Luring Muslims into wanton violence and
wars in the name of Jihad is against Islam
By Ahmad T. Momoh

Special to
USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston
The Black Business Journal

How, for instance, can the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, which innocent lives including Muslims were wasted and property worth billions of dollars destroyed be supported or justified as a form of Jihad? How can the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and the resultant crises be accepted as a form of Jihad? And how can the Palestinian Intifada or uprising and the Hamas or Hezbollah guerilla warfare be justified as Jihad? Are these conflicts meant to win more souls for Islam? Can the frontiers of Islam be expanded in an atmosphere of insecurity and wanton destruction? How do Muslims benefit from these wars? The truth of the situation is that there are other hidden motives behind these conflicts other than the desire for Jihad, and the whole world must join hands to uncover the hidden motives and find a lasting solution. The call for Jihad is commonly used as a cover and a bait to attract or lure Muslims into these fratricidal wars. This is an unacceptable approach.

For some time now, the world has witnessed a manifestation of one form of violent crisis or the other which directly or indirectly involved many adherents of the Islamic faith either as aggressors or as victims. Most of the flash points of violence in the world today are in places of either dominant Muslim population or where a minority Muslim population is pitched against the existing social order. For example, the Middle East conflict involving Israel and Palestine, the Chechnya crisis in the former Soviet Union, the Kosovo episode in the Balkans, the Kashmir rebellion along the Indian and Pakistan border, the instability in the Persian Gulf, centered around Iraq and Iran, the frequent uprising in Indonesia, the civil war in Sudan, the Sharia question in Nigeria, the guerilla uprising in Algeria, the Somalia-Ethiopia crisis in the horn of Africa, and more recently the unprovoked attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the USA, which has been linked to the activities of the al Qaeda organization-an Islamic organization harbored and nurtured by the Taliban Government in Afghanistan. The activities of various Islamic organizations like the Hamas, the Hezbollah, the GIA, the Islamic Jihad and the al Qaeda or any other organization, which claims allegiance to the Islamic faith have been a source of threat to world peace.

These crises have not only caused untold hardship and fear in the world, they have resulted in wanton destruction of lives and property. They have turned married women into widows, little children into orphans and have brought misery and destruction to many families. They have ruined many state economies, turned citizens into refugees and have caused terror, hatred, and suspicion in the minds of various people.

There is no doubt that these crises vary with respect to their causative factors. However, a common element among them is the dominant involvement of Muslims and the frequent reference to some of them as religious wars or Jihad. Of course there are other boiling points without Islamic connection across the world such as the Sabastistia guerilla activities in Mexico, the activities of the Drug Cartel in Colombia, the Irish Republican Army crisis in Northern Ireland, and the Ruwanda-Burundi crisis, the civil war in Sierra-Leone, the Angola civil war, and the Liberia episode all in Africa but they are not characterized as religious wars by the combatants involved. They are a function of socio-ethnic, political or economic dysfunctionalism in the countries affected.

The frequent characterization of the conflicts involving Muslim nations as Holy wars or Jihad is not only of fundamental concern to both Muslims and non-Muslim world wide, but it has raised a number of fundamental questions about Islamic idealism and principles. At the middle of the gulf war or Desert storm operation, the aggressive Iraq re-named the war 'the mother of all battles or a Jihad or holy war, which he expected every Muslim to be involved in. The Taliban government in Afghanistan has chosen the same style in the current crisis. According to the Taliban, this is a holy war or Jihad that must be fought by every Muslim. The Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and the GIA of Algeria have all named their struggles as Jihad and they have made references to the Islamic injunctions to support their claim. The question then is does Islam as a religion, encourage or prescribe the application of violence, terror or war as a weapon of dispute resolution?

Is Jihad permissible in Islam? If yes what is the Islamic true definition of Jihad and how do the ongoing arm struggles involving Muslim populations in the world fit into the Islamic definition of Jihad? Thirdly, is Jihad synonymous with arms rebellion against existing social order? Why do the protagonists of these conflicts find it convenient to label them as Jihad?

In an attempt to answer these questions, some analysts, politicians and scholars of international affairs are quick to articulate the view that Islam as a religion, supports and encourages Muslims into the application of violence, terrorism, and arms rebellion as a legitimate means of resolving societal dispute or conflict. Within the context of these crises therefore, Muslims are portrayed and frequently referred to as either extremists, fanatics, terrorists, fundamentalists, separatists, militants or even murderers. This is an untenable, unjustifiable, and unsustainable simplistic generalization or conclusion. A conclusion, which at best, is a product of either outright ignorance or deliberate mischief. How can it be accepted that Muslims are generally pro-terror or pro-violence, when Islam as a concept does not only mean peace but as a religion, Islam is founded on the basic principles of peace, tolerance, and brotherhood.

This is not to argue that religion and violence are strange bedfellows. The application of violence as a means of redress is not a new phenomenon in religion. The first recorded violent episode in religion was the murder of Abel by his brother Cain for reasons of envy and hatred. Yet the lesson of Cain and Abel episode was to teach mankind that violence and envy were social evils, which must be avoided, and a sin, which will attract God's punishment. It is also true that in the early days of Islam, battles were fought against those who sought to prevent Islam from existence, but such battles were not only conducted as the last resort but they were fought purely and essentially as a means of self defense, a concept which today, forms the cornerstone of the fundamental objectives and directive principles of foreign policies of sovereign nations. The religious crusades of the 10th century period also underscore the vulnerability of religion to violence in a situation where passion and intolerance override rationality. The lessons of these early conflicts are clear reminders to us about the evil effect of violence and the need to uphold the virtues of tolerance, mutual respect, truth, and justice as a means of promoting world peace.

Islam as a religion condemns the application of violence, force, or terror or the threat of terror in dispute resolution. Islam is a religion or system of belief, which derives its name from the Arabic word 'Sallam', which means peace. As a religion, it means peaceful submission to the command of Allah (God) as espoused in the Holy Qur'an and practiced by prophet Mohammed (Peace be Upon Him). The Islamic holy book, known as the Qur'an is the final authority on what is permissible or prohibited for Muslims. Of the 114 chapters of this holy testament, there is nowhere the notion of violence or terrorism is prescribed as a means of advancing the cause of the religion or of resolving the fundamental differences or conflicts in societies.

Instead, the use of force, violence, or terrorism against individuals, groups, or nations or as a means of advancing the frontiers of the religion, is condemned (see Qur'an chapter 2 verse 256 and chapter 10 verse 99). Also condemned, is the act of murder or killing of innocent souls (Q5 V32 & Q4 V93). Islam on the other hand extols and prescribes tolerance, perseverance, and patience even in difficult circumstances (Q3 V200). Islam enjoins Muslims to be loyal and obedient to existing state laws and duly constituted authorities (Q4 V59). Islam supports secularism and recommends peaceful co-existence with people of the other faith (Q60 V8) and (109 V 6).

Islam recognizes diversity and the right of people to live the life of their choice without intimidation. On the issue of Jihad, Muslims are encouraged to engage in Jihad for the propagation of the religion, but not as a revolt or uprising against authority or people of different faith or opinion. Jihad as defined in the Qur'an ch.9 v20, & ch.22 v78 means striving or exerting efforts for religious propagation. Muslims are enjoined to strive with their energy, wealth, knowledge, and good conduct towards propagating their religion and winning new members into the righteous path of God.

It also involves public campaigns or enlightenment designed to cultivate dedicated and well informed Muslims in a manner similar to evangelism in Christian faith. Thus, the basic characteristics of a legitimate Jihad are: it must be invitational or persuasive not coercive (Q3 V104 & 10 V 99), secondly, it must be based on sound knowledge, reasoning, and convincing argument (Q16 V 125), and its goal must be to win new members into the righteous path of God and expand the brotherhood of believers. Jihad is therefore not equivalent to or synonymous with wars, holy or unholy, killing of innocent souls, and wanton destruction of property and public facilities. There is a clear distinction between Jihad and fighting for self-defense, which is a universal principle supported by Islam and many other belief systems. The elements of Jihad as illustrated above were clearly manifested in the examples provided by the prophet of Islam. For example in the cause of Islamic propagation, the prophet did everything possible to avoid confrontation or wars with the avowed enemies of Islam. His migration from Makkah to Medina known in Islam as the Hijrah was one of the major steps he took to avoid wars.

The treaty of Huddaybiyyah in Feb. 628 AD was signed by the prophet as a strategy to avoid wars and by that treaty he demonstrated the power, wisdom, and legitimacy in the use of peaceful negotiation and collective bargaining as the preferred tools for conflict resolution. Any Jihad that falls below these standards is unacceptable. Thus the form of Jihad or holy war by the use of force or violence or terrorism being advocated today by some segments of the Islamic world is in clear violation of the tenets of Islam and the example of prophet Mohammed. Therefore, any invitation to such conflict or use of force or violence against innocent people, nations, and government must be resisted and rejected.

This is because the conflicts we are being called upon to embrace as Muslims go far beyond and against the limit or standard of Jihad set by Allah and exemplified by the Prophet. The conflicts of today cannot pass the test of a valid Jihad. How, for instance, can the unprovoked attack on the World Trade Center in New York which innocent lives including Muslims were wasted and property worth billions of dollars destroyed be supported or justified as a form of Jihad. How can the activities of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq and the resultant crisis be accepted as a form of Jihad? And how can the Palestinian Intifada or uprising and the Hamas or Hezbollah guerilla warfare be justified as Jihad? Are these conflicts meant to win more souls for Islam? Can the frontiers of Islam be expanded in an atmosphere of insecurity and wanton destruction? How do Muslims benefit from these wars? The truth of the situation is that there are other hidden motives behind these conflicts other than the desire for Jihad, and the whole world must join hands to uncover the hidden motives and find a lasting solution. The call for Jihad is commonly used as a cover and a bait to attract or lure Muslims into these fratricidal wars. This is a dirty and unacceptable approach.

It is true that most of the protagonists of the said conflicts are Muslims, but they represent a very infinitesimal percentage of the over 1.5 billion Muslim population in the world. If the objectives of these senseless conflicts were for Islam to move forward, the efforts as well as military, financial and material resources being wasted on them should have be applied to building schools, providing jobs, awarding study scholarship and bursaries, building places of worship, providing shelters and promoting the general well-being of Muslims in the world. The majority of the world's Muslim populations are peace lovers and they appreciate the need for a peaceful world that guarantees their safety and freedom to practice their faith. So far, from these conflicts, they have been turned into losers not winners. They have been turned into refugees along and beyond the borders of their homeland. They have gained nothing.

In the meantime, the United States of America, especially the victims of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as well as the victims of all other conflicts being perpetrated in the world in the name of Jihad, deserve the sympathy and assistance of the world Muslim leaders for the unprovoked destruction visited on them by those who claim to be fighting Islamic cause. World Muslim leaders must, offer their support and solidarity with any legitimate means designed to stamp out this sinful act of aggression, while non-Muslims should disabuse their minds of any impression that we are witnessing a wave of Jihad. This is not Jihad, simple. The world cannot afford the luxury of a world war, which from all indications is the sinister motive of those clamoring for Jihad. Because they realize that Jihad is a concept, which readily arouses the emotions and sensibilities of Muslims, they find it convenient to hide under the term to perpetrate their nefarious and evil plans, while hoping to draw the support and sympathy of the broad spectrum of Muslims, in order to escalate the crisis. They have failed woefully in this plan for as the saying goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time. This game, indeed, is up. Islam has drawn a clear line of distinction between peace and violence and Muslims are enjoined to opt for peace and not violence as an effective tool for resolving disagreements and conflicts and for promoting a world of peace and harmony.
Momoh, based in Austin, Texas, has recently joined as a special correspondent and columnist for This, his first column for and USAfrica The Newspaper, is copyrighted and archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a written approval by Founder. December, 2001

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