This was supposed to be an entirely different piece. When I first put keystrokes to word-processor, I meant to celebrate the Muslim worldview. Celebrate the sacrifices of Islam in the global war on terror. Insist that despite the deep scars of colonialism, we, as a people, knew right from wrong. Like my comrades-in-faith, I believed all our problems stemmed from Orientalism: this Western proclivity to meet Islam on its own convoluted terms.
As I started playing devil’s advocate to my own arguments, looking for loopholes, a fistful of reason hit me. I understood why we’ve become the self-righteous victims of circumstances. The same idea has also failed us in countering the negative media blitz after 9-11. It’s because Muslims, from the most scholarly to your garden-variety cleric, insist on defending an indefensible position: that Islam is a “religion of peace.”
Islam was never a religion of peace. Even a cursory reading of the Quran, the Sunnah and Hadith will confirm this. Peace was something promised to those conquered without resistance. The Prophet Muhammed was, in equal parts, a messenger of God and an accomplished warrior. Consequently, Islam has always been both a political movement and a means to spiritual redemption. One cannot exist without the other, despite modern attempts to downplay jihad over ritualism.
Both the offensive and “greater” jihad are hardwired into Islam’s DNA. After the Prophet Mohammed, his closest companions, the Rashidun caliphs, all went to war for territorial expansion, not self-preservation. Indeed, by the time of Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the fourth caliph, Muslim territory stretched from North Africa to Central Asia. Astoundingly, this happened less than 50 years after the Hejira when the Prophet Muhammed was forced out of Mecca by enemies.
Christianity and Judaism have far stronger cases for professing peace. Jesus Christ was a wayside preacher who the Romans crucified in wariness. It was only when Christianity got hijacked, ironically by Roman emperor Constantine in 312 AD, that it really took off, converts and territory wise. Judaism, similarly, orbits around the Promised Land, which the faithful had to flee many times in history. Even today, as conspiracy theories abound about the “organized Jewry,” their territorial interests live and die with Israel.
What’s so wrong about war anyway? Let’s discard all utopian notions for a second, and look around us. Chances are that most modern conveniences we take for granted, and credit to secular science, emerged from military technology. Neurotically neutral Switzerland, for example, meets 36% of its energy needs through nuclear power, the very same technology that killed over 250,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Conflict is coded into the human psyche, and always finds a way to surface.
Muslims suffer from cognitive dissonance because we’ve embraced an alien narrative. For good or bad, Islam is a divine warrior theology. It is not, as modern Muslims posture, the image of weak lambs being wronged by imperialist wolves. Historically, this also makes Islam the most practical of revealed religions, because it embraces the human condition. The Prophet Muhammed realized that for Islam’s adherents to avoid the fate of Abraham’s Jews, Muslim military was imperative.
So how should Muslims, as a collective organism, deal with Islamic extremism?
Militant outfits like Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram mostly quote the right holy scriptures and traditions to justify murder. A simple solution is to treat radicals the same way Europe treated Andreas Lubitz, the German pilot who committed suicide by Airbus. Instead of labeling Lubitz a terrorist for killing 150 people, his actions have been filed under poor mental health.
Islamic extremists, hence, are on a mass psychotic break because they don’t obey the Sharia law. Islamic jurisprudence has strict guidelines for what constitutes righteous war and the treatment of captives. Robert DuPasquier, in his book Unveiling Islam, writes: “a good number of combatants in the opposing armies preferred captivity at the hands of Muslims to death on the field of battle.” Killing innocents, especially women, and children, is a big no-no, and so is slaughtering fellow Muslims.
Islamic radicals only speak the language of Sharia, so they must be combated in that vernacular. As is painfully obvious, basic human compassion means nothing to them. As long as Muslims consider Islamic extremism a subhuman psychology, instead of bad apples from the same tree, wrongful deaths will keep happening in Allah’s name.
By: Sahibzada Noor
Image Source: 1