Anti-Islamic Propaganda by "former Muslims"
There is a new level of anti-Islamic propaganda. It is based on half-truths and no truths. Let alone unsuspecting non-Muslims, many Muslims are falling victims of such propaganda, as they are sometimes feeling confused. The issue has assumed greater significance as some people are perpetrating vile acts of violence, and doing so in the name of Islam.
There are Qur'anic verses that, taken in isolation, can easily cause people to misunderstand the message of those verses. But that is only if people intentionally or unintentionally take those verses in isolation or out of context. It is also an unfortunate fact that, parallel to their glorious contributions, many Muslim exegetes and scholars of the past have added to the confusion, by generalizing issues and views that ought not to be generalized. Once Muslims were in power, especially after a century or so after the Prophet, the issues of non-Muslims and minorities have not been dealt with a desired level of Islamic and human sensitivity. Rather, attitude toward non-Muslims have been shaped by the bitter localized conflicts between the Muslims and the Mushrikeen (as well as others).
But, even beyond those, there is clearly a prejudiced propaganda against Islam and Muslims that can not be explained merely in terms of ignorance. I produce an example below. In the internet circle, some so-called "former Muslims" have been concertedly spewing their hatred against Islam and Muslims. Among them are Ali Sina (a pseudonym), and Abul Kasem (possibly another pseudonym). Uninformed or less informed readers can easily be duped or confused by their propagandist approach.
Anyway, during the post 9/11 era, Yusuf Islam, formerly Cat Stevens, condemned the targeted atrocity against the civilians. He also condemned "suicide bombing". A group of people who claim to be "former Muslims" challenged him by alleging that the Prophet himself has endorsed suicide bombing and thus the condemnation of Yusuf Islam and others is of no value, in the face of clear hadith. How did they reach that conclusion? Well, read the following part taken from a writing by Abul Kasem.
Islamic Peace Train a la Brother Yusuf Islam
If you know Mr. Yusuf Islam's email please ask him to read this message and respond. (Ali Sina) http://www.humanists.net/alisina/to_yusuf_islam.htm
Now, to add fuel to the fire, here is a Hadith, which clearly sanctions suicide to kill the 'infidels'
Mohammed eulogized a person for committing suicide for Allah's cause...9.83.29
Volume 9, Book 83, Number 29: Narrated Salama:
We went out with the Prophet to Khaibar. A man (from the companions) said, "O 'Amir! Let us hear some of your Huda (camel-driving songs.)" So he sang some of them (i.e. a lyric in harmony with the camels walk). The Prophet said, "Who is the driver (of these camels)?" They said, "Amir." The Prophet said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on him !" The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! Would that you let us enjoy his company longer!" Then 'Amir was killed the following morning. The people said, "The good deeds of 'Amir are lost as he has killed himself." I returned at the time while they were talking about that. I went to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Prophet! Let my father be sacrificed for you! The people claim that 'Amir's good deeds are lost." The Prophet said, "Whoever says so is a liar, for 'Amir will have a double reward as he exerted himself to obey Allah and fought in Allah's Cause. No other way of killing would have granted him greater reward.
Can Mr.Yusuf Islam deny this Hadith, which is from Shahih Bukhari, the most trusted Hadith in Islam.
From a plain reading of the above hadith, one may easily conclude that as Amir "killed himself", so he committed suicide. Since the Prophet actually eulogized Amir's killing himself, can't one reasonably and conscientiously conclude and argue that the Prophet endorsed suicide bombing? Well, not so fast.
One of the problems with many hadiths, even in the most respected collections of Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, one can find narrations that are fragmented, incomplete, and sometimes even contradictory. Thus, one can't take a particular hadith in isolation. The above hadith, allegedly supporting suicide bombing, is unambiguously clarified in another hadith: Amir actually had an unintentional/accidental self-inflicted wound. Let us read that hadith from the same collection, Sahih al-Bukhari.
Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 509: Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa:
We went out to Khaibar in the company of the Prophet. While we were proceeding at night, a man from the group said to 'Amir, "O 'Amir! Won't you let us hear your poetry?" 'Amir was a poet, so he got down and started reciting for the people poetry that kept pace with the camels' footsteps, saying:-- "O Allah! Without You we Would not have been guided On the right path Neither would be have given In charity, nor would We have prayed. So please forgive us, what we have committed (i.e. our defects); let all of us Be sacrificed for Your Cause And send Sakina (i.e. calmness) Upon us to make our feet firm When we meet our enemy, and If they will call us towards An unjust thing, We will refuse. The unbelievers have made a hue and Cry to ask others' help Against us." The Prophet on that, asked, "Who is that (camel) driver (reciting poetry)?" The people said, "He is 'Amir bin Al-Akwa'."
Then the Prophet said, "May Allah bestow His Mercy on him." A man amongst the people said, "O Allah's Prophet! has (martyrdom) been granted to him. Would that you let us enjoy his company longer." Then we reached and besieged Khaibar till we were afflicted with severe hunger. Then Allah helped the Muslims conquer it (i.e. Khaibar). ... So when the army files were arranged in rows (for the clash), 'Amir's sword was short and he aimed at the leg of a Jew to strike it, but the sharp blade of the sword returned to him and injured his own knee, and that caused him to die. When they returned from the battle, Allah's Apostle saw me (in a sad mood). He took my hand and said, "What is bothering you?" I replied, "Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you! The people say that the deeds of 'Amir are lost." The Prophet said, "Whoever says so, is mistaken, for 'Amir has got a double reward." The Prophet raised two fingers and added, "He (i.e. Amir) was a persevering struggler in the Cause of Allah and there are few 'Arabs who achieved the like of (good deeds) 'Amir had done."
So, did Amir commit suicide and the Prophet praised his "suicidal" action? No. Amir DID NOT commit suicide and the Prophet DID NOT praise suicide. Such are the glaring misrepresentations and lies being spread about Islam!
Such exposure of lies or ignorant claims of these former Muslims may not stop them from their anti-Islamic propaganda, but Muslims themselves need to be educated about Islam and its various sources (the Qur'an, hadith, history books, commentaries, etc.). More importantly, Muslims need to be educated in these regards in a self-critical manner. I also should point out that there is need to produce cross-referenced hadith collection, so that people can easily identify and read "related" hadith that are scattered throughout a collection or across collections. For example, the hadith quoted by Abul Kasem is in Vol. 9, Kitab ad-Diyat (blood money) ... and the clarifying one occurs in Vol. 5, Kitab al-Maghazi (military expeditions). Such cross-referencing can be helpful for the education of Muslims, and may lessen such callous and shameless attempts to misrepresent Islam by others.
Life is the most precious and sanctified thing in this world. That applies to our lives and others' lives. Islam teaches us to be preservers of life. As the al-Qur'an categorically teaches:
We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he slew the whole people; and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our Apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land." [Qur'an 5:35]
Let others figure out their own stance, but for us as Muslims, we must have respect for life in general, life of ourselves and of others, irrespective of faith, race and nationality.
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq is an associate professor of economics and finance at Upper Iowa University.
The author welcomes volunteers who would like to translate this piece into their native language.