Islim Condemns Terrorism

Arshad Gamiet/Royal Holloway College/Univ. of London /UK. 9th January 2004

“As-salámu 'alaikum wa rahmatul láhi wa barakátuh!”  [Wait for adhán]

“A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem.  Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem.

Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa.

May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh”


All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds.

Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him.

I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, sws, is His servant, and His messenger.


My respected Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

 Recently, the British Minister for Europe, Dennis McShane, prepared a speech in which he was going to ask Muslims to choose between what he called ‘the British way’ or the way of terrorists. His attitude suggests that somehow we Muslims are torn between a peace-loving way of life, and acts of indiscriminate violence. It is as if, somehow the values of Islám are in contradiction to what he considers to be ‘British’ values. If ‘the British way’ as he calls it, means observing the rule of law, respecting the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all human beings, and if this means resorting to proportionate violence only as a last resort, to defend oneself or one’s country from real and not imagined threats, well, then the Minister ought to look more critically at his own government’s recent actions, in pursuing an illegal invasion of Iraq. It is an invasion where they don’t even bother to count the number of innocent civilian casualties. Is this callousness a part of the British values the Minister espouses?

 Honest students of history will tell you that religious tolerance, racial harmony and cultural diversity are not British or even European inventions. For more than a thousand years, churches and synagogues rested peacefully alongside the mosques throughout the Islámic world. Now, ask yourself, while we're on the subject of tolerance, how many mosques were there anywhere in Christian Europe during that time? Who can forget the Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition?

 But this is not the subject of my khutbah. It seems there is still some confusion about where Islám stands in relation to Terrorism. Sadly, terrorism and Islám have become so closely connected in the Western mindset these days, and this is not by accident. There are some people with a dark agenda, who seek to discredit the good name of Islám, and who consider Islám to be a threat to their global ambitions. There are, sadly, also some misguided Muslims who are playing directly into their hands, by committing acts of violence that are totally forbidden by The Holy Qur'án and the prophetic Sunnah. As to why they commit these acts of terror, the reasons can be debated, but never justified.

 Let us first define what we mean by Terrorism. Chambers English Dictionary defines it as ‘the systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal’. In practice, the term is rarely used neutrally. One man’s terrorist is usually another man’s freedom fighter. In Britain, some people regarded the IRA as terrorists, in the USA they were mostly seen as freedom fighters. In South Africa during the Apartheid era, the whites regarded Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress as terrorists, the blacks regarded them as freedom fighters, and so on. Therefore, ‘terrorism’ is often used selectively to describe the actions of an enemy, whereas the same actions by one’s friends may be regarded as heroic and justified.

 As Muslims, our only point of reference is our Holy Qur'án and Sunnah. What does Islám say about terrorism?

 It seems rather strange and unnecessary that one should need to explain why Islám condemns terrorism. After all, the very word, Islám, is derived from the Arabic letters ‘seen’ ‘laam’ and ‘meem’ which form the root word ‘salama’’ meaning ‘Peace.’ Islám therefore means, the state of being at peace, or to bring into peace. In its very roots, therefore, there is nothing in common between a way of life that stands for peace, harmony, order, justice and compassion on the one hand, and acts of hatred, vengeance and evil on the other. Indeed, Islám and terrorism stand at the very opposite ends of the moral spectrum. In Islám, life is so sacred, it is a gift from God that He alone has the right to take back. Murder, suicide and the killing of innocent civilians in warfare, is strictly forbidden. In Sura Al Ma-ida, [ch5:32], The Holy Qur'án says,

 “… if anyone kills a  human being, unless it be [in legalized punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth, it shall be as though that person had slain the whole of humanity; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though one had saved the lives of all humanity”.

 One of the great moral debates in history, has been the question of Means and Ends. Does the End justify the Means? Can one achieve moral ends by immoral means? Some people argue that the End justifies the Means. Islám is very clear on this. One cannot achieve halaal ends by haraam means. The ends and the means are inextricably integrated with each other. Only moral means can achieve moral ends. This was the way of the Prophets and of all God’s beloved servants, throughout the ages. However much we are provoked, however much we might be tempted to retaliate or to defend ourselves with forbidden actions, we cannot do so. Terrorism is evil. Terrorism is indiscriminate. An act of terror does not distinguish between soldier or civilian, innocent or guilty. By its very nature it is an act of cowardice. Islám does not promote or condone cowardice.

 We should also remember that acts of terror are not only carried out by individuals or small groups. Even governments commit state terror, when armies, air-forces and navies are deployed to enforce their will on unarmed or poorly defended populations. An example of this is Israel’s use of tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships on densely-populated Palestinian refugee camps. The appalling toll of civilian casualties, especially young children, tells us something about how much the Israeli government values Palestinian lives.

 In warfare, sometimes, innocent people may get caught in the crossfire. Is this not just an unavoidable part of conflict? For true Muslims, the answer is an emphatic NO. Muslims have clear guidelines on how to conduct themselves in battle. These Rules of Engagement were set out by Prophet Muhammad [Peace and blessings upon him] himself, and were scrupulously observed by his followers. Muslims cannot dishonour a treaty; they cannot mutilate the dead; they cannot kill women, children, the elderly or any person who does not carry weapons. A Muslim cannot kill those engaged in worship, like monks or priests or Rabbis; we cannot cut down trees or burn crops or poison water supplies [i.e. use chemical weapons]; We are only allowed to kill those who physically attack us, intending to kill us.

 Life is considered too precious to be taken carelessly.

  A Hadith according to Abu Dawood, says that the Prophet Muhammad sws came across a body of a woman after a battle, and he reprimanded his followers, saying, “She was not among those who fought us.”

 Is it permissible to take the life of a non-Muslim?

 According to Sahih Bukhari the Prophet Muhammad sws said: “Whoever kills a Dhimmi [ a non-Muslim citizen of an Islámic State] is not even going to smell the fragrance of Paradise…”

If you visit any great Islamic city you will find religious minorities who have lived there in complete safety. For over 1300 years, Jews and Christians lived peacefully under the protection of the Islámic state. They were only required to pay the Jizyah tax which exempted them from military service. In return, they had complete freedom of religion. Indeed, they often held high positions like Provincial Governors and Ambassadors. Religion was never an obstacle. Meritocracy was common throughout the Medieval Islamic world, long before the term was even invented in the West.

 In another important Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad sws, said:

 “A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands, other Muslims are safe; and a Mu’min, [a Believer] is he in whom all of Mankind has a sanctuary for its life and property”

 Can you imagine that? Not only must other Muslims be safe from our words and our deeds, but the whole of mankind must feel safe in our custody! What an honour! What a responsibility! What a big, big responsibility to answer for, on the Day of Judgement!

 And, they call us terrorists! “Islámic Terrorist” is a contradiction; a vulgar and mischievous travesty of language. A’oothubillaah! [I take refuge in Allah!]

Islám and terrorism should not even sit in the same sentence together!

 “Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.

All praise is due to Alláh, the Lord of all the Worlds; may the greetings and peace be upon the best messenger, Muhammad, the unlettered prophet; and upon his family and upon all of his companions.

Ammaa ba’ad:

Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema.

Behold, Alláh and his angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask for blessings on him, and salute him with a worthy greeting.

 Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, wa alaa áli Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”

O Alláh! Send your greetings upon Muhammad and his family,  just as you sent your greetings on Ibraheem, and his family. O Alláh, send you blessings on Muhammad and his family, just as you blessed Ibraheem and his family. In both worlds, you are praiseworthy and exalted."

Second Khutbah:

 Sub' hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem.

"All glory is for Allah, and all praise is for Allah; There is no power and no strength except with Allah."

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When the USA and Britain attack a Muslim country, what should those Muslims do, who live as a minority in Britain, Europe or North America?  

This question must be agonising many of us, who see the unfolding tragedy in Iraq and Palestine. The answer is very clear. By living here, either as citizens, or as permanent residents, we have entered into a contract with our host country. And, as guests or as citizens, as parties to a contract, we have to honour our obligations. ­We who live here are not under occupation. We are free. We are therefore free to engage in any efforts to persuade our neighbours, our fellow citizens as well as the political establishment, of the error of our government’s policies. There is much that we can do, legally and without violence, to ensure that injustice is stopped, and that the hardship of innocent people abroad can be brought to an end. Our precedent must be the example of Prophet Muhammad [sws]. After he migrated to Madinah, many Muslims were still left behind in Makka. Their rulers, the Quraish, were at war with the Prophet sws, but he did not encourage them to take up arms, or to attack or undermine the authority of the Quraish. While they lived in Makka they had to respect the law of the land as good citizens. Indeed, the Prophet even sent back a group of Muslims to Makka, even though he knew that they would face hardship there, because he had signed the Treaty of Hudaibiyah, which favoured the Quraish. Therefore, a Muslim’s commitment to honour his contracts should always be taken seriously, even if it is sometimes inconvenient. This is what it means to be honourable, to show integrity of character.

 It is often said that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Part of our Jihad, therefore, is in the field of information. We must engage the propaganda and misinformation about our faith, with truthful, articulate and sincere words and actions. We have to purify our hearts and minds, and struggle towards establishing truth over falsehood. An authentic Hadith, narrated by Abu Dawood, states that the Prophet Muhammad sws, said:

 “The best Jihad is saying a word of truth in the court of an unjust ruler.”

  The best Jihad, is saying a word of truth in the court of an unjust ruler. What a beautiful Hadith! It is so beautiful in its profound simplicity.

This is precisely how Prophet Abraham addressed Nimrod, and how Prophet Moses addressed Pharaoh. They were not arrogant nor confrontational. Their manner was modest and sincere. We Muslims, therefore, should not be in the business of arrogant boasting or trading insults with others. It's not important who wins the argument. It's much more important to win hearts and minds. Winning hearts and minds, is a far greater victory than winning any military conflict. Battles are won and lost, maps of conquered lands are drawn and redrawn, but the Empire built on Faith is the most enduring.

  Look into history. The spread and influence of Islám in the world, was achieved, and sustained, by the spread of its ideas. Our creed is quite simple. There is no god but One God, and Muhammad is the last Messenger of God. That's all. A simple truth that needs no long explanations. In a world full of confusing ideologies, the human soul cries out for simple truth to guide it through the storms of life. And, Islam offers that simple truth. It should not surprise anyone that despite the negative press, Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America today.

In the 14 centuries of Islamic history, military force was used to defeat tyranny and establish political authority, but true Muslims never used to force conversion of faith. 

"La ikraha fid-deen,"  "There is no compulsion in religion" says the Holy Quran in Sura Al Baqara. This deeply rooted respect for freedom of worship has always been a central part of our faith. Acceptance of Islam must be a voluntary act from the heart, if it is sincere.

The global spread of Islam was achieved by the noble character and the personal example set by remarkable human beings. Our noble and illustrious ancestors were men and women of courage, honesty and personal integrity. As teachers and traders, soldiers and administrators, they took Islám to the far corners of the world. The enemies of Islám are today militarily strong, but they are spiritually and morally weak, as they always have been. These days, when religion has become marginalized, our modern world has also lost its sense of what is sacred. That is where our real strength lies, and that is where we must intensify our struggle: to win hearts and minds, and to help rebuild a spiritual and moral framework for human affairs.

  And most importantly, we must always seek the help of our Creator. Alláh alone is able to facilitate any success. The formula is simple: we need meticulous planning, followed by hard work, prayer and supplication. Then we must be patient and persevere, entrusting our affairs to Alláh. This is known as Tawakkul. It is our best guarantee of success.

  Let us pray to Alláh, to help us clear the good name of Islám. As Muslims and as true Believers, let our thoughts, our words and deeds, show convincing proof that Islám, the way of Peace, has no place for terrorism, whether it is individual, group or state terrorism. O Alláh, in these difficult times, let us defeat the hate mongers and slanderers. In the words of your prophet Moses, who prayed, “O Alláh, expand my breast for me, and loosen my tongue.” Help us also, by giving us wisdom and articulate speech. Let us personify noble character and good manners, and so win the war of hearts and minds, for Islam.

Ameen. Aqeemus salaah!

  This khutbah was adapted from a publication by the Islamic Society of Britain, Terrorism and Islam: Exploding the Myths. 15 Questions, 15 Straight Answers.

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