Here is the Grand Mufti of Egypt with yet another disappointingly deceptive piece about how jihad terrorists are misunderstanding Islam — a point that everyone seems to take for granted as axiomatic except the jihad terrorists. And this piece won’t inspire any of them to lay down their arms and concentrate on the jihad of hitting the gym regularly.
“Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions,” by Shawki Allam, Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2015:
Terrorist groups who flagrantly use religion as a cloak to cover up acts of violent extremism cannot hide their serious ideological flaws. These reveal the warped logic and ill-informed and unauthentic sourcing from religious texts as they try to justify what in reality is an insatiable desire for power, control and bloodshed.
The first ideological flaw is related to the terror groups’ abominable crimes against the Quran and hadith, or reports of prophetic statements, when they take the Quranic verses and the Prophet’s words out of context and imbue them with savage meanings. The terrorists are totally ignorant and incapable of comprehending the Quran and hadith or the objectives of Islamic law and its principles.
We constantly hear that those who find the Qur’an exhorting believers to violence are taking the Qur’an out of context. We never are told what the context really is that would render the Qur’an’s violent verses benign. To trot out this tired old chestnut is a lazy way out, and surprising coming from someone of the Mufti’s stature. You’d think he would have people who could come up with something more original and inventive for him.
As a result, the words of God in the Quran or of the Prophet—which should fill hearts of believers with peace and mercy and reverence for religion—are replaced with ugly distortions that fill hearts with repulsion and fear. The radicals willfully misquote or misuse Quranic verses, and then hold tight to their deviant interpretations.
These groups have the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses that don’t fit their claims. They declare unilateral war against both Muslims and non-Muslims who don’t share their barbarous mentality. They completely disregard the Quranic conception of human brotherhood and peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
For example, in the Quran, God says, “O Mankind. We created you from a single pair of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things” (49:13).
The Mufti accuses the jihadis of “the audacity to dismiss any Quranic verses that don’t fit their claims,” and then does exactly that. This verse does indeed say that all mankind comes from one common father and mother, but it doesn’t say anything about “peaceful relations between Muslims and non-Muslims,” as he claims. It doesn’t say not to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers, as per Qur’an 9:29. In fact, it says that those who are most righteous are the most honored by Allah, in line with the Qur’an’s designation of the Muslims as the “best of people” (3:110) and the unbelievers as the “most vile of created beings” (98:6).
The Quran urges the embrace of people from different religious affiliations, cultural backgrounds and racial origins. Yet the radical groups insist that anyone who rejects their extremist ideology is a legitimate target who may be killed. This lunacy stands in total contrast to the clear Quranic message in which God says, “If anyone kills a person, it is as if he kills all mankind while if anyone saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind” (5:32).
The Mufti must know that immediately following this passage comes one that amply justifies the perspective that “anyone who rejects their extremist ideology is a legitimate target who may be killed”: “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment” (Qur’an 5:33). Also, the dictum in 5:32 is not presented in the Qur’an as a universal principle, but as one specifically directed to the Children of Israel, who transgressed against it, we’re told, and thus drew upon them the punishments specified in the subsequent verse.
Second, the radicals narrow the concept of jihad and restrict it to combat and slaughter while claiming that such distortions represent the jihad legislated by God. The truth is that jihad, in essence, is the human endeavor of striving to improve the individual and the society and to bring life closer to the divine model. The extremists have made physical jihad an end in itself, when in fact it is one means of seeking individual spiritual understanding of God’s path for us, or guidance.
This is a distinction without a difference. The Islamic State presents itself as the new caliphate, and clearly believe that by implementing Sharia within their domains, they are “striving to improve the individual and the society and to bring life closer to the divine model.”
Whenever jihad deviates from this goal it backfires, becoming a means of outright harm that repels people from God’s religion. The extremists cannot declare “jihad” on behalf of 1.5 billion Muslims. Simply put, the declaration of armed struggle is the prerogative of the ruler of the state or his deputy. These terrorist groups, as nonstate actors, are not allowed to declare it.
In this, the Mufti completely ignores the fact that the Islamic State has declared itself the caliphate, the Islamic State par excellence, and thus does not consider itself to be a nonstate actor. Of course, the Mufti doesn’t accept this claim, but simply to call them “nonstate actors” is not going to compel any Islamic State jihadi to lay down his arms.
Third, it is delusional for these terrorists to think that those who were killed in the line of “duty” are considered martyrs and will be rewarded with paradise. The terrorists who are killed aren’t considered martyrs according to Islamic law, even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions don’t justify illegal acts—and it is totally prohibited by Islam to kill innocent people. Thus terrorist acts like 9/11 in the U.S., 7/7 in London or any other similar horrendous attacks are sheer murder and have nothing to do with jihad.
The difference here revolves around the meaning of the word “innocent.” Some Islamic authorities don’t consider non-Muslims innocent under any circumstances; others say that Infidels in the U.S. on 9/11 and the U.K. on 7/7 were citizens of a country at war with Islam and that had killed innocent civilians in Muslim lands, and thus had forfeited the right to live. If the Mufti intends to convince jihadis that they’re on the wrong path, he would need to confront and refute these ideas. Instead, he ignores them, thereby giving weight to the idea that he is just trying to render non-Muslims complacent in the face of the advancing jihad rather than to say anything that will actually stop the jihadists.
In sum, the noble form of physical jihad—which is waged by legitimate state authorities to fend off aggression and establish justice—has nothing to do with the supposed jihad of these terrorists, who practice nothing more than the ruthless mass murder of innocents. Jihad is a war fought with honor and guided with moral codes of conduct.
Since terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas, their deviant ideology must be debunked by intellectual responses. The fight will be stronger with the help of the international media and academia in publishing and broadcasting the voices of authentic Muslim scholars who can counter the extremists’ false claims and their warped interpretation of the Quran.
If only those authentic Muslim scholars would be more honest and forthright.