by Nusrat Qadir
Recently, a well-known critic against Islam Tarek Fatah stated that few if any, Muslim scholars, activists or clergy have denounced armed Jihad. While acknowledging that the threat and fear of extremists who misuse religion for their personal gain continues, the statement that few, if any, Muslim clergy or activists have denounced an armed Jihad, is inaccurate.
Take for instance the worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and Khalifa of Islam, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who has repeatedly stated that True Islam rejects violent Jihad whether it be against Muslims or non-Muslims. His Holiness time after time denounces a violent Jihad to a worldwide audience that spans to tens of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Most recently he did so in person with 38 thousand attendees standing against violent Jihad at the annual U.K. Jalsa Salana gathering. He reiterated that the Quran advises Muslims that injustices will occur yet the response is not a violent Jihad but one of peace and to embrace the true definition of Jihad, which is defined as an exertion of the utmost effort of one’s personal struggle towards doing good. Those who are encouraging an armed Jihad as a cloak for their own personal or political gain are going against the teachings of Islam since the Jihad of the sword has ended per the guidance of the awaited Messiah to Islam, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian. This message has been shared repeatedly for over 100 years. Critics of Islam need to be forthcoming in stating that the resurgence of an “armed Jihad” to modern times has been a result of political wars, not religious ones. Any Muslim acting in this direction is solely doing so for their own agenda, not a religious one.
Aside from His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, activists and well known Muslims in the West such as Imam Azhar Haneef, Mehdi Hasan, Rabia Chaudhry, Qasim Rashid, Dalia Mogahed,Reza Aslan, Hend Amry, Abdullah Antepli, Hind Makki, Harris Zafar, Dean Obeidallah, and Arsalan Iftikhar to name a few have denounced an armed Jihad repeatedly and have on numerous public platforms explained the Arabic word Jihad adamantly stating that it does not promote violence. Yet despite such repeated statements, the lack of religious literacy continues and the distortion of the word Jihad prevails by those who use it negatively for their personal or political advantage. Also compounding the problem has been the Western intervention that feeds extremism with examples dating from 1979 with funding the Afghan rebels to the funding of ISIL rebels during the Iraq invasion. Leaving the rebels to their own devices post such social disorder has led to an extremist ideology to control the masses giving way to the mistaken belief that violence and extremism were now permissible.
Yet what the Western politics, critics of Islam, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and now Daesh get wrong, is that fighting is repugnant in Islam. Extremists and critics of Islam cherry-pick Quranic verse 9:5 and distort its use. This verse came after 13 years of severe murderous persecution by the opponents of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and permission was granted to fight back solely in instances where religious liberties were being violated. Rules of engagement were strictly adhered to and the killing of innocent civilians was never granted, nor was it towards prior enemies who sought forgiveness. The violence used by the likes of Daesh is a political strategy that has no place in Islam especially since suicide or martyrdom operations are not a form of jihad and are strictly against the teachings of true Islam. Furthermore the verse 9:5 was addressing a specific situation and not a general principle since chapter 22 verse 40 establishes that war is only permitted in defense of religious freedom.
of the Quran or Islam. People, not Islam, are destroying the peace of the world. Islam promotes peace, harmony and good will, not coercion as suggested by critics and extremists. Clear guidance of this fact is repeatedly stated in the Quran and should not be overlooked by those who oppose Islam. Opponents and extremists should reflect upon chapter 10 verse 100 where the Quran states, “And if your Lord had enforced His will, surely all who are in the Earth would have believed together.” From this verse amongst many, it is clear that Islam does not allow the use of force for its propagation. Since the Prophet of Islam was not allowed to use compulsion, then no true Muslim should ever consider such acts or justify their actions by twisting the teachings of the Quran as a rationale for their own destructive behavior. It would be helpful for humanity if at the very least critics of Islam would not mirror extremist messaging by advancing it when trying to rationalize their narrative of opposition.
Mr. Fatah feels the need to denounce an armed Jihad as crucial to ending extremist actions. Noting that this has been done, we should now focus on what can be done to aid in this message by promoting religious literacy. The use of media messaging and other such platforms to highlight those who denounce the use of violent Jihad would be a step in the right direction. Campaign efforts such as the True Islam campaign are also helpful in eliminating erroneous definitions of Jihad. The True Islam campaign is based on the teachings of the Quran and of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and clearly indicates that violent rebellion is an act of extremism and spreads disorder which is against Quranic teachings. The campaign defines that any acts of oppression towards Muslims should be met with dialogue and if necessary migration since violence against an oppressor would be equated to not having patience or trust in God. The campaign firmly states that rebellion and violence would dismantle all efforts towards peace and security and destroy millions of families as well as the land they live in which again goes against Islam.
As Muslims continue to speak out and gather in large numbers to denounce violent Jihad, rather than highlight these efforts, critics of Islam, like their extremists counterparts, cherry-pick verses from the Quran to justify their personal agenda and in doing so continue the distortion of the term Jihad. Critics can distinguish themselves from extremists, by promoting accurate religious literacy and efforts to unite humanity rather than continue to inflame the fire of fear. The True Islam campaign is a timely solution to fan the flames of those misunderstand Jihad and will enable both Muslims and non-Muslims clarifications on common misconceptions that revolve around Islam. Thousands have supported the message and are sharing it daily. Rather than empower the extremists by promoting their agenda and perpetuating the problem, the True Islam campaign augments the voices of millions worldwide speaking out against violent Jihad. We invite Tarek Fatah and others to do the same to be part of the solution rather than continue to be part of the problem.