View on Terrorism!
lecture follows a fundamental
research approach to establish the foundation
for the Islamic view on
Terrorism, using historical events and
narrations to illustrate the practical implementation
of the Islamic view on terrorism.
The following is a transcript
of a lecture delivered in the US concerning Terrorism.
It will seek to address the evil of terrorism.
The main objective of this lecture is to demonstrate
how Islam resolves the issue of terrorism; how
Islam defines the causes of terrorism; how Islam
provides an environment that inhibits the growth
of terrorism; and how Islam deals with those who
commit and stand behind terrorism.
This lecture follows a fundamental research approach
to establish the foundation for the Islamic view
on Terrorism, using historical events and narrations
to illustrate the practical implementation of
the Islamic view on terrorism.
The events of September 11th 2001 brought the
issue of terrorism to the forefront of world affairs
in an unprecedented manner. The attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon forced a new
and aggressive campaign to combat terrorism worldwide.
The US declared a war on terrorism. On October
7th, a war against Afghanistan was launched by
the US and Britain supported by many nations in
the world. The US declared list of suspects of
the September 11th terrorist attacks carry Muslim
names. Further, the US declared that the attacks
were related to Osama Bin Laden's organization
(Al-Qaeda) and the ruling power in Afghanistan,
the Taliban. In the midst of the bloody war of
terrorism and counter terrorism, the Deen of Islam
became a centre of attention for many around the
Muslims rose to the defense of Islam in order
to cleanse it from any attachment to terrorism.
America's top politicians from the president down
to local officials rushed to insist that Islam
is not the target of the war on terrorism. Various
scholars (Muslims and non Muslims alike) rushed
to draw similarities and/or differences between
Jihad in Islam versus terrorism. Politicians worldwide,
called for a distinction between terrorism and
freedom fighters, experiencing success and disappointments.
Many international organizations (UN, Organization
of Islamic States, Organization of African Nations,
League of Arab Nations, NATO) rushed to include
the fight on terrorism on its agenda.
Islam is a Deen in the sense that it is based
on a belief in God (the creator) and in the accountability
to God on the Day of Judgment. Islam is also an
ideology in the sense that it comprises an ideological
foundation and a system of laws for the individual
and the society. Islam is founded upon the fundamental
principal that man, life, and universe are all
the creations of the eternal, one and only one
God whose main name in Islam is Allah. Allah possesses
many attributes, all of which are considered to
be eternal and without limits. Examples of these
attributes are: The Merciful, The Beneficent,
The Forgiving, The Almighty, The Peace, The Provider
of Security (Al-Mumin), The Great, The First,
The Last, The Witness, The Giver of Life, The
Giver of Death, The Ruler, The Sovereign, and
The belief in the existence of God, the Eternal
Creator, is a rational process in Islam and an
obligation upon the reasoning facility of the
human. The belief in God under Islam requires
also the belief in all His attributes and functions.
Belief in God, as such, requires the belief that
there needs to be a channel through which God
communicates to the people the means and ways
to worship God. This channel is what is known
as the Prophethood and/or Messengership. Worshipping
God, under Islam, is the process of following
the guidance revealed by God through His Messengers
and/or Prophets. Islam considers the belief in
the Prophethood and, henceforth the Prophets and
Messengers, an essential principal of Islam. The
Prophets include Adam, Ibraheem, Isaac, Moses,
Jesus, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them All) and many
Islam, as a Deen and ideology, is based entirely
on what is revealed to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam). The revelation to Muhammad has two
forms. One form is the Quran, which comprises
verses compiled into chapters. The wording and
the meanings of the verses are written into the
Quran exactly as revealed to Muhammad (Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam). The Qur'an was compiled and
completely written during the life of the Messenger
Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The other
format of the revelation is what is known in Arabic
as the "Sunnah" of Muhammad (Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam). The Sunnah comprises statements,
actions, and endorsement of Muhammad (Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam). The Sunnah is also a revelation
from God to Muhammad, except that the wording
of the Sunnah is left to Muhammad. The Sunnah
was compiled and authenticated after the death
of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) based
on written statements and verbal narrations.
Hence, any view has to be validated through the
Quran and the Sunnah, in order to be considered
an Islamic view. In this lecture, I will trace
the Islamic view of terrorism through the verses
of the Quran and the statements of the Sunnah.
Alex Schmidt, in his book Political Terrorism
says "At this moment there are more than
100 definitions used in international circles
and this exists even inside the American administration
which has undertaken the leadership of the campaign
against terrorism" (Alex P. Schmidt and Albert
I. Jongman et al., Political Terrorism).
The definition of terrorism remains so vague
and continues to shift to suit the interests of
those who define it. For example, the US Department
of Defense (DOD) defines terrorism as "the
calculated use of violence or the threat of violence
to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate
governments or societies in the pursuit of goals
that are generally political, religious, or ideological."
(The Terrorism Research Center). This definition
needs to be modified such that it (1) addresses
physical and material impact on innocents (2)
addresses the impact on individuals and populations
within a society (3) the lack of legal and moral
justifications. Thus a modified definition of
terrorism should read: "The process of inculcating
physical, material, or emotional damage on people,
societies, or governments without any legal or
moral justification". Given these definitions,
I will survey all types of terrorism as addressed
and depicted in the Quran and the Sunnah.
Terror and Loss of Security
Quran mentions the word "security" 10 times. In
all of the verses, the Quran uses the concept of the urgent
quest for security to motivate the people to have strong faith
in God, and to avoid dirty plots and to refrain from oppression.
Loss of Security: A Consequence of Evil Plots
Loss of security is the first and foremost consequence
of brutal acts, and severe assaults on human life.
This is especially true, when the assaults are
managed through hideous secret plots. The following
is one example of the Quran description of such
"Do then those who
devise evil (plots) feel secure that Allah will
not cause the earth to swallow them up, or that
the Wrath will not seize them from directions
they little perceive?"
[TMQ An-Nahl: 45]
"Or that He may not
call them to account in the midst of their goings
to and fro, without a chance of their frustrating
Him." [TMQ An-Nahl:
"Or that He may not
call them to account by a process of slow wastage,
for thy Lord is indeed full of kindness and mercy."
[TMQ An-Nahl: 47]
These verses state that the loss of security
is a direct result of "devising secret evil
plots". It is well known today that horrific
atrocities and evil continue to be committed and
supported by secret intelligence organizations
worldwide. In the Muslim world today, the most
horrendous acts against the people of these countries
are those committed by the intelligence secret
"Gross human right violations took place
throughout much of the Middle East and North Africa.
They ranged from extra judicial executions to
widespread use of torture and unfair trials, harassment
and intimidation of human rights defenders. Freedom
of expression and association continued to be
curtailed; the climate of impunity remained and
the victims were still awaiting steps to bring
those responsible for past human rights violations
to justice." (Amnesty International Report
Some examples of evil plots against humans that
could warrant the loss of security for those who
commit the evil, and that may not even spare the
rest of the people are as follows:
than 350 Palestinians, including nearly
100 children, were killed mostly through
excessive use of lethal force by Israeli
security services. Hundreds of people, mainly
Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied
Territories, were arrested for political
reasons, mostly in connection with stone-throwing
demonstrations. Lebanese prisoners held
for up to 15 years without charge or trial
in the Khiam detention center in South Lebanon
were released on Israel's withdrawal from
the Palestinian Authority at least 25 prisoners
of conscience were briefly detained mostly
for expressing criticism of Palestinian
than 2,500 people were killed in individual
attacks, massacres, bomb explosions and
armed confrontations. Hundreds of civilians
were killed by armed groups.
and ill treatment in police stations continued
to be widespread in Egypt. Thousands of
detainees continued to be held in prisons
where conditions amount to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment.
of people, among them political prisoners
and possible prisoners of conscience, were
in police stations and prisons remained
widespread and at least two detainees died
in police custody. Up to 1,000 political
prisoners, most of them prisoners of conscience
of political prisoners, sentenced after
unfair trials in previous years, and students
detained following demonstrations, remained
than 1,700 people were arrested in Jordan
during 2000 for political reasons.
possibly hundreds, of people were believed
to be under sentence of death or facing
trial for capital offences at the end of
of people, including students and suspected
opponents of the government, were arrested
on political grounds in Lebanon.
Hundreds of political prisoners remained
in detention in Libya without charge or
trial, while many others remained held despite
having being tried and acquitted. Political
detainees were routinely tortured.
on political and religious grounds were
continuing while people arrested in previous
years remained in detention.
Syria, the fate of hundreds of people who
"disappeared" in the 1970s and
1980s remained unknown. Hundreds of people
remained in detention without trial or serving
long sentences after unfair trials.
in cases of ''disappearance'' and arbitrary
detention which have been acknowledged by
the authorities, no investigations are known
to have been carried out, nor were the perpetrators
brought to justice.
Loss of Security: A Consequence of Oppression
The Qur'an, in another verse, depicts that the
security can only be granted or guaranteed by
God, when oppression is removed.
"It is those who
believe and confuse not their beliefs with oppression,
that are (truly) in security, for they are on
(right) guidance." [TMQ Al-An'am:
Oppression, by all means, provides the most suitable
ground for terrorism to be born, to grow, and
to wipe out the sense of security. In a statement
by Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam),
the Almighty God declares:
"O' my servants: I
prohibited myself from being an oppressor; and
thus I prohibit oppression among you".
Oppression today encompasses almost every corner
of the world. People may differ significantly
on the definitions of oppression. However, the
individual who at the end of the day lacks food,
health, and physical security is indeed a victim
of oppression. Islam defines these major principals
of security in a very profound statement by Prophet
Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) who stated:
"The essentials of
life for any person are the security at home,
the health, and food security."
One of the roles of the Islamic State, which
is in charge of the Islamic system, is to guarantee
the satisfaction of these principals. Failure
to provide for one of these essentials in any
society will definitely result in the loss of
security in one form or another, not only for
those who lack it in the first place.
In his article "Food Insecurity and Public
Assistance" (George Borja, Harvard University
1999), Borjas (Harvard University) says that "food
insecurity occurs when the household experiences
food deprivation because of financial resource
constraints." According to Borjas, the poverty
rate was 21.8 percent in immigrant households
and 12.0 percent for natives in 1999. Note that
this is the rate in the USA which is one of the
most advanced and richest countries of the world.
The economic conditions of a very large number
of the world's nations continue to decline despite
(or inspite) of the globalization that has forced
its way during the last 20 years. The worsening
of the economic conditions deprives the majority
of the world population from the basic essentials
of life: security, health and food.
The account for a serious decline in the economic
well being of the world at large is explained
by Mark Weisbort, et. al. (The Scorecard on Globalization
1980-2000:Twenty Years of Diminished Progress
By Mark Weisbrot, Dean Baker, Egor Kraev and Judy
Chen) An astonishing conclusion of the study shows
that the last 20 years have shown a very clear
decline in progress as compared with the previous
fall in economic growth rates was most pronounced
and across the board for all groups or countries.
For the poor countries, there was a sharp
decline from an annual per capita growth
rate of 3.6 percent to just less than 1
Progress in life expectancy was also reduce
4 out of the 5 groups of countries experienced
a sharp reduction in life expectancy, with
the sharpest slowdown was between 44-53
and Child Mortality
in reducing infant mortality was also considerably
slower during the period of globalization
Another observation of oppression and poverty
is the relative difference between rich and poor.
When poverty is attributed to lack of resources,
or slow rate of resource development, the consequences
on overall security may not be as devastating.
What leads to serious loss of stability and security
is the relative poverty within nations, or across
nations of the world. Serious economic inequalities
are direct results of greed, self-centered ideologies,
The Qur'an depicts this condition in the earlier
society of Mecca which was condemned for its practice
of greed and strong inequalities.
Nay, nay! But ye honour
not the orphans!
Nor do you encourage one another to feed the poor!
And you devour Inheritance; All with greed,
And you love wealth with inordinate love!
[TMQ Al-Fajr: 17-20]
Very large inequalities exist today between the
population of the world within each country and
across the countries as depicted in the article
"Decomposing World Income Distribution"
(Branko Milanovic and Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2001).
Given the high inequality observed in many nations,
the authors state that "these countries can
potentially be prone to political instability".
The study shows that Africa with more than 670
million people lags behind the rest of the world
by a great margin (Africa lags behind the US,
Canada, and Western Europe by more than 95%).
Asia lags behind this region by 94%; and Latin
America lags behind this region by 84%.
Thus the discrepancies and inequalities between
nations are huge. The end result of such inequality
is an eminent oppression upon the majority of
the population of the world. Such is the most
suitable environment for the violations of the
basic principals of human life; that is to live
with food, health, and physical security.
The second and concluding part of this lecture
will clearly elucidate upon the link between terrorism
and the oppression of the existing world order
and will conclude by elaborating upon the Islamic
solution to terrorism.
Terrorism and the World Order
Islam draws a link between the contemporary world
order and terrorism. The world order is defined
as the mechanism by which the order is maintained
in the world at large. Such mechanism may comprise
of one or more nations (usually powerful ones)
and/or an organization that has the backup and
support of such powerful nations. The world order
today is maintained primarily by the USA, accompanied
by other powerful nations such as Britain, France,
Russia and China. The UN is the organization through
which the order is maintained. The USA is by far
the country with the largest impact on the world
order. Depending on how the super power(s) conduct
the affairs of the world, and how they view the
rest of the world, the world may become a field
of continuous hostility or a garden of peace.
During the 20th century, the order of the world
was brought into two major bloody disasters during
the first and Second World Wars. The objectives
of both wars carried political as well as economic
implications. The First World War resulted in
global colonialization of a vast area of the world
(Middle East, Africa, and South East Asia). The
consequences of the colonial era still have a
great impact on the whole region. The colonies
of Britain, France, Italy, and Germany continue
to suffer from deep oppression, dictatorships,
poverty, and backwardness.
The Second World War gave birth to the two competing
camps, WARSAW and NATO and to a Cold War that
consumed hundreds of billions of dollars during
5 decades. The war also introduced to the world
the globalization, which continues to increase
the gap between the poor and the rich, and deepen
the inequality between the people of the world.
The main two instruments of globalization, which
were born in the womb of the Second World War,
are the International Monetery Fund (IMF) and
the World Bank (WB). These two instruments have
broken the backbone of the economies of countries
like Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, and Korea. Under
the policies of the IMF and the WB, the developing
countries (third world countries) in Asia, Africa,
and Latin America and the Caribbean continued
to play the same role for the last 50 years; that
is to supply the raw material, the consuming market,
and the labour to the industrial nations.
The aftermath of the Second World War produced
a problem in Palestine by creating the state of
Israel. This problem has threatened the stability
and security of the world for many decades. It
has consumed thousands of lives. It has shown
the world an unprecedented form of brutality,
when the tanks, machine guns, jet fighters face
young children equipped only with stones.
The world order under the dominance of the western
Superpowers led by the USA could not prevent the
invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by the Soviet
Union. In fact, many believe that the invasion
and the counter revolution by the Mujahideen was
a trap that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet
Union. The 10 years war consumed more than 1.5
million of Afghani lives and more than 25,000
of the Soviet lives.
The world order under the dominance of the western
super powers financed a 10-year war between Iraq
and Iran for no reason other than to sustain control
over the oil fields in the Arabian/Persian Gulf.
The second Gulf war was yet another episode in
the determination of the super powers, especially
the US and Britain, to control the oil rich region.
More than 10 years have passed since the war ended
in Iraq, but the children continue to die as a
result of the sanctions.
The world order was not maintained in Africa
under the dominance of the current Superpowers.
Millions of people continue to die in conflicts
that have proven to serve only the interests of
multi-national corporations digging for gold,
oil, and diamonds in Africa. The same story is
repeated in Vietnam, Korea, Philippines and Indonesia.
Similar stories come from Columbia, Venezuela,
Mexico, Guatemala, Grenada, Cuba, Chile, Argentina,
and the list goes on.
The current world order proved that it is an
order to serve the One Percent Group that controls
more than 80% of the wealth of the world. It is
an order that has created an environment prone
to terrorism, instability, and poverty. It is
an order that lives on greed that inherently breeds
hatred and violence. Ultimately, this is where
depicts this relationship between world order
(They are) those who have
been expelled from their homes in defiance of
right, (for no cause) except that they say, "Our
Lord is Allah." Did not Allah check one set
of people by means of another there would surely
have been destroyed monasteries, churches, synagogues,
and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated
in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid
those who aid His (cause); for verily Allah is
Full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce
His Will). (They are) those who, if We firmly
establish them in the earth (world), establish
regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin
the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the
end (and decision) of (all) affairs. [TMQ Al-Hajj:
These verses show that the destruction would
reach all places of worship unless the order of
the world is maintained by the people whose function
it is to establish the prayer, pay the charity
(to the people), enforce the right, and stop the
evil. These functions stand in strong defiance
of the functions of the current world order that
has dominated the world for many decades already.
Islamic Resolution on Terrorism
Islam indeed provides a comprehensive solution
to this evil of terrorism that has crept into
the hearts of every human in the world.
Islamic Resolution on Terrorism: No Despair
One of the ingredients of terrorism is despair,
and loss of hope in this life. Islam treats the
issue of despair and hopelessness by combining
this life with the life in the hereafter. It alleviates
the scope of the human life, such that a Muslim
must believe that he/she does not stand alone
in this life. There is always the power of the
Eternal and the Almighty God. Thus, the status
of depression, despair and hopelessness will not
engulf the life of the human. This emotional support
is essential to continuously provide a value to
the human life. Islam prohibits despair and hopelessness,
even when the Muslim has indulged in a stream
of sins. After all, Allah forgives all the sins
and his mercy is endless.
Say: "O my Servants
who have transgressed against their souls! despair
not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives
all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
[Surat Al-Zumar: 53]
Islamic Resolution on Terrorism: Value of Life
Islam raises the value of the human soul to equate
it with the life of all the people in the world;
thus prohibiting the persecution of the human
"On that account:
We ordained for the Children of Israel that if
anyone slew a person - unless it be for murder
or for spreading mischief in the land - it would
be as if he slew the whole people: and if any
one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the
life of the whole people. Then although there
came to them Our Messengers with Clear Signs,
Yet, even after that, many of them continued to
commit excesses in the land." [TMQ
On the same account, Islam placed a huge toll
and severe punishment for those who violate the
main principal of human life that is the right
for the life to continue without interruption.
"The punishment of
those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger,
and strive with might and main for mischief and
corruption through the land is: execution, or
crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet
from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that
is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment
is theirs in the Hereafter". [TMQ
Islamic Resolution on Terrorism: War on Poverty
Islam has waged a war on poverty by all means.
It is the poverty of the individual people that
Islam is concerned with, in addition to the poverty
of the nation as a whole. Islam has instituted
the charity, called in Islam the "Zakat"
in a manner that eliminates the poverty altogether.
"Zakat" in Islam is a means of worship.
It is one of the pillars of Islam as much as the
prayer is. The Islamic system aims at eliminating
poverty from the society, rather than managing
the poor. One of the companions of the Prophet
Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and also
one of the Guided Successors of Him, Ali Bin Abi
Talib (Radiallahu Anhu) stated: "if poverty
were a man, I would certainly kill him".
Practically, after a few years of implementing
Islam in the Islamic society, the notion of poverty
was gone altogether. It is narrated in the history
(The History of the Muslims by Al-Tabari) that
during the era of the Khaleefah Omar Bin Adel
Aziz, there was no single poor person within the
Islamic State who would accept the charity of
In a statement by Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam), he says:
"Allah breaks covenant
with any group of people living in a close vicinity,
whereby one of them goes to bed while hungry".
The Islamic economic system defines the main
problem to be solved by the system as the poverty
of the individuals. The economic index, thus in
the Islamic State, would be the percentage of
people who live below the poverty line. The economic
strength and growth will be measured by the actual
well being of the individuals rather than by the
well being of the NASDAQ or DOW JONES stock markets.
What good would it do to the stomach of a poor
person, if the NASDAQ stock market gains or loses
points? The Islamic Economic Index is based on
the food that is available to each and every human
soul in the society.
The Islamic economic system reserves the vital
resources of the state for the well being of the
people. The oil for example, will not be owned
by one or more companies under Islam. The fact
that a certain company was able to drill and exploit
oil fields in Texas, does not give those people
the right to ownership over the oil. The oil exists
in fields that go beneath the houses and lands
of millions of people. In Islam, the oil belongs
to all the people in the state. This is not to
be mistaken with socialism that dictates that
all means of productions belong to the people.
Thus, the Islamic system ensures that the vital
resources that belong to the people be actually
returned to the people. As such, poverty will
never exist in any society that has vital resources.
Islamic Resolution on Terrorism: Reality
The harsh reality that many people misunderstand
today, is that Islam as described in the Qur'an
and the Sunnah has been removed from the real
life of the people (Muslims and non- Muslims alike)
for almost a century. The Islamic State is the
responsible entity for implementing the Islamic
systems since the death of the Messenger Muhammad
(Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). The Islamic State
continued to function (with ups and downs) until
1924, when Mustapha Kamal of Turkey managed to
abolish the state. Since then, the Muslims in
the entire world have been living under various
secular systems. Muslims continued to believe
in Islam and practice those parts of Islam that
pertain to the individual. However, for Islam
to produce the results and objectives set forth
in the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the full implementation
of Islam is necessary. Without the full implementation
of Islam, the results could be very well counter
productive. As a result of the absence of Islam,
the Muslims resorted to national bonds, ethnic
traditions and values. Quite often, the Muslims
mix their national values, national aspirations,
methods with those of Islam. The truth of the
matter though is that Islam was revealed as a
set of laws, regulations and systems to guide
and manage the behaviour of the society as well
as the individuals.
The history of the life of Muhammad (Sallallahu
Alaihi Wasallam) shows that the objectives of
Islam, the resolutions of Islam, and the values
of Islam started to materialise only after the
establishment of the Islamic State in Medinah,
13 years after the beginning of Islam.
In fact, most of the laws, regulations, and systems
were not revealed to Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi
Wasallam) except after his migration to Medinah
where the state was established. The laws of the
Zakat (that I discussed earlier) were revealed
after the state was created. The laws for Jihad
(war, peace, prisoners of war, spoils of war,
strategies of war) were only revealed after the
establishment of the state in Medina.
Today, the Muslims still live without the Islamic
State of Khilafah. As such, many of the activities
that are carried by Muslims can not be attributed
to Islam, even in the case when an Islamic verdict
(or fatwa) is obtained. The political, economic,
and societal context of Islam is as vital to any
Islamic value or verdict as the text itself
Islam as a religion and ideology needs to be
revisited by both Muslims and non Muslims alike.
It is a religion that should be looked at as a
continuation of previous religions and inheritor
of them as well. As an ideology, Islam should
be viewed as one that provides economic, political,
and social systems that do not belong to the ideologies
of materialism (both capitalism and socialism).
After the fall and collapse of socialism, the
people of the world resorted to capitalism as
their only alternative. The collapse of capitalism
is imminent. It is the responsibility and the
duty of the people of the world to examine Islam
with serious and sincere scrutiny, in order to
consider it as the only viable alternative to
05 December 2001
Source: KCOM Journal