While it is true that any
armed struggle without the authority of the collectivity in which a Muslim
resides is prohibited in the opinion of most scholars from early to modern
times, in Q.22:40, God explains why war is sometimes necessary to end oppression
and persecution. If a State has the strength and moral authority to end
persecution, it is the height of apathy to sit back without justifiable reason
(Q.4:75-76). For example, if India deliberately persisted in pogroms against its
Muslim citizens, and despite all other efforts to end this oppression, Muslim
states with the strength to deal with this matter kept eulogizing peace, I
wonder what benefits would emerge and how Muslim states would explain their
stance vis-à-vis Q. 4:75-76.
The argument that conventional wars are
not fought any more is hard to digest. How many wars going on right now have
gone nuclear? The nuclear option is always a “them or us” last stage option, if
it were to ever emerge. If such an option needed to be exercised, say, in the
possibility of a nuclear attack by India on Pakistan, what should Pakistan say?
“Please feel free to wipe out our entire population while we bask in Heaven in
the glory of peace you’ll have”? Ghazālī has pointed out in al-Mustasfá that if
an enemy ship shields itself with Muslim women and children and there is danger
of Muslim city (territory [with other innocent people]) being taken over, it
would be permissible to shoot arrows even at the risk of hurting and killing
Muslim non-combatants. The option of war itself has ended for Muslims because of
nuclear capabilities today is a notion that is quite incredible.
When a state has the strength to end
persecution and no other measures have worked, opting for peace is opting for
cooperation with evil. The same principle applies at the individual level. Where
you have the authority to end wrong and no other option is available to end
persecution, opting for “peace” might even be lower than the lowest level of
faith. “Peace” is the weapon of a dā‘ī (one who calls others to truth), but a
curse for those with the legal and moral authority and power to end wrong. War
is often evil, yes; but oppression and persecution of a people is a greater evil
(al-fitnah ashadd min al-qatl).
I am not sure what the points of stress
are in the essay you have referred to, but, as far as suppressing desires is
concerned, since religion is not poetry and is instead meant to have meaning in
real life, it is important to have a sense of proportion. Perseverance has
little or nothing to do with bearing with injustice; it has everything to do
with continuity in the endeavour against it within the ambit of ethical and
moral values and nobler ideals. The notion of equating suppression of desires
and piety can be very damaging and debilitating psychologically. Where does the
foundational text give us the impression that basic and inherent desires have to
be suppressed? The emphasis is on not violating ethics and morality and on
maintaining superior ideals in the fulfilment of hope and desires. General
statements that might mix up ascetic ideas with perseverance in a reader’s mind
should be made rather carefully.
A healthy and prosperous society is
based on justice, compassion, tolerance and sacrifice. These are all necessary
and contingent factors. Emphasizing on just one in all situations can be
catastrophic for society and the individual. Turning the other cheek is not
always the panacea. Even Jesus (sws) did not suggest that.
We need to learn how to contain anger
and negativity to attain what we desire; the oft-heard rant of suppressing
desires and sentiments to contain anger seems to be some kind of yogic mantra
that, in most cases of acquiescence, is likely to generate a chronic need for
Prozac. A prayer of Cistercian Sisters is: “Lord, let us suffer as Jesus
suffered.” In the Qur'an, a prayer of Prophet Moses is: “Lord, I am in utmost
need of whatever good you might choose to bestow.” Let not our attempts at piety
take away our humility.