By Dr Qari Muhammad Asim
Senior Imam – Makkah Masjid, Leeds
On 16 December 2014, the world witnessed one of the most horrific and despicable acts of violence in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. The Tahreek-Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack which killed 132 children, 10 teachers and three soldiers.
The attack was designed to maximize casualties and create terror and chaos in Pakistan and around the world. Even during tyrant rules and other military conflicts, children are not specifically targeted because of their innocence. The sacredness of educational establishments (schools) is also preserved as schools benefit society and humanity.
Even the Taliban militants in neighbouring Afghanistan decried the killing spree, calling it “un-Islamic.” The TTP maintained that this cold-blooded rampage was in response to the recent military operation that Pakistani Army had commenced against the Taliban in the region. The Taliban wanted the parents to “feel their pain”.
TTP’s Flawed Justification
The day after committing the heinous crime, a Taliban spokesman misquoted a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in order to justify their ill-actions. This hadith, refers to “warriors being killed and their children and women being taken as captives.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 58, Number 148). The reality is that this hadith is concerned with a particular historic incident. During the early Islamic period, there was a treaty between Muslims and a non-Muslim tribe, Banu Qurayzah, regarding protecting the state of Madinah. During the life of the treaty, whilst Muslims were being attacked by an external enemy, Banu Qurayzah violated the terms of the treaty and attacked Muslims from within Madinah. Accordingly, the traitors of the state of Madinah were dealt with by the law of the state of Madinah at the time.
The above mentioned hadith has no bearing with the callous murder of innocent children in Peshawar. There was/is no treaty between the TTP and the citizens of Pakistan. It is not the people of Pakistan, but the TTP that has violated the laws of God by taking innocent lives and has also broken the laws of Pakistan. In that hadith no reference is being made to killing children, whereas in the school in Peshawar 132 children have been killed by the TTP. Therefore, the TTP’s attempt to justify its actions through this hadith is, at best an intellectual and religious dishonesty and, at worst, a defective and deeply flawed argument.
Hijackers of Islam (Khawarij)
It appears that this breed of politically driven agents of hate neither has any care for the Creator nor His creation. Rather than bringing peace to humanity, they appear to be bearers of hate, misery and destruction. These perpetrators can be anything but true followers of Islam and Messenger Muhammad, who was sent as a mercy to all the worlds (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
This heinous crime, once again, proves that Muslims have suffered at the hands of violent extremists more than any other community and Muslim countries have born the scars of terrorism more than any other country.
Islam & Terrorism
Islam values human life and dignity, and the Noble Qur’an prohibits any persecution or killing of innocent human life in all its forms: “… whoever kills a soul … it is as if he had killed mankind entirely. And whoever saves one, it is as if he has saved mankind entirely” (5: 32). Violent extremism, terrorism and taking lives of innocent people is against the teachings of Islam. One can only infer that those who commit such terrorist activities are against Islam and Muslims. All Muslims must stand united against such extreme, evil and distorted ideology and defeat terrorism.
Such extremists and evil murderers insult the name of Allah Almighty when they chant ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ at the time of taking innocent peoples’ lives. They damaging the dignity of our holy faith Islam and are destroying people’s lives.
Diplomacy & Dialogue
We call upon the Government of Pakistan and authorities world-wide to leave no stone unturned in protecting the lives of innocent people. The governments of countries suffering from terrorism must also address economic, political and social injustices and inequities that exist in their countries. Such injustices and grievances only lead to more violence.
US drone attacks in North Waziristan, Pakistan, must also be stopped immediately. These drone attacks have taken many innocent lives and continue to prevent any chance of a sustainable political solution between the TTP and the Pakistani government.
Currently reactions are raw in Pakistan and people want to see the public execution of terrorists. However, executions and military operations on their own will not prevent the spread of terrorism and potential recruitment of extremists. Only solidarity and unity can defeat terrorism. There needs to emerge a wise political and religious leadership for the sake of its own generations and countries.
Religious leaders must unite against those who are indoctrinating young individuals to join groups such as the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Shabab, Boko Haram, ISIL and Daesh to put a stop to the hijacking of Islam by these terror groups. It is incumbent upon those in positions of religious authority to convince impressionable young Muslims that the actions of these groups are neither legitimate nor Islamic, in any way shape or form.