The Qur’ān says:
... that whoever took a life,
unless it be for murder or for spreading disorder on earth,
it would be as if he killed all mankind; and whoever saved a life, it would be
as if he saved all mankind. (5:32)
And he who kills a believer intentionally, his reward is
Hell; he shall remain therein forever... (4:93)
How can someone who believes in this book commit murder?
In his mind -- and perhaps even in his heart -- the murder
he commits is not murder: it is an act of virtue.
Those who do evil can be of two kinds. There are those who
know that the evil they do is evil, and there are those who don’t. In fact,
those of the latter kind might even be absolutely certain that the evil they do
is not evil but virtue. When that is the case, murder and terrorism can, in
their minds, become Jihād.
The good intentions of these ‘pious evil-doers’ might
become an excuse for them on the Day of Judgement, but in this worldly life of
ours, when murder and terrorism are the issue, their error of judgement --
howsoever noble their intentions might be -- does not, in any way, exonerate
them from the responsibility for causing disruption and disorder in society.
Therefore, these people need to be dealt with -- and when human lives and law
and order are at stake, there can be two ways of doing that: either you succeed
in convincing them that their ‘virtue’ is actually evil and that their Jihād is
in reality Fasād or Muhārabah
or you simply ‘wipe ’em out’.
Two pertinent questions are: how do you convince them? and
would the State be morally justified if, after having taken reasonable measures
to solve the problem through dialogues and discussions, it has to... well, ‘wipe
To convince such Islamist groups as resort to murder and
terrorism that, howsoever noble the goals, their methods are against the
teachings of their own religion, one has to understand the arguments they
themselves use to justify their deeds. Of such arguments some of the more
important ones are discussed here.
One of their arguments is based on a narration in which
the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:
He amongst you who sees any wrong should change it with
his hand; if that is not possible
for him, then with his tongue; if that is not possible for him, then [he should
condemn it] in his heart -- and that is the weakest level of faith. (Muslim,
This statement of the Prophet (sws) has a specific context
in reference to which the statement merely means that it is the duty of every
Muslim to try for the eradication of evil within the confines of the social and
legal authority he or she has. For
example, parents are afforded the authority by the conventions of society to use
some mild form of physical punishment, if required, for the proper upbringing of
their children. This obviously does not mean that they have the authority to
batter their children. Similarly, the government -- a court of law to be more
precise -- has the legal authority to award a suitable sentence to an offender
if he is found guilty. Now, if some parents did not use their authority to stop
their children from becoming heroin addicts, they would certainly be at a weaker
level of faith, especially if physical punishment of a sort would have helped
and it were love which stopped them from using their authority. Love does not
mean that you let those you love do wrong. Similarly, a judge who, under some
pressure, gave a lighter punishment to an offender would certainly be at a
weaker level of faith. Indeed, in the absence of a reasonable excuse, he might
even be regarded as being devoid of faith altogether on the Day of Judgement.
The Prophet of Allāh (sws) never took the law into his own
hands at any point of time. During the thirteen years he preached Islam in
Makkah, he never went beyond the confines of the law of the land. The few
companions and followers he had during those years were indeed more loyal to him
-- and hardly any Muslim would doubt that -- than his followers today can ever
claim to be. Many a Muslim today will hardly take any time to decide that it is
a matter of his faith to kill anyone -- even the most influential person around
-- who blasphemes -- or is even suspected of blaspheming -- against the Prophet
(sws). But the followers of the Prophet (sws) never murdered even a single of
his opponents even when he was pelted with stones at Tā’if. In Makkah,
invectives were hurled against him day and night, yet none of his followers
regarded it a matter of his faith to kill a few offenders to avenge the Prophet
(sws). Had all of his companions -- even those truly close to him as Abu Bakar (raa)
and Ali (raa) -- chosen to remain at a weaker level of faith? And had the
Prophet (sws) himself chosen not to do anything about the weak faith of his
companions? Why didn’t he exhort them to do something in retaliation?
It was only after the Prophet (sws) had established an
independent State at Madīnah that laws were enacted and implemented by him --
and that too was done gradually so as to avoid imbalance in society. The reason
for this restrain is that in Islam armed struggle is allowed only at the level
of the State. An individual or a group is not permitted to wage an armed
struggle so that anarchy does not prevail in society.
Militant struggle by an individual or a group in an
Islamic State amounts to Fasād (disorder, disruption, etc) or, when it becomes a
rebellion against the State, Khurūj (rebellion, revolt, etc). In either case,
the Islamic State has the right to give the militants a severe death sentence.
Only when certain conditions have been met is Khurūj allowed.
The militant Islamists would argue that (a) the government
in Pakistan is not Islamic and (b) they -- the militants -- are fighting against
Kuffār (sing. Kāfir: infidel), who ought to be killed to save Islam from its
It should be obvious from the points made above that even
if Pakistan were not an Islamic State and some of those accepted by the State as
Muslims were Kuffār, there would still be no room in Islam for the militant
Islamists to take the law into their own hands and kill people. The militants
are not more pious than the Prophet (sws) and his close companions (raa).
But let’s take a look at this stance as well. Does a State
having a morally and religiously corrupt government become un-Islamic? And who
has the right to declare a group (or a person) in the Ummah (the whole Muslim
community) as non-Muslims or Kuffār?
The Islamic principle on which a State is founded is
described in the Qur’ān in the words amruhum shūrā baynahum (their affairs are
through consultation amongst them).
This principle entails that the State affairs be run by the vote of the majority
of Muslim citizens. A State is formed when a people establish their government
in a geographically independent area over which they have power and authority.
Therefore, when the majority of Muslims in a geographically independent area,
over which they have power and authority, form their own government through
consultation -- elections in modern times --, that government, in accordance
with the verse quoted above, represents the Islamic State. Therefore, allegiance
to that government is a religious obligation on the Muslim citizens of that
Obey Allāh and the Prophet and those who are in authority
among you. Then if there is difference of opinion among you, refer it back to
Allāh and the Prophet (The Qur’ān 4:59)
It is evident from this verse that even in case of any
difference of opinion, that matter should be resolved through the Qur’ān and the
Sunnah-- rather than through guns
-- and, from the verse quoted earlier, that the verdict of the majority of the
Muslims must be accepted as the law of the land. Thereafter, those who dissent
do have the right to express their points of view in a peaceful and
constitutional manner, but they do not have the right to create a law and order
situation or rebel against the State. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have
You are organised under the rule of a person and someone
tries to break your collectivity apart or disrupt your government, kill him.
It is only when a Muslim is ordered to do something
against the directives of Allāh or of the Prophet (sws) is he required to
disobey those with political and legal authority in the system he lives in. The
Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:
Whether they like it or not, it is obligatory on the
faithful to listen to and obey their rulers except that they be ordered to
commit sin. If they are ordered to commit sin, they should neither listen nor
obey. (Muslims, Kitābu’l-Imārah)
The Qur’ānic words ‘obey Allāh and the Prophet...’ require
that a Muslim not obey any command against the directives of Allāh and the
Prophet (sws). But even then, he is not allowed to disrupt the system or commit
murders. The reason is that when a government is formed in accordance with the
Qur’ānic principle of amruhum shūrā baynahum and can be changed or deposed on
the same basis, any rebellion against that government amounts to a rebellion
against the collectivity of Muslims, which in Islamic terminology, is Muhārabah
and which, as the statement of the Prophet (sws) quoted earlier explains, is an
offence punishable by death.
Prominent people of this Ummah as Abu Hanīfah, Imām Malik
and Ahmad Ibn Hambal never resorted to violence, vandalism, terrorism or
rebellion in spite of facing extreme hardships to propagate the truth. In Al-Masā’il
al-Rasā’il al Marwiyyah ‘an Ahmad ibn Hambal, Ahmad ibn Hambal is reported to
Far be it from Allāh [all that is wrongly associated with
Him], blood is but blood.
I do not believe in it nor do I recommend it. Enduring what is on us
is better than disruption, in which blood is shed, people’s wealth is
expropriated and things and matters sacred are desecrated.
The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:
I order you five things: pledging allegiance to the State,
listening to and obeying [your rulers in that State], Hijrah
and Jihād in the way of Allāh. (Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hambal)
In the same collection of his sayings, the Prophet (sws)
is also reported to have said:
He who sees something despicable in his ruler should bear
with it, for he who detaches himself to the slightest degree from the State and
dies in that condition shall die the death of ignorance. (Kitābu’l-Fitan)
In another version, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have
He who sees something despicable in his ruler should bear
with it, for he who detaches himself to the slightest degree from the
Sovereignty and dies in that condition shall die the death of ignorance (Kitābu’l-Fitan)
In these two versions, the words Al-Jamā‘ah (the State)
and Al-Sultan (the Sovereignty) have been used interchangeably, which clearly
shows that this directive of the Prophet (sws) pertains to such a body as has
political sovereignty in a geographically independent area in which there is a
system of government.
It should be obvious from the arguments given above that
the government in Pakistan, which is brought to power through the mandate given
to it by the majority vote of the Muslim citizens is the embodiment of the
sovereignty of the State and as such it represents the State. Therefore, even if
the rulers are morally corrupt, a Muslim does not have the right to disrupt the
government or resort to terrorism. It is indeed his duty to propagate the truth
with wisdom and sagacity and, if need be, with personal sacrifice. The way the
likes of Ahmad Ibn Hambal, Mālik Ibn Anas and Abu Hanifah bore persecution at
the hands of the rulers of their respective times is a testimony to the fact
that the prominent scholars of Islam have never shirked from making sacrifices
for the sake of truth, yet have always distanced themselves from vandalism,
terrorism and disruption. Indeed, it is this kind of propagation which was
termed as a great Jihād by the Prophet (sws). He is reported to have said:
Verily, words of truth and justice are a great Jihād
especially when said in front of an oppressive ruler. (Tirmidhī, Kitābu’l-Fitan)
Rebellion against the State is allowed only when certain
conditions have been met. A brief mention of these conditions would not be out
of place here:
The first condition is that the rulers unequivocally deny
Islam or any of its directives. The fourth verse of the 59th chapter of Qur’ān
quoted earlier points out that obedience to rulers is obligatory as long as they
are from within the Muslims (‘those in authority among you’).
The Prophet (sws) is also reported to have laid down the
same condition for refusal to accept the authority of the rulers.
... when you see unequivocal denial by them and in a
matter regarding which you have an explicit directive from Allāh. (Muslim,
The second and the third conditions, based on amruhum
shūrā baynahum -- ‘their affairs are by consultation among them’ (the Qur’ān
42:38) --, are that the government against which Khurūj is taken place should be
a dictatorship which does not enjoy the support of the masses and that the
leader of the Khurūj should be a person who has the indubitable support of the
All these conditions are essential in that even if one of
them is missing, Khurūj is not permissible.
Furthermore, in case of militant struggle, there is
another condition: the rebels must migrate to another land and form an
independent State there.
Before discussing the basis and the reason for this
condition, it would be pertinent to point out here that the militant Islamists
often term all their subversive activities as Jihād. Actually, Jihād is a nomen
verbum of Jāhada, which means to make one’s utmost effort. In Islamic
terminology, the word denotes one’s utmost effort in the way of Allāh. One of
the connotations of the word is making one’s utmost effort in a militant
struggle for Allāh. In that sense it is used as a synonym of Qitāl fī sabīl
Allāh (killing in the way of Allāh), which is the more precise term for any kind
of militant religious struggle -- be it a battle or war or a rebellion (Khurūj).
And in any case, Qitāl fī sabīl Allāh is a prerogative of the State. In other
words, in Islam there is no concept of Jihād or Qitāl
of any kind without the authority of the State.
The basis for this condition is that God Almighty did not
ever give the permission to use the sword even to the Prophets (sws), who are
the final manifestation of the truth for their people, until they had
established their rule over their followers as their political sovereigns after
migrating with them to another land and forming an independent State there.
Moses (sws) was given the directive for Jihād only after this condition had been
met and, similarly, the Prophet (sws) and his followers were also allowed to do
Jihād only when after the Pledge of ‘Aqabah they were able to establish an
independent State at Yathrib (later known as Madīnah).
The reason for this condition is that without the
authority of the State Jihād is bound to become Fasād. A group which does not
even have the legal authority to sentence a criminal cannot be allowed to gamble
with the lives and property of people. For this reason, Muslim jurists have
always regarded this condition as essential:
And the third category of collective duties is one in
which [the authority] of the Head of the State is a necessary condition, for
example Jihād and the implementation of the Islamic law of punishments. (Fiqhu’l-Sunnah,
vol. 3, p.30)
Hamīdu’l-Dīn Farāhī writes:
Jihād in one’s own country is not allowed unless one
migrates to another land. Accounts of Abraham’s life (sws) and other verses [of
the Qur’ān] related to Hijrah
also point up this principle. The events of the Prophet’s life (sws) also
corroborate it. The reason for this principle is that without the authority of
one who represents the collectivity of the Muslims in the State and has
political sovereignty, Jihād is merely chaos and disruption and anarchy and
A prominent exegesist of the Qur’ān, Amīn Ahsan Islāhī,
makes the following comments on the same principle:
The first reason [for this condition] is that God Almighty
does not like the disruption and disintegration of even an evil system until a
strong probability exists that those out to disintegrate the system will provide
people with an alternative, righteous system. Anarchy and disorder are unnatural
conditions. In fact, they are so contrary to human nature that even an unjust
system is preferable to them. For this reason, God Almighty has not given the
right to wage war to such a group which is dubious and obscure, the power and
authority of which is undefined, which is without the sovereignty of a ruler,
the loyalty and obedience of which is untested and the members of which are
disorganised and undisciplined -- who can disrupt a system but cannot prove that
they have the ability to integrate a disintegrated environment. This confidence
[that a group will be able to create harmony and integrate a disorganised
environment into an organised system] can only be reposed in such a group as has
actually formed a political government and has such control and discipline
within the confines of its authority that it can be termed as Al-Jamā‘ah.
Until a group attains this position, it can strive to become Al-Jamā‘ah [through
religiously allowable and through legal and constitutional means] -- and that
endeavour of its would be its Jihād for that time -- but it does not have the
right to wage an armed Jihād and a war.
The second reason is that the import of the authority
which a group engaged in war gets over the life and property of human beings is
so great that such authority cannot be given to a group in which the authority
of the leader over his followers is merely moral.
Mere moral authority is not a sufficient guarantee that the leader will be able
to stop his followers from Fasād fī’l-Ard.
Therefore, a religious leader does not have the right to allow his followers to
take out their swords merely on
the basis of his spiritual relationship with them, for once the sword is
unsheathed there is great danger that it will not care for right and wrong and
that those who drew it will end up doing all [the wrong which] they had sought
to end. Such revolutionary groups the object of which is nothing more than
disruption of the existing system and deposition of the ruling party to seize
power for themselves play such games -- and they can, for in their eyes
disruption of a system is no calamity, nor is cruelty of any kind an evil.
Everything is right to them [as long as it serves their purpose]. However, the
leaders of a just and righteous group must see whether they are in a position to
provide people with a system better than the one they seek to change and whether
they will be able to stop their followers from doing such wrong as they
themselves had sought to root out. If they are not in that position, then they
do not have the right to play games with the lives and property of people on the
basis of their confidence in mere chances or create greater disorder than the
one they had sought to end.
It should be obvious from the passage quoted above that
the right to wage war cannot be given to a group of individuals, who do not even
have the legal authority to award punishment to a criminal. Without political
sovereignty, Jihād is nothing short of Fasād. Thus, such militant groups as
mislead their followers into believing that their terrorism is a form of Jihād
have no Islamic basis whatsoever for their claim.
Now, let us analyse the next argument of the Islamist
militants: that they only kill Kuffār,
who are out to destroy Islam. Let’s see who is really a Kāfir (singular of
Kuffār) and who is not. And let’s also take a look at who really has the
authority to declare a Muslim a Kāfir.
Declaring any Muslim a Kāfir is called Takfīr, which is
the prerogative of either the Prophet (sws) -- who does that on the basis of
Divine revelation -- or the Muslim Ummah (the whole Muslim community). No other
individual or group has that right.
The reasons for this principle are as follows:
A Kāfir in the true sense of the word is one who denies
the truth even after it becomes absolutely clear to him. Revealing the truth to
a person or a group so clearly that no excuse is left for that person or group
to deny it may be termed as Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah.
The Prophet (sws) was the last messenger of God. With his
status as a Rasūl, the Prophet
(sws) was in a position to do Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah even as an individual.
No one after him has that privilege. No individual or group can do
Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah now because no individual can claim that his propagation has
manifested the truth to the extent that no excuse is left to deny it. Indeed, an
individual cannot even be absolutely certain of having understood the truth
absolutely correctly. He can only be certain that God will reward him for doing
his duty as he has been given the light to see it. Only the Prophet’s word (sws)
was final in religion.
After the Prophet (sws), the responsibility of bearing
witness to the truth of Islam has been passed on to the Ummah (the whole Muslim
Community) rather than to any individual or group as it would have been
impossible for anyone to fulfil this responsibility in his individual capacity.
For this purpose, it is incumbent upon the Ummah to strive for becoming an Ummah
Wasat (the best people) so that by its very existence it can become a living
testimony to the truth of its religion. It is the responsibility of every
individual in the Ummah to do his part to ensure that the Ummah become and
remain Ummah Wasat-- an Ummah which is the paragon of truth, justice and
compassion. The Qur’ān calls this responsibility Shahādah ‘alā’l-Nās (testimony
before the people) and the style
of the address in the relevant verses clearly shows that after the Prophet (sws)
this responsibility has been passed on to the Ummah as a whole.
An obvious corollary to the points made above is that only
the State representing the collectivity of the whole Ummah has the right to
declare a person Kāfir as no Muslim in his individual capacity and no group of
Muslims can possibly fulfil the obligation of Shahādah ‘alā’l-Nās.
However, this principle does not mean that a Muslim should
be indifferent to dissents and heresies in religion. It is especially incumbent
upon scholars and intellectuals to carry on the task of Da‘wah (propagation of
the truth) and of Indhār (admonition).
Experience has shown that scholars and intellectuals can
best fulfil this responsibility by staying out of politics. It is indeed very
fortunate when a political leader is religious, but when a religious leader is
political he usually ends up being neither a politician nor a religious leader.
Moreover, religious leaders need to understand that there are occasions when
speaking out the truth is a requirement of faith and there are occasions when
restraining oneself is a requirement of sagacity -- and that the Qur’ān requires
Da‘wah with wisdom and sagacity: a Da‘wah which vanquishes the hearts of people
rather than killing or battering them.
Some militant Islamists also argue that their militancy is
for self-defence. Their argument is that as a result of their Da‘wah, opposing
groups become aggressive, which entails self-defence.
There is a big difference between what can legitimately be
termed as ‘self-defence’ and the ‘aggression for the sake of self-defence’ that
these Islamists usually commit. Extending the meaning of self-defence to include
downright aggression is carrying things too far. Many of these groups argue that
not retaliating to aggression is a Christian attitude of ‘turning the other
cheek’. Islam gives the concept of Qisās, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a
It should be borne in mind that an Islamic State has not
only the responsibility but also the sole authority to implement the Law of
Qisās. Qisās has often been rendered into English as ‘retaliation’
-- a translation which has misled many into believing that personal vendettas
are allowed -- in fact encouraged -- in Islam (for example, a report on
terrorism ‘Bosnia -- A Springboard for Terrorism’ prepared by a Special Task
Force of the U S Senate presents the same view of Islam, which viewpoint is
further stressed in the Task Force’s reply to a letter of protest by the
American Muslim Council). It seems that the argument rests on an incorrect
understanding of a Qur’ānic verse:
And whoever is killed unjustly, We have given his heir the
authority. Therefore, he [the heir] should not exceed in killing, for verily he
has been helped. (17:33)
The last part of the verse ‘for verily he has been helped’
refers to the fact that the State and the law are on his side. ‘We have given
his heir the authority’ means that the heir has the authority to either demand
Qisās or to forgive the offender. ‘He should not exceed in killing’ means that
since the society is now on the heir’s side he should not exceed the limits
either by taking the law into his own hand or by demanding a greater punishment
than what the offender actually deserves. The way the whole society has
specifically been addressed in other pertinent Qur’ānic verses (6:178 & 179 and
5:45) proves beyond doubt that the directive of implementing the law of Qisās
pertains to the whole society -- which obviously works through the State and its
organs (as the judiciary in this instance). Therefore, lynching and engaging in
personal vendettas have no room in Islam. As already explained, prominent Muslim
jurists have always maintained that in some matters related to the collectivity
of the Muslims, the authority of the Sovereignty is a necessary condition, for
example Jihād (that is Qitāl) and the law of punishments (Iqāmatu’l-Hudūd):
And the third category of collective responsibility is
that in which the authority of the Sovereignty is a necessary condition, for
example Jihād and the law of punishments.
Nothing could be farther from the truth than the idea that
Qisās refers to retaliation by an individual or a group. Such retaliation, even
if equal harm is done to the offender, simply negates the purpose of the law of
Qisās. The words of the Qur’ān ‘In Qisās there is life for you’ refer to the
fact that when the State does not provide the people in a society with justice,
they often resort to personal vendettas and revenge, which shake the very
foundation on which the edifice of a social set-up rests.
A Muslim who has been wronged has the right to demand
Qisās and it is the duty of the State to provide him with justice. The Qur’a$n
entails that much. But the Qur’ān also goes further than that. It gives a high
place to an attitude of forgiveness. Turning the other cheek is not merely a
Christian attitude. Jesus (sws) was not telling the judge in a court of law to
turn the other cheek while deciding the fate of a serial killer. He was not
telling that to the State facing an enemy State in war. He was telling that to a
preacher out to conquer the hearts of people. To conquer hearts one never slays,
but is slain. One does not take revenge, but forgives. These are the rules for a
preacher. Though not the law, they are a great honour and a great privilege. The
The good and the evil are not equal. Repel evil with that
which is better than all others; then you will see that he, between whom and you
there was enmity, has become as if he were a truly close friend. And this
sagacity is not afforded to anyone except those who persevere and this wisdom is
not granted except to those who are indeed very fortunate. And if you feel any
evil incitement from Satan, seek refuge of Allāh. Verily, He is the Hearer, the
This is the attitude of a Muslim towards those who wrong
him because of his Da‘wah -- an attitude the Qur’ān terms as something truly
sublime. With this line of thinking, how is it possible to think of retaliation
and personal vengeance? And more than that, how is it possible for any Muslim to
believe that he will be able to justify himself on the Day of Judgement for
killing innocent people?
At this stage, let’s recapitulate what has been discussed
so far in this article:
1. Taking the law into one’s own hands amounts to either
Fasād fi’l-Ard (creating disorder) or Muhārabah (rebellion) -- both of which are
punishable by death in Islam.
2. The Prophet’s saying (sws) usually cited to give
credence to the idea that Islam allows an individual or a group the use of force
to end wrong is actually related to the use of power within the confines of the
social and legal authority.
3. In Islam, there is no concept of Jihād (Qitāl to be
more precise -- that is militant struggle in the way of Allāh) or the
implementation of punishments without the authority of the State. Jihād without
the State is Fasād.
4. The argument that the government in Pakistan is not
Islamic is baseless. In an independent State, any government formed on the basis
of amruhum shūrā baynahum (their affairs are by consultation among them) -- in
modern times through the vote of the Muslim citizens in an election -- is an
Islamic government so long as the rulers do not unequivocally deny Islam or
their faith in it.
5. Rebellion against the State (Khurūj) is allowed --
that is permissible not obligatory -- only when all of the following three
i) the rulers unequivocally deny Islam.
ii) the government is a dictatorship and does not
have the support of the Muslims and cannot be changed by their vote.
iii) the leader of Khurūj is one who, without any
doubt, has the support of the majority of the nation.
Moreover, in case of an armed rebellion, there is an
additional condition: the leader of the Khurūj must migrate with his followers
to another land and form an independent State.
In the absence of even one of these conditions, those
leading the Khurūj can be sentenced to death by the State.
6. Allegiance to the Islamic State and obedience of its
government are obligatory on a Muslim even if the rulers are morally corrupt.
According to a reported saying of the Prophet (sws), he who detaches himself
from the collectivity of the Muslims and dies in that condition dies the death
7. No individual or group has the right to declare a
Muslim Kāfir (one who deliberately denies Islam; plural: Kuffār). Takfīr --
declaring someone a Kāfir is the prerogative of either the Prophet (sws) -- who
does that through Divine revelation -- or the State which represents the
collectivity of the Ummah (the whole Muslim community).
8. The argument of the militant Islamists that their
aggression is in self-defence is baseless. The difference between self-defence
and aggression is manifest. Also, the law of Qisās in Islam is to be
implemented by the State not by any individual or group. The aggrieved person
has the right to demand Qisās and it is the responsibility of the State to
provide him with justice. The aggrieved or his heir also has the authority to
forgive the offender and demand penalty. But there is no room in Islam for
personal vendettas whereby an individual takes the law into his own hands.
9. Religious scholars and leaders of religious movements
can best serve Islam by staying out of politics and confining themselves to
academic work and Da‘wah (propagation of religion). They must remember that
their primary responsibility is Indhār (admonition) and Da‘wah. Their goal
should be conquering the hearts of people rather than killing them. For the
conquest of hearts one has to be slain rather than slaying others. One has to
forgive rather than avenge. And one has to repel evil with goodness.
Some other points of relevance to which this article
1. Death punishment for apostasy was confined only to the
direct addressees of the Prophet (sws) -- the Banū Ismā‘īl. No one can now be
punished to death on that basis as no one after the Prophet (sws) can claim to
have done Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah (manifesting the truth to such an extent that no
excuse whatsoever is left for a person to deny it) in his individual capacity.
2. There are only two valid reasons for Qitāl: i)
injustice and oppression and ii) Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah. After the Prophet (sws) no
individual or group has the position to do Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah. Ittimāmu’l-Hujjah
is now possible only when the whole Ummah fulfils its responsibility of becoming
Ummah Wasat (the best community) by living out the true meaning of its creed and
thereby fulfils the responsibility of Shahādah ‘alā’l-Nās (bearing witness to
the truth of Islam before other peoples of the world). After fulfilling this
responsibility, the State representing the collectivity of the Ummah has the
right to depose such rulers of the vanquished nations as deliberately deny their
people access to the message of Islam. But that State does not have the right to
coerce people into accepting Islam. These non-Muslims would only be required to
remain subservient to the Islamic State and to pay it their equitable dues and
in return would receive protection and have all their basic rights ensured.
3. Lynching non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic State for
Blasphemy is absolutely against Islam even if the crime is proved. Punishing a
person or a group for any crime against anybody is the prerogative of the
Islamic State -- which does that through its organ, the judiciary, after
determining for sure that the crime had actually been committed and deciding on
the appropriate punishment. No
individual has the right to take the law into his own hands on any account. Even
the closest of the Prophet’s companions (sws) never killed a single of his
opponents even when invectives were hurled at him day and night in the first
thirteen years of his Da‘wah at Makkah. Nor did they kill anyone in retaliation
when he was pelted with stones at Tā’if.
In relation to the points discussed above, the
following measures are suggested to the government of Pakistan:
i) The government should use its propaganda machinery --
including the mass media -- to dissuade youngsters from falling into the trap of
those religious leaders who equate terrorism and sectarian violence with Islam.
The government should take help from genuine scholars of Islam for this purpose
and present its views on the solid basis of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. It should
become obvious to every man and woman -- even to the militant Islamists
themselves -- that the violence and terrorism of the militant Islamists is
absolutely against Islam.
ii) Known and self-proclaimed offenders should
immediately be arrested or shot on sight for Murābaha, and Fasād fi’l-Ard. The
arrested criminals should be punished on these bases in an exemplary manner. The
government should publicise the reasoning behind these punishments so that
everyone is aware of the correct stance in this regard and potential offenders
are deterred from the path of violence.
iii) Those religious organisations which believe in
rebellion against the State should be given a stern warning. The correct picture
of Islam regarding Khurūj should be publicised a great deal so that sufficient
ground work is done to make the masses mentally accept the idea of the
government crushing the very first insurrection to nip the evil in the bud. And
that the government should do: completely crush the first insurrection to emerge
so that no one is encouraged by the rebels to follow suit.
iv) The government should take steps to eliminate the
duality in our education system. Religious schools breed sectarianism and modern
schools breed scepticism. This journal has repeatedly pointed out that our
education system needs to be updated in this regard as well. Unless the modern,
educated people -- especially those belonging to the elite and affluent classes
-- are instructed at least in the basics of religion, the monopoly and influence
of sectarian schools is bound to remain.
v) The mosque has a very important role to play in an
Islamic society. Few people today realise the extent to which this institution
influences the minds of the masses. Unfortunately, mosques in our society have
become citadels of sectarianism. There is great need to overhaul this
institution. The key point here is that the Mosque is a State institution and
the elected representatives of the people running their State affairs ought to
be their leaders in prayer rather than the mullahs. The Sunnah in this regard is
that the Head of the State and his representatives in the administration should
lead the Friday prayer. On the basis of the Sunnah, one can suggest that the
government should supervise the mosques and not let any particular sect control
them. A number of steps should be taken in this regard:
a) The centre of every administrative unit of the
State should be a Jāmi‘Masjid, and the division of these units should be such
that one Jāmi‘Masjid should suffice for one unit.
b) Within each unit, all the administrative
offices and courts should be instituted adjacent to this Jāmi‘Masjid.
c) The State capital, together with the provincial
capitals, should have a central Jāmi‘Masjid.
d) The address of the Friday prayer should be
delivered only by the Head of State and only he should lead this prayer in the
central Jāmi‘Masjid of the capital. The provincial governors should be entrusted
with this job in the central Jāmi‘ Mosques of the provinces, while the
representatives of the government should perform this duty in the Jāmi‘ Mosques
of the various administrative units.
e) The Friday prayer should be prohibited in all
mosques except the above ones.
f) Mosques should be supervised by the government
g) Any religious scholar should be allowed to
teach, educate and instruct his students according to his own views in any of
vi) The government should apologise to the Pakistani
Christian Community on behalf of the Muslims of Pakistan for the recent incident
of lynching. It should be made clear to all Muslims that there is no room for
lynching in Islam. No one can be punished for blasphemy unless his crime is
proved in a court of law and only the State has the right to execute the
sentence. It should also be made clear that violation of the rights of
non-Muslims in an Islamic State is a serious offence.
Whether a Mu‘āhid or a Dhimmī,
the rights guaranteed to a non-Muslim must not be violated by any Muslim. The
And fulfil the covenant. Verily the covenant shall be
questioned about. (17:34)
The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:
Beware! He who oppresses a Mu‘āhid or does him injustice
or burdens him more than his strength
or takes anything from him without his consent, I myself shall plead against him
on the Day of Judgement. (Abu Dā’ūd, Kitābu’l-Jihād)
These words of the Prophet (sws) should be enough for any
Muslim to realise the gravity of the sin of oppressing a Mu‘āhid. Even in case
of enmity, the Qur’ān does not allow the Muslim to do anything against the
principles of equity and justice.
Therefore, unless a Mu‘āhid is found guilty of some crime
by a court of law -- in which case it is up to the court to decide what
punishment is to be meted out --, he has the right as a citizen of an Islamic
State to demand the protection of his life, honour and property and to demand
all his fundamental rights including the right to practice his religion and to
preach it in a manner which does not cause disruption in society.
Our Scholars, may God have mercy on them have said that neither war nor
[shedding] blood had been allowed to the Prophet (sws) prior to the Pledge
of ‘Aqabah (Akhāmu’l-Qur’ān, vol. 3, p. 1297).
* That is why the masses in the Roman and the Persian
Empires often enthusiastically welcomed the conquests of the companions of
the Prophet (sws) when they (raa) waged Jihād against the despotic and
oppressive rulers of these lands.
Dhimmī is a person who belongs to
that category of non-Muslims who are vanquished by the Islamic State in war
and then agree to remain subservient to the State and to pay it Jizyah (a
tax on them) for protection and guarantee of their basic rights.