This article is from the second edition of Jihad in the Qur’an: The Truth from the Source. The book is now in its third edition.
Another progeny of misunderstanding the concept of fighting in the way of Allah is illustrated in the way some Muslims react to aggression, falling in the trap of responding to evil with evil. It is an undeniable fact that in modern times Muslims have constituted the vast majority of victims of persecution where the persecutors and the victims belong to different religions. Many major accidents of genocide in the last century have seen Muslims forced to play the victims. If the suffering of the Muslim population in many countries at the hand of their European colonists is now history, the grand scale massacring of Muslims in places such as Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, and Kosovo is very much today’s news. Some of the crimes against masses of Muslims have been going on for decades now under the watchful eyes of the world. Of course, there are always sickening excuses to justify those mass murders and acts of genocide; man can find justifications even for the worst and most evil acts.
This is not the right place to discuss how masses of Muslims were and are being victimized. These facts are well documented, though not necessarily equally known. The importance of studying those painful events cannot be exaggerated, but let’s focus here on the response of Muslims to some of those atrocities.
The term “jihad” has been used by Muslim individuals and groups to describe their equally atrocious vengeful retaliations to atrocities committed against them or other Muslims. From the Qur’anic perspective, such reactions violate clear Qur’anic commands that prohibit the Muslims from responding to unjust aggression with the same. I have already cited in §4.4 a number of such verses including this one:
O you who believe! Stand firm for Allah, [as] witnesses with justice. And let not hatred of a people cause you not to act equitably; act equitably; that is nearer to dutifulness. And act dutifully toward Allah; surely, Allah is aware of what you do (5.8).
Crimes against Muslims must not be allowed to turn Muslims into criminals. Jihad, and ultimately Islam itself, is here to control the drives to commit evil actions, even if they were reactions to evil crimes. While atrocious, non-Islamic responses to crimes against Muslims are themselves crimes in equal measure, calling those evil acts “jihad” is a crime against Islam. The Muslims who behave in this way are far from serving Islam. They do the name of Islam a big disservice while serving only their lower selves.
Muslims must protect fellow Muslims, and for that matter any victims, against aggression. They must also try to bring the aggressors to justice. What Muslims must never do, however, is allow those criminals to turn them into similar criminals. If Muslims fail to adhere to the principles of the Qur’an when reacting to the victimization of Muslims, they would simply help their enemies in achieving their goals. In fact, they would be joining their enemies against themselves.
Copyright © 2004 Louay Fatoohi
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