Thursday, February 18, 2016

What is the Quranic position on terrorism?

Terrorism experts have identified at least six different sorts of terrorism — nationalist, religious, state-sponsored, left-wing, right-wing, and anarchist.
An objective study of terrorism in its broadest sense in world history will show that even though religion may be used as a platform, terrorist activities have in fact nothing to do with the religious
teachings per se.
Religious terrorists seek to use violence to further what they see as divinely commanded purposes, often targeting broad categories of foes in an attempt to bring about sweeping changes. Religious terrorists come from many major faiths, as well as from small cults. Religious terrorists are quite different from terrorists who manipulate and use religion as a platform to achieve other purposes, for example, pure greed or power.
Examples of religious terrorists have included the Palestinian Sunni Muslim organisation Hamas, the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah, the radical Jewish groups affiliated with the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Israeli extremists Baruch Goldstein (who machine-gunned Muslim worshipers in a Hebron mosque in 1994) and Yigal Amir (who assassinated then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995), some American white-supremacist and Christian militias, and the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult in Japan.
A detailed study of violence and religion will show that it is not confined to Muslims alone. There are extremists and violent people everywhere and it is the reasonable majority that has to keep the peace and sanity.
The Quran is extremely clear that there is absolutely no compulsion whatsoever in faith and violent approaches to spreading faith is antithetical to the teachings of the Quran (Q10:99).  In matters of religion, the Quran clearly cautions against being excessive (Q5:77).
According to Imam Tamman Adi of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Eugene, Oregon the concept of war is mentioned six times in the Quran as follows:
(a) God and his messenger declare a “war” on those who make money by unproductive financial transactions (usury, currency trade, stock market speculation, derivatives).  He asks creditors to give debtors time, or better yet, to forgive the debt as charity (Quran 2:278-279). A modern example can be the “war against international currency speculators” undertaken before by Malaysia.
(b) In the Quran, Allah decreed that killing one soul is like killing all humanity and and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people (Q5:32). God also condemns mass murder by gangs, calling it a war against law and order. The only exceptions are killing in self-defence and court-ordered execution of a murderer when the victim’s family does not forgive.
(c) God condemns nations that regularly violate international treaties and start wars. He requires other nations to prepare forces of deterrence against such war starters, but commands us to make peace with them whenever they are open to it (Q8:56).
(d) The Quran tells us that warmongers will commit mass murder and falsely blame it on Muslims in an attempt to start a war against Muslims. Fortunately, the verses tell us that such plots are fragile, built on the crumbling edge of a mud hill, bound to collapse with the plotters into hell (Q:9:107).  As a Muslim, I am convinced that a large majority of Muslims recognise that the terrorist activities carried out by Islamic State do not have any basis in the Quran.
(e) God tells us that when war is over, the killing must stop and prisoners must be exchanged or set free (Q47:4).
It is therefore clear from the foregoing discussions that the Quran is clearly against terrorism and thus, the continued use of the term “Islamic terrorism” is very annoying to the Muslims and misleading.
Unmistakably, terrorist’s activities have been around for a very long time in human history and it did not begin with 9/11.
As the above discussions show, there are many types of terrorism and therefore, there are many causes of such terrorism. Some of the reasons are pure greed or pure violence while the other causes has nothing to do with greed or the objective of causing violence, though it may be used as a means to attract attention.
In such cases, it is important to clearly understand the root causes so that long term and effective measures can be implemented to counter such terrorism by eliminating the root causes, if possible.
Identification of terrorism with religion or race should cease as this is misleading and tends to fuel prejudice and oppression of innocent people.
* Jahaberdeen is a senior lawyer and founder of Rapera, a movement that encourages thinking and compassionate citizens. He can be reached at
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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Why some Muslims are easy prey to terrorists and extremists.

 I totally welcome our country’s fight against terrorism through the use of law, the police and the military. Safety of the citizens is always a high priority for any responsible government.
However, I am of the view that anti-terrorism measures cannot merely be confined to law, police and military, though necessary, if a long-term solution is the objective.
The re-evaluation and reformation of values, culture, thought and how Islam is taught is the root that ought to be addressed. For this to happen, we need to create a culture of knowledge, thinking, civilised debates and discourse and a high tolerance for dissenting views. In short, coercion and compulsion in matters of faith must give way to personal choice and spiritual growth. 
Islam related terrorism (IR terrorism) is not confined to acts of violence alone because it is based and propagated on ideology.  IR terrorism obviously infests on its own ideology of what Islam is.
The question that every Muslim should ask is this: how in the world did the religion of peace get associated with terrorist violence so easily and globally? How is the professed Muslim persuaded to blow himself up in the name of “jihad”?
I believe that policy makers who want to combat IR terrorism has to embark on an honest study and evaluation of history first to understand what could have been used as the basis of ideology to recruit potential terrorists. The policy maker has to study all versions of history and not just the version he is most comfortable with. A proper approach to fighting IR terrorism has to take into account various other equally significant factors.
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