*Thought piece is written by Imam Zaid Shakir, following the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium*.
The recent atrocious, barbaric, condemnable, despicable attacks in Brussels should move every Muslim to swift, unqualified condemnation. Why? Because as Muslims we are taught that murder is wrong. We are taught that suicide is wrong. We are taught that retaliating against unsuspecting innocent people for real or perceived injustices is wrong. We are taught that violating the sanctity of public space is wrong. These things are all unconditionally wrong, and I unequivocally condemn them.
Attributing these crimes to Islam is also wrong. Dead wrong. Our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) informed us, “No one of you murders at the time that he kills and remains a believer. Therefore, beware, beware (Ibn Hibban, 5979)!” To clarify, the murderer is engaging in an act that true faith would have prevented, hence, his engaging in such a reprehensible act is a sign that he does not truly believe. One version of this Hadith mentions, “Faith is stripped from him like his trousers. When he returns to faith, it returns to him.” In other words, as long as he is pursuing his murderous path, he is following the path of one lacking faith. This is a clear proof that people who commit acts like those in Brussels, or similar acts in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Kenya, Nigeria, Yemenor anywhere else are not acting as Muslims, or on behalf of Islam. They should heed the prophetic warning and beware.
The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah upon him) also mentioned, “A Muslim is one all people are safe from his tongue and hand (Ahmad, 6753; Tabarani, 3170).” This narration indicates that one who unleashes his tongue and hand against the life and honor of people is not a true Muslim. Similarly, a believer is described as one to whom people can entrust their lives and possessions (Nasa’i, 4997; Ibn Majah, 3934). Along these lines, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) once exclaimed, “I swear by Allah he does not believe! I swear by Allah he does not believe! I swear by Allah he does not believe!” Those hearing this inquired, “Who, O Messenger of Allah?” He responded, “One whose neighbors are not safe from his evil deeds (Bukhari, 6016).” A version of this Hadith in Sahih Muslim reads, “One who does not keep his neighbor safe from his evil deeds will not enter Paradise (Muslim, 46).” The perpetrator of crimes such as indiscriminant suicidal murder is stripped of faith and denied Paradise by the testimony of our Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah upon him).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) further stated, “There is no faith for one who is not trustworthy (al-Bayhaqi, 18,851).” It should be noted that in the latter narration the negation of faith is absolute, Laa Imaana, as it contains the particle of absolute negation (Laa an-Naafiya lil Jins). Imam al-Bayhaqi’s narration continues, “…and there is no religion for one who dishonors the covenant.” Again, the negation of religion here is absolute. Citizenship and acceptance of a visa to enter a country involve covenants, which include respecting the lives and property of one’s fellow citizens or those whose land one has entered as a guest, émigré, refugee or visitor.
All of these narrations clearly enforce the idea that criminal murderers who have declared war on their neighbors, fellow citizens, innocent and unsuspecting men women and children, have rendered themselves totally untrustworthy and are disregarding one of the most fundamental foundations of human society. These are foundations that Islam exalts and honors. By so doing, faith has been stripped away from them and they have forfeited their religion. That being the case, how can anyone claim that these people are acting on the basis of Islam?
In addition to losing their faith, they have been consigned to Hell. In the case of the attacks in Brussels, and similar atrocities in the Muslim world that are too numerous to mention, the criminals multiplied the gravity of their murderous crimes by committing suicide. Suicide is strictly forbidden in Islam, and one who commits suicide will not only be dispatched to Hell, he will continue to repeat the actions which led to his death over and over for eternity in the midst of the Inferno. In other words, the suicide bomber will suffer the torment of Hell in addition to the pain of blowing himself up, continuously, for eternity.
The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah upon him) mentioned in this regard, “Whosoever kills himself with a blade, that blade will remain in his hand and he will repeatedly stab himself in the stomach in the Hellfire, forever and ever and evermore. Whosoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, will hold that poison in his hand and will continually drink it in the Hellfire, forever and ever and evermore. Whosoever hurls himself from a mountain, thereby killing himself, will continue hurling himself from a mountain in the Hellfire, forever and ever and evermore (Muslim, 109).” What in the teachings of Islam provides an exemption to one who commits suicide by blowing himself up and then compounds that sin by murdering innocent people? Absolutely nothing. In the case of the suicide murderer, the adage that two wrongs do not make a right is doubly true.
One aspect of these Hadiths is the strength of the wording conveying the eternal damnation befalling one who commits suicide. Imam Muslim’s version contains the words Khaalidan (remaining for eternity), Mukhalladan (forced to remain for eternity) and Abadan (eternally). Hence my translation, “…for ever and ever and evermore.” The strength of this condemnation alone should give pause to one who thinks that such actions are in anyway sanctioned by Islam.
It is well-known in Muslim teachings that no believer, even one punished for his sins, will remain forever in Hell. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) mentioned, “One who says, ‘There is no God but Allah’ and in his heart is good equivalent to a grain of barley will be extracted from the Hellfire. One who says, ‘There is no God but Allah’ and in his heart is good equivalent to a grain of wheat will be taken out of the Hellfire. One who says, ‘There is no God but Allah’ and in his heart is good equivalent to a grain of corn will be removed from the Hellfire (Bukhari, 44).” What does this say about the hearts and the destiny of a murderous suicide bomber? What does it say about his good, or lack thereof?
The gravity of suicide and its implications are summarized in the following Hadith Qudsi. The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) has related directly from our Lord, “My servant has competed with me concerning his life [by hastening his death], therefore, I have made Paradise forbidden for him (al-Bukhari, 3463).” Anyone contemplating the murderous crimes that threaten the very foundation of our societies should reflect well on what we have mentioned here. By the testimony of our Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) suicidal terrorism is not the weapon of the weak, it is the weapon of the wretched and the damned.
The “fatwas” and “commanders” who justify the suicidal murder committed by their dupes have no weight in this regard. As for the “fatwas,” they are all flawed in that they are based on a false analogy. Namely, they mention the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) who launched themselves into a battle knowing they faced certain death. While the incidents being referenced by these “fatwas” are certainly true, in every instance the Companion was killed by the actions of others. None of them killed themselves.
Furthermore, there are occasions when individuals committed suicide on the battlefield, and in each of them the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) mentioned that he was going to Hell. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) mentioned during a battle that a particular man was going to Hell. The Companions were incredulous hearing this, seeing that the man had fought valiantly, so they investigated. They found that the man had committed suicide owing to an injury he sustained during the skirmish (Muslim, 111). His valor and faith were negated by his suicide. The gravity of suicide is further accentuated by the fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) would not perform the funeral prayer for one who killed himself (Muslim, 978; Nasa’i, 1966).
As for the “commanders” who order these foul operations, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah upon him) has emphasized that they are not to be obeyed. One of those given command over a group of Muslims, during the prophetic epoch, ordered them to jump into a blazing fire. When the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) was informed of this he said, “Had you jumped into the fire you would have remained therein until the Day of Resurrection. Verily, there is no obedience that involves rebellion against Allah. Obedience is in lawful matters (Muslim, 1840).” Suicide and murder both involve rebellion against Allah as they are both unlawful, therefore, any order to commit them is to be flatly rejected, regardless of who issues that order.
Islam’s strict prohibition of terrorism and suicide bombings is exhaustively treated by Shaykh Tahir al-Qadri in his masterful, “Fatwa on Terrorism and Suicide Bombings.” Knowing that there are some Muslims who will complain that what I have written here does not address the injustices of the West and its state-sponsored terrorism in the Muslim world, that I am only penning these words because I am “embarrassed” by the acts of these miscreants, that I waited until such attacks afflicted Americans or Europeans to speak out against them, or the usual litany of objections and complaints against the timing or content of the likes of what I have written, I believe that the following quote from the introduction of Shaykh al-Qadri’s, “Fatwa”, is appropriate:
“I also regard it my fundamental duty to inform the respected readers that I am writing this book solely for the sake of Islam’s dignity and in service to humanity. This book has not been written to condone or approve of the unpopular and unwise policies of global powers, nor does it seek to justify the wrong policies and actions of any government, including that of Pakistan. I neither seek the pleasure of any government, nor the tribute or appreciation from any international power or organization. … The objective is to wash the stain of terrorism from Islam, to familiarize the Muslims [and others] with the real teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna (the Prophet’s way) and to attempt to prevent human suffering from the flames of terrorism (Fatwa, 17).”
May Allah bless us to wipe the scourge of terrorism from the face of the earth and to do all we can to show that it has absolutely no foundation in the teachings of Islam. This is one of the great callings of our generation. May we respond in ways that are best, motivated by the saying of the Almighty, “Good and evil are not equal. Respond to evil with what is best [good]. You will unexpectedly find one between whom he and you there was enmity become like an intimate friend. This will only be obtained by those who are both patient and possess a great portion [of spiritual rectitude] (Qur’an, 41: 34-35).”
Imam Zaid Shakir
This article was original published at New Islamic Directions. See http://tinyurl.com/zz87rjc