but in fact it is. The root word of Islam is "al-silm" which means "submission" or "surrender." It is understood to mean "submission to Allah." In spite of whatever noble intention has caused many a Muslim to claim that Islam is derived primarily from peace, this is not true. Allah says in the Qur'an (translated):

[2:136] Say (O Muslims): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which Moses and Jesus received, and that which the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have surrendered. [Arabic "Muslimoon"]

A secondary root of Islam may be "Al-Salaam" (peace), however the text of the Qur'an makes it clear that Allah has clearly intended the focus of this way of life to be submission to Him. This entails submission to Him at all times, in times of peace, war, ease, or difficulty.
This page also tells us that:
Islam is the name of a way of life which the Creator wants us to follow. We avoid the word religion because in many non-Islamic societies, there is a separation of "religion and state." This separation is not recognized at all in Islam: the Creator is very much concerned with all that we do, including the political, social, economic, and other aspects of our society. Hence, Islam is a complete way of life.
But if the idea of separating church and state is specifically western, how do Islamic groups in say, Canada, adapt? Well, let's look at one organization, the Muslim Canadian Congress, that claims to be leading the integration of Muslims and Canadian society (though I see no evidence that many Canadian Muslims follow the MCC). After all, this is an organization that the Canadian media have recently shown themselves keen to call on to explain Islam. The MCC mission statement claims:
As Muslim Canadians we believe in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian constitution as our guiding principles.
[...]
We define a Muslim as any person who identifies himself or herself as a Muslim.
[...]
We believe in the separation of religion and state in all matters of public policy. We feel such a separation is a necessary pre-requisite to building democratic societies, where religious, ethnic, and racial minorities are accepted as equal citizens enjoying full dignity and human rights enunciated in the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I wonder, then, how the MCC explains its obvious desire to address both questions of religion and state. In fact, the greater part of its website is devoted to the typical leftist post-colonial issues. For example, MCC Communications Director, Tarek Fatah, recently wrote a letter lauding the Canadian Union of Public Employees for joining the movement to boycott and divest from Israel, the only highly democratic state in the Middle East, the only state in that part of the world where Muslims and others have anything like the kind of human rights the MCC website so boastfully claims to defend. Of course, the MCC doesn't see things this way. To them, Israel is an "apartheid" state, a statement made with no apparent consideration for the continuous Arab attempts to eliminate the state of Israel, attempts that preceded the founding of modern Israel and that have never stopped since.

Fatah is the kind of antisemitic (or is it anti-Zionist? I'm never sure) loser who is now a Canadian media "go to guy". But what gives his organization which, as best I can tell, represents no more than a handful of anti-American, "anti-Zionist" leftist "Muslims", the right to speak for Islam? There is perhaps a clue in their mission statement, already quoted: "We define a Muslim as any person who identifies himself or herself as a Muslim."

Perhaps Islam, the religion with no central authority, is up for grabs. It can be whatever "Muslims" say it can be. Perhaps all I need to do, to save Israel, is to become a "Muslim" and get enough of my friends to do the same. Then we can go on the CBC and assure Canadians that they should be fighting to defend Israel, because that is what "Muslims" want.

By the way, in Dec. 2001, the Court of Appeal for Ontario affirmed the conviction of Mark Harding for
communicating statements, other than in private conversation, [willfully promoting] hatred against an identifiable group, namely Muslims in Canada.
So, be aware, that Muslims in Canada are an identifiable group, at least for purposes of our hate speech law.

While this legal fact may or may not seem hard to square with the claim of the MCC (which wasn't yet on scene in 2001) that anyone who says he is a Muslim is a Muslim, perhaps we are now getting lost in Gnostic territory where we can change reality, if only we know the right word, say, abracadabra, and Islam is the Religion of Peace!

A clue to how the mystical power of the word works to transform reality comes to us from the recent post of my colleague, Charles. It discusses the radical Scarborough imam, Aly Hindy, who has been in the media defending the "honor" of the recently-arrested, alleged terrorists in Toronto, and who has previously refused to condemn the London 7/7 bombings (because, he claims, "Muslims" did not carry out those attacks). We learn that Hindy "[devoted] the better part of his professional life [to] designing safety measures to protect vulnerable nuclear facilities in Ontario as well as the U.S." So it is not surprising to also learn - and this is the point that concerns us now - that:
Mr. Hindy's lack of formal training is no impediment to being an imam. Islam has no formal process of ordaining imams and there are many examples of people who studied outside the formal structures, but became respected scholars.

Obviously, the imam has to possess some knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence in order to answer questions properly and adjudicate matters correctly. But in the end, it all comes down to community acceptance.

"If he gains recognition from the people he is serving as learned and religious-oriented, he can be imam," says the Ottawa Mosque's imam Gamal Solaiman.
So you see, Islam is really a free marketplace of ideas. No doubt there are some Muslims who believe that a Muslim must obey the Koran, Sharia law, and what have you, to the letter. Islam, after all, means submission to Allah. But then there are some today who believe a "Muslim" is anyone who says he is a "Muslim", and this is the angle to take if you want to get on the CBC, defend "gay marriage", protest colonialism and that sort of thing.

So who ya gonna believe? At the end of the day, I think it best to listen to all of the experts and then to forget them all and just look at your world and see it in all its variety for what it really is. Islam is what it is, in historical reality, and not what ideologues want it to be, or Imams say it is. And if we look at historical reality today, we can see that Islam is both a great religion of peace, and perhaps the greatest danger to civilized mankind on this planet. Confused?

Well, confusion is the starting point of all wisdom, and a natural reaction to all that is sacred. The sacred, or the Being - i.e. God - which guarantees worldly incarnations of the sacred (which, since they are worldly, can be profaned and rendered no longer sacred, requiring, if humanity is to go on, a renewal of the sacred in another form, a renewal that can only be guaranteed by our faith in God, or his secular, anthropological equivalent), is inherently paradoxical. Humans are the beings that worship paradox, which is why they need faith. So it might seem that a faith which would deny paradox, in as much as it has all the right answers, is not much of a faith at all, but rather a falsification of faith.

However, since none of us can unfold the paradox of the sacred to anywhere near its full extent (because it has no limit), we all live in some degree of falsification, and some degree of truth in our apprehension of the paradox of the love that is God (at least God is love in my faith). Nonetheless, history promises us the possibility of living with relatively more truth than those who have come before. A "religion" that offers us a uniquely correct ritual order, to which we may submit and thereby always know the right answer, may not be without its truths. But then, it would logically seem to me, it would have less potential for truth than those who live with a more open-ended faith, and a greater respect for paradox.

14 comments:

terrye said...

truepeers:

At least some Muslims came forward and condemned terrorism. I suppose that is something.

I think that religion is subjective. I know many Christians who see their faith in very different ways. My Baptist Grandmother is very different from her Catholic counterpoint.

But Islam seems to create these sects, all throughout its history and to date it has been its own worse enemy. There is no way that other people can not hear about the constant violence, not only in Iraq but all over the world and not see that the common denominator is Islam. The question is can that change. Can they live with the rest of us?

Buddy Larsen said...

Islam is going to make secularism morally relevant, isn't it.

Rick Ballard said...

"If he gains recognition from the people he is serving as learned and religious-oriented, he can be imam."

False. It would turn to true if "and the local sheik (or his Canadian equivalent - follow the money) approved. That seamless joinery of temporal/spiritual power (including "legal" interpretations) makes the Borgia Popes seem like Sister Theresa in comparison.

Unless the "spiritual leader" has power behind him, the "people's choice" is irrelevant. Which is why Mucky was confident enough to kill his competition as soon as he showed up.

I'm going to agree with the fellow quoted who said "it isn't a religion" because it's true - slavery isn't a religion and Islam is just a method of imposing slavery.

Makes the Comsymps alliance a bit more understandable, too.

Buddy Larsen said...

Makes the Comsymps alliance a bit more understandable, too.

That's what I was I was trying to get at. If one must live under the bootheel, the material dialectic at least dispenses with any torturous supernatural cover.

"Gimme!" as a categorical imperative beats only "God says Gimme!"

Skookumchuk said...

And while I see some apostates, I don't see any Islamic Luthers nailing anything to the church door.

Skookumchuk said...

And Theodore Dalrymple isn't getting his hopes up.

truepeers said...

Charles has an interesting post on what Muslim children in France are reading.

Rick Ballard said...

Thanks, Skook, Dalrymple stands where I stand. There is simply no prohibition within Islam against waging unjust war against infidels at any time and under any pretext.

If they have the means, the will is never lacking.

It reminds me of the Russian concept of mir (absence of opposition) being falsely interpreted as "peace", as in "the Russians seek only peace".

truepeers said...

Dalrymple's argument is ok, but it muddles a key distinction, when he calls the urge to dominate a universal constant of history. The will to power may well be a constant of nature - rooted in the battle for limited resources - and as such it is a key part of human being and the explanation for our wars.

But if history is not simply the story of wars, but rather more the story of communities building themselves up internally, so as to survive wars, but also to do much else besides, then the urge to domination explains little. First of all, it doesn't explain primitive, tightly ritual-bound societies where there are yet no Sheiks or Imams, but only ritually-determined leadership roles where the mask worn in the role is much more important than the performer du jour.

Primitive societies are bound by their myths and rituals: men seek to be closer to what these tell them is sacred; and domination of rival tribes in war is nothing but a necessary means to this primary sacred end.

When the desire for the sacred evolves new form and content, such that specific big men within the tribes emerge and initiate the age of kings and emperors, it is less naturalistic domination than the freedom to control the ritual centre of society that motivates them. And if today's wealthy middle classes can all live like kings in their own castles, it is not primarily because of the urge to dominate - which was indeed important in defeating the enemies of the free middle classes, e.g. the Nazis and Communists - but because we all desire to share in the sacred freedom that the first big men first explored.

And it is in our exchange of signs and things that we all find desirable, or sacred, that we succeed. It is in the exchange of political opinions - in which we invest so much time here - and not in indulgence of any urge to dominate (as unremunerated time, spent with anonymous strangers in cyberspace who cannot be dominated, proves) that we succeed.

Politics, within a shared culture, is not primarily about domination but about the exchange of signs and things deemed sacred. The fact that many want to be closer to the sacred centre than they are presently gives some the egoism that may be in part explained by natural urges, but nature is far from a full explanation. For example, if we have a problem finding enough good politicians today, it is because the struggle for the profaned centre looks increasingly not worth the immense trouble. The historical drive that turns the sacred into the profane teaches us it is better just to aspire to be a middle-class king of one's own castle, king of one's own mini centre.

How does this apply to Islam? we have to help Muslims evolve their understanding of what is sacred beyond Islam's medieval and tribal roots; and help bind them politically so that the urge to dominate does not find its outlet in Caliphascist thinking, but rather in secular nations competing in the global marketplace. If Islam cannot so evolve and still be recognizably Islam, if it really is an all or nothing proposition, if Islam cannot be privatized within a secular nation, then Muslims will have to be liberated from that creed. But it is wrong to think of them as primarily motivated by an urge to dominate. They, like the rest of us, are human because they are motivated by the attraction of all their community deems sacred and domination of others is but a means to that end.

Rick Ballard said...

"we have to help Muslims evolve their understanding of what is sacred beyond Islam's medieval and tribal roots"

I fear that's a circle that will remain unsquared. The main division in Islam - that between Sunni and Shia - is a power issue - not a theological issue. Qom became Avignon to Mecca's Rome. A Moslem Luther (lacking an army) would be nailed to the mosque door in lieu of his theses.

It's true that Luther had the protection of a prince just as it is true that Henry's split with Rome had little to do with marriage and much to do with rich abbys but Luther at least had scripture to use in his fight - the Koran provides precious little to debunk a theology of "might makes right".

Freedom, choice and justice are simply not Islamic concepts and some socio/politico/religious entities are structurally incapable of evolution.

I've no doubt concerning the outcome but it's going to be uncomfortable waiting for the misstep that forces the West to leave Islam in enforced isolation.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I've no doubt concerning the outcome

The West is currently devoting its considerable talents and energies to active self-destruction. I see no reason to believe it won't be successful in its goal, as it has been successful in every goal for the last half a millenium.

Syl said...

MHA

The West is currently devoting its considerable talents and energies to active self-destruction. I see no reason to believe it won't be successful in its goal, as it has been successful in every goal for the last half a millenium.

I disagree.

Political Correctness and mutli-culti blindness as well as the view that all our conflicts are a result of colonialism and oppressed peoples seem like impossible barriers to overcome.

But we are making progress in all these areas. Very slowly--hopefully not toooo slowly.

Attitudes in Europe are changing and in France, especially, the view of Palestinians as the victim and Israel as the oppressor is losing its hold on many. Greenberg (I think that's his name), a Democratic pollster, went over there and did a series of polls to determine Europeans attitudes and discovered the shift.

Political Correctness is also losing its hold in that it is recognized and ridiculed--more and more.

The multi-culti barrier is huge and is still in full sway in the NY Times and LA times. But look what's happening to their bottom lines. People just don't buy it anymore.

I think the next huge battle we must win on that score will be easier once it's joined because we can concede to the Left that muslims are, indeed, victims so the Left won't lose face. But the oppressor will transform from Western colonialism to Islamofascism which has created victims out of their own societies and culture.

Once it's pointed out (and who has done this except for Dalrymple really) that the West's identification of muslims as a victim class has made them pity themselves and thus resent any 'atrocity' against a muslim as a smear of them all, then the morphing of the oppressor from West to Islamofascism can be begin.

I blame the right for feeding the 'muslims as oppressed group' meme by being so critical of Islam itself, and thus of all muslims who follow it.

That can be the battle for the NEXT century, not this one. In this century we have to stand with muslims and point out that they are victims of the fanatical ideologues.

In THIS century even though we don't necessarily need them on 'our side' we need them to focus on and reject the extremists among themselves.

Skookumchuk said...

Syl:

But we are making progress in all these areas. Very slowly--hopefully not toooo slowly.

That is question number one. Bureaucratic inertia is a powerful thing. How much longer - just as one example - will Hispanic supremacists remain unchallenged in California's civic world and academia? A lot of damage can be done in another generation.

I do think that PCdom has lost its hold on a vast swath of Americans who never really believed it to begin with. The question now is how to translate that change into new law and civic behavior.

Admin said...

What Does Islam Say About "Forcing People in Religion?"

A basic and fundamental truth established by the sacred texts of Islam (Quran and Hadeeth) is that: - "No one can be compelled to accept Islam!"

It is the duty of the Muslims to establish proof of validity of Islam to the people in order for the truth to be distinct from falsehood. Once that is done, whoever wishes to accept Islam may do so and whoever wishes to continue upon their belief may do so. No one is to be threatened or harmed in any way should they chose not to accept Islam.

It is not only forbidden to compel someone to accept Islam - it is impossible to do so.
Please consider the meaning of the word"Islam" before continuing to read: ['Islam'; Ar. from the root 'slm' (silm), to be in peaceful submission; to surrender; to obey; peace; "Islam" lit. 'The active willful surrender, submission, obedience, in purity to the will of another (Allah) in complete peace.']

The understanding from the meaning of the word "Islam" itself makes it clear that there is no way that you could possibly force someone to do something that requires them to do it of their own free will and accord. If someone were "forced to enter Islam" then it would not be "Islam" anyway, as a condition of "Islam" is that it is by free choice in peace. Forcing people into Islam is totally illogical and certainly not acceptable in concept nor practice.
More about the word "Islam" [click]

It is the duty and obligation of the Muslims to establish the truth and proofs of Islam and then allow others the freedom of choice to accept or reject the proofs.
There are two principle sources of proof for the Muslim. They are:
The Quran - considered by Muslims to be the absolute Speech or Recitation of Allah, the Almighty. ('Quran' Ar. from the root; qr'a: to recite; Quran; lit. "That which is recited"). More about Quran . . . [click]

The Hadeeth - teachings of Muhammad, peace be upon him. (hadeeth - Ar. meaning, stories or narrations. The hadeeths have been collected, authenticated [in collections by Bukhari and Muslim called 'sahih', categorized, preserved and memorized for over 1,400 years; all in the original language [Arabic]). More about Hadeeth . . . [click]

Among the many decisive pieces of evidence in Islam to prove that "There is no compulsion in Islam" are the following:

Allah says in His Quran: “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 256]

Allah also says in Quran: “If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed. Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” [Surah Yunus: 99]

And Allah says: “So if they dispute with you, say ‘I have submitted my whole self to Allah, and so have those who follow me.’ And say to the People of the Scripture and to the unlearned: ‘Do you also submit yourselves?’ If they do, then they are on right guidance. But if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message. And in Allah’s sight are all of His servants.” [Surah Al `Imran: 20]

Allah The Almighty has also said: “The Messenger’s duty is but to proclaim the Message.” [Surah Al-Maidah: 99]

It is important to note that these last two verses were revealed in Madinah. This is significant, since it shows that the ruling they gave was not just contingent on the Muslims being in Mecca in a state of weakness.

Some people might be wondering that if Islam indeed advocates such an approach, then what is all this we hear about jihad? How can we explain the warfare that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions waged against the pagans? The answer to this is that jihad in Islamic Law can be waged for a number of reasons, but compelling people to accept Islam is simply not one of them. The reason why jihad was first permitted in Islam was so the Muslims could defend themselves against persecution and expulsion from their homes.

Allah, Most High says: “To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged – and verily Allah is Most Powerful for their aid – (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right – (for no cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. Did Allah not check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his cause, for truly Allah is full of strength and might.” [Surah al-Hajj: 39-40]

Many of the earliest scholars mention that these were the first verses of the Quran that was revealed regarding jihad. Thereafter the following verses were revealed:

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors. And kill them wherever you catch them and drive them out from whence they drove you out, for terrorism is worse than killing. But do not engage in combat with them at the sacred mosque unless they engage you in combat there. But if they combat against you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And combat them on until there is no more terrorism or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. But if they cease, don't let there be hostility except to those who practice oppression.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 190-193]

From this point on, the scope of jihad was broadened from being purely for defense against direct attack to being inclusive of resistance against those who suppress the faith and deny people the freedom to choose their religion for themselves. This came later, because it is legislated for the Muslims only when they are capable of doing so. In times of weakness, Muslims may only fight against direct attack.

As for the spread of Islam, this is supposed to take place peacefully by disseminating the Message with the written and spoken word. There is no place for the use of weapons to compel people to accept Islam. Weapons can only be drawn against those who persecute and oppress others and prevent them from following their own consciences in matters of belief. The Muslims cannot just stand by while people are being denied the right to believe in Islam and their voices are being crushed. This is the meaning of Allah’s words: “And fight them on until there is no more terrorism or oppression and there prevails a way for justice and faith in Allah.” [Surah al-Baqarah: 193]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in his letter to the Roman governor Heracles: “I invite you to accept Islam. If you accept Islam, you will find safety. If you accept Islam, Allah will give you a double reward. However, if you turn away, upon you will be the sin of your subjects.” [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Once people have heard the Message without obstruction or hindrance and the proof has been established upon them, then the duty of the Muslims is done. Those who wish to believe are free to do so and those who prefer to disbelieve are likewise free to do so.

Even when the Muslims are compelled to fight and then subdue the land, their duty thereafter is to establish Allah’s law in the land and uphold justice for all people, Muslim and non-Muslim. It is not their right to coerce their subjects to accept Islam against their will. Non-Muslims under Muslim rule must be allowed to remain on their own faith and must be allowed to practice the rights of their faith, though they will be expected to respect the laws of the land.

Had the purpose of jihad been to force the unbelievers to accept Islam, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would never have commanded the Muslims to refrain from hostilities if the enemy relented. He would not have prohibited the killing of women and children. However, this is exactly what he did. During a battle, the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw people gathered together. He dispatched a man to find out why they were gathered. The man returned and said: “They are gathered around a slain woman.” So Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “She should not have been attacked!” Khalid b. al-Walid was leading the forces, so he dispatched a man to him saying: “‘Tell Khalid not to kill women or laborers”. [Sunan Abu Dawud]

This should not be misconstrued to indicate that the prophet, peace be upon him, made the killing of women (and children, elders, clerics and other innocents) to be haram (forbidden) at this particular point and time. In fact, it was always haram (forbidden) and the prophet, peace be upon him, was only reconfirming what was already in place by the shari'ah (Islamic Law).

Therefore, even in the heat of battle against a hostile enemy, the only people who may be attacked are those who are actually participating in the fighting. Had the purpose of jihad been to force the unbelievers to accept Islam, the rightly guided Caliphs would not have prohibited the killing of priests and monks who refrained from fighting. However, this is exactly what they did. When the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, sent an army to Syria to fight the aggressive Roman legions, he went out to give them words of encouragement. He said: “You are going to find a group of people who have devoted themselves to the worship of Allah (i.e. monks), so leave them to what they are doing.”

We have demonstrated that it is a principle in Islam that there is no compulsion in religion and we have discussed the objectives of jihad. Now, we shall turn our attentions to some texts that are often misunderstood.

One of these is the verse: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them and beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war). But if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them, for Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” [Surah al-Tawbah: 5]

Some people – especially some contemporary non-Muslim critics of Islam – have tried to claim that this verse abrogates the verse “Let there be no compulsion in religion.” They argue that the generality of this statement implies that every unbeliever who refuses to accept Islam must be fought. They support their allegation by pointing out that this verse is one of the last verses to be revealed about fighting.

However, this verse in no way abrogates the principle in Islamic Law that there is no compulsion in religion. It may be general in wording, but its meaning is quite specific on account of other verses of the Quran that are connected with it as well as on account of a number of pertinent hadîth. We will be discussing these texts shortly.

The people being referred to by this verse are the pagan Arabs who had been waging war against the Prophet (peace be upon him) and who had broken their covenant and treaties with him. This verse is not speaking about the other pagan Arabs who did not break their treaties and take up arms against the Muslims. It is also most definitely not speaking about the Jews or Christians, or, for that matter, the pagans who were living outside of Arabia.

If we look at the verses in Surah al-Tawbah immediately before and after the one under discussion, the context of the verse becomes clear.

A few verses before the one we are discussing, Allah says: “There is a declaration of immunity from Allah and His Messenger to those of the pagans with whom you have contracted mutual alliances. Go then, for four months, to and fro throughout the land. But know that you cannot frustrate Allah that Allah will cover with shame those who reject Him.” [Surah al-Tawbah: 1-2]

In these verses we see that the pagans were granted a four month amnesty with an indication that when the four months were over, fighting would resume. However, a following verse exempts some of them from the resumption of hostilities. It reads: “Except for those pagans with whom you have entered into a covenant and who then do not break their covenant at all nor aided anyone against you. So fulfill your engagements with them until the end of their term, for Allah loves the righteous.” [Surah al-Tawbah: 4]

So when Allah says: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight the pagans wherever you find them, and seize them and beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)”, we must know that it is not general, since the verse above has qualified it to refer to the pagan Arabs who were actually at war with the Prophet (peace be upon him) and those who broke their covenants of peace.

This is further emphasized by a few verses later where Allah says: “Will you not fight people who broke their covenants and plotted to expel the Messenger and attacked you first?” [Surah al-Tawbah: 13]

Ibn al-Arabi, in his commentary on the Quran, writes: “It is clear from this that the meaning of this verse is to kill the pagans who are waging war against you.” [Ahkam al-Quran: (2/456)]

Allah also say right after the verse under discussion: “How can there be a covenant before Allah and His Messenger with the pagans except those with whom you have made a treaty near the Sacred Mosque? As long as they stand true to you, stand true to them, for Allah does love the righteous.” [Surah al-Tawbah: 7]

Another misunderstood text is the hadîth where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “I have been commanded to fight the people until they bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that I am Allah’s Messenger. If they do so, then there blood and their wealth are inviolable except in the dispensation of justice, and their affair is with Allah.” [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslims]

There can be no qualms about this hadîth’s authenticity, since it is recorded in both Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. However, this hadîth is also not to be taken generally, out of context, and in complete disregard to all the other textual evidence.

The term “people” here is not referring to all humanity. Ibn Taymiyah says: “It refers to fighting those who are waging war, whom Allah has permitted us to fight. It does not refer to those who have a covenant with us with whom Allah commands us to fulfill our covenant.” [Majmu al-Fatawa (19/20)]

Islam commands the Muslims to be just with people of other faiths, whether they be Jews, Christians, or pagans. Islam calls us to treat them kindly and try to win their hearts as long as they do not take up arms against us. Allah says: “Allah forbids you not with regard to those who neither fight against you for your faith nor drive you out of your homes from dealing kindly and justly with them, for Allah loves those who are just.” [Surah al-Mumtahanah: 9-10]

Allah commands Muslims to respect their non-Muslim parents and to accompany them in this world in a good manner.

The Quran commands us to argue with them in the best manner. Allah says: “Argue with the People of the Scripture in the best manner except those among them who act oppressively. Say: We believe in the revelation that has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is one, and it is to Him we submit ourselves as Muslims.” [Surah al-Ankabût: 46]

We are ordered to uphold our covenants with the non-Muslims and not betray them or transgress against them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave a stern warning to us against killing a non-Muslim with whom we are at peace. He said: “Whoever kills one with whom we have a covenant will not smell the scent of Paradise.” [Sahih Muslim]

The faith of a Muslim is not acceptable unless he believes in all of the Prophets who were sent before (peace be upon them all). Allah says: “O you who believe! Believe in Allah, His Messenger, the scripture that He revealed to His messenger and the scripture that he revealed before. Whoever disbelieves in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, and the Last Day has gone far astray.” [Surah al-Nisa]

Definitions:

The meaning of the word; ['jihad'; Ar. from the root 'jahada',to struggle; assert oneself, as in "making great effort to arrive at a conclusion as to the meaning and interpretation of Islamic Law (ijtihad)"; strive, as in, "striving to complete a monumental task (jahed)"; "jihad" lit. 'The struggle to attain the objective.]
The principle purpose of the institution of "jihad". It must be understood that "jihad" according to "shari'ah" (Islamic Law) was instituted by Allah, The Law Giver Himself, only for the purpose of raising, protecting and defending the "deen" (way of Islam; "Laa elaha illa lah" [none has the right to be worshipped, except Allah."]).

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