CMV: Terrorism is prohibited in Islām, and it is inherently a religion of peace.

Yes. I think that not only is it totally incorrect to state that terrorism is lawful in Islām, but also that it is inherently a religion of peace (Note: I'm not saying that Islām is a religion of pacifism, since that's incorrect, and just because a religion if not pacifist does not mean that it is necessarily not peaceful). Let's dive right into why I think so:

1. Life in Islām is sacred.

This is an established Qurʾānic principle, that the human being whom God created “in the best of stature” (Q 95:4), has inherently an honor:

We have honoured the children of Adam and carried them by land and sea; We have provided good sustenance for them and favoured them specially above many of those We have created. (Q 17:70)

The Shāfiʿī jurist Abū al-Muḍfir al-Samʿānī (d.1167) thus states, [paraphrasing]

God Almighty when He created the human being, and gave him His Trust (of reason and moral responsability), He honored him with the intellect and protection, such that he is among those upon whom rights are obligatory, so it is established that he has the right to protection, freedom and ownership … and the human being is created except that he has this protection, so he was created except that he is among those upon whom rights are obligatory, just as he is created while he is free and owns his rights.

Qawātiʿ al-ʾadillah fī al-ʾuṣūl, 2:380

Aside from this perspective, is the belief that all humans are from a single father, that's why the Qurʾān uses the expression ‘Children of Adam’ to refer to them, and thus all humans are brothers according to Islām,

People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you may know each other. In God's eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware. (Q 49:13)

2. Islāmic view on religious freedom.

There are multiple dimensions to it,

  1. Endorsement of pluralism: “If your Lord had pleased, He would have made all people a single community, but they continue to have their differences except those on whom your Lord has mercy for He created them to be this way” (Q 11:118-119). “Say [Prophet], ‘Disbelievers: .. You have your religion and I have mine.” (Q 109:1-6)

  2. Differences in belief are bound to happen: “And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed all of them entirely. Then, [O Muhammad], would you compel the people in order that they become believers?” (Q 10:99).

  3. Judgement in differences in belief is in the day of judgement: “You who believe, you are responsible for your own souls; if anyone else goes astray it will not harm you so long as you follow the guidance; you will all return to God, and He will make you realize what you have done.” (Q 5:105), “Then they will all be returned to God, their true Lord. The Judgement truly belongs to Him, and He is the swiftest of reckoners” (Q 6:62). “[Prophet], it is your Lord who will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning their differences.” (Q 32:25) This principle is abundant in the Qurʾān, see for other examples: (Q 88:25-26), (Q 40:12), (Q 22:56-57), (Q 28:70), (Q 23:117), (Q 42:21), (Q 39:46), (Q 22:17), (Q 42:10), (Q 60:3).

  4. Compulsion in religion is prohibited: “There is no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error” (Q 2:256). “Say, ‘Now the truth has come from your Lord: let those who wish to believe in it do so, and let those who wish to reject it do so.’” (Q 18:29) “So [Prophet] warn them: your only task is to give warning, you are not there to control them” (Q 88:21-22). “I am commanded to recite the Qurʾān.’ Whoever chooses to follow the right path does so for his own good. Say to whoever deviates from it, ‘I am only here to warn.’” (Q 27:92).

  5. Kindness and justice towards peaceful non-Muslims: “God does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes: God loves the just. But God forbids you to take as allies those who have fought against you for your faith, driven you out of your homes, and helped others to drive you out: any of you who take them as allies will truly be wrongdoers.” (Q 60:8-9)

  6. Legal pluralism: Indeed, Christians and Jews living under Muslim rule were subject to their own laws, thus they were not compeled to retract from practices that were forbidden in Islām such as allowing Zoroastrian to hold incestuous marriages, Christians from consuming wine and pork… The Qurʾān says, “So let the People of the Gospel judge according to what God has sent down therein. . .” (Q 5:48). The reason I mention this is that we can speak of three different levels of tolerance: The first is to let the Other the freedom to choose his religion. The second is to not coerce him to do things which he believes to be unlawful in his beliefs or to not do things which are obligatory according to his religion. The third level however, is to not even pressure them in things that they believe are lawful, which is where Islām is situated. So despite the fact that incestuous marriages, or the consumption of wine and pork are absolutely forbidden in Islām, non-Muslims were allowed to engage in them. In point of fact, any Muslim who pours away their wine or forcibly appropriates it is liable to pay compensation. [al-Qurtubī, al-Jāmiʿ li-aḥkām al-Qurʾān, 4:72.]

Consider in addition the fact that the Prophet never forced or coerced anyone into Islam, as Ibn al-Qayyim eloquently explains:

Never did he force the religion upon anyone, and he only fought those who waged war against him and fought him. As for those who entered into a peace treaty with him, or concluded a truce, he never fought them, nor ever coerced them to enter his religion, abiding by his Lord's order: “There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become distinct from error.” (Q 2:256) . . . It will be clear to whoever ponders the life of the Prophet ﷺ, that he never coerced anyone to enter his religion and that he only fought those who fought against him first. As for those who ratified a peace treaty with him, he never fought them . . . [Hidayat al-Hiyara, p.29-30.]

3. Killing unjustly a person is one of the worst sins in Islam.

On that the Qurʾān states, describing ‘the servants of the Lord of Mercy’, ‘those who never invoke any other deity beside God, nor take a life, which God has made sacred, except in the pursuit of justice, nor commit adultery. Whoever does these things will face the penalties: their torment will be doubled on the Day of Resurrection, and they will remain in torment’ (Q 25:63,68-60). Hadiths on this effect are no different, one report from Ibn ʿUmar thus states, ‘Of the serious matters from which no one who brings it upon himself and falls into it will escape is that of blood that was shed unlawfully’. [Narrated by al-Bukhārī in al-Ṣaḥīḥ, 6:2517 §6470.] Another report states, ‘A faithful believer remains within the guards of his Faith (and thus hopes for God's Mercy) so long as he does not shed blood unlawfully.’ [Narrated by al-Bukhārī in al-Ṣaḥīḥ, §6862.]

4. Islām categorically prohibits targeting civilians even in times of war.

How can one then claim that terrorism is allowed in Islām? This is an agreed upon rule, that targeting civilians is categorically prohibited in times of war, and this is clear from the dozens of narrations to this effect,

  1. Women: ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUmar said, ‘A woman was found slain in one of the expeditions. Upon this the Messenger of God ﷺ forbade the killing of women and children’. [Narrated by Muslim in al-Saḥīḥ: Kitāb al-jihād wa al-siyar, chapter: ‘The Unlawfulness of Killing Women and Children during War’, 3:1364 §1744;]

  2. Children: Aswad b. Sarīʿ said, ‘We were once in a battle and gained the upper hand and killed many of the pagans, including some children. News of this reached the Messenger of God ﷺ and he said, “What is wrong with some people that they went so far as to kill children? Beware! Do not kill children at all! Beware! Do not kill children at all!”’ [Narrated by al-Nasāʾī in al-Sunan al-kubrā: Kitāb al-siyar, chapter: ‘The Prohibition of Killing the Children of the Pagans’, 5:184 §8616; al-Dārimī in al-Sunan, 2:294 §2463; al-Ḥākim in al-Mustadrak, 2:133-134 §§2566-2567; and al-Ṭabarānī in al-Muʿjam al-kabīr, 1:284.]

  3. The Elderly: Imam al-Bayhaqī narrated a hadith from ʿAlī, that when the Prophet ﷺ would dispatch an army, he would advise them, ‘Do not kill a young boy, a woman or an old man. Do not cause fountains to dry up and do not destroy any trees, except those which cause hindrance during war. Mutilate neither a human nor an animal, and do not break a promise or breach a trust’. [Narrated by al-Bayhaqī in al-Sunan al-Kubrā, 9:90 §17934.]

  4. Religious leaders of non-Muslims (e.g. Monks): Imam Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal quoted Ibn ʿAbbās who said that the Prophet ﷺ would issue clear instructions when dispatching an army to go into battle. He ﷺ would say, ‘Break no promise, steal not from the spoils of war and do not mutilate bodies or slay children or monks’. [Narrated by Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal in al-Musnad, 5:358 §2728.]

  5. Non-Muslim Traders and Farmers (who do not wage war): Imam Ibn Abī Shayba and Imam al-Bayhaqī narrated on the authority of Jābir b. ʿAbd Allāh who said, ‘They [the Muslim soldiers] did not kill the merchants amongst the pagans’. [Narrated by Ibn Abī Shayba in al-Muṣannaf, 6:484 §33129; al-Bayhaqī in al-Sunan al-kubrā, 9:91 §17939; and cited by Ibn Ādam al-Qurashī in al-Kharāj, 1:52 §133.] The famous encyclopedic scholar Ibn Qudāma al-Maqdisī stated, ‘As for the farmer who is a non-combatant, he should not be killed, because it was narrated from ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb that he said, “Fear God regarding the farmers who do not wage war against you”.’ [Ibn Qudāma al-Maqdisī, al-Mughnī, 9:251.]

  6. Non-Muslim Service Personnel: Rabāḥ b. Rabīḥ said, ‘We were with the Messenger of God ﷺ in one of the battle expeditions, when he saw some people gathered around something. He sent a man out, saying, “Go and see what they are gathering around”. The man returned and informed him, saying, “They are gathering around a slain woman”. The Prophet ﷺ said, “She was not amongst those who fight!” At the head of the group was Khālid b. Walīd, so the Prophet sent a man to go and inform Khālid: “Neither an [idolatrous] woman nor a hired servant should be killed”.’ [In one report:] ‘Do not kill children or hired servants’. [Narrated by Abū Dāwūd in al-Sunan: Kitāb al-jihād, chapter: ‘The Killing of Women’, 3:53 §2669; Ibn Mājah in al-Sunan: Kitāb al-jihād [The Book of Martial Jihad], 2:948 §2842.]

  7. Non-Muslim messengers and ambassadors: ʿAbd Allāh b. Masʿūd said, ‘It is an established Sunna (i.e. Prophetic precedent) that ambassadors are not to be fought’. [Narrated by Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal in al-Musnad, 1:390 §3708.]

  8. Any non-combatants: Civilians in general, examples of which are above, are not to be targeted even in war. In a report, Abū Shurayh narrated that Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, the most tyrannical of people to God the Exalted is he who kills those who did not fight him.” [Narrated by Aḥmad b. Ḥanbal in al-Musnad, §15943.]

5. Disbelief is not the justification of war in Islām.

Classical pre-modern jurists arrived at this conclusion based on the above evidence on the prohibition of targeting civilians in war. They reasoned that if the justification for war was unbelief then it wouldn't have been prohibited from fighting them. Thus the justification for war can't be disbelief, which leaves one option: the intent of waging war, in which case Muslims have the right to defend themselves from aggression. This argument is found across all schools of law, including Shiʿīte ones. Ibn Qayyim for example states,

Fighting is only a duty in response to being fought against, not in response to disbelief. Which is why women, children, the elderly and infirm, the blind, or monks who stay out of the fighting are not fought. Instead, we only fight those who wage war against us. [Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah, 1:110.]

And here are some quotes from classical scholars detailing this fact even more. Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ (d.1245) states,

The basis is that non-believers retain their disbelief, for God Almighty did not want to exterminate the creation, nor to create them so that they be killed, rather fighting was made lawful in the case where there was a harm from them (i.e. war), but that is not a sanction because of their disbelief, for this earthly abode is not the abode of judgement, rather the judgement is in the Hereafter. [Fatāwa Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ, p.121]

The famous Damascene scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d.1323), who you'll regard as a "fundamentalist" if you believe the Wikipedia article on Jihad, actually has a very clear position on this,

God's Saying, “There is no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error” (Q 2:256) is a general text: that we do not force anyone [to embrace] this religion, so if the unbeliever was fought until he embraces Islām then this would've been the greatest compulsion in religion! [Qāʿidah fī Qitāl al-Kuffār, p.121.]

After citing the famous bloodless conquest of Mecca (which is his home city, in which the Prophet and his companions were tortuted and persecuted for more than a dozen years, yet he forgave all of them after that conquest stating to them, “I speak to you in the same words as Joseph spoke to his brothers. This day there is no reproof against you; Go your way, for you are free.”), he stated:

Is there anything more clear than this on the fact that he (the Prophet) never coerced someone into Islām?! [Qāʿidah fī Qitāl al-Kuffār, p.132.]

And he adds later,

His (the Prophet) precedent was that everyone who made peace with him from the unbelievers was not fought, and the books of the biography [of the Prophet], of Ḥadīths, of exegesis, of jurisrudence, of military expeditions, all state that, and this is widely known from his biography. For he never beginned unbelievers with fighting, had God ordered to fight each unbeliever then he would've been initiating fighting with them. [Qāʿidah fī Qitāl al-Kuffār, p.134.]

And as stated in the Qurʾān,

And if they incline towards peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon God. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” (Q 8:61).

6. Muslims are obliged to go and fight for the protection of their fellow non-Muslim citizens.

This may sound as strange for some, but that is in reality what classical Muslim jurists ruled, thus the Andalusian jurist Ibn Ḥazm (d.1064) wrote in his book Marātib al-ijmāʿ (which is about detailing the points on which there is a consensus in Islām),

‘It is obligatory for us to go out and wage war against them [who aggress against the non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state] with military might, even though we may die in the process’. [Quoted in al-Qarāfī, al-Furūq, 3:14-15.]

Shihāb al-Dīn al-Qarāfī, the famous Mālikī jurist, wrote in his book al-Furūq about the rights of non-Muslim citizens:

The treaty of protection that we have with non-Muslims establishes certain rights that they have upon us because they live in proximity to us and are under our protection and care and the care of God and the Messenger of God and the religion of Islam. So whoever transgresses against them, even if by an evil word or through backbiting, has neglected the guarantee of God, His Messenger and the religion of Islam. [al-Qarāfī, al-Furūq, 3:14-15.]

7. Islam strictly obligates the respect of international treaties.

This is especially clear in this verse, “O you who have believed, fulfill [all] contracts.” (Q 5:1). The scholar Ibn ʿAshur says in his commentary on this verse: ‘“Contracts” in this verse refers to one of a genus denoting the totality [of contracts]. It includes covenants that Muslims made with their Lord … not to associate partners with God, steal, or commit fornication … agreements between Muslims and non-Muslims … and agreements between one Muslim and another’ [al-Tahrīr wa al-Tanwīr, 6:74]. The famous jurist Ibn Qudamah wrote about Muslims entering non-Muslim lands with a pledge of security, saying: “As for behaving treacherously towards them, this is expressly forbidden. For they only granted him security on condition that he not betray them and that they be safe from his harm: if this is not stipulated explicitly, it is implicitly set forth . . . This being so, it is unlawful for us to be treacherous to them: for this is betrayal and our religion has no place for betrayal. The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Muslims fulfil their contracts.’” [al-Mughni, 9:483-89.]

8. Suicide bombings have absolutely no justification

The Qurʾān explicitly states “do not kill yourselves” (Q 4:29), and “do not cast yourselves into destruction with your own hands – and adopt righteousness” (Q 2:195). If that was not enough, Prophetic hadiths are even more explicit,

Whoever throws himself off a mountain, thereby killing himself, he will throw himself down a mountain in Hell forever. And whoever drinks poison, thereby killing himself, he will hold poison in his hand, eternally drinking it in Hell. And if someone kills himself with iron [stabbing himself], he will eternally stab himself with it in Hell. [Muslim in al-Ṣaḥīḥ: Kitāb al-Īmān [The Book of Faith], chapter: ‘The Strict Forbiddance of Killing Oneself, and if Someone Commits Suicide with Something, He Will be Tormented with the Same Thing in the Hellfire’, 1:103 §109.]

How can one then claim that suicide bombings are, not only justified, but obligatory?

9. Terrorism clashes with core Islamic values

I will give only two examples, for sake of brevity (I already made this very long), if you want more examples just ask away!

  1. Mercy: God in Islām is known as The Compassionate and The Merciful (al-Raḥmān al-Raḥīm, which appears in the beginning of every but one chapter of the Holy Book), the two names by which he is famously and universally known, two attributes that announce him in all mundane and worldly Muslim speech. His Mercy “encompasses all things” (Q 7:156). Moreover the Prophet was sent “only as a mercy to all people” (Q 21:107), and he stated, “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by The Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you.” [Narrated by al-Tirmidhī in al-Sunan, §1924.] And in a similar sense, “God will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to the people.” [Narrated by al-Bukhārī in al-Ṣaḥīḥ §6941.]

  2. Kindness: The Prophet thus states, “God is Kind, and loves kindness in all matters” [Narrated by Muslim in al-Saḥīḥ, §2165a.] In another authentic narration, “Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective.” [Narrated by Muslim in al-Saḥīḥ, §2594a.]

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