Why It's Time to Go Back to Islam's Holy Book

Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India), December 11, 2015 | Go to article overview

Why It's Time to Go Back to Islam's Holy Book


India, Dec. 10 -- So the Republican Party's maverick presidential hopeful Donald Trump has called for all Muslims to be blocked from entering the United States. This is his response to the mass shooting in California carried out by a Pakistani-origin couple - Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. It could equally have followed the Paris attack on November 13, an event that, in his eyes, must have reiterated for the whole world that Muslims are an inherently dangerous species.

The world has been bombed deaf into this "realisation" on different calendar dates. My memory begins with America's 3,000 dead on 9/11 and stretches all the way to the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2004 railroad bombing in Spain, the London blasts 7/7(2005), serial blasts in local trains in Mumbai 7/11 (2006), the attack on Charlie Hebdo office in France earlier this year and last month's Paris attack.. While this timeline could be stretched further back and may get augmented in the future, what we should be bothered with is, have we learnt our lesson? My answer to that is a resounding 'Yes', but it's a very different lesson from the one that Trump & Co will draw. As Europe starts shutting its borders to Syrian refugees and there is a security beef up all around a world that fears the next jihadi blowing himself up in the quest of Jannat in the Hereafter, I suggest it's time that we, and our children, re-read the Quran, the holy text of Islam.

The Quran (22:39-40) says, 'Permission to take up arms is hereby granted to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed and God indeed has power to help them - those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: "Our Lord is Allah."

Islamic scholar Javed Ahmad Ghamidi sees this verse in the context of its timing. It was revealed when the oppressed Muslims of those times were fighting the Quraysh, a powerful merchant tribe. Ghamidi writes that every person who appreciates the linguistic style of the Quran knows that verses which authorise Muslims to use force do not address them in their individual capacity.

"These verses address the Muslims as a community. No person or group has the right to take a step on its own on behalf of the Muslims. Thus political or state authority is an essential pre-requisite of war," he writes.

According to the Quran, it was necessary in those times that the believer should be in a certain number before they launch an attack, else it would be tantamount to suicide. Initially, the believer to enemy ratio was 1:10 (the Quran, 8:66). However, later, after large scale conversions to Islam in later years of the Prophet, this was reduced to 1:2 (The Quran, 8:66). It seems that in both these situations, the Almighty would be providing the remaining help.

One finds logic to these verses, as also the stress on legal legitimacy and practicality of waging a war. …

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