The problem of a definition of terrorism starts from powerful countries, which stubbornly refuse to define it. What definition will leave out several major acts of recent times if it is defined: asks SYED IQBAL ZAHEER.
One of our readers has sent us a video-recording for our comments. We have expressed ourselves several times that we do not like to watch videos. But this one involves a leading personality who speaks on behalf of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Further, it appears to be a short selection lasting 6-7 minutes. So we broke our rule.
We watched it more out of curiosity than any desire to learn anything. We do not believe that there is any popular figure among the Muslims now who can ‘teach wisdom.’ We said ‘popular’ because the scholars who talk through ‘classic’ sources, presenting the original texts, and refraining from their personal opinions and analysis, are few. Unless such opinions and analysis happen to be of the earliest authorities, or, those over which the scholars of the Ummah have, throughout the ages, expressed as acceptable… such of them are now as rare as the Sphinx and are hiding in Madrasas holding top positions, but rated by Muslim intellectuals as those belonging to the bottom positions.
You cannot entrust your bicycle to a friend, to get it repaired on your behalf, at the hands of a mechanic. If you wish a satisfactory job done, you better not depend on any, but rather get it done yourself. Can you depend on the contemporary scholars of Islam to repair your mind, heart, and soul? If you cannot choose to depend on another for a thing of little worth, can you choose another in matters dealing with your fate: Heaven or Hell? So, learn your deen from the sources.
That is our rationale for ourselves to refuse to view the talks of contemporary religious leaders unless they are declared authoritative by the majority of trustworthy scholars, of the whole, or at least a region of the Islamic world.
The video-piece sent to us is from, perhaps, a one hour talk, in front of – what appears to be – dignitaries! We cannot judge going by 6-7 minutes cut-piece. Nonetheless, we notice some organized erratum.
First, differentiation by the speaker between the words ‘Jihad’ and ‘Qitaal,’ and a short analysis of these two terms appearing in the Qur’an saying that in the entire Qur’an, the two terms (although occurring in dozens) have not been brought together in a single verse once. That’s very significant, the speaker concludes.
In view of the commandment of every kind being clearly stated in the Qur’an and explained in hadith, the Salaf never bothered to attempt an analysis of any part of the Qur’an or Hadith. In their times, any attempt at analysis would be declared mischief. `Umar b. al-Khattab got a man whipped, several times over, for seeking, from him, clarification over an ayah.
Further, the two terms Jihad and Qitaal are not synonymous. One means so many things (viz. struggle, conflict, etc.) while the other means fighting. Also, you don’t need to combine the two in one sentence to say, for example, “Conduct Jihad, and conduct Qitaal.” But a sentence can be so made in such a way that you mention one, to include the other by implication. For example, “Do you believe that you will enter Paradise, while Allah has not yet known those of you who have not participated in Jihad?” (3: 142) Here, by the term Jihad, combat actions are implied.
So, the analysis is futile. The first Muslim generations did not indulge in a game of words. They went into Jihad.
Then the speaker explains kinds of Qitaal and divides it into four: 1. Defensive, 2. Pre-emptive, 3. Repulsion of Aggression, and 4. Breach of Treaty. (It is of little use for us to ask why the third kind is not included in the first?) Any other kind would not be, he implies, permissible. The least that can be said is that none of the categories of this division can be applied to many a combat of later times.
The analysis leads him to ‘terrorism.’ He demonstrates what it means, and harshly, and emotionally, condemns it. But why? Why one has to take up the position of a judge? Haven’t the `Ulama’ world over condemned it? Haven’t the “Higher Body of World Muslim Jurists” outlawed it? Why should one not quote the unanimous opinions in this regard?
Nonetheless, his analysis stops there. Ignoring the big question of what terrorism is, and who fits the definition most, he comes down heavily on those groups whose origins, activities, justifications, and errors, do not seem to interest him. He is the judge who does not need any justifications: he will condemn any who will, whether real or imaginary, victim or aggressor, fit his definition (a definition which is held back by him anyway). Interestingly, his list does not include any but which are Muslim. The dozens of terrorist outfits in several Western countries are not in his list. The murder by knife occurring almost every night in London streets does not deserve mention. The existence of many, in powerful countries, led by powerful terrorists, the originators and promoters of terrorism, does not occur to him as to be mentioned, as the root cause of this plague; even if some Western intellectuals do cite them.
The problem of a definition of terrorism does not start with him. It starts from powerful countries, which stubbornly refuse to define it. What definition will leave out several major acts of recent times if it is defined?Bringing down tall buildings, which required advanced technology, jamming radars of unfailing performance, secrecy of a high order in a country where every pin-fall is recorded, availability of ordinarily unavailable information, months of preparatory work on the targeted buildings in the name of maintenance, and so forth, was blamed on a super mind living in a cave in Afghanistan, who was prohibited from carrying even a mobile. What heads of some states had to say, what hundreds of scientists had to say, and what a majority of the country’s own population thought, was of no concern, neither to the country in which it happened nor, it appears, to the speaker under our discussion. That Muslims did it solves the mysteries that have stubbornly remained to this day mysteries; mysteries not to the Muslims alone, but to leading Western scientists, structural engineers, demolition experts, the intellectual class, etc., whose voices of reason are drowned by the acoustics of the politicians.
But our speaker is not in agreement with the analyzing, differing, rationalizing, intellectual class. He is comfortable with the analysis and conclusions of the Western powers and so includes in his list of terrorist (a fairy-tale list which leaves none of the groups laying down their lives for Islam, Muslims, and their own personal honor) … as undoubted terrorists. So it appears he has a definition. Is it the one given to him by those who dictate definitions?
A proper definition of the term terrorism, if defined, will, as some Western analysts have been saying, place powerful states, headed by their head, as the greatest terrorists in history.
The coalition bombs Iraq for thirteen short years. The infrastructure evaporates in the air as dust, women of all class wash their dishes in rivers and ponds, 500,000 children are snuffed out of existence as a result of the bombing, sanctions, and siege, but that is not terrorism.
A country is blamed by the ‘greatest terrorist ever,’ for piling up weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Its secret agency reports that the country accused has no WMD. A team is sent to search out. The man heading the search team reports after six months that the accused country is free of WMD. The ‘greatest terrorist ever’ invades the accused country. (Thirteen years of the bombing was intended to destroy the ability to defend). One million, four hundred and fifty-five thousand, and five hundred and ninety men, women and children (1,455,590) are comfortably slaughtered, the country is economically and civilizationally pushed back by 50 years, no WMD are found. But it is not terrorism.
Any individual or organization that defends the accused country, is called terrorist. A butcher in the West is discovered from his sales list, that he sold mutton to someone who is accused of terrorism. He is arrested on charges of abetting terrorists. But such actions, in thousands, and many other kinds, are not terrorism. So we know now why UNO conferences could not agree on a definition of terrorism.
On the other hand, when many Western thinkers, whose intestines curl up at the ghastly game that’s going on, are asked to define terrorism, they answer: “Man! It’s a hoax.” But to some Muslim leaders, all self-defense groups and freedom fighters are terrorists. The speaker in question names the groups.
When a woman blows herself up, exploding a powerful bomb, killing a dozen around, she is a terrorist. (At one time, there were several of them in the accused country). But is anybody concerned enough to ask, “Why did she do it?” They are not interested because they are not interested in her. That she was gang-raped before her children by the soldiers of the most civilized army in the world, was not a serious matter for them. They agreed that she was a terrorist – and our apologists say, the Qur’an says this and the Sunnah says that! But her children grow up with one thought: Revenge. The sickening game goes on.
Terrorism did not start on 9/11. It has been there in the West since before. Have some Muslims been involved in it in the past? The possibility exists, but a neutral party’s investigation into each is awaited. Some were ‘inside’ jobs.
Terrorism will not go away if it is defined as violence by Muslims. Proxy-Muslim vulnerable are not Muslims. They are hired by ‘powers’ for unspecified jobs. Film-clips are made of someone carrying a back-pack. He is identified as the one who blew up. Any proof? Who bothers to ask the organizers? When it blew up, their bits and pieces could not tell their story. Another suspect blew himself when security men entered his house. But, did he blew himself, or they blew him up? He who asks such questions could be subjected to a blow-up.
But some independent investigators have done that – asked such questions and exposed the schemes and schemers. Honest investigations will reveal different portraits. The catchphrase “Muslims were behind it,” will solve no problem but exacerbate it. Violence will keep growing. In the USA, the year 2018 recorded around 40,000 civilians killed by civilians, without a single terrorist attacker among them. But the politicians could not be less concerned about them. 40,000 of their own citizens is a small figure to those who wipe out millions of other countries following their long-term agenda.
The speaker in question needs to be aware that the trap has been laid to fool the fools. And the stake is high: reducing the Muslim world to bankruptcy, rending their economies and preparing them for another round of colonialism. George Galloway, the British parliamentarian warned Middle East political leaders in a talk in Lebanon, saying, in effect, “In Europe, they are planning your break-up, but you don’t seem to bother.”
Have the Muslim political and religious leadership failed the Ummah?