Islam has become a household word in the west today, yet not much is known about the beliefs of this great monotheistic world religion. In fact, it is the most misunderstood and often slandered religion in the world today. Unfortunately, the ones who bear the most responsibility for this sad state are the Muslims themselves, or at least people claiming to do things in the name of Islam which may or may not be "Islamic." Let's all do our part to speak up for Islam and not let these few people with their own political agendas continue to spread a false image of Muslims and Islam.
I think that the most compelling evidence for the truth of what Islam teaches is not going to be what this or that scholar says, but what the Qur'an and Hadith say regarding terrorism and war. The Qur'an is the primary source for Islam, it is the literal word of God as revealed to the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and has never had a single letter of the original Arabic script changed. The Hadith are the words of the prophet (PBUH) who is a human being. His words are inspired by God but the choices of words are his own. The hadith are the secondary source for Islam.
So, let's look at the definition of terrorism: The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons. I think it's important to note that terrorism is a heinous crime that has permeated our societies since the beginning of time. It is in no way an Islamic phenomenon although it is portrayed as such by the media today.
The people and property that terrorists target are almost always civilian. What does Islam say in regards to attacking civilians and their property? First, let's look at a beautiful verse from the Qur'an, [Qur'an 5:32] "...anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. ..." Definitely the civilians who are randomly targeted by terrorists are killed unjustly according to the Qur'an itself. And, as for these terrorists who target innocent civilians, it's as if they are killing all of humanity, and they will have to answer to God for that on the Day of Judgment.
The Qur'an teaches that life is sacred; it states this in many passages in both direct and indirect ways. Life is a gift from God that only He can give and take. I will only quote one such verse due to the limitations of this short article. [Qur'an 6:151] "....You shall not kill - God has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand."
In fact, we find that the Qur'an is quite explicit that we should be peaceful with those who are peaceful with us. [Quran 8:61] "If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." And again, [Qur'an 4:90] ".... Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no excuse to fight them." So, we can plainly see from these texts that it is not permissible for an individual to unilaterally decide to attack innocent civilians who pose no threat to themselves, their families or their property.
Islam is a comprehensive religion that covers all aspects of human life, including war. However, there are very strict rules of warfare and distinct lines drawn between combatants and civilians. The prophet (PBUH) is recorded as saying, "Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman" (Abu Dawud). "Do not kill the monks in monasteries" or "Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship" (Musnad of Ibn Hanbal).
Furthermore, the first caliph Abu Bakr was the prophet's closest friend and staunchest supporter. He gave the following advice to the leader of an army unit that was heading to Syria, and his advice was based on his knowledge of what the prophet (PBUH) taught: "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."
Not only are Muslims clearly instructed not to harm any innocent individuals, we are also clearly instructed not to harm the infrastructure and economy of any land. Clearly this is in stark contrast to the acts of the terrorists who purposely target the civilians and the economics of a country.
The last point that I would like to make is that Islam is clearly against suicide and hence suicide bombing. There are some Muslim scholars who use the example of battles where the army vowed to fight to their death as evidence that suicide bombings are allowed. However, that is a highly debatable point and I personally feel that we should look to the Qur'an for the answer rather than individual's decrees. So, let's see what the Qur'an has to say about suicide. [Qur'an 4:29-31] O you who believe! Do not eat up your wealth in vanities among yourselves. But let there be among yourselves trade conducted in mutual good will. Nor kill or destroy yourselves, for God has been most merciful to you
If any do that in rancor and injustice, soon shall we cast them into the fire, and that is easy for God. If you but avoid the most heinous of the things which are forbidden to do, we shall expel out of you all the evil in you and admit you to a gate of great honor.
So, when we look at the Qur'an and Hadith we see that terrorism is clearly forbidden in Islam. People who hijack airplanes and crash them into buildings are not martyrs in Islam, they are people who are hijacking our religion and killing many innocent people. That is not the way of Islam; Islam is fair and protects the lives and properties of innocent people. Just because somebody does something in the name of Islam doesn't mean that the person is a Muslim or the act is Islamic. Please read the Qur'an so that you can find the truth for yourself. For a free copy of the Qur'an contact www.freequran.org and order one today.
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