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True Jihad Is True for Everyone
Shiekh Mohamad Bouslimani, the widely respected religious leader of the pacifist Hamas party in Algeria (one that is unrelated to Palestine Hamas—rather, this is a non-violent wing of the Brotherhood, now called MSP) was kidnapped in1993 for refusing to issue a fatwa justifying the killing of unarmed civilians. After a week in captivity, it became clear that he was convincing his captors of the errors of their understanding of the divine law. For his courage to resist perverting the law, his throat was slit.
Today, Iraqi imams who collaborated with the U.S. military in educating the prisoners in camps Bucca and Cropper showed great courage by working openly, faces uncovered, with Islamically illiterate prisoners, teaching them the context and right interpretations of the 80 verses of the sword used to justify violence. They are exposing themselves to retribution by other Iraqis who might consider them collaborators or traitors after the Americans leave.
What did living as a good Muslim mean for the emir? What kind of model does he offer Muslims and other people of faith today?
It means, in its simplest form, living in accordance with the Lord's prayer—as a Muslim once explained to a group of Christians on a PBS show. It means living a life that is pleasing to God by following divine will ("Thy will be done on earth as in heaven") and summarized in the Ten Commandments. Many Muslims call themselves believers, but not practitioners. That would mean they believe in a benevolent and merciful God, in the all the prophets beginning with Abraham, a Judgment Day, but do not necessarily follow all the five pillars—the external obligations. Some may not pray five times a day or may not follow all the dietary laws. Divine law is a compass by which to be guided in life for all sincere believers.
However, knowing what is right and doing right are different matters. Abdelkader is a model for all people of faith (and those without) because he had the unusual combination of knowledge, self discipline and courage to do what was right. He was extremely learned in the law, he had the courage to implement the law, even when it was not popular, possessed a keen, probing intellect, and had great control over his emotions. His model means treating all people respectfully, including enemies.
Abdelkader is also important because he confounds all the stereotypes. In matters of religious faith, he was rational, inclusive and humble. He shows one can be deeply religious and God-centric and still be open-minded and inclusive. What impressed me the most was his saying that whatever the different communities (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sabeans, Zoroastrians, polytheists, etc.) think God is, God is that but more. No community possesses God. No one of his creatures worships him in His entirety. Error does not exist except in a relative manner. We are all wrong. The finite cannot grasp the infinite. God is greater. He was a Vatican II Muslim (one who submits) a hundred years before Vatican II.