‘Islam stands on justice and non-violence’ -- Prof. Mohd. Nejatullah Siddiqui

During the 17th Annual Meetings of the Governing Council (G.C.) and General Assembly (G.A.) of the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi – 25 (which were held on 2nd and 3rd August, 2003 respectively at its Headquarters) a lecture was organised by the Institute, as per past practice, on 3rd August, 2003. 

Last year, on the occasion of 16th Annual Meeting of G.A. the lecture on “Vision of India in 2020 and Placement of Muslims as a Community and the Role of IOS” was delivered by Dr. Abu Saleh Shariff, an eminent economist. 

This year, the lecture on “Violence, Islam and Islamic Movement” was delivered by Prof. Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqui, a noted economist, scholar and Shah Faisal Award winner. 

Prof. Siddiqui, speaking on the above topic, in the background of Islam and Islamic Movement, said that Islam is based on piety, love, tolerance, forgiveness; violence, subversion and hatred are alien to it.  “Violence is an immoral act which cannot be permitted in social life by a religion based on moral principles,” he stressed, adding that the method of achieving any objective should be only through mutual understanding and discussions not by resorting to violence. 

Explaining the special circumstances or conditions under which recourse to arms is permitted, Dr. Siddiqui said that these include defensive wars and punishment for serious crimes like waging wars.  Barring these conditions, violence in any form, especially the one which may lead to death, is not permissible. 

He said that during the past two decades there have been many cases in different parts of the world when Muslims have taken recourse to violence either against their own governments or against foreign powers like USA, Russia, Britain, France and other countries because of their overt or covert anti-Muslim or anti-Islam policies.  Their violent activities in countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Africa etc, to harm Americans in which innocent human lives were lost, are forbidden in Islam. 

Expressing his views regarding the attitude of Muslims in non-Muslim countries where Muslims are targeted directly or indirectly when governments ignore the cruelties meted out to them or when they themselves sponsor or encourage such atrocities, as happened in Gujarat after the Godhra train-burning incident, he propounded that Muslims have every right to defend themselves like other citizens. 

“Civil laws of the respective country permit its citizens to defend the honour, lives and properties of their family members even if the perpetrators of violence have to be killed.  Preemptive violence or killings as preventive measures are, however, not permissible.  Similarly, violence against innocent Hindus for revenge is against Islamic teachings as well as a violation of the laws of the country,” he said. 

Dr. Siddiqui regretted that in America and Europe an atmosphere has been created in which Muslims and Islam are looked upon as dangerous.  It will take quite some time to remove such misunderstandings. 

For this purpose, firstly we have to bring about transparency in our words and deeds so that their misunderstandings could be removed. Role of mosques and madrasas should be clearly presented.  Secondly, we should make our systems democratic because Muslim countries and institutions are generally lacking in democratic spirit.  This is true to a great extent.  If Muslims make their political, religious and cultural activities democratic and transparent, allow free expression of views and not only tolerate but also respect dissenting views, it will become easy for others to properly understand Muslims. 

Muslims should develop contacts and friendly relations with other countrymen and try to solve their problems like other people.  The list of the problems of Muslims is not exhaustive.  Their problems too re generally the same as those of all others such as poverty, illiteracy, proper accommodation, health, insecurity etc., which most of the people of South Asia and Africa are facing. 

“Muslims, of course, are biggest sufferers but they should try to solve their problems with the help and cooperation of their neighbours and compatriots.  Instead of confining themselves to their own narrow world, they should broaden their outlook and treat the whole world as their native country and try to improve and develop it so that the feeling of suspicion and distrust by others could be removed,” he suggested. 

Concluding his speech, Dr. Siddiqui said that the path of violence will not solve Muslim problems.  By shunning violence and revenge, they will be able to take concrete steps in the fields of education and training, economic progress, health and other fields.

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