Behind the on-going conflict between the Palestinians and Israel, Islamic motives are being badly misused to make this look like a holy war where the Muslim world has to unite. Since they depict Jews as the enemy of Allah – as explained earlier – the teaching is that Islam is at war with Jews and Israel, and killing Jews is requisite in order to fulfill Islam’s victory and to draw Muslims closer to Allah. Having studied the so-called Islamic grounds for this war-mentality, there are serious and apparent deviations from Islamic teachings with regards to commandments of war and peace and also the outlook about the Jews at large. The fact is that Muslims do not have a “right” to be at war with Jews as people. Even if there are confrontations or war involving some Jews, there are serious breaches of the Qur’an’s commandments as to their methods and way of thinking in so-called justified terrorism.
First of all, the word jihad is widely misused due to a great distortion of the true meaning of the term by some Muslims. Although the Oxford English dictionary defines jihad as “a holy war undertaken by Muslims against non-believers” or Merriam Webster defines it as “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty,” the word jihad comes from the word jehd, meaning to strive. Thus carrying out “jihad” refers to “showing effort, struggling, striving in the way of Allah” in the broadest sense as a permanent duty. Jihad is not holy war and it is most certainly not suicide, not killing innocent people, not fighting out of hatred, and not killing others just because they are not Muslims.
It is true that jihad is a central issue in Islam and a responsibility upon all Muslims. However jihad – according to the Qur’an – is spreading the message of Islam, enjoining the good and fighting against evil and injustice; therefore, it can surely mean a struggle carried out on intellectual grounds too. Jihadis not a “justification” for massacres or acts of aggression against innocent people. The Prophet Mohammed explains that “the greatest jihad is the one a person carries out against his lower self ” referring to selfish desires and ambitions. Thus, besides jihad al-nafs (inner struggle), the external jihad can be done by knowledge, pen and tongue with the purpose to bring about justice and peace, and to oppose cruelty.
For the times when jihad involves war (jihad al-qital), it is either for self-defense or for defense of an aggrieved people in a situation obliging one to combat in order to survive or save lives. When the Qur’an refers to physical combat (fighting to kill) another word is used: qatal. Qatala is to battle, to kill, and qital is fighting, physical combat. There are verses that do give permission to kill; however, they are for limited circumstances; they are not a license forever, and assuredly not a blind endorsement of unrestricted violence.
From an Islamic point of view, war is an exceptional matter and an unwanted obligation when one’s life is under attack, and Muslims can only resort to it as the last option and for defensive purposes only. Muslims are not supposed to attack; war has to be inevitable at the point that one has to defend oneself. Even if it is considered obligatory for self-defense, it has to be carried out with strict observance of humane and moral values. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes, and Muslims are warned against the use of unnecessary violence:
Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits. (Qur’an, 2:190)
In another verse, God commands justice and warns Muslims against feeling rage towards enemies so that their judgments are not impaired:
You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness… (Qur’an, 5:8)
One also has to remember that in times of war, not fighting to defend or to stop persecution of attackers would be a crime since it would mean permitting the murder of innocent people. That is why the commandments to fight were a reminder of an obligation to action for Muslims.
When there is a peace treaty, both sides should adhere to the peace agreement meticulously and commit to not attacking each other. Especially for Muslims, after making a peace agreement, according to the Qur’an, one has to remain scrupulous in protecting it and abiding by its terms. God says:
If they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. (Qur’an, 8:61)
As it is seen in the following verse, permission to fight is no longer valid when the other side offers peace:
If they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.(Qur’an, 4:90)
In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, when one side fires rockets, the other side is fully entitled (and indeed obligated) to protect its citizens. When peace is declared and there is a peace agreement, Muslims have to abide by the provisions. Thus, after the cessation of attacks and making of a peace treaty, launching rockets blindly against Israeli villages and towns which eventually harm people is wholly incompatible with the Qur’an, and a violation of it.
There is absolutely no justification whatsoever in the Qur’an for killing innocent people. Murdering guiltless people is a crime that is utterly against Islam:
If someone kills another person – unless it is in retaliation for someone else or for causing corruption in the earth – it is as if he had murdered all mankind. And if anyone gives life to another person, it is as if he had given life to all mankind. (Qur’an, 5:32)
As it is stated explicitly in the verse, it is a sin to target civilians or be reckless of their security during an attack. When Hamas indiscriminately launches rockets over Israel, there is no precise direction and thus these rockets fall sometimes on empty land but also sometimes onto the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. Consequently it becomes inevitable that civilians, including innocent children, are severely affected by this. According to the Qur’an, it is a sin to take an innocent life, and it is also a sin to cause disorder or panic.
In war times, the Prophet Mohammed has explicitly prohibited the killing of the elderly, women, and children:
Do not kill children. Avoid touching people who devote themselves to worship in churches! Never murder women and the elderly. Do not set trees on fire or cut them down. Never destroy houses!5
Go to war in adherence to the religion of God. Never touch the elderly, women or children. Always improve their situation and be kind to them. God loves those who are sincere.5
The Prophet Mohammed’s companion and first Caliph Abu Bakr states:
O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well! Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.5
No matter who may espouse these ideas, however Islamic they may look or sound, if terror and wanton and random killing is being aimed at innocent men, women, and children, these acts are violations of the Qur’an and referred to as cruelty. Furthermore, in Islam, God encourages Muslims even to forgive people who have committed murder. (Quran, 2:78, 5:45)
Consequently, according to all sects of Islam, it is not permissible to kill women or children unless they are attacking Muslims to kill. It is also not permissible to kill non-combatants according to the Hanafi, Hanbali, and Maliki schools. Furthermore according to Islamic jurisprudence, children cannot be targets or soldiers of war; children should not be killed and should not be used or encouraged in war.5
Violence committed against civilian targets for political purposes is terrorism, the Muslim identity of the perpetrators and their use of God’s name notwithstanding.54 It is obvious that organizing acts of terror against innocent people constitutes a great sin and God informs us about this cruel mindset of terrorists and how they will be punished:
There are only grounds against those who wrong people and act as tyrants in the earth without any right to do so. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Qur’an, 42:42)
So Muslims are responsible for stopping these people, and terrorism by no means can be reconciled with Islam, even if it is considered as an act of just war (which most certainly is not).
Another important matter is that Islam absolutely forbids suicide attacks. God says:
Do not kill yourselves. (Qur’an, 4:29)
Suicide is a haram (unlawful), and it is a crime punished with an eternity in hell as revealed in the Qur’an. In some so-called Islamic websites that explain the law and strategies behind Palestinian jihad, they warn each other to refrain from using the expression suicide attacks because they know full well it is unlawful according to the Qur’an. Rather, they suggest to use actions of istishhad (martyrdom). This “self-martyrdom” is definitely not martyrdom according to the Qur’an and it is a grotesque distortion of Islam.
Martyrdom, according to Islam, means death while striving on the path of God; indeed, the concept of martyrdom is virtually identical in all religions.
The Qur’an indisputably prohibits the killing of other believers; and that is opposite of those encouraging and aiding those in acts of suicide bombings:
If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is hell, to abide therein (for ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him. (Qur’an, 4:93)
If a suicide bomber perpetrates his action in the name of Islam, and kills innocent people as well as himself, then that is among the biggest sins and worst blasphemy committed in God’s Name. The recompense for murder and suicide is promised as eternity in hell. Blowing up restaurants, markets, buses, and then honoring and glorifying the perpetrators are in fact celebrating murderers, not martyrs, and it is most unequivocally not jihad.
Furthermore, suicide bombings are a new phenomenon of the 20th century with no antecedents in Islamic history, and there is no justification for such cruelty in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition.
Via Sinem Tezyapar