By Sultan Shahin, Founder-Editor, New Age Islam
16 September 2019
Oral Statement at 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva (9 - 27 September 2019)
General Debate, Agenda Item 3. Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development
Delivered on behalf of Asian-Eurasian Human Rights Forum
Islamophobia and Islamist violence are both growing and in the unlikeliest of places.
Recent attacks on churches in Sri Lanka were as much of a surprise as the attack on mosques in Christchurch. And now copycat attacks are taking place elsewhere. A vicious cycle of xenophobic violence is in operation.
While the world suffers from Jihadist violence, Muslims in particular suffer the most causalities in sectarian wars incited by the Islamist Jihadist ideology.
And yet, even almost two decades after 9/11, Muslim nations continue to be in denial. Islamist ideology based on the Islamic theology of consensus is absolved of any responsibility for violent extremism.
The result is that Muslim children continue to be taught in madrasas Islam supremacism and contempt for other religions. Even explicitly violent passages have not yet been weeded out from text books.
The terrorism it generates takes many shapes. If Hindu, Sikh and Christian girls are abducted and forcibly converted to Islam in Pakistan, this too essentially comes from contempt for other religions taught in religious seminaries. In several countries including Pakistan, some Muslims do not wait for courts to pass judgements to punish those they consider guilty.
The Council should convince the offending states to establish the rule of law on the basis of the UN Charter and repeal unacceptable laws against freedom of religion and conscience.
The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims as “the highest aspiration of the common people,” the “advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want.” This aspiration had arisen in the backdrop of “disregard and contempt for human rights” which “resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
But several Muslim-majority countries that are signatories to the UN Charter violate the human rights of their citizens, not only from the religious minorities but even the weaker sections of the majority community.
Muslim nations are not only violating UN Charter that they have committed to but also the tenets of their own religion. Several scholarly studies of the primary Islamic scripture, the holy Quran, have found that practically every article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is supported by scores of verses of Quran.
Some of these studies are widely available on internet and can be verified. On the basis of and with reference to these studies, Wikipedia concludes: “The book (Quran) is largely concerned with establishing boundaries that Muslims are prohibited from transgressing. Within these boundaries the Quran treats human beings as equally valuable and endowed with certain rights by virtue of simply being human, hence Human rights. The rights bestowed upon humans in the Quran include the right to life and peaceful living, as well as the right to own, protect, and have property protected, (as per) Islamic economic jurisprudence. The Quran also contains rights for minority groups and women, as well as regulations of human interactions as between one another to the extent of dictating how Prisoners of war ought to be treated.”
But the daily news reports emanating from Muslim countries belie much respect for human rights in these countries. Coupled with violent manifestations of Islamism and Jihadism, these reports paint a very gloomy picture of the social life of Muslims as a religious community. Child marriages are rampant. Even Muslim jurists, in Saudi Arabia, for instance, justify this on the basis of Sharia.
A Saudi court ordered a few years ago the father of a 10-year-old girl to hand her over to her “husband,” disapproving of the fact that she had run away from her husband’s home. In any civilised country this so-called husband would be considered a rapist and the family of the child bride as accomplices in the crime. But the Saudi judge acting on the basis of almost universally accepted Sharia in Islam considers the marriage of a nine-year-old legitimate. The larger Muslim community seems to have no compunction in allowing this and many other such atrocities. No wonder Islam has acquired the reputation of being a backward and primitive religion.
It is difficult to understand why we Muslims are not introspecting and changing course despite our religion having become practically synonymous with terrorism and backwardness. Muslims see their most revered ulema expressing regressive views that would be repugnant to any civilised society but take no action and allow them to gain currency in their societies.
For instance, a revered Pakistani cleric Dr Israr Ahmad, formerly of Jamaat-e- Islami, says about the Quranic expression Fasad fil Arz (mischief and violence on earth), “Peace in the West is actually Fasad and the Jihad to dislodge them from power is actually Peace. Effort to create Peace by letting imperialists rule and exploit the world is actually Fasad.”
Even the Barailvis of Pakistan who are considered an inclusive Sufi sect of Islam in South Asia are not immune to propagating violence in the name of protecting the honour of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It was a sermon by a Pakistani Barailvi cleric that led to the assassination of liberal Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in January 2011. His sermon also motivated a former Chief Justice of Lahore Court to defend the despicable assassin Mumtaz Qadri, who was on the government payroll as a bodyguard of the Governor at the time he killed him.
What was the “crime” of Governor Taseer? He had shown compassion for a Christian woman Aasia Khatoon, on death row for alleged blasphemy for eight years, and called the anti-blasphemy law of Pakistan a black law, and sought its repeal. Now the Barailvi Muslims of Pakistan have declared the brutal assassin Qadri a saint, built a shrine in his name, after he was executed on the orders of the court, and gather there in hundreds of thousands to pray and seek his blessings. The judge who ordered his execution is in hiding, fearing for his life. He has been declared by Islamic scholars as wajibul Qatl (deserving death), a sentence that any common Muslim can carry out.
And, of course, this is done in the name of Jihad that is considered obligatory on all Muslims. While Jihad is a revered word in Islamic scriptures, it is its un-Islamic understanding, as taught in madrasas and found in books by very respected medieval and contemporary theologians that is mainly behind the murder and mayhem unleashed on the world today.
Jihad or at least Jihad-e-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is defined by Sufis and moderate Muslims as a struggle against one’s own negative self against worldly and evil temptations. This is considered a permanent and obligatory struggle which has to be waged by every Muslim all the time. But, while this meaning of Jihad too is mentioned in passing sometimes, this is not the way Jihad is actually defined by madrasa text books. Let us see some of the definitions of Jihad in our text books:
Theological Meaning of Jihad
There is a consensus (ijma) of theologians that Jihad is to fight in the way of Allah and to facilitate it.
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Hanafi, the most popular in South Asia:
الجہاد دعوۃ الکفار الی الدین الحق و قتالھم ان لم یقبلوا۔ (قتح القدیر)
Jihad is to call people to true religion (Islam), and to fight them if they refuse to accept it.
الجہادُ بذلُ الوسع و الطاقۃ بالقتال فی سبیل اللہ عز و جل بالنفس و المال و اللسان و غیر ذالک (البدائع و الصنائع)
Jihad is to strive hard to fight in the way of Allah with life, money, tongue and with other possible ways. (al-badai’ wassnanai’)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Maliki:
قتال المسلم کافراً ذی عھد لاعلاء لکلمۃ اللہ (حاشیہ العدوی۔ الشرح الصغیر)
Fight of a Muslim with a Kafir in covenant to uphold the word of Allah is Jihad. (Hashiya al-‘adawi. Al-shrah al-saghir)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Shafe’i:
و شرعاً بذل الجھد فی قتال الکفار(فتح الباری)
Jihad is to use all of someone’s energy and power to fight Kuffar (plural of kaafir, unbelievers). (Fathul Bari)
Definition of Jihad in Fiqh-e-Hanbali mostly used by Salafis and Wahhabi Muslims:
الجھاد قتال الکفار (مطالب أولي النهى)
Jihad is simply to fight Kuffar (unbelievers).
Now let us see what different schools of Islamic jurisprudence say about Jihad:
According to all four (Hanafi, Shafe’i , Maliki and Hanbali) schools of jurisprudence, there are two types of Jihad;
1. Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) and
2. 2. Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some)
Jihad becomes Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) refuse to accept the call to Islam. And if kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities, Jihad becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) on Muslims to defend and protect their land. (al-Mabsut, vol, 10. By Muhammad bin Ahmad Sarkhasi)
Jihad according to Maliki scholars:
Allama Shistani abi Malik writes: Allama ibn e Quttan narrates “Whosoever is able to conduct jihad, jihad is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (Obligatory on some) upon Him”. And Allama Marzi Maliki writes in his book “kabeer”, that, Jihad is both Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) and Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some). Jihad is Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) for Muslims capable of jihad, living near an enemy of Islam, and it is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) on those who live far from enemies of Islam. (Ikmal al Muallim, vol. 5. P44, by Allama Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Khalfa Dishtani Abi Maliki)
Jihad According to Shafa’i Scholars
Allama Yahya bin Sharf Nawawi Shafa’I writes, “Jihad was only Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) in Prophet’s lifetime, because of the verse لا یستوی القاعدون- النساء Surah Nisa of Quran 4: 95 which says:
(“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward”.)
But now there are two types of Jihad.
(1) Jihad becomes Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) Muslims when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) are in their cities. In this situation, if no Muslim conducts jihad, all will be considered equally guilty.
(2) Jihad becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities to kill Muslims.
Jihad According To Hanbali Scholars
Allama ibn Qudama Hanbali writes: Jihad is Farz-e-Kefaya فرض کفایہ (obligatory on some) in a normal situation. But it becomes Farz-e-Ain فرض عین (obligatory on all) (1) when war is going on, (2) when kuffar کفار (disbelievers) attack on any of Islamic cities, (3) when ruler of an Islamic land calls for Jihad.
In view of Jihad (spiritual struggle) being equated with Qital (Quranic term for fighting or killing) in all four Islamic schools of Sunni jurisprudence, it is hardly surprising that many religiously-inclined Muslims think that it is their duty to fight non-Muslims until Islam becomes dominant and Islamic Sharia is applied in the whole world.
No wonder Islam has acquired the reputation of being a religion to be feared. Islamophobic attacks on Muslims are rising in many countries. Yet, while some Muslim intellectuals and even clerics keep parroting the mantra of Islam being a religion of peace, supported by some verses from Quran, no serious attempt is being made to understand why so many Muslims are turning to Jihadism and how this process can be stopped and reversed.
My study of Jihadi literature shows that Jihadi narrative is well-grounded in commonly accepted Islamic theology, jurisprudence and history, and that is why they face no particular resistance in Muslim societies across the world. Jihadism appeals to some of our educated youth as Jihadi discourse seems to stand on very solid theological ground. All schools of thought appear to agree that Islam must dominate the world, politically as much as spiritually. Any effort made to achieve this goal is considered praiseworthy and leading to divine reward.
The mainstream Muslim clergy does not counter this narrative. In fact, there is no reason for the theologians to do so, as this is part of their own belief system. They do apply a lot of rhetoric in denying any connection between Islam and terrorism but do not make any serious attempt to tackle the root causes.
As long as Muslims continue to be in denial, blaming Jihadism on machinations of Islamophobic forces and enemies of Islam, it is difficult to see any change taking place in the Muslim religious mindset in the near future.
However, the UN Human Rights Council can perhaps try to persuade the offending member-states to establish the rule of law on the basis of the UN Charter, at the very least repeal unacceptable laws against freedom of religion and expression and revise the textbooks taught in Islamic seminaries to make them more in keeping with the requirements of the UN Charter.