Twisted Terrorism


Mehol K. Sadain

Before the term “terrorism” became a media and state intelligence favorite, there were the references to “extremism”, “radicalism”, “resurgence”, “revivalism” and the original “fundamentalism”, which in the context of the conflict in the Middle East, were all linked to Islam. “Fundamentalism” was first used by Christians to refer to their fellow faithful who adhered to traditional fundamentals and a literal reading of the Bible, and was later conveniently applied to Muslims who exhibited the same theological methodology.

The negative connotation that in due time, came to attach to the term “fundamentalism” was of course, erroneous and unfortunate. Religious fundamentals are always positive anchors of faith and worship, when they are not twisted. I recall an article I wrote in 2000 which was published in two parts by a national daily under the title “Twisting Islam” (PDI, May 5 & 7, 2000).

That article advocated viewing and understanding the fundamental concepts of “jihad”, “Shari’ah” and the “Muslim Ummah”, “rooted as they are in the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah or tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)” … “in their original context instead of what self-serving ideologues make them to be.”

Drawn from the Qur’an, “jihad” was “jihad fiy sabiilillah” or striving in the Way of Allah, and referred to reforming the self rather than killing so-called infidels. Surah 61, Verses 10-11 declares: “O ye who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from the painful doom? You should believe in Allah and His Messenger, and should strive in the Way of Allah (tujaahiduuna fiy Sabiilillahi) with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you but knew.”  The killing and violence that are usually associated with jihad uses a different word, qaatiluu, as in the verse, “And fight in the Way of Allah (qaatiluu fiy Sabilillah) those who fight you, but do not transgress limits (laa ta’taduu); for Allah loves not the transgressors (mu’tadeen).” (Surah 2, Verse 190) This verse shows that there are rules (limits) of physical violence against the enemy, which must not be violated, and by way of implication, that qaatiluu (killing) is different from jihad (striving). As a result, the jihad that is attended by physical violence is categorized as jihad li muqaatalati l-ada’e or jihad by killing the enemy, signifying that the other forms of jihad do not involve killing or physical violence.

A most basic rule, therefore, in qaatiluu fiy Sabilillah is if the enemy ceases hostility, then Muslims should also cease to fight, for as Allah in the Qur’an exhorts: “But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful… if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.” (Surah 2; Verses 192-193)

For this reason, Muslims object to the identification of Islam with terrorism or the attribution of terrorism to Islam. If Islamic concepts can be twisted to support dubious activities by people who call themselves Muslims, so can terrorism by equally twisted by scheming people intent in depicting Islam as a malevolent faith and ideology.

Hence, Muslims should wage their real jihad against those who portray Islam as purveyor of fanaticism, intolerance and violence.


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