Jehad is not a Cottage Industry MOHD. ZEYAUL HAQUE (JULY 10, 2007)

 Jehad is not a Cottage Industry

Over the last few years the Islamic obligation of jehad has been erroneously turned into a cottage industry. Individual Muslims and the tiniest of "organisations" (often containing no more than the family members of the  "founder") have taken upon themselves the duty of waging jehad most likely against the Muslim state itself in which such persons and groups are based.

There are quite a few things to be understood here. First, mostly these are individual efforts of freelance warriors, or those of ragtag bands with nothing substantial to glue them together. They cannot stand before the sustained assault of an organised national army, navy, air force, paramilitary units and special forces. They don’t have the advantage of eye-in-the sky cameras orbiting in space and feeding military intelligence to the armed forces headquarters of a country round the clock as well as unmanned aircraft flying over rebel formations and transmitting crucial data to the command headquarters. All that makes launching and sustaining an effective attack against rebels more viable.

This is not to intimidate or awe our misguided brethren by showing the relative strength of the state forces against them. Let it be known to people hiding behind the human shield of innocent girl students in Islamabad’s Lal Masjid (and others like them all over the world) that the state has the option to attack them in several ways: aerial strafing with high precision and devastating weapons used from a bomber, firing into a besieged building from a helicopter gunship, shelling with howitzers which can throw even nuclear grenades upto 25 kilometers, and using missiles. Extraordinary military logistics, accurate information on the rebel occupants of a building, including which individual is sitting or standing in which area of a room in the building make the chances of rebels winning a victory over their national armed forces slim.

This situation obtains not only in Pakistan but Turkey, Central Asian states, Egypt, Algeria and most other Muslim states. What the rebels have done at Lal Masjid is perhaps the most unwise thing that any group could think of doing against the state. Look at the disastrous effects of such misadventures. All over the Muslim world it has become difficult to practise Islam and do social and cultural work from an Islamic platform. The fallout could be even more disastrous in non-Muslim countries of Europe, North America and Asia. Mosque-going people, madarsa-trained people and social workers functioning from an Islamic platform have been made suspect by such misguided people.

 Although Pakistan’s major Islamic organisations and important maulanas have dismissed the Lal Masjid maulvis’ claims to jehad, there is a greater need for clarity on the issue. According to major texts on the subject like Kitab-ul-Jehad, the declaration of jehad is the prerogative of the amir (leader of Muslims or leader of a Muslim state or a paranational body like the OIC or Arab League), not just anybody who takes it upon himself to wage a war on the Muslim state itself.

Such misadventures create fasad (anarchy, mindless bloodletting, disruption of an entire social order, loss of individual and national security). On its face fasad may look like jehad, but it is not. Allah loves jehad as it establishes adl (justice, balance) but Allah does not like fasad on earth. Misadventures by self-proclaimed mujahideen create fitna (which is also understood as social chaos), a situation that can lead to civil war. Muslims have strictly been asked not to do that. Fitna is to be avoided like plague, even if that means allowing some corruption or evil to survive.

 The dangerous situation created by adventurists in the name of Islam is anarchy. One of Islam’s greatest thinkers, Imam Ghazali, is reported to have observed that even a tyrannical, morally incompetent and politically inefficient government is far better than anarchy. Once a Muslim draws a sword against a fellow Muslim, the swords on both sides would refuse to go back to their scabbards for years and decades (or for ever). A Muslim raising a sword against the Muslim state has invariably been treated in the harshest imaginable way throughout Muslim history.

As of now, a global consensus has emerged against violent extremism. Intelligence agencies of most countries are sharing data, countries are providing each other with logistic, military and moral support in combating situations like the Lal Masjid misadventure. In short, there is no chance of such actions meeting with any success. Our Muslim brethren involved in such activities must know that what they are doing is fasad, as it does not meet any criterion of jehad (which also includes a "reasonable degree of hope" of success of the action by mujahideen) as enumerated in standard texts. Irresponsible acts like Lal Masjid misadventure must never be committed in future.g

 Mohd. Zeyaul Haque

(The above piece should not be read as a policy document of the IOS. – EDITOR)

Go Back