Is it Terrorism we're fight?
Let us start by addressing the issue of what Terrorism is! The UN has no agreed upon definition of terrorism, so we can say that there is no one single definition agreed upon. According top UN documentation - there is no less than 100 different definitions!
UK definition of terrorism:
Section 1, Terrorism Act 2000: 1 Terrorism: interpretation
(1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where-
(a) the action falls within subsection (2),
(b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or an international governmental organisation or to intimidate the public or a section of the public, and
(c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.
(2) Action falls within this subsection if it—
(a) involves serious violence against a person,
(b) involves serious damage to property,
(c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
(d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, or
(e) is designed seriously to interfere with or seriously to disrupt an electronic system.
(3) The use or threat of action falling within subsection (2) which involves the use of firearms or explosives is terrorism whether or not subsection (1)(b) is satisfied.
(4) In this section-
(a) “action” includes action outside the United Kingdom,
(b) a reference to any person or to property is a reference to any person, or to property, wherever situated,
(c) a reference to the public includes a reference to the public of a country other than the United Kingdom, and
(d) “the government” means the government of the United Kingdom, of a Part of the United Kingdom or of a country other than the United Kingdom.
(5) In this Act a reference to action taken for the purposes of terrorism includes a reference to action taken for the benefit of a proscribed organisation
The word “terrorism” came into wide usage only a few decades ago. One of the unfortunate results of this new terminology is that it limits the definition of terrorism to that perpetrated by small groups or individuals. Terrorism, in fact, spans the entire world, and manifests itself in various forms. Its perpetrators do not fit any stereotype. Those who hold human lives cheap, and have the power to expend human lives, appear at different levels in our societies. The frustrated employee who kills his colleagues in cold-blood is a terrorist who provokes our anger and revulsion. Ironically however, the politician who uses age-old ethnic animosities between peoples to consolidate his position, the head of state who orders “carpet bombing” of entire cities, the exalted councils that choke millions of civilians to death by wielding the insidious weapon of sanctions, are rarely punished for their crimes against humanity. It is this narrow definition of terrorism that implicates only individuals and groups, that has caused Muslims to be associated with acts of destruction and terror, and as a result, to become victims of hate violence and terror themselves. Sometimes the religion of Islam is held responsible for the acts of a handful of Muslims, and often for the acts of non-Muslims!
Islamic Fiqh Council Definition
Terrorism is an outrageous attack carried out either by individuals, groups or states against the human being (his religion, life, intellect, property and honour). It includes all forms of intimidation, harm, threatening, killing without just cause and everything connected with any form of armed robbery, hence making pathways insecure, banditry, every act of violence or threatening intended to fulfil a criminal scheme individually or collectively, so as to terrify and horrify people by hurting them or by exposing their lives, liberty, security or conditions to danger; it can also take the form of inflicting damage on the environment or on a public or a private utility or exposing a national or natural resource to danger.
But this “war on terror” is a smoke screen to the real motive of the war, that being Islam and in particular Islam that is practised as a comprehensive way of life, i.e. Deen.
Thomas Friedman stated in the New York Times, "We do not want a war with Islam, we want a war within Islam".
The question that springs to mind is, who is we?
The West’s Strategy against Islam (RAND)
"Fundamentalists reject democratic values and contemporary Western culture. They want an authoritarian, puritanical state that will implement their extreme view of Islamic law and morality. They are willing to use innovation and modern technology to achieve that goal.
Traditionalists want a conservative society. They are suspicious of modernity, innovation, and change.
Modernists want the Islamic world to become part of global modernity. They want to modernize and reform Islam to bring it into line with the age.
Secularists want the Islamic world to accept a division of church and state in the manner of Western industrial democracies, with religion relegated to the private sphere.
The fundamentalists are hostile to the West and to the United States in particular and are intent, to varying degrees, on damaging and destroying democratic modernity. Supporting them is not an option, except for transitory tactical considerations.
The traditionalists generally hold more moderate views, but there are significant differences between different groups of traditionalists. Some are close to the fundamentalists. None wholeheartedly embraces modern democracy and the culture and values of modernity and, at best, can only make an uneasy peace with them.
The modernists and secularists are closest to the West in terms of values and policies. However, they are generally in a weaker position than the other groups, lacking powerful backing, financial resources, an effective infrastructure, and a public platform. - The secularists, besides sometimes being unacceptable as allies on the basis of their broader ideological affiliation, also have trouble addressing the traditional sector of an Islamic audience.
Traditional orthodox Islam contains democratic elements that can be used to counter the repressive, authoritarian Islam of the fundamentalists, but it is not suited to be the primary vehicle of democratic Islam. That role falls to the Islamic modernists, whose effectiveness, however, has been limited by a number of constraints, which this report will explore."
The Tactics used by the West against Islam and Muslims:
Support the modernists first:
- Publish and distribute their works at subsidized cost.
- Encourage them to write for mass audiences and for youth.
- Introduce their views into the curriculum of Islamic education.
- Give them a public platform.
- Make their opinions and judgments on fundamental questions of religious interpretation available to a mass audience in competition with those of the fundamentalists and traditionalists, who have Web sites, publishing houses, schools, institutes, and many other vehicles for disseminating their views.
- Position secularism and modernism as a “counterculture” option for disaffected Islamic youth. — Facilitate and encourage an awareness of their pre- and non-Islamic history and culture, in the media and the curricula of relevant countries.
- Assist in the development of independent civic organizations, to promote civic culture and provide a space for ordinary citizens to educate themselves about the political process and to articulate their views.
Support the traditionalists against the fundamentalists:
- Publicize traditionalist criticism of fundamentalist violence and extremism; encourage disagreements between traditionalists and fundamentalists.
- Discourage alliances between traditionalists and fundamentalists.
- Encourage cooperation between modernists and the traditionalists who are closer to the modernist end of the spectrum.
- Where appropriate, educate the traditionalists to equip them better for debates against fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are often rhetorically superior, while traditionalists practice a politically inarticulate “folk Islam.” In such places as Central Asia, they may need to be educated and trained in orthodox Islam to be able to stand their ground.
- Increase the presence and profile of modernists in traditionalist institutions.
- Discriminate between different sectors of traditionalism. Encourage those with a greater affinity to modernism, such as the Hanafi law school, versus others. Encourage them to issue religious opinions and popularize these to weaken the authority of backward Wahhabi inspired religious rulings. This relates to funding: Wahhabi money goes to the support of the conservative Hanbali school. It also relates to knowledge: More-backward parts of the Muslim world are not aware of advances in the application and interpretation of Islamic law.
- Encourage the popularity and acceptance of Sufism.
Confront and oppose the fundamentalists:
- Challenge their interpretation of Islam and expose inaccuracies.
- Reveal their linkages to illegal groups and activities.
- Publicize the consequences of their violent acts.
- Demonstrate their inability to rule, to achieve positive development of their countries and communities.
- Address these messages especially to young people, to pious traditionalist populations, to Muslim minorities in the West, and to women.
- Avoid showing respect or admiration for the violent feats of fundamentalist extremists and terrorists. Cast them as disturbed and cowardly, not as evil heroes.
- Encourage journalists to investigate issues of corruption, hypocrisy, and immorality in fundamentalist and terrorist circles.
- Encourage divisions among fundamentalists.
Selectively support secularists:
- Encourage recognition of fundamentalism as a shared enemy, discourage secularist alliance with anti-U.S. forces on such grounds as nationalism and leftist ideology.
- Support the idea that religion and the state can be separate in Islam too and that this does not endanger the faith but, in fact, may strengthen it.
وَمَكَرُواْ وَمَكَرَ اللّهُ وَاللّهُ خَيْرُ الْمَاكِرِينَ
And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. 3:54
This is exactly what is happening with the current UK government’s policy on preventing extremism:
- Charity Commission
- Women’s group
- Engagement (with those that are willing to bargain with the religion - Ed Husain, Majid Nawaz et al)
So what is our role?
Allah says in the Quran:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ
2:153 O YOU who have attained to faith! Seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: for, behold, God is with those who are patient in adversity.
وَاسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ وَإِنَّهَا لَكَبِيرَةٌ إِلاَّ عَلَى الْخَاشِعِينَ
2:45 And seek aid in steadfast patience and prayer: and this, indeed, is a hard thing for all but the humble in spirit,
Patience is one word to translate Sabr with. Sabr also incorporates meanings such as:
- Self discipline
So for us Sabr will mean understanding our purpose and continuing to work for the sake of Allah in all that he has commanded us.
It is a fact for Muslims that, in this role of being a Muslim, they will be tested and put to trial regarding their faith. Allah says:
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
29:2 DO MEN THINK that on their [mere] saying, “we have attained to faith”, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to a test?
So we should expect to be tested and our iman or belief put to the test by various methods.
Muslims today are being tested by Allah (people forget this) through:
- Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir
- Tyrannical despots and Puppet Muslim Governments
- The insidious attack on the character of the Prophet (pbuh)
- The extreme fanatics on the right and the left
- The double standards applied in applying Justice
- The internal strive between Muslims themselves
- On top of that you have your own individual tests, deaths in the family, level of Iman etc.
66:6 O Believers! Save Yourself and Your families from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones.
With this reality those that understand their roles as Muslims will then set about performing the duties placed upon them. Amongst these duties is that of Adl or Justice. Allah says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ لِلّهِ شُهَدَاء بِالْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ اعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
5:8 O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of any-one lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.
So what should our response be in these times of adversity?
First thing to note is that these times are familiar to the Muslims. The symptoms maybe different but the causes are the same.
We should be clear in our mind and heart on what is expected of us by Allah. He will not question us on why we did not change the situation, as that is His prerogative. He will ask us what we did to change our condition.
13:11 Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts; and if Allah willeth misfortune for a folk there is none that can repel it, nor have they a defender beside Him.
This statement has both a positive and a negative connotation: i.e., God does not withdraw His blessings from men unless their inner selves become depraved (cf. 8:53), just as He does not bestow His blessings upon wilful sinners until they change their inner disposition and become worthy of His grace.
In its wider sense, this is an illustration of the divine law of cause and effect (sunnah of Allah) which dominates the lives of both individuals and communities, and makes the rise and fall of civilizations dependent on people's moral qualities and the changes in "their inner selves".
With this understanding we should:
- Make it our business to look out for the welfare of Muslims and contribute in a collective way towards that.
- For far too long Muslims have been living in a inward looking world and at the exclusion of the greater society around it.
- It is your right, as this is your country, to live by principles you see fit. Those that say that Muslims must abide by the secular rules of the West are deluded and delude others. Muslims have the right to live by their own principles, if those principles are supported by the masses. And why would the masses not support:
- Our approach should be balanced, neither right wing extremists (9/11 and 7/7) or Left wing extremist (change Islam, ignore Hudud etc.). We should be avoiding duplication, suspicion and push and pull affect. An example of how this can be achieved is when one focuses on the real issue, and not what our detractors would like us to ficus on. The Home Office working groups of over 100 Muslims started in a disunited way but at the end they were united on many key issues. This happened through a process of elimination and focus.
- We need to take the Dawah to the places where decisions that impact all of us are made i.e. Political arena
Building understanding on common and shared values
Engagement should include in the following areas:
- Social levels – this includes schools, colleges, family gatherings, conferences, blogs, etc.
- Political – this includes direct engagement, i.e. belonging to a political party, standing for council or parliament, lobbying, writing, attending conferences or responding to consultations.
- Media – blogs, letters, interviews, call-ins etc
- Economical – creating wealth for the Muslims that are engaged in this work, withdrawing wealth from those that harm Islam and Muslims, work environments etc.
- Institutional – this includes, Police and other authorities.
And Allah knows best.