Why it’s time to go back to Islam’s holy book
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Why it’s time to go back to Islam’s holy book

The Republican Party’s maverick presidential hopeful Donald Trump has called for all Muslims to be blocked from entering the US.

analysis Updated: Dec 10, 2015 23:54 IST
Paris attacks,California shooting,Donald Trump
The Republican Party’s maverick presidential hopeful Donald Trump has called for all Muslims to be blocked from entering the US. (AFP Photo)

So the Republican Party’s maverick presidential hopeful Donald Trump has called for all Muslims to be blocked from entering the United States. This is his response to the mass shooting in California carried out by a Pakistani-origin couple- Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. It could equally have followed the Paris attack on November 13, an event that, in his eyes, must have reiterated for the whole world that Muslims are an inherently dangerous species.

The world has been bombed deaf into this “realisation” on different calendar dates. My memory begins with America’s 3,000 dead on 9/11 and stretches all the way to the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2004 railroad bombing in Spain, the London blasts 7/7(2005), serial blasts in local trains in Mumbai 7/11 (2006), the attack on Charlie Hebdo office in France earlier this year and last month’s Paris attack.. While this timeline could be stretched further back and may get augmented in the future, what we should be bothered with is, have we learnt our lesson? My answer to that is a resounding ‘Yes’, but it’s a very different lesson from the one that Trump & Co will draw. As Europe starts shutting its borders to Syrian refugees and there is a security beef up all around a world that fears the next jihadi blowing himself up in the quest of Jannat in the Hereafter, I suggest it’s time that we, and our children, re-read the Quran, the holy text of Islam.

The Quran (22:39-40) says, ‘Permission to take up arms is hereby granted to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed and God indeed has power to help them – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.”

Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi sees this verse in the context of its timing. It was revealed when the oppressed Muslims of those times were fighting the Quraysh, a powerful merchant tribe. Ghamidi writes that every person who appreciates the linguistic style of the Quran knows that verses which authorise Muslims to use force do not address them in their individual capacity.

“These verses address the Muslims as a community. No person or group has the right to take a step on its own on behalf of the Muslims. Thus political or state authority is an essential pre-requisite of war,” he writes.

According to the Quran, it was necessary in those times that the believer should be in a certain number before they launch an attack, else it would be tantamount to suicide. Initially, the believer to enemy ratio was 1:10 (the Quran, 8:66). However, later, after large scale conversions to Islam in later years of the Prophet, this was reduced to 1:2 (The Quran, 8:66). It seems that in both these situations, the Almighty would be providing the remaining help.

One finds logic to these verses, as also the stress on legal legitimacy and practicality of waging a war. Therefore, scholars feel that an Islamic state should realize that if it wants to wage jihad, its military might should never be less than half of the enemy’s military might even if it wants to expect Divine help. Allah does not want his own to mindlessly blow themselves in public. The Quran is not supportive of clandestine attacks on countries even with state support. And Paris, for one, was not God’s retribution.

The Quran narrates various instances during the age of Prophets when the Almighty sent down punishments on earth on races which denied His truth in spite of being convinced about it. The purpose of this retribution was to remind mankind of the Hereafter, when everyone would be accountable for their sins. To put it in another way, before the advent of the greater Day of Judgment, several lesser days of judgment were brought about in this world as an evidence of the Hereafter, so that mankind is left with no excuse to deny the truth. However, this is God’s retribution only, and mankind cannot assume His role now that the age of the last Prophet is over. Unfortunately, the terror groups take it upon themselves to convey Allah’s wrath in the name of jihad.

Call it propaganda or oversight, over the years a certain rhetoric narration of the Quran has gained precedence, the more detailed explanation having completely bypassed the media scanner. Bloodshed has come to define the word of Allah. While the scripture repeatedly says ‘Laaa ‘ikraaha fid-Diin’ stating that religion should not be forced on anyone, the extremist groups have read the call to internalise the religion in their day-to-day behaviour as a licence for forced islamicisation.

Paris has happened. California has happened. And while state action to check terror activity is a given, it will not stop brainwashed youth from taking to arms. Blocking Muslims from entering the United States is no solution either. One way to assuage the failed diplomatic policy of the West towards west Asia is to stress on Islamic studies and initiate a counter narration to the demonized perception of Islam, and nip terrorism in the bud.

The Quran (5:32) says, ‘“If anyone slays a person, it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity”, and our children need to know this. Our children need to know that a handful of gunmen cannot hold the whole community at war with the world. Our children need to know that the Arabic word ‘Islam’ means peace; and this is a peace they deserve.

First Published: Dec 10, 2015 17:57 IST