Edited by Muhammad Iqbal
The recent suicide bombing and terrorist atrocities which took a place in Manchester and London have once again provoked many of the wrong kinds of questions about Islam. Again, ordinary Muslims find themselves besieged by an increasingly emboldened right-wing media and left acutely embarrassed before their friends and colleagues as attacks carried out in the name of their religion become the ‘new normal’ now at home as well as abroad, with the result that, as even friendly commentators have pointed out:
‘In the wake of the massacre in Manchester, people rightly warn against blaming the entire Muslim community in Britain and the world. Certainly one of the aims of those who carry out such atrocities is to provoke the communal punishment of all Muslims, thereby alienating a portion of them who will become open to recruitment by ISIS and Al Qaeda clones’
(Patrick Cockburn: ‘Manchester Attack: It is Pious and Inaccurate to say that Salman Abdis’ Actions Had nothing to do With Islam’ The Independent, 24th May 2017)
Ordinary Muslims see not only their public image destroyed, but also face discrimination socially and economically as a result: the kind of ‘heat’ this brings on the Muslim body public affects everything from their chances of being denied boarding on a flight to their prospects of getting the job or university course they deserve. And that is to say nothing of the increasing number of Muslims who leave the faith, taking the path of least resistance and avoiding the increasingly fraught and embarrassing position being a Muslim in the West puts them in.
Muslim groups and speakers on the other hand, whether honestly or in most cases with ill-intentioned efforts, rinse and repeat their cycle of blaming ‘the West’ and ‘foreign policy’. Quite apart from the fact that this species of argument is actually made much more academically and eloquently by non-Muslim commentators such as Glen Greenwald or John Pilger, the juvenile attempts of groups such as ‘Hizb ut Tahrir’, who have a great investment and much to gain from Muslims suffering social isolation and blame in the West, help no one. The image it presents to Westerners is of Muslims trying to argue that these attackers are motivated by some form of righteous political violence and are ‘retaliating’ for dead Muslim civilians abroad (there are persistent calls to ban Hizb ut Tahrir on campuses but they are merely plagiarising the same liberals – like Noam Chomsky – that they pretend to hate. In all honesty, you don’t need to ban them. They could be replaced by a monkey with a ‘Guardian’ subscription for all the use the are to Muslims – with the caveat that the monkey might actually come up with something useful to community relations). Quite apart from the obvious tacit consent this gives to these vile individuals’ actions, it neglects the reality that it was the very same Salafist and jihadi affiliations that these groups belong to that demanded the removal of Middle Eastern dictators from Saddam through Ghadaffi to Assad – as Wikileaks and the support of governments from Turkey to Saudi for the wars in Libya and Syria make clear, there is no such thing as ‘Western’ foreign policy since it invariably has the consent of Muslim majority states in the region such as Qatar, the UAE and above all Saudi Arabia – and in any case, the West does exactly what the jihadis want in the Middle East most of the time – removing Assad or Ghaddafi for example. So what exactly are they angry about? Western foreign policy explicitly follows the goals of Salafo-Jihadism – even unto threatening war with Iran and arming Saudi Arabia with the largest weapons deal in history. Much like the Zionist lobby, the Salafists keep both the political right and left on a tight leash.
That is to say nothing of the fact that these types of moronic ‘foreign policy explains everything’ (cut from the same cloth as the ‘she made me do it’ defence from a wife beaters and rapists of old) don’t explain why other groups of people (from the Korean War onwards) who have similarly been subjected to the excesses of the West’s foreign policy don’t seem to resort to knifing people in bars or blowing up eight year olds at concerts.
The sad fact is that many Muslims governments and ‘revival’ movements as well as the Far or ‘Alt’ Right have the exact same goal: they don’t want Muslims to integrate and succeed in the West.
Groups like ‘Hizb ut Tahrir’ are quite explicit in this with their ‘Nation of Islam’ style separationist dogmas masked as ‘revival of the Ummah’ and states like Saudi make it clear that they approve of leaders like Trump regardless of his supporters victimisation of western Muslims: they want you to be alienated from your home country and either be affiliated to their movement or to become recruited by extremists, as is natural when one feels or is persecuted in their own country or domicile. The goals of terrorism are, as Louise Richardson has made wonderfully clear, the ‘Three R’s’ – ‘Revenge, Renown and Retaliation’: by appearing to strike at the ‘oppressors’ (although it is supremely unclear just who the eight-year-old girls killed at the Manchester concert were ‘oppressing’), terrorists satisfy their bloodlust, thereby also gaining renown and kudos and thus new recruits. Their egregious actions provoke a violent response from the governments of the victims (‘retaliation’), thereby causing more alienation and suffering and more recruits for both the jihadis and the Far Right. The people who suffer the most, besides victims and their families, are those Muslims who wish to just get on with their personal and professional lives in the UK or France and have no intention of agitating their compatriots or working towards some fictional utopian ‘Islamic State’ as per the fevered dreams of HT (who strangely, every time one of their more, err, ‘proactive’ Taliban or ISIS Salafist colleagues sets up an alleged ‘Emirate’ or ‘Caliphate’, promptly declare it ‘invalid’).
An excellent illustration of the truth of Richardson’s ‘three R’s are the 9/11 attacks: Al Qaeda claimed to have gained ‘revenge’ on the United States, they certainly achieved much ‘renown’ and thereby recruits and when the US retaliated, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq (under spurious pretences), the resulting civilian casualties and counter atrocities led to even more radicalisation and recruitment for Al Qaeda – i.e. the war on terror generates more terrorists, but not in the way Muslim apologists claim but rather in the way Cockburn and Richardson do – that this was the intention of Salafist groups all along.
Islamic scholars like myself must endeavour to exercise to help within our field of expertise – but sadly it seems that beyond increasingly stereotyped and vacuous condemnations, we often do not: while well-funded Islamophobes with millions of ‘YouTube’ followers dig up obscure and unreliable fatwas and hadith, we stick to trying to sweep these under the rug using the pretext of ‘unity’ and ‘not airing our dirty laundry in public’, which allows the ideological masters of the jihadis to hide in our midst. Young Muslims, hearing about these fatwas and hadith for the first time in one sided and pseudo-intellectual attacks form either the Alt-Right, Liberals or militant atheists online, too often lose their faith as plain-speaking answers are not forthcoming from the clergy.
On one side ‘Dawah carriers’ and Muslim preachers are claiming that Islam is a religion of peace. They say things like ‘In fact Islam in Arabic means peace’. But on the other hand, they do not have, in the digital age, a monopoly of information and both genuine seekers and jihadis see videos and publications telling them that the ‘scholars’ of Islam give permission and issued legal verdicts (Fatwa) to allow, for instance, suicide bombings. This invariably leads to doubt and or apostasy or the justification to those with violent and separationist proclivities for attacks – neither outcome desirable in the least for Muslims.
Many Muslims are confused and some of them are questioning their faith. Many Non-Muslims are thinking ‘this bloody religion!’. On the defensive platform, we see many Muslim preachers who shout as loud as they can saying ‘Islam is a religion of Peace!’, by closing their eyes to all of the statements of the heads of the schools they follow. This would work if Islamophobes were similarly willing to overlook these opinions and texts, but as a growing wave of Muslim apostasy (which is actually as convenient and good for business for Dawah carriers and preachers as illness is for pharmaceutical companies) shows, they most certainly are not. In this article, I want to discuss the issue of ‘suicide bombing’ specifically and attacks on civilians more generally and break down the issue in to its details and present the opinion of the Muslim scholars and appraise it.
Regretfully, many scholars did give permission for suicide bombing (we will discuss the issues of whether they included civilians as targets later), so there is no point overlooking that or not tackling their erroneous theological leanings and abuse of the texts, for these same false ideas are being reproduced in Jihadi publications and other material, as even a cursory investigation by journalists like Cockburn above have revealed. If we overlook these things because they are uncomfortable or we want to save embarrassment, then the attackers will not spare us the same embarrass.0sment by acting them out on the streets of UK cities.
Suicide attacks are a new issue which did not exist in the past, which is why contemporary scholars have applied principles directly on the holy texts (Quran and Sunnah) and derived their own opinion according to that. Below I want to present some of these opinions. Let me just clarify at the outset that I myself detest and decry suicide bombing and in fact suicide or bombing of any kind, especially those directed against other people than oneself.
1.Sheikh Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaimin RA, a famous Saudi Salafi scholar and former teacher of mine, said; ‘Suicide bombing will be permissible if there is a huge benefit for Islam. But it is not permissible to perform it on the individuals who are not the leaders of enemies’.
- Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani is another very famous Salafist scholar, quoted endlessly by them as an ‘authority’ in hadith (purported sayings of the Prophet). According to him suicide bombing is permissible only if it is by the order of the Amir (head) of the army or state. As long as it meets this condition it is not called ‘suicide’ but it is called ‘Jihad’. Further, when state leader of Jihad orders someone to commit this act, then that person has to obey even if he dislikes it.
- Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Tarifi, who said; Initially it is prohibited, but can be permissible with conditions. It is permissible only if it causes a huge damage in the enemy otherwise it is not permissible. ‘Huge damage’ is such as killing the militant head of the enemy.
- Sheikh al-Arur, who said; ‘It is permissible in some scenarios such as preventing very huge harm from Muslims. For example a pilot crashing into the military base of the enemy…’
Some Shite clerics, such as the leader of the Iranian Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini, are also accused of encouraging suicide bombing.
Before looking at the ‘proofs’ of this group, I want to clarify that most scholars of this group are talking about suicide bombing on the battlefield. Yet unfortunately, some of them could be talking about other scenarios (which have to be clarified by them). We will talk about both scenarios in separate chapters.
Why do they think it is permissible? They have presented the following proofs:
- The verses from Quran which are ‘calling’ to fight against Meccan and non-Muslim antagonists of the Prophet Muhammad, such as; Kill them wherever you catch them! 2;191
- Suhaib al-Rumi transmitted from the Prophet the story of a child who used to study both from a magician and from a priest. This long story is narrated by ‘Muslim’ in his well-known collection and is very famous so I won’t mention it all. At the end of the story the king orders his servants to kill this child in various ways with no success. Then the child teaches the king just how his servants can kill him and says; ‘Call all of the citizens of your kingdom. Before shooting at me say ‘By the name of the Lord of this child!’. Once they apply his instructions they kill him and all the citizens start believing in God.
- In many battles, companions of the Prophet shielded him with their body, thereby putting themselves in danger of death. For instance, the companion Abu Talha in the famous battle of Uhud.
- There is another famous story with Bara bin Malik which is narrated by Baihaqi. In the story, there was a battle between the Persians and Muslims where the Persians locked themselves in a castle and attacked Muslims from the atop the walls. The Muslims were unable to do anything, so Bara sat on a shield and asked them to throw him inside the castle. Once he fought inside, he opened the gate and had over eighty wounds on his body.
- Muhammad bin Hasan al-Sheibani said; ”If one person charges with his weapon into a thousand enemies, this will be permissible if he hopes to survive or cause huge damage…But if there is neither of these two possibilities then it is disliked, unless he encourages the other Muslims to do what he has done with the enemies…Also, it is permissible if it scares the enemies off.” Jassas, another senior Hanafi Jurist also has confirmed this.
- Imam Shafei, one of the famous ‘Four Imams’ of Sunni Muslims said: ‘I don’t think it is a problem if one person with no weapon fights a group of enemies, or hurries to attack even if most probably he is going to be killed. That is because one of the Ansari companions hurried to attack the enemies in the battle of Badr, after the Prophet PBUH encouraging them to fight’.
- Ibn Taimiyah, the famous Imam of the Salafis, and the person for whom the various splintered sects of this movement, from Saudi Wahhabis to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas all the way to Shah Wali Allah, beloved of the Indian Subcontinents’ Deobandis, share a common admiration, said: ‘If one person invades into a line of the enemy on his own to benefit Muslims, it will be good even if he believes that he is going to be killed. The following verse is revealed to support this type of act: Some people give their lives to please God. God is the most Kindest with his servants. 2; 207. Some of the companions used to do this act in front of the Prophet PBUH. Khallal has narrated a story where someone jumped into the enemy ranks alone. People said; He has left himself to death! Umar (a senior companion of the Prophet) said; ‘No, he didn’t. But he did something which is mentioned in the following verse; Some people give their lives to please God. God is the Kindest with his servants.’’’
- Qurtubi, another famous scholar, and also a much beloved proof for Deo-Salafists, mentioned: ‘Scholars have disagreed on the issue of when one person in the battle invades into the front of enemy. [Then he mentioned the scholars who said]…it is permissible to do so as long as he has strength and a genuine intention. If he has no strength then it is considered the same as committing suicide’. Ibn Khuwaizma said: ‘There are two options in the scenario of one person jumping into the group of a hundred enemies or entire army or attacking a group of thieves or fighters or rebels: The first option is that he is sure that he will win and kill them and survive. This option is good. Also, it is good if he thinks that he will be killed but he will cause serious damage or causes something which favours the Muslims. [Then he mentioned the stories of Bara and some other stories.]
If we do what Muslims are sadly seldom encouraged or equipped to do and analyse these alleged proofs, one who reads through them can clearly see two very obvious points in these texts:
- All of the texts are talking about patriotic or heroic acts on the battlefield.
- None of the texts are talking about one killing oneself, but putting oneself under conditions where he might be killed by the enemy.
The verses which were presented by this group who favour suicide type missions in battle are invariably of two types; one type is not relevant with suicide bombing at all. The second type can only support one of the above mentioned two points.
As far as the Hadeeths which were mentioned, they again have absolutely no relevance to the point of committing suicide to kill people.
I want to show the weakness of using these type of hadeeths to support suicide bombing:
Firstly, the hadeeth of the child who allegedly encouraged and helped the king to kill him:
- Using a single chain narration to prove or establish issues pertaining to life and death or bloodshed is not acceptable (at least in Hanafi school).
- The very same hadeeth supports permissibility of studying black magic. The child favourably comparing the knowledge of the priest with the knowledge of the magician doesn’t prove the fact that he was not studying magic.
- Servants of the king were unable to kill the boy several times and killed him only by mentioning the name of God. Thus it is not a natural thing, but rather super-natural. As we all know, texts mentioning supernatural things cannot be used as a proof for natural events.
- There is a big and obvious difference between a suicide bomber who kills himself and others, and between this young man who was killed on his own.
- A suicide bomber kills himself by his own hands, whereas this boy was killed by the servants of the king.
- A suicide bomber kills the civilians, whereas the youth guided civilians towards something beneficial that they were unaware of.
Anyone who analyses this narration properly can find a lot of flaws in using it to support suicide bombing, especially if it is going to take the lives of civilians.
As for the second narration, the hadeeth of Bara, I don’t think I have to comment on it at all for sensible people, because Bara after being thrown inside of the castle opened the gate and came out alive. Using this story to support the suicide attacks can only serves to show how weak the understanding of the ones using it is.
As for the opinions of the scholars, they are also in the line with what I have said about the hadeeths and verses. None of that can support suicide bombing at all. It can support one thing only, which is ‘heroic or ‘patriotic’ behaviour against the enemies during a just war and even then only on the battlefield’.
From here we can see clearly that ‘suicide bombing’ is a totally new concept which was not discussed by the scholars of the past (no matter how people may want to twist things to make it appear otherwise).
All of the texts that we have seen were related to the issue one putting himself in danger of being killed with some possibility of surviving. Further, we cannot use the above-mentioned texts of the scholars in the issue of suicide attacks in any case. Therefore, below we have to examine this issue from scratch. None of the above opinions come close to the issue we actually see and face in the recent past. So, we will look into the issue as two different topics:
Islamic rulings concerning suicide bombing against civilians.
Islamic ruling of suicide bombing in the battlefield.
The Islamic ruling about suicide bombing against civilians
Before touching the issue of the ‘suicide bombing of civilians’ we need to know what Muslim scholars from different schools say about killing people who are not engaged in war. I assume when I will answer this question and present the opinion of the scholars, there will be many Muslim academics who may get offended. I want to say in advance, if anyone finds some weird thing in my article then they should not be offended by me because I am only presenting what the scholars of different schools said. First I will present the opinion of the scholar, which I do not accept. Further, I will explain why I don’t accept their opinion. Then I will present what I think to be right opinion and will give the names of the scholars who support that same opinion.
Obviously, some of the incorrect opinions will be offensive and dangerous, and both Muslims of a certain bent and Islamophobes will be unhappy: the Muslims because the dangerous opinions of some of their favourites are exposed and they will hide their embarrassment and complicity by saying ‘why have you mentioned this in public, you are giving ammunition to our enemies etc’. This is the ‘dirty laundry in public’ excuse. Quite apart from the fact that these people should be more concerned with the fact that there is dirty laundry as opposed to complaining about people who try to clean it up, this is a spurious accusation and shows how little knowledge and insight the erstwhile defenders of Muslims have as to the daily difficulties and attacks ordinary believers face: so much of this is already in the arsenal of Islamophobes and the Alt Right that it is frequently deployed against us. And of course, the Islamophobes like to act as if they are heroes who are exposing and addressing the ‘problems’ Islam and get angry when any Muslim has clarified and addressed these problems (of course, many in the ‘Christian’ Right in America, as a case in point, forget the shocking and controversial statements of their own ‘Imams’ such as Martin Luther and their own ‘fatwas’, which can make the most ardent jihadist blush. So, for example, polygyny is ‘degrading to women’ when Muslims mention it but to be swept under the rug when Martin Luther approves it).
Also, because I know that people love to pretend to be confused so that they can instil real confusion in genuine seekers, let me clarify: I am not saying that modern suicidal terrorism in the West (and the Muslim world – where it claims the overwhelming majority of its unfortunate victims) is a result of these opinions and fatwas – though they may have some role to play – merely that by addressing these issues we disarm both the Salafi-Jihadis and the Islamophobes, the former who might seek to privately use them for their purposes and the latter publicly for theirs. As for me, I must confess an equal want of affection for both groups.
‘Types’ of People in Islamic Law
Scholars disagreed in classification of people in Islamic Law: The first group of scholars suggested the following classification;
Humans are split into two; Muslims and Non-Muslims. The Non-Muslims in turn are of two types: Dhimmi and Harbi.
^ Dhimmi is a Non-Muslim who lives in Muslim lands.
^ Harbi is a Non-Muslim who lives in Non-Muslim land.
Now we must ask, according to these Muslim legists, ‘Under which conditions it is permissible to kill the members of these categories?’
Can be sentenced to death by the governor under following conditions:
- Revenge for murder
- Homosexuality (according to Malikis, Hanbalis, Shafeis, Salafis, and the latter Hanafis and their contemporary followers known as the Deobandi/Berlawi sects in the subcontinent, but not the authentic Hanafis, and ditto for adultery)
- Highway robbery
- Rebellion (only according to the early schools of Ahl Sunnah – Sunnis – but contemporary scholars of all four schools of Sunnis have innovated a new stance where it says ‘if rebellion happens one should kill the governor and not the rebels’ as per the widespread justifications proffered for the Syrian and other uprisings).
A Dhimmi will be treated exactly the same as a Muslim for these legists. So, any of the reasons by which the governor can issue a death penalty to a Muslim except for one issue; If a Dhimmi insults the Prophet or makes fun of some religious issue he should be liable for capital punishment according to the Maliki, Shafei, Hanbali, Salafi and contemporary Hanafi (Deobandi/Berlawi) schools. But according to classical Hanafi school, a Dhimmi cannot be sentenced to death for making fun of the Prophet PBUH etc. I already have written a long article about this issue which could be read here: https://asharisassemble.com/2016/03/28/islamic-blasphemy-laws-and-the-strange-case-of-mumtaz-qadiri/)
Harbi: with regards to this category it is prohibited for Muslims to do two things:
1. Cheating them (deception),
2. Breaking promises or contracts.
But is there any penalty in killing them? The answer is lamentably ‘No!’ according to the official position of most of the schools of Sunnism (including nowadays what is wrongly called the modern ‘Hanafi’ school). They use the following verse to support their position:
‘And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful’. 9;5
This verse is called ‘Ayat al-Saif‘ which means ‘The verse of sword’. Yes, very sadly, many Muslims scholars hold the exact same erroneous and baseless opinion about this verse as the Islamophobes (who are keen to dig up their quotes) do. They believe that the hundreds of verses which order Muslims to ignore the provocations and insults of Non-Muslims and forgive their errors are abrogated by this single verse and few single-chain narrations. (I will comment on this absurd claim of ‘abrogation’ further in a separate article).
Here are some examples of scholars supporting this unconscionable treatment of ‘Harbi’ people (all relevant quotations are from well l known authorities for their respective schools, so they are people that can be deployed to confuse and smear or alternatively radicalise Muslims by Salafis/Islamophobes):
- Imam Husain bin Masud al-Baghawi (died 1122 AD) who was a Shafi scholar:
Follow in red; Husain bin Fadhl said: ‘This verse has abrogated any verse which advises to be patient and ignore the harms of the enemy’.
2. Imam Qurtubi (died 1273 AD) a Maliki scholar:
Follow in the red box: ‘Kill the pagans’ proves that killing them is permissible in any way, except mutilation (for example chopping off the ears and nose) which is prohibited. It is possible that Abu Bakr took the explicit meaning of this verse when he was killing the apostates and burning them and stoning them and throwing them from the mountains and throwing them in the water-wells. Also, Ali was doing it.
[the second red box] This verse proves that it is permissible to kill them even without giving them Da’wa’.
[I, Atabek, say; It is horrible and disgusting statement which goes against Quran! This verse doesn’t prove that one ‘can kill them even without giving them Da’wa’!!! Stupid understanding of the word of God the ‘Most Merciful and Most Compassionate’!]
3. Abdurrahman bin Nasir al-Sa’di (died 1956 AD) a head of Salafi school.
Follow in the red box: ‘Kill the pagans wherever you catch them’ means in any place and in any time. ‘Catch them’ as a hostage. ‘Surround them’ i.e. keep them tight so that they should not be able to grow in the land which belongs to God, which was created as a worshipping place for his servants. That is because they don’t deserve to live there, and have no right to possess even the size of one hand span of it. It belongs to God, and they are his enemies who are opposing him and his messenger, and willing to remove his religion from Earth. God doesn’t accept but to complete his light even if disbelievers dislike it!
4. Abu Laith Samarqandi (died 983 AD) a Hanafi scholar.
In the red box; ‘This verse has abrogated seventy verses of bearing and patience, not hurting anyone and making a peace-treaty…’
Hadeeths as a ‘proof’
The first group of scholars have presented this verse as ‘proof’ as well as many single chain narrations such as the following:
- First Hadeeth;
In the red box: ‘If Prophet PBUH would want to invade into a village, he would wait in the morning. If he would hear them calling for a prayer (Adhan) he would leave them alone, otherwise he would attack them’
Narrated by Bukhari.
This is the ‘classification’ or taxonomy of humans according to the first group of Muslim scholars. Before reviewing the types of the humans according to the second group, I want to comment on two things: the ‘Verse of the Sword’ (Ayat al–Saif) and this Hadeeth of calling for prayer.
Myth about the ‘Verse of the Sword’
As we read above, this verse allegedly has such ‘mega-strength’ (according to these scholars and Islamophobes) that it can ‘abrogate’ seventy verses of Mercy, Forgiveness, Patience and ignoring the harms caused by enemies, unto their causing bloodshed. I think the readers have already gained a good level of confusion at the inconsistency of the ‘God of the Quran’, who claims to be the ‘Most Merciful and Most Compassionate’, and actually makes over a billion Muslims believe in his unlimited Mercy, but later he sends only one verse to burn these seventy verses of a Mercy to ashes! Then the question arises: Is God suffering from multiple personality, so in different places he says different things which contradict with each other?
Readers will also not be surprised if such opinions are used, behind closed doors or with the anonymity afforded by the internet, by those taking them seriously, to justify and recruit mass murderers and jihadis.
The answer is very clear however. Just read the verse by yourself and compare it afterwards:
‘And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful’. 9;5
If you read it like this, then definitely God is ordering Muslims to kill the pagans outside of the four sacred months.
When you put the verse back to its context then read it, what happens? Let’s read it together (I know reading a full paragraph is a lot of work for Salafis and hatemongers before forming an opinion, but we have to beg their pardon):
‘[This is a declaration of] disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists. So travel freely, [O disbelievers], throughout the land [during] four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers. And [it is] an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment. Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him]. And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know. How can there be for the polytheists a treaty in the sight of Allah and with His Messenger, except for those with whom you made a treaty at al-Masjid al-Haram? So as long as they are upright toward you, be upright toward them. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him]’. 9;1-7
Now we understand, in plain and unambiguous English or Arabic that the Quran is not talking about any and all pagans in the universe, but that rather about a specific group of pagans who made a peace-treaty and then broke it by committing bloodshed. Here is the context of the ‘Verse of Sword’:
God is saying publicly in the Major Pilgrimage where there were hundreds of thousands of people that because pagans did not keep to the peace treaty and committed violence and bloodshed, so the peace treaty is now over from Muslims side too.
Then God is ordering Muslims not to fight in the Sacred months even if pagans have broken the peace treaty.
Also, ordering them not to fight pagans next to the Sacred mosque unless they start killing, then Muslims can fight to defend their lives.
Then God is ordering Muslims to carry on keeping their peace treaty with the pagans who have not broken it yet.
Then God is ordering Muslims; If one of the members of the pagan group who broke the peace treaty asks you to protect his life so that he can listen to the teachings of Quran, then give him protection and let him to listen to it. Once he finishes listening take him back to where he is safe!
Then God re-confirms that that Muslims should be fighting only against the pagans who first agreed to the peace-treaty, then broke it:
‘’And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease. Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun [the attack upon] you the first time? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believer’’. 9;12-13
God clearly anticipated wilfully obtuse Salafists and Islamophobes because if anything, it is didactically clear and restated.
So, the ‘Verse of Sword’ doesn’t serve the sinful desire of hypocrites to kill the people but actually it demonstrates the high level of Mercy and Compassion of the God of Quran!
Thanks to God, this myth of ‘Verse of Sword’ is clarified. Confusion was only caused by taking the verse out of context. These verses were talking about a specific group of pagans who made a peace-treaty with the Prophet, then nonetheless invaded a village of Muslims and killed them. God publicly announced that there is no more treaty after what this specific group of pagans did, a position by no means shocking even to the most committed pacifist (*which Islamophobes and the Zionist or ‘Christian’ Right who pretend to be shocked by this verse and even go so far as to ask for the Quran to be burnt or banned, most certainly are not in any case)
God did not leave us confused with what should we do with the rest of the pagans and explained that too.
After this, I assume, there will be masses of immature ‘Muslim Academics’ and their co-dependant Islamophobe Neo-Con bedfellows who will say; ‘How come all of these scholars didn’t know that it was about a specific group of pagans, and only you know?!’ I am used to this type of silly question from both ethnic Muslims and converts. Just for their attention, here is Imam Nasafi (died 1311 AD) a Hanafi/Maturidi Scholar from Uzbekistan;
In the red box; ‘When the sacred months are gone then kill the pagans’ [Imam Nasafi comments on ‘pagans’]: the ones who broke the peace-treaty and supported the invasion into your land.
I hope it will put the minds of the silly ‘academics’ to rest!
This is a perfect example which demonstrates that the vast majority of TOP scholars can get the most basic of points wrong. They may totally miss such an IMPORTANT point as the ‘context’ of the holy text. For me it is unforgivable for a scholar to totally ignore the context and to put his own understanding above the textual context. It is the same as a doctor who is supposed to operate on a cancer patient and sees the lung of the human-patient, but then assumes that it is the kidney of a dog and pretends to be a vet! I don’t want to disrespect the scholars – but I do want to highlight the importance not taking the verses out of context.
Prophet of the Mercy invades into any village where there is no Adhan of Fajr?
There are many easy ‘catches’ on this story:
- The senior companions of the Prophet were very concerned to learn the habits of the Prophet. If he would have the habit of invading and killing the entire village for not reciting Adhan or the call to prayer, then his senior companions would know it. So, how come that none of the senior companions are narrating it, but only one of the junior companions is doing so?
- Adhan is a ‘Sunnah’, such as greeting the person you meet. There is no death penalty for missing a Sunnah. That would be ridiculous. I am aware that there are few scholars such as Abu Yusuf and few others supported this hadeeth, but that doesn’t give any strength on this single-chain narration (which is, in my understanding, fabricated or mistransmitted or misunderstood).
- The Prophet and a group of Sahabah missed both the Adhan and the Fajr prayer in one of their journeys. The famous companion Bilal was left to wake everyone up, but he had fallen asleep. Then the Prophet and everyone else woke up when sun had already risen. Does it mean that according to this hadeeth we had to invade and kill everyone for not reciting Adhan? The Prophet has not been sent to invade and kill, but to spread the message and to stop oppression.
We can carry on adding many more catches on this story almost indefinitely. It is very unlikely to describe the habits of the Prophet. But we will move on to the next chapter.
Types of Humans according to the Quran
There are, in contradistinction to what we have been seeing from some of the scholars above, only in fact two ‘types’ of people according to the Quran:
- People who are not involved with bloodshed, rebellion or invasions into the lands of others.
- And people who are involved into one of the abovementioned.
Quran has explained these two ‘types of Humans’ in many Verses. Let’s look at one of the places:
Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.
Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers’’. 60;8-9
So, according to the Quran people are either those who ‘fight and expel others from their homes’, or the ones who ‘do not fight, nor expel others from their homes’. I advise the readers to read the entire Surah Mumtahanah (Chapter 60 of the Holy Qu’ran) to understand this issue clearly.
Further, if we want to know the Islamic ruling on committing a ‘suicide attack’ we have to look into the ruling of each of two things separately:
- Killing the members of (abovementioned) two types of Humans
- Committing suicide.
Once we know the position of Islam regarding each of these two points, then we can see clearly if it is permissible to commit a ‘suicide attack’.
What is the ruling on killing according to the Quran?
There is no doubt that the default status of causing death to anyone is that it is a dire prohibition. The exemption is only given to the governor in one of three reasons:
- Punishment for a deliberate murder. The Governor can apply it when it meets two conditions: first is that it has to be proven with certainty that it is deliberate and not a mistake or anything else. The second condition is that the relatives of the victims should actually want and demand revenge. Sometimes the governor can apply it even if the relatives don’t demand it, but circumstances force him to do so (but it is very rare).
- Causing corruption in the land, such as rebellion, highway robbery etc. In this type of case the governor has a right to give the death penalty. For example, if a group of people will carry weapons and rob people, then the governor is responsible to stop them by peaceful means. If they don’t stop then he has the right to use military means, and kill them if required.
- Self-defence. If people invade into someone’s house with a weapon and attempt to kill them, then the householder has the right to defend himself anyhow he can.
God said: ‘Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors’’. 5;32
This verse came in the exact context where it explains when it is permissible to take someone’s life. God first gave an example of one of the two sons of Adam committing murder. Then God clarified that the act was wrong, and even the killer understood this to be the case. Then God explained that any type of killing beside the abovementioned three is not permissible.
At the end God confirmed that even after him clarifying when it is permissible to take someone’s life, there will be many people who will carry on committing the same sin of murder.
Based on that we know that killing someone without these three reasons is prohibited in Islam, and it is classed according to Quran as ‘it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.’
Regardless what is the ruling on committing a suicide, killing the civilians is prohibited in Islam!
Suicide in Islam
Even though it is well known that suicide is prohibited in Islam, I want to quote some proofs and some opinions of scholars:
- God said: O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful. 4;29
- Imam Fakhruddin Razi (died 1209 AD) Shafei theologian:
Imam Razi confirms that a suicide is not permitted!
3. Imam Nasafi too confirms that it is prohibited:
- Imam Zamakshari (died 1143 AD) Hanafi scholar confirms it too;
5. Qurtubi also supported the prohibition of suicide;
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of texts from the scholars which confirm the same exactly point of ‘prohibition of committing suicide’.
Here are some hadeeths about committing suicide:
- The one who commits a suicide with metal, will be punished in the hell with the same metal.
- Someone had a lot of injuries and he committed a suicide, so God said; My slave has killed himself and didn’t let the death to come naturally, so I will ban him from Paradise.
- The one who kills himself by strangling, will be strangling himself in the hell, and the one who kills himself by stabbing will stab himself in Hell.
All above three are narrated by Bukhari and many other scholars [it is the image of a page from Bukhari, chapter of Funeral prayers].
- Someone committed a suicide in the time of the Prophet PBUH, and he did not pray a funeral prayer for him. (narrated by Muslim)
Ibn Hajar commented on this hadeeth:
Ibn Hajar in the second red box said; the Hadeeth explicitly means that it is not permissible to pray the funeral rites of a person who committed suicide, and that is the position of Bukhari.
What is interesting is that Muslims seem to have suddenly ‘rediscovered’ this under intense media scrutiny following terrorist atrocities committed in their name: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/imams-refuse-funeral-prayers-to-indefensible-london-bridge-attackers (and we at Avicenna make no apologies for being amongst the signatories. As left-wing commentators have pointed out in the wake of these attacks, it is time to stop blaming all Muslims and start blaming some of them – namely the ones responsible. There are no Sufi or Shi’ite jihadists attacking the West – despite the foolish claims of Trump and his Gulf backers – and there is no reason for Muslims to be socially or otherwise punished or handicapped for the excesses of what are invariably a narrow clique of Salafists. Unity with people who make their distaste for Muslims thriving in the West obvious does said Muslims no favours. No one is claiming that all or even most Salafists are violent – just that there is no reason for all Muslims to be sacrificed at the altar of public opinion for the idiosyncrasies of a few who vociferously claim to represent ‘the Islam of the Salaf’ and then strangely seem to produce all the attackers in the west – and practically everywhere else – from amongst their ranks. Salafis always cry victimisation and slander and demand ‘unity’ when they are singled out as a problem – but the tolerance they extend to others in areas where they enjoy sway, such as Saudi Arabia, is well known and rightly lamented. One is reminded of wolves who would like to transform into sheep, but only for as long as the farmer comes by).
Ibn Hajar in the first red box said; Imam Malik said; The one who commits suicide won’t be forgiven.
Again, I can quote thousands of texts from Quran, Hadeeth, and books of the scholars and all of them will support one and only thing – namely the ‘prohibition of committing suicide’.
Just to clarify; I do not hold the opinion that one who commits suicide will never be forgiven by God as Malik said, and also I don’t support each and every opinion of the scholars. I am just presenting the opinions to show that suicide of whatever kind is not part of Islam.
We have, I trust, abundantly clearly learnt:
- Killing civilians is absolutely prohibited according to Quranic Islam – the only truly certain kind of Islam. Any justification otherwise, for suicide attacks and killing civilians, whomsoever it may be from, is a flagrant perversion of common sense and even linguistics itself.
Gullible and radicalised Muslims and Islamophobes need to be reminded of the saying ‘the Devil can quote Scripture’, though in this case, there is nothing to be found in the scripture for him to quote. Rather, suicide bombing is regretfully on occasion ‘justified’ by Muslims using very questionable narrations and fatwas of scholars, which it is an affront to the word of God to impose onto the clear and obvious understanding of the Quran.
2. Committing suicide is prohibited according to both Quranic and ‘opinionated’ Islam. There is just no way around this. Even ‘Kamikaze’ style attacks on the battlefield in wartime have lamentably inappropriate an inapplicable ‘justifications’, as we saw in detail above: I mean you can’t really get worse than justifying suicide missions or Kamikaze attacks by using ‘proofs’ such as hadiths where the alleged suicide attacker…comes out alive. Such ‘proofs’ tell us more about the motivations and morality of the ones offering them up than either Islam or theology.
3. There is no such thing in any religion or system of law, at least that I know of, where it says; ‘When two prohibitions come together, it becomes permissible’. It is the same as saying; ‘Drinking wine is prohibited, and so is eating pork. But if you drink wine and eat pork at the same time, no stress, it is permissible’. Thus it is with suicide bombing: killing civilians is forbidden and suicide is forbidden, so doing them both is forbidden squared, so to speak. We won’t even mention the fact that killing people or even plants by fire is not allowed in Islam at all – since people who don’t ‘get’ the blatant prohibitions of the Quran have even more idiotic and morally bankrupt ‘justifications’ to get around this. Suffice to say that if you can stare into the abyss of their stupidity and bloodlust, you will not return unmolested.
4. It is entirely possible for the vast majority of scholars to agree on an error and/or to take the holy texts out of their context and damage their meaning. There is absolutely no guarantee from God or Islam that this will not happen or that the ‘majority is right’ (Muslims are happy to mimic the tyranny of the majority found in some democratic systems when it suits them). Therefore, following the majority is not permissible, but one has to follow the clear, obvious and strongest proofs. This is obviously very difficult for the anti-rational and anti-intellectual Salafist orientations in Islam who have very ‘helpful’ debates on whether using the intellect is ‘prohibited’ (though one wonders how they go about having such discussions about the importance of blind following and rejecting reason without in fact deploying their intellect in the first place. It seems analogous to committing fornication without the use of one’s penis) and thus it is no surprise that the people who disgrace and victimise Muslims in the West invariably come from among their ranks, as even Liberals are now noticing. However, it is the case with such people that it is not Islam or religion that is the cause but rather that you cannot reason someone out of a position they were never reasoned into in the first place and on a related note, as has been well spoken: those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Sadly, there are many non-violent orientations in Islam which are committed to making you believe absurdities, moral and other kinds, and indeed take it as a mark of profound faith the degree to which you commit to them. They are then surprised when some of their followers turn violent. I find their (often genuine) surprise…surprising.
5. Islam is presented and explained by God, and everyone else has to follow that. ‘Everyone else’ includes the scholars and laymen, regardless if they are the majority or the minority. Islamophobes and Salafists, please deal with this, get over it, etc.
I think that the light, mercy and clarification that we find in the Quran is sufficient for the people who have brain. But the others are like a dead people who cannot see, nor they can hear so they won’t contemplate. What can you do?