Terrorism and extremism have become hot headlines of all newspaper articles. Hardly a day elapses without an act of terrorism taking place by some extremist in some part of the world. The Phenomenon of terrorism is no longer confined to one particular country or religion. It has become an International problem. No modern society is free from acts of terrorism.
Exactly 2 years ago, a series of terrorist bombs blasted London’s public transport system during the morning rush hour. The bombings killed 52 commuters and the 4 suicide bombers as well as injuring another 700 innocent civilians.
In addition, eight people have been detained recently following attempted car bombings at Glasgow Airport and in central London.
What is regrettable is that some media channels have tried to establish a relation between Islam and terrorism. The acts of a misguided few has been blamed on the entire Muslim community and worst still on the pristine teachings of Islam.
Any sincere and objective researcher who scrutinizes the two basic sources of Islam (the Qur’an and the tradition of the Prophet r) would find no commands or justifications to perpetrate violence and acts of terrorism.
Islam prohibits the bloodshed of any innocent human being. The Qur’an describes the taking of one innocent life, as transgression against all humanity and equivalent to killing the whole of mankind.
Allah says in the Qur’an:
“For this reason, We decreed for the children of Israel that whoever kills a person- unless it is for murder or for spreading mischief in the land- it would be as if he has killed the whole of humankind, and whoever saves the life of a person it is as if he has saved the life of the whole of humankind. Our Messengers have already come to them with the clear signs; then many of them thereafter commit excesses in the earth.” [al-Qur’an: 5: 32]
The Prophet Muhammad r also prohibited the killing of non-Muslims who have a peace treaty with the Muslims. He said:
“He who kills a non-Muslim (who has a peace treaty) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, and its smell is sensed from a distance as far as forty years journey.” [collected in Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Even in the battlefield, the Prophet r gave strict instructions and outlawed the killing of non-combatants and innocent civilians. He said: “Fight in the name of God, but do not kill old men, children and women…” [collected in Sahih al-Bukhari]
The companions of the Prophet who spent their lives with him fully understood his instructions and passed it on to the following generations. Abu Bakr t a close companion and successor (Caliph) of the prophet r whilst giving instructions to his army general said:
“I command you not to do ten things, do not kill women, do not kill children, do not kill the elderly, do not destroy trees, do not destroy properties, do not slaughter animals unless it is for food, neither flood or set fire to palm trees, avoid extremism, and do not act cowardly or weak.”
Moreover, Islam encourages all Muslims to be kind and just to the non-Muslims. The Qur’an also demands the Muslims to distinguish between those non-Muslims who act aggressively with evil intent and those who are peaceful with them. Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Allah does not forbid you as regards those who did not fight you on account of faith, and did not expel you from your homes, that you do good to them, and deal justly with them. Surely Allah loves those who maintain justice.” [al-Qur’an: 60:8]
It is important to note, that several Qur’an commentators have interpreted the expression “Allah does not forbid you” to imply in this context a positive exhortation, in other words, be good towards non-Muslims and treat them justly.
Islam also stands firmly against suicide. The Prophet r taught the Muslims the grave repercussions in the next life, for the one who commits suicide. He said:
"Whoever throws himself down from a high mountain and kills himself will be throwing himself down from a mountain in the Fire of Hell for all eternity. Whoever takes poison and kills himself will be taking poison in the Fire of Hell for all eternity. Whoever kills himself with a weapon (literally, iron) will be holding it in his hand and stabbing himself in the stomach in the Fire of Hell for all eternity. [Collected in Sahih al-Bukhari]
No doubt, grave injustices are done against Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere but the response should not be an equal injustice. Muslims must stand the higher moral ground and stick firmly to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad r