Global Islamic terrorism has made many Muslims to propose Islamic solutions to terrorism. Jerry Thomas reviews three of such proposals by Muslims and suggests a fourth one from Quran.
26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai have shocked the nation. While we may leave it to the government to investigate the truth behind the attacks and punish the guilty irrespective of their identity and religion, Islamic terrorism and its solution are once again at the forefront of public discussion. While adequate security measures are needed to protect people, we are under illusion if we think that Islamic terrorism can be defeated by state machinery alone or even by counter attacks.
The people who suggest BJP as the solution are actually suggesting massacre and human pogrom as the solution. It is not that BJP has better intelligence or greater ability- Kargil and Parliament attack happened under their watch, it is just that they want a replay of Gujarat. This ‘solution’ is more revealing of a fascist and insensitive heart than an actual solution itself.
Islamic terrorism is fundamentally a religious ideological issue and the fact that this religion is the second largest religion in the world should not be ignored. Therefore we must evaluate the Islamic terrorism and its solutions proposed by Muslims themselves and propose a new one if required.
There have been at least three different types of approaches that Muslims have proposed against terrorism. We will briefly look into those three and evaluate those.
1. Islam Does Not Teach Terrorism: In India , Islamic community at large responded by claiming that Quran does not teach terrorism. Darul Uloom Deoband and Sunni Clerics have issued Fatwa against terrorists and even against Dawwah preachers like Dr. Zakir Naik who covertly support terrorism. While one may give credit to these schools for at least taking this stand, this approach is the weakest and has been mired in unsolvable problems.
A. Quran Does Teach Jihad: As Yoel Natan pointed out there are at least 164 verses in the Quran which support Jihad which primarily means war against non-Muslims. The list is here: 002:178-179, 190-191, 193-194, 216-218, 244; 003:121-126, 140-143, 146, 152-158, 165-167,169, 172-173, 195; 004:071-072, 074-077, 084, 089-091, 094-095,100- 104; 005:033, 035, 082; 008:001, 005, 007, 009-010, 012, 015-017, 039-048,057- 060, 065-075; 009:005, 012-014, 016, 019-020, 024-026, 029,036, 038-039, 041, 044, 052, 073, 081, 083,086, 088, 092, 111, 120, 122-123; 016:110; 022:039, 058, 078; 024:053, 055; 025:052; 029:006, 069; 033:015, 018, 020, 023, 025-027, 050; 042:039; 047:004, 020, 035; 048:015-024; 049:015; 059:002, 005-008, 014; 060:009; 061:004, 011, 013; 063:004; 064:014; 066:009; 073:020; 076:008.
B. Quran, Hadiths and Sira’s Does Teach Jihad: Bill Warner, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI) notes that the trilogy of Islam (Quran, Hadiths and Sira) does teach about the ill-treatment and annihilation of the Kafir. In fact, it establishes one treatment to the Muslims and another treatment to non-Muslims. Bill Warner says “The Trilogy advances one set of ethics for the Muslims and another for the kafirs. A Muslim is not to lie to another Muslim; a Muslim may lie to a kafir, or not. A Muslim is not to kill another Muslim; a Muslim may kill a kafir, or not. And so forth.” And if the golden rule “treat others as you wish to be treated” is applied to this trilogy, Bill Warner notes that “about 61% of the Koran vanishes, 75% of the Sira and 20% of the Hadith also go away.”C. Muhammad Practiced Terrorism and Early Commentators of Quran Supported It: One of the most leading scholars on Islam as of today, Sam Shamoun notes that “Muhammad went through three specific stages depending on his circumstances, stages which Muslims implement till this day.” The first stage was “Preach tolerance when outnumbered by unbelievers/ No retaliation stage”, followed by the second stage “permit Defensive Fighting when there are enough Muslims and weapons to successfully carry it out” and the final stage being “after amassing a large number of soldiers and resources permission is given to carry out Offensive Warfare in order to kill the pagans and humble the Christians and Jews”. As Sam Shamoun notes that classical commentaries like Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, and as-Suyuti supported terrorism against non-Muslims including raping of non-Muslim woman.
Unless, the current Islamic scholars who denounce terrorism address these issues and resolve them, their words do not carry much weight either to the terrorists who believes in all these or to the outside world who suspiciously looks at these.
It is not that Christians and non-Muslims are highlighting these issues. Some well-meaning Muslims themselves have understood the grievance of the issue and therefore are suggesting a new solution.
2. Quran Only Movement: Numerous Muslims including the popular Islamic reformer Thomas Haidon proposes that Muslims must reject Hadiths and Sira’s and hold on to Quran alone.www.quran-islam.org is the website of one such popular group. They argue that "You will find that the Sunna of Allah is the only Sunna" (and cite ayats like Surah 33:62, 35:43, 45:6, 48:23 etc to show that man made books like Hadiths and Siras should never be used. Also they cite at least six incidents of Muhammad erring in Quran itself- 8:67-68, 9:43, 9:113-114, 33:37, 66:1, 80:1-11) Muhammad cannot be a model without errors.
There are surely certain benefits for this approach.
A)Islam without Muhammad: If one were to reject Hadiths and Siras, then it will be a Islam without Muhammad as there only four references to Muhammad by name in Quran and five if we include Ahmed as Muhammad’s name. So this is equivalent to rejecting Muhammad as a model. If one were to know what the model of Muhammad is, s/he has to only read www.faithfreedom.org of Ali Sina an ex-Muslim atheist. In fact as A Muhammad of Quran only movement notes “God commands the believers to obey God and obey the messenger, but God also makes sure that the obedience to the messenger is linked to obeying the message he delivered and nothing else. Obeying the messenger does not mean that he had a Sunna to be obeyed.” B) Islam without Sharia Law: If Hadiths are rejected, then the possibility of having a Sharia law is meager. If the oppressive Sharia law is rejected, then more than anyone else, Muslims themselves will benefit.
However, this Quran only approach has its own problems:Problems: A) It Still Does Not Solve the 164 Jihad Verses: Even if one were to reject the entire corpus of Hadiths and Siras, Jihad verses are very much a part of the Quran. The solution proposed does not even address the problem. What are we going to do with these verses? B) It Does Not Propose a Hermeneutical Tool to Interpret Quran Especially its Contradictory and Unclear Verses: Despite Quran’s own claim that it is clear, Quran itself contradicts and says that many of its verses are not clear (Surah 3:7). Al- Tabari, one of the greatest scholar ever lived in Islam comments on this verse in his Tafsir: It is He Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book (this Qur'an). In it are Verses that are entirely clear, they are the foundations of the Book [and those are the Verses of Al-Ahkam (commandments, etc.), Al-Fara'id (obligatory duties) and Al-Hudud (legal laws for the punishment of thieves, adulterers, etc.)]; and others not entirely clear. So as for those in whose hearts there is a deviation (from the truth) they follow that which is not entirely clear thereof, seeking Al-Fitnah (polytheism and trials, etc.), and seeking for its hidden meanings, but none knows its hidden meanings save Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: "We believe in it; the whole of it (clear and unclear Verses) are from our Lord." And none receive admonition except men of understanding. C) If Muhammad is not the Model, then Who is the Model for the Humanity? It must be remembered that Quran itself commands that “Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern of (conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day" (Sura 33:21). If Muhammad is not the model, who then is the best and infallible interpretation and expression of the word of God? The second approach does not address this issue also. It is in realizing that Quran contains many unclear and contradictory verses, which cannot have any explanation without Hadiths and Siras, a new third approach has been proposed by certain Muslims.
Third Approach:3. A New Quran Movement: Khalim Massoud, the president of Muslims Against Sharia, an Islamic reform movement and his fellow believers have deleted the violent verses and most of the contradictory verses from Quran and have produced a new Quran available at http://www.reformislam.org/
Their argument is that if Quran is the word of God, then it cannot have violent and contradictory verses. Then they assume that all the violent and contradictory verses are interpolation and have deleted those verses.
This approach though raises the question about how anyone can delete verses from self-claimed revealed book certainly has a f
ew benefits. Its major benefit is that it solves the problem of Jihad Verses in the Quran. By deleting most of the violent verses from the Quran, these Muslims have surely solved the problem of Jihad in the Quran. When the unclear and contradictory verses are thus edited, Quran becomes a readable book.However, this approach has its own problems: Problems
A)Its Method is Arbitrary: It must be borne in mind that many of the terrorists though do not delete the peaceful verses in the Quran nevertheless considers those as abrogated and therefore invalid. The new method does not give an objective criterion for someone to accept and reject verses in the Quran. If some are allowed to delete violent verses and keep only peaceful verses, why not others delete the peaceful verses and keep only the violent verses- it finally depends on the concept of God one holds to. This approach does not provide criteria even to arrive at the concept of God. B) It still does not solve the Problem of Not Having a Model: The verses in a book need an example of life as an exposition to clarify its meaning. If Siras, Hadiths, and a few verses in Quran are rejected, who will be the role model for humanity? The solution that one proposes should have (a) an objective criterion to accept or reject any verses in the Quran (b) it should also address the issue of a model for humanity. It is in this context, that I propose that solution is given in the Quran itself.
Fourth Approach:4. Al-kitab as the Authority and Criteria: In fact, Quran itself says: Sura 2:53: “And if thou (Muhammad) art in doubt concerning that which We reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scripture (that was) before thee” Further Quran calls Al-Kitab as the criterion.
Surah 10:94: "And remember We gave Moses the Scripture and the Criterion (between right and wrong): there was a chance for you to be guided aright."
Sura 10:37: "This Quran is not such as can be produced by other than God; but it is a verification of that (the Torah and Gospel) which IS between his (its) hands, and the explanation of the Book, wherein there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds."
Sura 5:50: "And let the People of the Gospel judge by what God has revealed in it. If any fail to judge by what God has revealed, they are licentious."Thus we see that Al-Kitab is the book that Muslims need to check when they are in doubt, in Al-Kitab there is no doubt and Al-Kitab should be the judge and the criterion. It is not the Hadiths or Siras or arbitrary methods that should evaluate what is right and wrong in Quran. It is only the Al-Kitab. Anything that contradicts in Quran with Al-Kitab should be rejected and anything that agrees with Al-Kitab should be accepted. No one can object in using Al-Kitab as criteria as Al-Kitab (the Holy Bible) is the true word from the only true God. Nothing can be objective than this.
Muslims may object to this approach. But they must understand that this approach is more Quranic than accepting Hadiths, or Siras or early Tafsirs to validate and understand Quran. Irony of irony is that Muslims have no objection in using Hadiths and Siras which Quran objects (using any man made books) which according to Muslims themselves is corrupted and unreliable but they have an objection in using Al-Kitab which Quran instructs them. This is nothing but egoism and it is this mentality that makes them to speak ill about Al-Kitab.
In fact, using Al-Kitab also helps Muslims to have a model for the humanity. Quran itself says that Jesus Christ is the word of God (S. 4:171), a mercy from God and one without fault (S. 19:16-21). What better expression can be there for the word of God other than the incarnate Word himself-the one without any fault. If Al-Kitab is accepted as the criterion, judge, a book without any doubt, and the only book which should be consulted at times of doubt, Islam will have an objective criteria to reject ambiguous, contradictory and violent verses in the Quran and have Jesus Christ himself as their model.
There is no other way that Islam can satisfactorily solve the problems within it and can truly be called as religion of peace except accepting Al-Kitab (The Bible) as the authority, criterion, judge and clarifier of all truths and Jesus Christ as Al-Kitab reveals him.
Remember I have not quoted the Al-Kitab until now to suggest this solution though it would have been legitimate.
For Further Reading:
- The Quranic Witness to Biblical Authority (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/aboutbible.htm)
- The Quran on the Authority and Integrity of the Biblical Text, Part 2 (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/aboutbible2.htm)
- The Quran Agrees: Jesus is the most Exalted of all (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/jesus_most_exalted_q.htm)
- The Quran Also Agrees: Jesus Is the Most High! (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/jesus_most_high_q.htm)
- Jesus as the Mercy of Allah: More Quranic Evidence for the Divinity of Christ (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/allahs_mercy.htm)
- Jesus Christ: Islam’s Greatest Prophet and Messenger (http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/jesus_knows_unseen_q.htm)
 http://news. bbc.co.uk/ 2/hi/7719059. stm
 http://www.dnaindia .com/report. asp?newsid= 1204534
 http://www.answerin g-islam.org/ Quran/Themes/ jihad_passages. html
 http://www.frontpag emag.com/ ARticles/ Read.aspx? GUID=A00F3895- 42BB-4A7D- 9FA5-4A19F3286EA D
 http://www.answerin g-islam.org/ Shamoun/na_ debate.htm
 http://www.quran- islam.org/ 95.html