What is the Western Muslim opinion on the War in Iraq? And what is to be made of this, the deadliest attack in the Iraq war ever: 150 dead, 238 wounded (launched by Sunni militants).
I have to say, I am severely hurt by what Islam has become in Iraq. In fact, to say that this blatant murdering of civilians by the militants contains any remnants of Islam, is difficult if not impossible. The Islam of the Sunni militants is a theology of anarchy which has no respect for the rules of war, or the values of Islam. The Shi’a themselves are no less. Islam does not stand for total war, but the Sunni and Shi’a militants violate that prescription almost regularly (to the tune of thousands of murders of average Iraqi civilians). We Western Muslims can oppose the American occupation, but we also have to oppose the way the insurgents are brutalizing and defilling life and human dignity.
I was against the war when launched. I didn’t think there was any evidence of a WMD. When the argument changed into “giving them democracy” I was still against the war because you cannot impose democracy. I am against the war still and want to see a viable exit strategy put in place, promptly. However, this does not mean that someone with my views cannot oppose what – and how – these “Muslim” insurgents are fighting.
The Sunni militants’ version of “insurgency” and “freedomfighting” is non-sensicial; they want not to fight the “occupier” but to kill the occupied. It is the most heinous and disgusting form of “resistance” I have ever seen in my life, or read about. Their strategy is: if we murder enough Iraqi elders, women and children, then the Americans will leave. I beseech Western Muslims to take heed of this. I know you are anti-war, and I know you wish that Americans left Iraq, and I know you think Bush is a liar. I think all these things. But please, for God’s sake, can you at least recognize, that the strategy of “resistance” being employed by the militants is barbaric. I challenge any person to find me any instance in the history of Islam where murdering civilians as a way to resist an opponent was considered legitimate under Islam. There is no such event.
The closest thing I can think of, is when the Mongols invaded Baghdad and used captive Muslims from other cities as human shields. Then, the beseiged Abbassids thought that in order to get to the Mongols they had no choice but to kill Muslims (Mongol archers used to hide behind Muslim women when attacking a city). But that is nothing like what is happening today.
First, because the civilians that are being killed by the insurgents are themselves Iraqi. The people they are killing in markets and mosques (mosques!) are not foreigners being used as human shields by the occupier. In fact, it is the insrgents who are largely the foreigners in Iraq (along with the Americans). Second, with the Mongols, there was a consensus amongst all Muslims that Mongols were illegitimate invaders. The women and children that the insurgents are killing are not illegitimate invaders. Yet none of us say a single thing about their murder.
The “Islamic” thing for the insurgents would be to attack only military targets. If they cannot attack the military targets, then they have lost. These are the rules of Islamic Law. The Shariah doesn’t say that “well, if you can’t attack the military, go ahead and slaughter any one who comes across your way.” That’s not Islam. Please recognize that. That’s nihilism. It has no honor. It is not Islamic.
My point is pretty simple: a Muslim that opposes the War in Iraq must also oppose the methods of the insurgents and speak out against them. I don’t care if you think that criticizing the insurgents bolsters the American occupation. If your condemnation of murder is based on political strategy, then I have to say, you need to check your Islam.
Ali Eteraz is a free-lance writer and essayist. He maintains a popular blog at eteraz.org.