Peaceful Jihad A Vision for Muslims of Britain

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Jihad in Islam with Shaykh Ridhwan Saleem (WLSIS) from Ribat Films on Vimeo. By Shaykh Dr Ridhwan Saleem

Bismillah al Rahman al Raheem Praise be to Allah and peace and mercy upon His final messenger. Peaceful Jihad It is crucial to elaborate and explain clearly and carefully what is signified by the two concepts, ‘jihad’ and ‘qital’, as the level of confusion regarding them is worrying, and many young Muslims are being led astray by people of limited knowledge and understanding of the deen with literally lethal consequences. Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith – Hadith no 8: Abdullah bin Omar narrated that the messenger of Allah (upon him be peace and mercy) said: "I have been ordered to fight against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammed is the messenger of Allah and until they perform the prayers and pay the zakat, and if they do so they will have gained protection from me for their lives and property, unless [they do acts that are punishable] in accordance with Islam, and their reckoning will be with Allah the Almighty." Related by Bukhari and Muslim. The importance of this hadith is indicated by the fact that Imam Nawawi places it in his collection of 42 foundational hadith of this religion. It indicates the important place of the physical struggle in our religion. However, like many source texts the hadith is not to be taken literally according to its apparent outward meaning. Before jumping to any conclusions or deriving rulings from a hadith, even one as important as this, it is necessary for one to gain a deep and wide understanding of the whole of the Quran and sunnah. The mere fact that dhimmis [non-Muslim residents] may live peacefully under Islamic rule and in fact their lives and property are protected according to Islamic law shows us that this hadith is not be taken literally. Therefore, we need to take a more insightful look at the issues of jihad and qital in Islam. Jihad is one of the most beautiful concepts of our religion. It is a word which signifies such a complete devotion to God that a person will sacrifice all his worldly possessions and even life itself for the pleasure of God. This word has struck fear into the hearts of the enemies of truth for many centuries, hence the hysteria it incites in the western imagination. Jihad is to struggle and strive with one’s utmost effort and using all resources at one’s disposal in the path of God. Jihad is not restricted to fighting [qital], although many Muslims today equate the two. Although the two terms have often been used synonymously, the following evidences will, insha Allah, demonstrate that fighting is only one aspect of jihad. Anas stated that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Anyone who goes out in search of knowledge is in the way of Allah until he returns." [at-Tirmidhi, quoted from Riyadh al Saliheen, Book of Knowledge]. The Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) also said in an authentic narration that the ‘best jihad’ is “the word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler” [sunan al-nasai al-kubra]. As Shaykh al-Buti points out in his Arabic work, ‘Al jihad fil islam’, some verses of Quran clearly refer to the struggle of the Muslims in Makkah as ‘jihad’. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great endeavour” [Furqan: 52]. Surah al-Furqan is a Makkan surah in its entirety, and we can see the word ‘jihad’ being used to describe the struggle of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) against the disbelievers of Makkah. This was before fighting was permitted. Another ayah which is Makkan according to almost all authorities is the statement of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala in Surah al Nahl: “Then lo! thy Lord - for those who became fugitives after they had been persecuted, and then fought and were steadfast - lo! thy Lord afterward is (for them) indeed Forgiving, Merciful.” [Nahl: 110]. The migration referred to here, according to exegetes, is the one to Abyssinia which took place during the Makkan period. These source texts make it clear that jihad was taking place even before fighting was prescribed in Medina. The jihad of the early Muslims in Makkah was Da`wa, calling people to recognise the oneness of their creator and enter in to his rightful servitude. After the migration to Medina and the establishment of a sovereign territory for the Muslim community, the Quran declared that “Fighting has been made obligatory for you though it is disliked to you”. Thus, ‘fighting’ [qital] was made obligatory as a specific manifestation of the wider struggle against falsehood. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala states in Surah al-Tawbah: “O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites…” [Tawbah: 73]. This ayah commands the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace), and by extension, the believers[i], to engage in jihad against the disbelievers and the hypocrites. We know that the Prophet did not raise the sword against the hypocrites despite being given the knowledge of who they were. Al-Qurtubi mentions that the earliest authorities, including Ibn Abbas, Ibn Mas`ud, Hasan al-Basri, and Qatadah, took the position that the command here is to engage in jihad against the hypocrites with the tongue. Qital is a specific martial enterprise carried out in circumscribed situations by a body of believers. It is true, however, that after fighting was prescribed by the Quran, the term ‘jihad’ was often used synonymously with ‘qital’ by the earliest authorities, including the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace), which significantly complicates our investigation. Jihad is the highest level of worship and obedience to one’s creator and Lord. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says, “I created not jinn and man except to worship me”. [al-Dhariyaat: 56]. This worship is through adherence to the obligations of Islam, and the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) said in the authentic narration, “The core of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the highest peak of it is jihad” [Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith]. God has made this lower world a theatre in which truth and falsehood are both manifested. He has put human beings in this world simply to see how they behave[ii], and He has made the struggle against falsehood the noblest of all actions that they may perform. This state of perfect obedience to God, or jihad, consists of exerting oneself to one’s utmost in battling against falsehood in all its manifestations. This battle is spiritual, intellectual, cultural and physical. The struggle against falsehood is a collective obligation upon the final guided community raised up from mankind. This struggle is by the heart, the pen, the word, and sometimes the sword, depending on the circumstances being encountered. The struggle is carried out precisely because it is the highest form of worship and the most pleasing of actions to our Lord, and not for any other reason. Allah says in the Quran, “O ye who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a painful doom? Ye should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if ye did but know.” [Surah al-Saff: 10-13]. A famous ayah of Surah al-Tawbah makes clear that Allah and His messenger and struggling in His path must be more beloved to the believer than his closest family or worldly possessions[iii]. Thus the importance of jihad as the ‘highest peak of the matter’ is clearly established in the Quran, and is a state for all believers to strive to attain if they are to gain the highest ranks in paradise. The specific form of jihad known as qital is governed by shariah law, just as all other obligations are. Just as one cannot engage in prayer without learning how it is performed, one cannot engage in martial conflict without knowing the rules and regulations governing it. These rules and regulations are set out in great detail in books of Islamic law, typically under a separate chapter on Armed Conflict. The derivation of these rules has been carried out by the greatest mujtahid scholars of our community over the centuries that followed the emergence of Islam, and is based upon a deep, profound and intensive study of the sources of Islamic law, the Quran and Hadith. Much of the confusion present in the global Muslim community today is the result of an ignorance of the works of Islamic law. A significant portion of Muslims today, especially Arab Muslims, adhere to a non-madhhabist approach to Islam, ie they reject the traditional schools of law in their entirety and claim to follow the revealed sources directly. In reality, the result is that they follow contemporary scholars who are like mice compared to the great lion-scholars of the salaf, in both knowledge and sincerity, or they arrogate themselves to the level of ijtihad (deriving legal rulings directly from the sources) without being even remotely qualified to do so. The result is confusion and chaos in the Islamic law that we witness in today’s Muslim societies. Consequently, many of those calling Muslim youth to arms have little knowledge of the sacred rules of armed conflict in which they are engaging. Thus, in doing something which is supposed to be for God, they end up contravening Divine rulings instead and doing acts which are displeasing to God. They claim to follow the salaf [first generations of Islam], but in fact follow the interpretation of contemporary pseudo-scholars whose understanding of the revealed texts is vastly different to the understanding of the imams of the salaf, the greatest of whom were the founders of the four legal schools or madhhabs. I do not wish to comment on any specific places where Muslims are engaged in fighting around the world, nor do I consider it appropriate to do so. The decisions in specific locations where fighting is taking place are to be made by the commanders of the Muslim forces. They are best placed to know the conditions and relevant factors they are facing and make decisions relating to the community under their authority. Any points I raise in this article are simply general points of Islamic law that all Muslims should be aware of in relation to armed conflict, no matter where it takes place. A point to also keep in mind is that all laws and rules may have exceptions or circumstances in which they may not apply. For example, the general ruling of wine being prohibited is not applicable if someone is dying of thirst and has nothing else to drink. The general principle is that prohibitions are lifted in cases of necessity. I stated earlier that jihad, ie the collective duty to struggle against falsehood in all its manifestations, may be carried out by the heart, pen, word or sword depending on the circumstances. It is clear that there were times when the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace), and the Companions after him, raised up the sword and times when they laid down the sword. Taking certain ayahs of Quran or certain statements of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) without having a deep and wide understanding of the rest of the Quran and sunnah can be extremely dangerous. All sects justify their doctrines from the Quran and sunnah. The question is not whether you follow the Quran and the sunnah, the question is whose understanding of those revealed sources you trust. By looking at the actions of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace), we can see how he understood the Quran, and by studying the lives of the Companions, we can gain insight into how they understood the Quran and sunnah. It is precisely this understanding of the revealed sources by the Companions that was preserved by the scholars of the sunni community in their works on Islamic law and theology (`aqeedah). The taking up of the sword by a prophet is a beautiful, sacred act devoid of the lower human impulses that accompany less perfect men. It is clear that the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) did sheathe the sword for a peace treaty that was concluded with the Makkans which was due to last ten years[iv]. Therefore, the books of Islamic law state that the commander of Muslims may enter into a peace treaty with enemy forces, and this may be for as long a time as remains of benefit to the Muslim community. The decision as to what is in the best interests of the Muslim community is clearly the determining factor, and is in the hand of the commander, who should of course make decisions through the Islamic governing process of consultation (shura). The safety and security of Muslims, especially the women and children, is of paramount importance, in considering such situations. The commander of the believers, Sayyiduna Umar ibn al Khattab, once remarked following a victory against Persian forces, “I wish there was a wall of fire between us and them, so they could not get to us and we could not get at them” [related by al-Suyuti in ‘Tarikh al Khulafa’]. This was due to his concern for the Muslim soldiers and the struggle they were engaged in. Contrast this to the selfishness - or is it simply stupidity? - of the suicide bombers who carry out attacks in Britain and leave the women and children of their community to suffer the violent backlash of anti-Islamic sentiment. The self-styled global commanders who rant about the oppression of the Muslim masses, but on the other hand reveal a callous disregard for the suffering of ordinary Muslims that results from their irresponsible actions. It seems as if Muslims regard the blood of Muslims as cheaper than the disbelievers do. The Companions understood the value of the blood of just one Muslim and its sanctity. Muslim youth are being sacrificed in dozens by being sent on suicide attacks. Who decides to sacrifice these young men and women? Is it their parents? Who made their blood so cheap that it may be sacrificed for the purpose of killing or injuring a few disbelievers, or to send a political message? Why does a Sunni Muslim woman blow herself up in the middle of Shi`a worshippers, killing and injuring believing women and children? The Quran contains one of its most severe warnings for the intentional killing of a Muslim: “Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is hell for ever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom.” [Nisa: 93] The fact that this ayah mentions the punishment of this crime as being “hell for ever” has led to extensive debate amongst scholars, as we know from other evidences that a believer would not be in hell for ever, no matter what his crimes. As long as he died with faith, he would eventually leave hell and enter paradise. The fact that Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala has linked this crime to everlasting punishment indicates the enormous severity of it in the sight of God. How do we understand then the bombing on London underground trains? Taking away the fact that such an act of treachery against your host nation is strictly prohibited by Islamic law in any case, surely the bombers must have known that there would be Muslims on board. Or is it that they have declared all Muslims as disbelievers because they live in a non-Muslim land? But aren’t they the same people who rant and rave about the suffering of the Muslim masses and how deeply it troubles them? Perhaps they need to clarify that their definition of Muslim excludes the vast majority of us. If it is in the interests of the Muslim community, the commander of the Muslims will enter into peace negotiations and lay down the sword. Many of the greatest Companions who were leading the Muslim forces against the armies of falsehood broke their swords when they saw the Muslims begin fighting amongst themselves. When Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas, the conqueror of Persia and close companion of the Prophet , saw the fighting between the Muslim factions, he went into his house and broke his sword. He refused to join either side and shed Muslim blood. When Sayyiduna Uthman’s house was surrounded by armed rebels protesting against his leadership, and the Companions in Medina and Bani Umayyah came to his aid, he refused to allow them to drive out the rebels by force, saying “I will not be the first to shed the blood of Muslims”. It is fascinating to see how the younger Companions who lived many years after the passing of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) stopped fighting with the sword and began teaching the people. Younger Companions who went on to become prolific teachers of the sunnah included people like Abdullah Ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Ibn Masud, Sayyida Aisha, Abu Hurayrah, Anas ibn Malik and others. After Islam had spread to the East and the West during the glorious jihad era of the first two caliphs, these luminous individuals put down their swords and began teaching the religion to the vast masses of newly converted people. Their jihad changed from one of the sword to one of the pen according to what was required for the circumstances. Their struggle against falsehood never diminished; they had the wisdom and deep understanding of the religion to change their strategy to face the changing situation. In fact, it has been suggested that this was one of the wisdoms of the divine providence behind the occurrence of the civil wars between the Companions, or fitan as they are known in Arabic. If the civil wars had not occurred, those young Companions would have continued the physical struggle against the forces of falsehood at the outlying borders of dar al-Islam, and would never have returned to the heartlands of Islam to teach the religion for the benefit of the generations who came after them. When the forces of truth and falsehood collide in martial conflict, the Quran dictates that fleeing from the battlefield in this situation is one of the most heinous sins. However, the Quran also clarifies that this is the case if the opposing forces are relatively balanced. If the enemy outnumbers the Muslims by more than double, it is permissible to retreat it that situation. “Now hath Allah lightened your burden, for He knoweth that there is weakness in you. So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. Allah is with the steadfast.” [Anfal: 66] The great Hanafi legal theorist, Imam al-Sarakhsi, states in his al-Mabsut that the ruling in this ayah extends to situations in which the Muslim forces are faced with overwhelming superiority in terms of weaponry not just numbers. In these confusing times, it is important for us to identify clearly the enemies of Islam and map out the various dark forces of falsehood, injustice and oppression that threaten mankind. I say mankind because Satan is the enemy of the human being, not just Muslims. In a time where we are witnessing a global satanic order coming increasingly into view, it is important to remember that many ordinary people around the world, not just Muslims, are victims to these oppressive forces. Our religion teaches kindness, compassion and justice towards all human beings, not just Muslims. The Quran explicitly states: “Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them - (All) such are wrong- doers.” [Mumtahina: 8-9] For those who say that many verses of Quran were abrogated by the Ayah of the Sword, it is not possible to enter that debate here, but suffice it to point out that this position was taken by some jurists but is by no means a consensus opinion. Imam Zaid Shakir’s article on “Jihad as perpetual warfare” may be referred to for a detailed discussion on this. Iblis was envious of something in the human being and envy leads to attempts to destroy the object of envy. Under the destructive control of the satanic world order, we see today human beings stripped of that thing which made them truly human, which made them God’s vicegerent on earth. We see fractured human beings, neurotic, depressed, stressed, on the edge. The wholeness is gone. The forces of falsehood that confront us today manifest as a self-declared ‘world order’ and come under the flags of many nations. The weapons at their disposal are beyond anything imaginable. The announcement of this new satanic order was horrifically signalled to the world by the dropping of two atom bombs in Japan in 1945. Since that time, America, the leader of the new world order, has spent billions of dollars in developing increasingly sophisticated computer and machine systems and weaponry to ensure its military dominance and enable it to use force when required. The current events in NWFP and Afghanistan can be seen as a testing ground for the CIA and Pentagon’s latest computer-machine [=android] war technology. They are already able to use pilotless drones which are flown by computers to spy, seek out, identify and destroy targets. The computer can now identify the target, send out a plane flown by computer, and launch a missile guided by computer. Therefore the enemy is destroyed with no human input apart from an official somewhere far away pressing a button to indicate the attack is authorised. Once the artificial intelligence systems become good enough at correctly identifying targets, they will not need human input at all. The potential to wage war anywhere around the world through the deployment of android technology which can be reproduced ad infinitum is the Pentagon’s dream. The old colonial problem of how to control huge populations of natives with so few imperial soldiers at your disposal is finally finding its solution in artificial intelligence-machine systems and ‘smart’ bombs. We now face an enemy that can wipe out our entire population at the press of a few buttons. The struggle against the forces of falsehood and injustice is a collective obligation upon the Muhammadan community as the carriers of the final revelation to mankind and must continue no matter how insurmountable those forces appear, as ultimately they are falsehood, and falsehood cannot stand in the face of truth. Shaykh Said Ramadan al-Buti, may Allah protect him, has pointed out that this struggle today is in the intellectual, cultural and military domains. The master jurists of the Hanafi legal school took the position that military attacks may not be directed against non-combatants. I believe that this was due to their deep and profound understanding of the sunnah of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) and his character. As with other rulings, in my opinion, Abu Hanifa himself showed a respect for human autonomy and dignity that is closely related to what we can see of the way of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace), and he was not deviated in his way of thinking by the massive social and political changes that had taken place so soon after the demise of the Prophet . In other words, the imperial milieu of Umayyad and Abbasid caliphate was so different from the society of the Prophet (upon him be mercy and peace) that it was easy to lose the spirit of the prophetic teaching when faced with the new realities. I believe that Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on him, had a close connection with that spirit in a profound way more than many of his peers, as is manifested in many of his rulings that show utmost regard for issues of human autonomy, and in which even his foremost students often disagreed with him. But that is a discussion for another place. We have not covered another important legal issue which relates to the status of “musta’min” or one who enters a non-Muslim country with a covenant of security. However, it appears as if awareness of the prohibition of such a person attacking those who have granted him security is quite widespread amongst our community, alhamdo lillah, due to the efforts of our shuyukh, so we will not delve into it further here. Let us finish with these ayahs of Quran: O ye who believe! When ye go forth (to fight) in the way of Allah, be careful to discriminate, and say not unto one who offereth you peace: "Thou art not a believer," seeking the chance profits of this life (so that ye may despoil him). With Allah are plenteous spoils. Even thus (as he now is) were ye before; but Allah hath since then been gracious unto you. Therefore take care to discriminate. Allah is ever Informed of what ye do. Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah hath conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah hath promised good, but He hath bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary; Degrees of rank from Him, and forgiveness and mercy. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. [Nisa: 94-96] Seeking forgiveness and guidance from his Lord, The servant of God, Rdhwan ibn Muhammad Saleem, West London School of Islamic Studies. [Based on a lecture delivered at Ribat Institute, Woking, UK] 2 Rabi al Awwal, 1432/8 February 2011 [i] See tafsir al-qurtubi of the ayah in question [ii] “Who hath created life and death that He may try you which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving,” [Mulk: 2] [iii] Tawbah: 24 [iv] i.e. the Treaty of Hudaybiyah






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Muslims in Britain

According to Islamic law (Shari’ah), it is necessary for Muslims living in a non-Muslim land, such as Britain, to be honest, upright and just. Specifically, it is completely forbidden for a Muslim who is living under the security of the non-Muslim state to engage in any form of violence or terrorism against his non-Muslim neighbours, as has been stated very clearly in the famous classical manual of Islamic law, ‘ The Hidayah.

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