Islam's Viewpoint

Reprinted from the Muslim World League Journal
Jumad AI-Ula 1423 - July 2002

During its sixteenth session, which was held between 21-27 Shawwal 1422 H (5-10 January 2002), the Islamic Fiqh Council laid emphasis on the fact that extremism, violence, and terrorism have no connection whatsoever with Islam. In fact, they are manifestations of perilous acts with dangerous consequences, and an aggression and iniquity against the individual.

Whosoever carefully studies the two sources of the Shari'ah (Islamic law), namely the Book of Allah [the Qur'an] and the Sunnah (Traditons) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), would discover that they are devoid of any import of extremism, acts of violence or terrorism, which imply carrying out aggression against others without a just cause.

Therefore, in order to draw an Islamic definition of terrorism that unites the vision and attitudes of all Muslims; and in order to clearly state this fact and highlight the danger of associating Islam with extremism and terrorism, the Islamic Fiqh Council presents the following definition of terrorism and Islam's attitude toward it both to the Muslims and the world at large.

Definition of Terrorism

Terrorism is an outrageous attack carried out either by individuals, groups or states against the human being (his religion, life, intellect, property and honour). It includes all forms of intimidation, harm, threatening, killing without just cause and everything connected with any form of armed robbery, hence making pathways insecure, banditry, every act of violence or threatening intended to fulfil a criminal scheme individually or collectively, so as to terrify and horrify people by hurting them or by exposing their lives, liberty, security or conditions to danger; it can also take the form of inflicting damage on the environment or on a public or a private utility or exposing a national or natural resource to danger.

All these are manifestations of the mischief in the land, Allah has prohibited Muslims from committing. Allah says in the Qur'an: 

"And seek not occasions for mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief. " (28:77)
Hence Allah did not only enact deterrent punishment against terrorism, aggression and corruption, but considers these acts tantamount to waging war against Allah and His Messenger.

Allah says in the Qur'an: 

"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter. " (5:33)
Obviously, in view of the enormity of such acts of aggression, which are viewed by the Shari'ah (Islamic law) as an act of war against the laws and the creatures of God, there is no stricter punishment anywhere in the manmade laws.

Moreover, according to the Islamic Fiqh Council, there are various forms of terrorism, which include state terrorism, the most conspicuous illustration and the most heinous of which is practiced in Palestine today by the Israelis, and by the Serbs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo.

According to the Islamic Fiqh Council, state terrorism is the most menacing to security and peace in the world, and, therefore, standing up against it is tantamount to self defense and striving in the cause of Allah.

Islam's Remedy for Extremism & Terrorism

In combating terrorism and protecting society against its evil consequences, Islam is a trail-blazer. Through clear-cut limitations that must not be trespassed, Islam urges the protection of human life, honour, property, religion and intellect. 

Allah says in the Qur'an: 

"If any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong themselves as well as others. " (2:229)
Accordingly, in furtherance of this honour bestowed upon mankind, Islam prohibit[s] man's injustice to his fellow man, and condemn[s] those who cause harm to people, not only in the Muslim world, but anywhere in the world. 

Allah says in the Qur'an: 

"Say: The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are; shameful deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason." And: "When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny. But Allah loves not mischief. When it is said to him 'Fear Allah,' he is led by arrogance to (more) crime. Enough for him is Hell - an evil bed indeed to lie on." (7:33 & 2:205-206)
Furthermore, Islam ordered its adherents to keep away from anything that may cause turmoil among the people, and warned at the same time, against its evil consequences. 

Allah says in the Qur'an: 

"And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong: And know that Allah is strict in punishment." (8:25)
In Islam, both the individual and the community are exhorted not only to tow the line of moderation, but likewise, to root out extremism and religious intolerance which are sure to destroy the mankind. 

The Prophet (peace be on him) said in a report by Imams Ahmad and Al-Nissaie: 

"Beware of excesses in matters of religion. For, as a matter of fact, those before you were destroyed by religious immoderation."
Islam also addressed the issue of evil tendencies that are apt to lead to intimidation, terrifying, horrifying and killing without any just cause. 

The Prophet (peace be on him) said:

"A Muslim must not terrify a fellow Muslim." 
"Whoever points an iron rod towards his brother, the angels shall go on cursing him until he stopped, even if he (the victim) happens to be his full brother (from the sides of his father and mother)." (Sahih Muslim)
With regard to the Dhimmis (Non-Muslims living under Muslim protection), Islam ordered that they must be treated justly. It gave them rights and imposed duties on them. It gave them security in the Muslim world, and imposed blood-money and expiation for an act of killing committed against anyone among them. 

Allah says: 

"If he belonged to a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance, blood-money shall be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. " (Qur'an 4:92)
Furthermore, in conformity with the saying of the Prophet (peace be on him), Islam prohibits the slaying of a Dhimmi living in the Muslim world. 
"Whoever kills a person under the contract of protection shall never smell the scent of Paradise." (Ibn Majah)
Moreover, Islam does not forbid its followers from being charitable towards those who do not fight them or expel them from their homes. 

Allah says in the Qur'an:

"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just. " (60:8) 
"And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do." (5:8)
In view of the foregoing, therefore, the Islamic Fiqh Council would like to make it public that the felony of taking away one life without a just cause is tantamount to killing all people, whatever the faith of the murdered or the murderer; and that punishments and retributions are solely the prerogative of the ruler, not of individuals or groups.

Jihad  is not Terrorism

In Islam, Jihad is ordained to uphold right, repel injustice and establish justice, peace, security and clemency, with which the Prophet (peace be on him) was sent to take mankind out of darkness into light. More specifically, Jihad has been ordained to eliminate all forms of terrorism, and to defend the homeland against occupation, plunder and colonialism.

Jihad is waged against those who support others in driving out people out of their homes, as well as against those who are in breach of their covenants. Jihad is meant to avoid tempting away Muslims from their faith or restricting their freedom to conduct peaceful propagation of their religion. 

Allah said: 

"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loveth those who are just.
"Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for your faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support others in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). !t is such as turn to them in these circumstances that do wrong." (Qur'an 60:8-9)
Islam has crystal clear rules and provisions that forbid the killing of non-combatants, innocent persons, such as the elderly, women and children; pursuit of fleeing persons, slaying persons who have surrendered, injuring prisoners, or mutilating the bodies of the dead, or destroying structures and buildings that have no connection with combat.
Thus it is illogical to equate violence committed by usurpers and tyrants who violate human dignity, defile sanctuaries and plunder wealth, with the right of legitimate self-defense, exercised by the oppressed in asserting their legitimate right of self-determination.

In view of the above, the Islamic Fiqh Council would like to call the attention of all nations, peoples and organizations of the world to the necessity of drawing a distinction between legitimate Jihad against aggression or oppression designed to establish truth and justice, and the act of violence which aims at occupation of land, encroaching on national sovereignty and terrifying civilian populations and turning them into refugees.