Thursday, May 25, 2006

Speaking Truth to Power...

Peace, one and all...
I was recently reading Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti's Fatwa on Suicide Bombings and as this is such an important issue at present, I thought I'd include a link here (as well as some particularly important passages). Ma sha Allah, is about all I could say whilst reading it: a work of scholarship and insight. It's uplifting to know that our Sacred Law (Shariah) is still alive and that its scholars are still hard at work (may Allah support them in their labours).
The link given above will take you to the entire document (hats off to Masud.co.uk). Apparently, the original work was posted on the Living Islam website (run by Sheikh Gibril Haddad). However, I wanted to quote some of the latter stages of the fatwa here as they are of special importance (and also of an easily digestible length). Again, my intention here is also to add to the publicising of this important fatwa...
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim...

'It is truly sad that despite our sophisticated and elaborate set of rules of engagement and in spite of the strict codes of warfare and the chivalrous disciplines which our soldiers are expected to observe, all having been thoroughly worked out and codified by the orthodox jurists of the Umma from among the generations of the Salaf, there are today in our midst those who are not ashamed to depart from these sacred conventions in favour of opinions espoused by persons who are not even trained in the Sacred Law at all let alone enough to be a Qadi or a Faqih – the rightful heir and source from which they should receive practical guidance in the first place. Instead they rely on engineers or scientists and on those who are not among its ahl yet speak in the name of our Law. With these "reformist" preachers and da'i comes a departure from the traditional ideas about the rules of Siyar/Jihad/Qital, i.e., warfare. Do they not realise that by doing so and by following them they will be ignoring the limitations and restrictions cherished and protected by our pious forefathers and that they will be turning their backs on the Jama'a and Ijma' and that they will be engaging in an act for which there is no accepted legal precedent among the orthodoxy in our entire history? Have they forgotten that part of the original maqsad of warfare/jihad was to limit warfare itself and that warfare for Muslims is not total war, so that women, children and innocent bystanders are not to be killed and property not to be needlessly destroyed?
To put it plainly, there is simply no legal precedent in the history of Sunni Islam for the tactic of attacking civilians and overtly non-military targets. Yet the awful reality today is that a minority of Sunni Muslims, whether in Iraq or Beslan or elsewhere, have perpetuated such acts in the name of Jihad and on behalf of the Umma. Perhaps the first such mission to break this long and admirable precedent was the Hamas bombing on a public bus in Jerusalem in 1994 – not that long ago. (Ponder about this fact!) Immediately after the incident, the almost unanimous response of the orthodox Shafi'i jurists from the Far East and the Hadramawt was not only to make clear that the minimum legal position from our Sacred Law is untenable, but also to warn the Umma that by going down that path we would be compromising the optimum way of Ihsan and that we would thereby be running a real risk of losing the moral and religious high ground. Those who still defend this tactic, invoking blindly a nebulous usuli principle that it is justifiable out of darura while ignoring the far'i strictures, must look long and hard at what they are doing and ask the question: was it absolutely necessary, and if so, why was this not done before 1994, and especially during the earlier wars, most of all during the disasters
of 1948 and 1967?
How could such a tactic be condoned by one of our rightly guided caliphs and a heroic fighter such as 'Ali (may Allah ennoble his face!), who when in the Battle of the Trench his notorious non-Muslim opponent, who was seconds away from being killed by him, spat on his noble face, immediately left him alone. When asked later his reasons for withdrawing when Allah clearly gave him power over him, answered: "I was fighting for the sake of God, and when he spat in my face I feared that if I killed him it would have been out of revenge and spite!" Far from being an act of cowardice, this characterizes Muslim chivalry: fighting, yet not out of anger.
In actual fact, the only precedent for this tactic from Muslim history is the cowardly terrorism carried out by the "Assassins" of the Nizari Isma'ilis. Their most famous victim was the suicide mission in assassinating the wise minister and the Defender of the Faith who could have been alive to deal with the Fitna of the Crusades: Nizam al-Mulk, the Jamal al-Shuhada' (may Allah encompass him with His mercy!) on Thursday, the 10th of the holy month of Ramadan 485/14 October 1092. Ironically, in the case of Palestine, the precedent was set not by Muslims but by early Zionist terrorist gangs such as the Irgun, who, for example, infamously bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on the 22nd of July 1946. So ask yourself as an upright and godfearing believer whose every organ will be interrogated: do you really want to follow the footsteps and the models of those Zionists and the heterodox Isma'ilis, instead of the path taken by our Beloved may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!, who for almost half of the {twenty-three} years of his mission endured Meccan persecution, humiliation and insults? Is anger your only strength? If so, remember the Prophetic advice that it is from the Devil. And is darura your only excuse for following them instead into their condemned lizard-holes? Do you think that any of our famous Mujahid from history, such as 'Ali, Salah al-Din, and Muhammad al-Fatih (may Allah be well pleased with them all!) will ever condone the article you quoted and these acts today in Baghdad, Jerusalem, Cairo, Bali, Casablanca, Beslan, London and New York, some of them committed on days when it is traditionally forbidden by our Law to fight: Dhu l-Qa'da and al-Hijja, Muharram and Rajab? Every person of fitra will see that
this is nothing other than a sunna of perversion. This is what happens to the Banu Adam when the wahm is abandoned by 'aql, when one of the maqasid justifies any wasila, when the realities of furu' are indiscriminately overruled by generalities of usul, and most tragically, as illustrated from the eternal blunder of Iblis, when Divine tawakkul is replaced by basic nafs.

Yes, we are one Umma such that when one part of the macro-body is attacked somewhere, another part inevitably feels the pain. Yet at the same time, our own history has shown that we have also been a wise and sensible, instead of a reactive and impulsive, Umma. That is the secret of our success, and that is where our strengths will always lie as has been promised by Divine Writ: in sabr and in tawakkul. It is already common knowledge that when Jerusalem fell to the Crusading forces on 15 July 1099 and was occupied by them, and despite its civilians having been raped, killed, tortured and plundered and the Umma at the time humiliated and insulted – acts far worse than what can be imagined in today's occupation – that it took more than 100 years of patience and legitimate struggle under the Eye of the Almighty before He allowed Salah al-Din to liberate Jerusalem. We should have been taught from childhood by our fathers and mothers about the need to prioritize and about how to reconcile the spheres of our global concerns with those of our local responsibilities – as we will definitely not escape the questioning in the grave about the latter – so that by this insight we may hope that our response will not be disproportionate nor inappropriate. This is the true meaning [haqiqa] of the true advice [nasiha] of our Beloved Prophet may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!: to leave what does not concern one [tark ma la ya'nih], where one's time and energy could be better spent in improving the lot of the Muslims today or benefiting others in this world.
Yes, we will naturally feel the pain when any of our brothers and sisters die unjustly anywhere when their deaths have been caused directly by non-Muslims, but it MUST be the more painful for us when they die in Iraq, for example, when they are caused directly by the self-destroying/martyrdom/suicide missions carried out by one of our own. On tafakkur, the second pain should make us realize and feel insaf that missions of this sort when the means and the legal particulars are all wrong – by scripture and reason – are not only a scourge for our non-Muslim neighbours but a plague and great fitna for this mercied Umma, so that out of maslaha and the general good, it must be stopped.
To this end, we could sum up a point of law tersely in the following maxim: two wrongs do not make the second right [lA yaj'alu Z-ZulmAni th-thAniya Haqqan]. If the first pain becomes one of the mitigating factors and ends up being used as a justification by our misguided young to retaliate in a manner which our Sacred Law definitely and without doubt outlaws (which makes your original article the more appalling, as its author will have passed the special age of 40), then the latter pain should by its graver significance generate a greater and more meaningful response. With this intention, we may hope that we shall regain our former high ground and reputation and rediscover our honour and chivalrous qualities and be no less brave.
I end with the first ever Verse revealed in the Qur'an which bestowed the military option only upon those in a position of authority:
wa-qAtilU fI sabIli LlAhi l-ladhIna yuqAtilUnakum
wa-lA ta'tadU inna LlAha lA yuHibbu l-mu'tadIna

[And fight for the sake of God those who fight you: but do not commit excesses, for God does not love those who exceed (i.e., the Law)] (al-Baqara, 2:190).
Even then, peace is preferred over war:
wa-in janaHU li-s-salmi fa-jnaH la-hA wa-tawakkal 'ala LlAhi
[Now if they incline toward peace, then incline to it, and place your trust in God]
(al-Anfal, 8:61).
Even if you think that the authority in question has decided wrongly and you disagree with their decision not to war with the non-Muslim state upon which you wish war to be declared, then take heed of the following Divine command:
yA ayyhuhA l-ladhIna AmanU aTI'u l-LAha wa-aTI'u
r-rasUla wa-uli l-amri minkum
[O believers, obey Allah, and obey the messenger, and those with authority among you!] (al-Nisa', 4:58).
If you still insist that your authority should declare war with the non-Muslim state upon which you wish war to be declared, then the most you could do in this capacity is to lobby your authority for it. However, if your anger is so unrestrained that its fire brings out the worse in you to the point that your disagreement with your Muslim authority leads you to declare war on those you want your authority to declare war on, and you end up resorting to violence, then know with certainty that you have violated our own religious Laws. For then you will have taken the Shari'a into your own hands. If indeed you reach the point of committing a violent act, then know that by our own Law you would have been automatically classified as a rebel [ahl al-baghy] whom the authority has the right to punish: even if the
authority is perceived to be or is indeed corrupt [fasiq]. (The definition of rebels is: "Muslims who have disagreed [not by heart or by tongue but by hand] with the authority even if it is unjust [ja'ir] and they are correct ['adilun]" [al-Nawawi, Majmu', 20:337].)
That is why, my brethren, when the military option is not a legal one for the individuals concerned, you must not lose hope in Allah; and let us be reminded of the words of our Beloved may Allah's blessings and peace be upon him!:
afDalu l-jihAdi kalimatu Haqqin 'inda sulTAnin jA'irin
[The best Jihad is a true (i.e., brave) word in the face of a tyrannical ruler]. (From a Hadith of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri may Allah be well pleased with him!) among others, which is related by Ibn al-Ja'd, Ahmad, Ibn Humayd, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nasa'i, Abu Ya'la, Abu Bakr al-Ruyani, al-Tabarani, al-Hakim, and al-Bayhaqi, with variants.)

For it is possible still, and especially, today to fight injustice or zulm and taghut in this dunya through your tongue and your words and through the pen and the courts, which still amounts in the Prophetic idiom to Jihad, even if not through war. As in the reminder [tadhkira] of the great scholar, Imam al-Zarkashi: war is only a means to an end and as long as some other way is open to us, that should be the course trod upon by Muslims.

Masha-Allah, how true indeed are the Blessed words, so that the latter Mujahid or activist will be no less brave or lacking in any courage with his or her campaign for a just cause in an oppressive country or one needing reforms than the former Mujahid or patriot who fought bravely for his country in a just war.

fa-t-taqillaha wa-raji' mufatashata nafsika wa-islaha fasadiha wa-huwa hasbuna wa-ni'ma l-wakil wa-la hawla wa-la quwwata illa billahi l-'aliyyi l-'azim! wa-salawatuhu 'ala sayyidina Muhammadin wa-alihi wasallim waradiyallahu tabaraka wa-ta'ala 'an sadatina ashabi rasulillahi ajma'in wa-'anna ma'ahum wa-fihim wa-yaj'aluna min hizbihim bi-rahmatikaya arhama r-rahimin! Amin!

May this be of benefit'.

Notes: the section quoted here comes from the of the Shaykh's fatwa (and, I suppose, could be called the conclusion).
Ma'as salama,
Abdur Rahman
(the faulty 'Servant of the Most Merciful')

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