All thanks and praise are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah who was sent as a mercy to the whole world. Pea ce and blessings be upon the rest of the prophets and messengers, and those who honorably followed them until the Day of Judgment.
The International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS) was really appalled to see the bloody incidents both inside and outside the Muslim world such as those that took place in Egypt, London, Turkey, and other countries. Such grisly incidents left behind great numbers of innocent civilian casualties who were killed in cold blood without any sin committed on their part. The IAMS, which is keen to clarify Islam's stance concerning these grisly bombings, decides the following for the whole Muslim Ummah and other nations:
1. All divine religions in general and Islam in particular assert the sanctity of human life and strongly prohibit aggression against it. All divine religions clearly state that the blood of all human beings is sacred and unlawful to shed unless the human being himself committed a criminal act or caused corruption in the land or transgressed against the lives of others. The Qur'an, along other divine scriptures, states that [Whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if be had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind] (Al-Ma'idah 5:32).
2. Islam considers killing others and taking their lives as one of the gravest of sins in the sight of Allah. Such heinous sin and abominable crime lead to Allah's curse in this world and His severe punishment in the Hereafter. In addition, committing such a crime is a strong support for the application of retaliation or qisas on the perpetrator and it makes no difference whether the one they killed is a Muslim or a non-Muslim. Allah Almighty says, [Whoso slayeth a believer of set purpose, his reward is Hell for ever. Allah is wroth against him and He hath cursed him and prepared for him an awful doom] (An-Nisaa' 4:93).
The above divine warning encompasses all those who utter the Shahadatayn (Two Shahadahs)—testifying that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) strongly condemned `Usamah ibn Zayd when he killed a man in one of the battles after the man had uttered the Shahadatayn. The Prophet addressed `Usamah saying, "Have you killed him after he uttered the Shahadatayn, `Usamah!" To this `Usamah responded, "Prophet of Allah, he uttered the Shahadatayn for fear of the sword (that is, in order to save himself from being killed)." The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then said, "Have you split his heart into two pieces?"
Thus, we are to deal with people as Muslims as long as they are apparently known to be Muslims. The above ruling also applies to those who have a permanent pledge with Muslims. This category of people is named by Muslim jurists as Dhimmi or non-Muslims living under the protection of the Muslim state. This category is protected by the covenant of Allah, His Prophet, and the whole Muslim Ummah. They are known, according to all jurists, as ahl dar al-Islam or the people belonging to the abode of Islam; they are citizens who enjoy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as Muslims.
There is another category of people who have an interim pledge with Muslims, such as those who enter Islamic territories through the state authorities or any other recognized body such as travel agencies, etc. The individual pledge of security of a single person is as effective as the state pledge, and it prohibits any violation or cancellation of this individual pledge.
With this in mind, Islam considers the act of issuing an entrance visa to a tourist to be a pledge of security given to this tourist, and hence it categorically prohibits transgressing the security given to tourist. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, "Anyone who kills a Dhimmi will not smell the fragrance of Paradise " (Al-Bukhari).
3. Islam, which prohibits killing innocent civilians, also prohibits terrorizing the secured and terrifying the peaceful. Islam considers it a basic right that everyone enjoys security regarding himself, his family, his property, his religion, and all other special rights that man strives to protect. Islam ranks safety as one of the top blessings Allah favored man with, and it considers committing any violation against this safety as an act that entails Allah's curse in the Hereafter and His punishment in this world. It is no wonder that Islam stresses the punishment of theft and highway robbery, as such crimes threaten the security of people.
Islam also prohibits terrorizing the Muslim even if it is done jokingly. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stressed this when he said to a Muslim who jokingly terrorized his brother, "It is not permissible for a Muslim to terrorize another Muslim." In this hadith, the Prophet did not intend terrorizing Muslims in particular, but the word Muslim was mentioned in the above hadith because the context of the situation was that a Muslim terrorized another Muslim and not somebody else (that is, a non-Muslim). With all this in mind, the Prophetic hadith assures "The believer is the one to whom people feel secured regarding their blood and property."
4. The Islamic Shari`ah basically asserts openly that every man is responsible for his own actions, mistakes, and crimes. A person is not responsible for mistakes or crimes done by others unless he is personally sharing in them. Allah Almighty says, [Each soul earneth only on its own account, nor doth any laden bear another's load] (Al-An`am 6:164). Moreover, the Qur'an declares that this ruling is shared by all divine scriptures, as Allah Almighty says, [Or hath he not had news of what is in the books of Moses. And Abraham who paid his debt. That no laden one shall bear another's load] (An-Najm 53:36-38).
Based on this, it is not permissible to punish the innocents because of an act committed by the guilty or to punish the group for a sin committed by a handful of its individuals. Taking the rough with the smooth, as far as the issue in point is concerned, is an erroneous judgment that does not belong to the Shari`ah. The Islamic Shari`ah has nothing to do with the acts of those few deviated people who follow its teachings but change them from their proper contexts. They claim to punish people because of injustices done by their rulers.
Reality bears witness that the victims of those crimes are the peaceful citizens such as those who were killed in London bombings recently while going to their work in the morning or going to their schools, universities, etc. The same are those victims killed in the bombings that hit the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh. Those innocent victims are peaceful Egyptians and tourists given the pledge of security as clarified above.
5. The ethical constitution of legitimate war in Islam dictates that it is prohibited to kill anyone except those who are fighting. In this legitimate war, fighting is restricted to face-to-face confrontation between Muslims and the army of the aggressors. Upon seeing a woman killed in the battlefield, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) renounced the act and said, "That woman shouldn't have been killed anyway!"
Moreover, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade killing women, children, the aged, monks in their hermitages, farmers in their lands, and traders. This ruling of prohibition is stressed by the Qur'anic verses, the Prophetic hadiths, as well as the directives given by the Rightly-Guided Caliphs.
How come that people who neither carry a weapon nor participate in war against Muslims practically or verbally are killed?
6. The IAMS has previously issued a fatwa related to the prohibition of kidnapping innocents who have nothing to do with war. Even if it happened that an innocent is kidnapped, then he should be dealt with honorably, as he enjoys the same honorable status of treatment that should be rendered to the prisoners of war (POWs) whom the Prophet ordered his followers to treat kindly, as Allah Almighty says regarding them: [and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens] (Al-Ahqaf 47:4).
For the above, the IAMS has asked the kidnappers to fear Allah regarding those who kidnapped them, and to treat them honorably until they set them free. The IAMS took part in releasing the French and Italian hostages in Iraq, and it has condemned the killing of the head of the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Iraq, too, and these days it calls for the release of the Algerian diplomat in Iraq and those kept with him.
7. Indeed, the IAMS condemnation of all these bombings and devastating acts that aim at killing others, demolishing their infrastructure, and terrorizing them, doesn't mean that we justify the injustices and tragedies against Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Muslim countries. As Muslims, we should resist these injustices and tragedies using legitimate means. It is not permissible to take the occurrence of such injustices as a pretext to perpetrate criminal acts. The IAMS calls for mutual cooperation between the rulers and the ruled to stand together to face these immense threats imposed on the whole Muslim Ummah. Such threats require concerted efforts to be done in order to achieve mutual aims.
Dear Sheikh, As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatu Allah wa Baraktuh. Could you please clarify the Islamic stance on violence and aggression? Also, please shed light on the relation between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His Sake. May Allah reward you abundantly for your interest in knowing the teachings of your religion, Islam!
One of the important objectives of Islam is to safeguard people's life, property and honor. It is in this light that Islam prohibited aggression against innocent people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Qur'an and the Sunnah are abundant with provisions that crystallize and emphasize this principle. In the Sunnah we read that a woman entered Hell Fire because she tied a cat until it starved. Then, what will be the fate of those who shed innocent people's blood and violate their rights?
Shedding more light on the issue of violence, intolerance, and aggression against innocent civilians, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:
No doubt, aggression against innocent people is a grave sin and a heinous crime, irrespective of the victim's religion, country, or race. No one is permitted to commit such crime, for Allah, Most High, abhors aggression. Unlike Judaism, Islam does not hold a double-standard policy in safeguarding human rights.
Following, I would like to highlight some relevant Islamic principles based on the Glorious Qur'an and Sunnah:
1. Islam Forbids Aggression against Innocent People
Islam does not permit aggression against innocent people, whether the aggression is against life, property, or honor, and this ruling applies to everyone, regardless of post, status and prestige. In Islam, as the state's subject is addressed with Islamic teachings, so is the ruler or caliph; he is not allowed to violate people's rights, lives, honor, property, etc.
In the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) declared the principle that people's lives, property, and honor are inviolable until the Day of Judgment. This ruling is not restricted to Muslims; rather, it includes non-Muslims who are not fighting Muslims. Even in case of war, Islam does not permit killing those who are not involved in fighting, such as women, children, the aged, and the monks who confine themselves to worship only.
This shouldn't raise any wonder, for Islam is a religion that prohibits aggression even against animals. Ibn `Umar, may Allah be pleased with them both, quote the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as saying: "A woman (was made to) enter (Hell) Fire because of a cat which she tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
If such is Islamic ruling concerning aggressive acts against animals, then, with greater reason, the punishment is bond to be severe when human being happens to be the victim of aggression, torture and terrorism.
2. Individual Responsibility
In Islam, every one is held accountable for his own acts, not others'. No one bears the consequences of others' faults, even his close relatives. This is the ultimate form of justice, clarified in the Glorious Qur'an, as Allah, Most High, says, (Or hath he not had news of what is in the books of Moses and Abraham who fulfilled (the commandments): That no laden one shall bear another's load. ) (An-Najm 53: 36-38)
Therefore, it's very disgusting to see some people – who are Muslims by name– launching aggression against innocent people and taking them as scapegoats for any disagreement they have with the state's authority!! What is the crime of the common people then?! Murder is one of heinous crimes completely abhorred in Islam, to the extent that some Muslim scholars hold the opinion that the repentance of the murderer will not be accepted by Allah, Most High. In this context, we recall the Glorious Qur'anic verse that reads, (…if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people) (Al-Ma'idah 5: 32)
3. Ends Do not Justify Means
In Islam, the notion "End justifies the means" has no place at all. It is not allowed to attain good aims through evil means, and, therefore, alms collected from unlawful avenues are not Halal (lawful). In this context, the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "Surely, Allah is Good and never accepts but what is good."
Thus, in Shari`ah, with all its sources– the Glorious Qur'an, the Sunnah, consensus of Muslim jurists– aggression and violation of human rights are completely forbidden.
Besides, it is the duty of the Muslim scholars to do their utmost to guide the perplexed people to the straight and upright path.
Also, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, adds:
The Islamic position as regards non-Muslims is that they should recognize Allah's Oneness and Prophet Muhammad as Allah's Final Prophet. They should accept Islam to live happily and successfully in this world and to be saved in the Hereafter. It is Muslims' duty to give them this message clearly, but without any coercion or intolerance. If others accept this message it is good for them, but if they do not accept, Muslims should still treat them with kindness and gentleness and leave the final judgment to Allah.
In our enthusiasm for Da`wah, we should not be intolerant and aggressive towards others. However, in our politeness and civility we should also not give up our mission and message. We should not be intimidated to become quiet and we should not feel shy to tell the truth.
We must know that Islam is Allah's way to salvation. Islamic message is unique, authentic and divine. Islam is for the whole world and all people are invited to accept this message. It is our duty to convey this message in the most beautiful and effective manner. We should be the witnesses of Allah to the world by our words and our deeds to all human beings.