Ayatullah Sayyed Milani's rulings on Jihad, terrorism and suicide bombings.

Ayatullah Sayyed Dr. F. H. Milani
Ayatullah Sayyed Dr. F. H. Milani
After the recent events of the 11th September 2001 which took place in New York and Washington, questions were put forward to Ayatollah Sayyed Dr. F H Milani, London, to explain and give his rulings on terrorism, jihad and suicide bombings. He also explained the duties of a Citizen of a country.

In reply to the above questions, Ayatollah Milani gave the following explanations and rulings.

First he said that we have to understand, What is Islam?.

Islam is the faith and way of life of almost two billions from every race throughout the world. In Arabic, the basis of the words Islam – to willingly restrain the ego’s desires and behave in a peaceable and decent manner, and salaam – peace, stem ‘root’ S – L – M. Other words from the same root are used very specifically in the Holy Qur’an. SILM, which can either be interpreted as peace or submission and SALM which specifically denotes peace.

O you who believe, enter into Islam wholeheartedly and do not follow Satan’s footstep …Qur’a Chapter 2 : Verse 208

But if the enemy incline towards peace, incline to peace as well and trust in Allah. ………Qur’an Chapter 8 : Verse 61

It is clearly correct to conclude that Islam is a faith of peace and purification NOT a faith of strife and war. No Muslim is permitted to cause damage to, or to even threaten to damage the life or property of innocent people in any part of the world.

He then went on to explain the word Jihad – Is Jihad considered to be a holy war?

He said NO, Jihad is not a holy war. Jihad is the struggle to do good, the battle with the conscience over the right course of action. However, the concept of jihad has two aspects. The Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) told followers that the ‘greater’ jihad or struggle, is more important than the ‘lesser’ one. He is reported to have told Imam Ali (a.s.) that the best Jihad is striving never to harm any of Allah’s creation.

The greater jihad is striving to keep one’s ego’s desires under control.

The lesser jihad is striving to defend the Muslim community from those who have declared war on it.

He was then asked, Does jihad justify Muslims attacking civilian target.?

In reply, he said that even if a state of war exists between a non – Islamic and a Muslim country, no Muslim is permitted to assault, attack or harm any non – Muslim civilian who does not physically participate in the fighting.

When he was asked, Is suicide bombing acceptable in Islam? He replied/explained as under:

Martyrdom is the honourable status accorded to those who have had to sacrifice their life for an honourable cause. However, Imam Ali (a.s.) accords a higher status to those who successfully restrain and control their ill desires than he does to martyrs. This is because those who control themselves are on the level of the angles. Allah tells us in the Holy Qur’an.

Allah does not forbid you from being kind and just to those who do not oppose you on the grounds of faith, or drive you away from your homes. Truly, Allah loves those who are just.Qur’an Chapter 60 : Verse 8

This is clearly a prescription for how Muslims ought to behave.
When asked to explain the ruling from Islamic jurisprudence on the question of handing over of a Muslim by a Muslim state to a Non – Islamic state for trial.

He said that it is a ruling of Islamic law that, where reliable Muslim jurists, qualified to handle disputes are available, Muslims should appeal to them rather than to the litigation of secular courts. This, however, in no way challenges the authority of courts such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague which specialises in crimes against humanity.

The idea that a Muslim country should not hand any Muslim over to a non – Islamic state for trial view may emanate from the Holy Qur’an Chapter 4 : Verse 60.

Hast thou not turned Thy vision to those who declare that they believe in the revelations that have come to thee and to those before thee? Their (real) wish is to resort together for judgment (in their disputes) to the Evil One, though they were ordered to reject him. But Satan's wish is to lead them astray far away (from the right).

This verse commands that those who declare belief in Divine revelations should not refer disputes for judgement by the evil one – taghout, whom they are ordered to reject.

To understand this, the meaning of the word ‘Taghout’ must be made clear. Its root ‘Tagha’, in the past tense, refers to behaviour of extreme arrogance. The word ‘Taghout’ specifically refers to rulers and judges who make arrogant pronouncements and issue unjustifiable and unsound verdicts.

Ayatollah Milani then went on to explain the duties of a citizen.

He explained that before clarifying the Islamic jurisprudential position regarding citizenship, it must be said that the only states which may correctly be described as ‘purely Islamic’, were those headed by error free leaders namely, the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and the Imams of his progeny (p.b.u.t).

Believers are ordered not to bolster, support or remain in states which oppose Allah and HIS Messengers. Therefore, diverse Muslim communities throughout the world may not support such states whose citizenship they hold, whether or not these are Muslim majority lands.

In our opinion, a Muslim’s duty is to refer herself or himself to the infinite authority of the Almighty Allah and the guidance of HIS final Messenger (p.b.u.h.). The instructions from these two sources are to:
  • Respect and honour all the duties and obligations of citizenship of the country whose nationality they hold as long as these do not oppose Allah or HIS Messengers (p.b.u.t)
     
  • Be worthy exemplars of Islamic conduct and behaviour.
     
  • And, if they think there is any ambiguity between what their country and Islam demands, leave that to be handled by accredited Islamic jurists resident in that land, who are fully aware of all the circumstances. They should not themselves propound or promote ideas which may be false and which will consequently impugn the integrity of Islam and Muslims.
     
Ayatollah Milani then explained to the audience how to reconcile Muslim religious duties with duties of citizenship in countries such as the European Countries and the United States of America as under;

He said that we must clarify that the majority of jurists believe that any Muslim who seeks to be admitted to, and to be later accepted as a citizen of a non – Islamic state, is obliged to abide by all the laws of that land. If they do not, they have to suffer the full consequences of their actions. While a minority of Muslim ‘scholars’ may from time to time attempt to justify people not abiding with these laws, we do not agree with that view nor condone such behaviour.

Finally he said that there are three areas to consider for a Muslim living in a non – Muslim state:
  • Those laws and regulations required for the effective running of society such as traffic, building, health and safety regulations. All of these need to be adhered to by every one without exception, and there is no conflict of interest.
     
  • Family and matrimonial issues such as marriage and divorce, custody of children, inheritance etc. In this area one can practice all one’s religious injunctions without let or hindrance and without breaking the law of the land.
     
  • To be a good citizen is by definition, to respect the laws of the land and to be a loyal subject.

    Jihad- Ayt Makarim Shirazi in 180 Q book

    113 -    What Does Islam Seek To Achieve By Means Of Jihad?  What Is The Need For The Initiating Jihad?

    Æ          The Islamic jihads can be classified into three categories.

    1 – The Initiating and Liberating Jiha

    God has prescribed a set of orders and chalked out programmes for the development, freedom, comfort, happiness and prosperity of man, and has entrusted unto His Prophets the responsibility of communicating these to the people.  Now, if an individual or a group of individuals regard the communication of these orders detrimental to their personal lowly interests and endeavour to obstruct the Prophets in fulfilling their Divine responsibilities, the Prophets possess the right to remove the obstructions lying in their path, initially by utilizing peaceful means and if not possible, then by use of force, in order to acquire for themselves the freedom to propagate (the commandments of God).

    In other words, in every society, the people have the right to be able to hear the talks of those who invite them towards the path of Truth, and possess freedom to accept their invitation.  But if some individuals desire to deprive them of their legitimate right and inhibit them from hearing the talks and becoming unfettered from their mental and social captivity and slavery, the followers of these divine programmes possess the right to utilize every means at their disposal in order to achieve this freedom, and it is here that the necessity of the Initiating Jihad in Islam and other divine religions becomes manifest.

    Similarly, if some individuals were to compel the believers to revert to their original religion, every means could be employed for repelling such compulsions too.

2 – The Defensive Jihad

At times it so happens that a battle is imposed upon an individual or a group such that they find themselves the object of a calculated and/or a surprise attack.  In such an instance, all divine and man-made laws permit the persons attacked to defend themselves and employ every available means to protect themselves.  This kind of jihad is referred to as the defensive jihad; the battles of Ahzaab, Uhud, Mautah, Tabuk, Hunain and some other Islamic battles are examples of this category of jihad which were defensive in nature.

3 – Jihad For The Eradication Of Polytheism And Idolatry

Although Islam invites the people to select this religion - the last and the most exalted of all religions - nonetheless, it also respects the freedom of belief and it is for this reason it grants the communities, who possess Divine books, sufficient opportunity so that, after study and reflection, they may accept the religion of Islam.  But if they do not do so it looks upon them as a minor confederate and by placing some specific conditions, which are neither intricate nor difficult, endeavours to have a peaceful co-existence with them

However, the issue of polytheism is different since it is neither a religion nor a doctrine and so it cannot be looked upon with respect and esteem - rather, it is a kind of superstition, deviation and foolishness.  In reality, it is a kind of mental and moral sickness, which ought to be uprooted at all costs.

The use of the terms ‘freedom’ and ‘respect’, in connection with the views of others, is applicable if the views or the beliefs are at least based upon a proper and correct foundation.  However, deviation, superstition and sickness are not something that can be treated as respectable, and it is due to this that Islam has ordered idolatry to be uprooted from the human society, even at the cost of warfare; if idol temples and their evil influences cannot be brought down and destroyed by peaceful means, then they should be uprooted by means of force.[1]

From what has been mentioned above, the answer to the venomous propaganda of the Church becomes plainly evident since a sentence more explicit and lucid than لاَ اِكراَهَ فيِ الدِّين, which appears in the Qur'an, cannot be found in this regard.

Of course, they, for the purpose of distortion, focus their attention upon the battles of Islam;  however, a study of these battles clearly reveal that while some of these were purely defensive in nature, others - that belonged to the category of initiating jihad - were not initiated with the objective of conquering lands and forcing the people into the religion of Islam but instead, for overturning incorrect and oppressive regimes, and providing opportunity to the people to freely study and review the religion and modes of social lifestyle.

The Islamic history is a living testimony to the above, since it has been observed repeatedly that when the Muslims would conquer cities they would grant freedom to the followers of other religions (just as they would do to the Muslims) and these people even performed their acts of worship and observed their religious ceremonies, unhindered.  And if a limited tax, by the name of jizyah, used to be taken from them, it was for the purpose of providing social security and covering the expenses of the security forces, since their lives, properties and womenfolk were under the protection of Islam.

All those, who deal with the history of Islam, are aware of this reality and even the Christians, who have written books on Islam, have acknowledged this issue.  For example, in the book Le civilisation des arabes we read: The Muslims were so lenient towards the other communities that the religious leaders of these communities (even) had the permission to organize their own religious gatherings. 

In some historical accounts it has been reported that a group of Christians, who had arrived in the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) for the purpose of research and investigation, performed their religious ceremonies in the Mosque of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his holy progeny) in the city of Medinah - freely and unchecked![2]


[1] Tafseer-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 15.

[2] Tafseer-e-Namunah, vol. 2, pg. 205.

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