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Who detonated violence in the Middle East? 


Khaleej Times

11 July 2003

ALTHOUGH extremism is an ancient mindset exercised by many individuals, groups and even states, it has become one of the prominent expressions in the recent international political and social lexicon over the past decade. This expression is articulated primarily for a one goal being sought by many and achieved by a few.

It has been labelled to groups and societies described as 'Islamic' and then to states and even 'Islam' itself as a religion. The said goal was being sought out by certain powers to codify legislations, dye certain procedures with legitimacy to achieve long-term goals or to fabricate justification for other actions starting from imposing sanctions, to forfeiting properties or hunting persons and ending in military invasion.

I will not be defending Islam against these false accusations here, not because I am not a cleric, but also any observable fact speaks of itself through the ideology or philosophy on which it is built, which is an easy matter to realise the essence of Islam, simply for the reason that you will not be confused referring to various scripts or stipulations that on one occasion can be consistent and on other occasions contradictory; all what you need is to merely browse through the Holy Quran, and flip through the prophetic narrations, Hadith. The Holy Quran is the divine manual and constitution bearing, the ideology of the religion, while the prophetic narrations are the feasible practice and exercise of such spirit and ideology. Only any approach or practice brought to light within these two tools is to be considered or attributed to Islam. Any person or group drifting away from the purview of the Holy Quran and prophetic narrations or mixes up principles and goals shall belong to another schema. Such mix-up can be caused by economic, social political or even criminal factors.

Here, I will lay bare certain examples from verses of the Holy Quran and Hadiths to express the entity of Islam and show its being, principles, ideology, definite orders and restrictions.

Allah, praise and glory to Him, says in His holy book, verse no. 190, Al Baqara Surah: "Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limit; for God loveth not transgressors." This verse proves that permission for fighting is given for self-defence; as peace is the core of relationship between Muslims and others, while war, being incidental, is governed by clear-cut rules and motives, namely defending selves, religion, and property. Once the genuine cause of fighting is absent, fighting should come to an end. This is upheld by verse 193 in the same Surah: "And fight then on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God; but if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression."

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) addressed his companions, as narrated in Hadith, saying: "Do not hope for meeting the enemy (fighting); and if you meet them tolerate and have patience." It is the holy Prophet who orders Muslims not to long for war so long as evil can be avoided, and even if it is not avoidable, Muslims should tolerate and be patient. Speaking of non-fighting individuals, the so-called civilians, the holy Prophet strictly prohibited fighting with or killing them, above all, he ordered that those without arms should be offered protection as their blood is inviolable and their murder is barred. The holy Prophet said: "Do not kill a senescent (old aged), a child or a woman and do not bear malice or grudge". He forbade fighting or killing those people as they are not warriors or aggressors.

The verses of Holy Quran and narrations of Hadith are further construed and explained by the major four Imams, who are followed by the Sunnni Muslims in the major four doctrines, namely: Hanafy, Maliky, Shafiy and Hanbali. The Shafiy jurisprudent, Amro bin Al Salah, said: "There is a presumption and the origin is that unbelievers should not be killed as Allah (God) created human beings to survive not to perish. Allah permitted killing the unbelievers only on incidental bases, in case they cause harm, without any punishment or penalty for being unbelievers or not embracing Islam."

Hanafy scholars say: "A human being is defended, protected and safeguarded to bear the burdens of commandment. Killing of a human being is permitted only to prevent an evil or harm caused by him".

If I wanted to drive more examples, time and space would not accommodate, yet the above is only a drop in the ocean reflecting the magnificence of Islam and its philosophy, namely tolerance, moderation and non-extremism towards the non-Muslims and enemies.

Here, the question that deprives millions of people of their sleep is: "Why all these forms of violence and aggression we witness? Who is fuelling it in this area of the earth, the Middle East, especially that it is rooted over hundreds of years, while those groups are a few decades old?"

Therefore, tracing back all these forms of violence will enable us to reach the genuine roots. Once we put our hands on the origin, remedial acts can be effected easily. Despite the fact that extremism, as an ideology; violence as a means; and terrorism, as an outcome, we see them all in many parts of the world by the hands of different peoples of different religions and sects. Yet, our focus here is on the Middle East area for two reasons: firstly, the English-speaking readers, especially non-Middle Easterners, need to get more exposed to writings on the origin of the existing violence and conflict, in a moderate professional fashion remote from any prejudice, inclinations or interests. Secondly, the violence scenes are constantly recurring.

The roots will be further analysed in the second part of this column


Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).
The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).



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