Monday, August 29, 2005

The Sufi Lighthouse Book Pre-Release Notice

The Sufi Lighthouse, Illuminating Spiritual Abuse, consists of 52 chapters, more than 500 pages, and, God willing, will be available for purchase in about three weeks. If you would like to preorder your copy, contact Anab at

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Some extremist ‘jihadists’ refer to Quranic verses such as:

“True believers are only those who have faith in Allah and
the Messenger of Allah and have left doubt behind, and who
strive hard in Allah’s cause with their possessions and
their lives. They are the ones who are sincere.” (49: 15).

These terrorist leaders use verses such as the foregoing to manipulate those who are already vulnerable to dissociative states brought about a variety of political, economic, social, physical, and spiritual trauma and push the latter further into dissociation. Such so-called leaders -- who, in reality, are nothing but spiritual abusers of others -- argue that if anyone has doubts about the violence which is being advocated, or if they are not willing to kill themselves while striking out at, and slaying, the enemies (including women and children) of Allah, then, such individuals are not true believers, and they are not sincere, and they have no faith in Allah and the Messenger.

Unfortunately, people who already are in a state of dissociation due to other circumstances in their life usually do not have a lot of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual tools to counter arguments like the foregoing. Such people do not want to be pulled further into the pain of dissociation that is encompassed by such charges, and, consequently, it is often easier for them to comply with the manipulation of spiritual charlatans who are inclined to violence than to have to try to ward off questions about their alleged lack of faith and sincerity in relation to Allah and the Messenger.

Similar things could be said about individuals in the U.S. who, out of trauma concerning the destruction of the World Trade Towers, do not wish to be pulled or pushed further into dissociation by having, as well, to defend against the charges of those among their fellow Americans who claim that those who are not willing to join in and kill whomever (including women, children, the elderly, and non-combatants) is indicated by government leaders with respect to the Twin Tower tragedy, are not true patriots or are traitors to democracy, or are not lovers and defenders of freedom. Like their counterparts among Muslims elsewhere in the world, there are many people in the U.S. who do not have the emotional, intellectual, and spiritual tools which are necessary to resist such attempts to manipulate those who are in a state of dissociation and, as a result, are vulnerable to becoming victims of the spiritual abuse which is being perpetrated by government “leaders”. After all, Jesus (peace be upon him) never killed anyone, and he did not advocate the killing of anyone, but this little fact of inconvenience does not seem to deter those who consider themselves Christians -- which, supposedly, means those who follow the teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him), the Christ -- from being willing to commit acts of violence or terrorism … neither of which would have met with the approval of Jesus (peace be upon him).

There was, and is, another stratagem adopted by many fundamentalist, and fanatically oriented jihadists . This includes: (1) the kharijis, a sect which arose during the Caliphacy of Hazrat ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) -- which ended in 661 A.D. -- and who (i.e., the kharijis) considered all Muslims who did not accept their interpretation of Islam to be infidels who should be killed and who, as well, developed the idea of a continuous armed conflict against all people who disagreed with them; (2) Shiekh ul-Islaam Taqi-ud-Deen Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (1268-1328) who wrote extensively about jihad and who glorified the idea of jihad as being superior to Islamic obligations of fasting, the hajj (greater pilgrimage) and the umrah (lesser pilgrimage); (3) Muhammad al-Wahhab (1703 – 1792), founder of the radical, puritanical, and dogmatic theology which, today, is known as Wahhabism and which calls for a return to medieval Islam as the only solution to the problems facing the Muslim community); (4) Rashid Rida (1865-1935), who founded the salafiyyah movement which has the goal of seeking to bring about a return among Muslims to what was claimed to be the pure Islam of the pious forbearers (the salaf) of early days; (5) Hassan al-Banna (1906 – 1949), founder of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt which rejected all western approaches to government and advocated violence to establish governments that would rule according to Shari’ah; (6) Sayyid Qutb (1906-1956), who expanded upon the teachings of Hassan al-Banna and called for, among other things, the assassination of any government leaders who were considered to be standing in the way of a return to Islamic rule ; (7) Muhammad Abdus Salam Faraj (1952 – 1982), implicated in the assassination of Anwar Sadat and author of the booklet, Al-Faridah al-Gha’ibah (The Neglected Duty), which sought to argue that all problems facing Muslims were due to a failure of the Muslim world to consider jihad -- in the sense of armed, violent conflict -- to be a mandatory duty of Islam for every Muslim in relation to all non-Muslims and anyone who was considered to be ‘insufficiently Muslim’; (8) Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989), a Palestinian whose most well-known works – In Defense of Muslim Lands, and Join the Caravan -- sought to make jihad an armed, global tool of violence and after he was assassinated in 1989, the group which he founded, Makhtab al Khadimat, was taken over by bin Laden; and, (9) Shiekh Omar Abdul Rahman, who is now serving time in a U.S. prison for his part in the pre-9-11 bombing of the World Trade Center.

The stratagem being referred to in the opening sentence of the previous paragraph concerns the claim that Allah demands the establishment of an Islamic state which will rigorously and meticulously apply the Shari’ah to all facets of the lives of people living in such a state and require that all people within the state observe Islam. This idea is directly contradicted by the aforementioned Quranic verse (2: 256) which indicates that there can be no compulsion in matters of Deen (that is, the sphere of faith-oriented activities).

However, if one is not satisfied that the foregoing limitation which is being placed on the relation between the state and its citizens is authentic, then, consider the following verses from the Qur’an:

“Whatever benefit comes to you (O man), it is from Allah,
and whatever misfortune befalls you it is from your own
self; and We have sent you (O Prophet) to mankind as an
apostle; and Allah is sufficient as a witness.

“Whoever obeys the Apostle, he indeed obeys Allah; and
whosoever turns back, then, We have not sent you as a
keeper over them.” (4: 79-80)


"Say (O Muhammad): "This is the truth from your Lord,”
then, whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills
let him disbelieve.” (Qur’an, 18: 29)

And, again:

“You shall remind; you are entrusted to remind. You have
no power over them." (88: 21-22)

And, finally:

"Say, "Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger." If they refuse,
then he is responsible for his obligations, and you are
responsible for your obligations. If you obey him, you
will be guided." (24: 54)

In the foregoing Quranic verses, the Prophet is being told that neither is it his responsibility to be an enforcer with respect to whether, or not, people turn back from Deen, nor does the Prophet have any power over such individuals. The Prophet also is being informed that each person is responsible for his or her own choices concerning matters of Deen, and if a person chooses to disbelieve, then, leave that individual free to do so, but those who obey the Prophet will be rightly guided.

The Prophet is reported to have encouraged people to repent of their sins to God rather than report them to him. However, if a Muslim did insist on confessing sins to him -- a sin for which a penalty, of some kind, was associated -- then, as a matter of acting in accordance with Divine guidance concerning applying the penalty which God had indicated for such actions (and not as a result of any requirement to compel people in matters of Deen) -- a judgment would be made, and, where indicated, a punishment would be enacted.

Once, during the time when Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was Caliph, he was walking about the city and was accompanied by someone. When the two passed a walled compound behind which could be heard a great deal of revelry, the person walking with the Caliph turned to him and in a manner which suggested that sinful things were happening on the other side of the wall, he asked if Hazrat ‘Umar knew what was going on in that compound. Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said: “It is not my task to sniff out the sins of other people.”

The task of a Muslim ruler is neither to establish an Islamic state nor to enforce Shari’ah in the sense of compelling people to observe Deen in a particular way. The task of a Muslim ruler is to act with equitability and righteousness. The task of a Muslim leader is not to impose Shari’ah on others (‘there can be no compulsion in matters of Deen’ – Qur’an 2: 256) but to impose the real Shari’ah on himself or herself so that she or he will be able to act with equitability and righteousness and not oppress others.

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), by the Grace of Allah, defeated the Meccans and their allies for the final time, he forgave them, placed one of the local people in charge, and returned to Medina. He did not charge this person with the task of establishing an Islamic state.

In Volume 4, Book 53, Number 387 of Muslim, Abu Humaid As-Saidi narrates that:

“We accompanied the Prophet in the Ghazwa of Tabuk
and the king of 'Aila presented a white mule and a
cloak as a gift to the Prophet. And the Prophet wrote
to him a peace treaty allowing him to keep authority
over his country.”

The King of ‘Aila was not charged with the task of establishing an Islamic state. This same sort of arrangement prevailed, as well, in other instances where the Prophet signed peace treaties. In other words, those with whom the Prophet negotiated peace treaties were not charged with the task of establishing an Islamic state but were only required to observe the conditions of the peace treaty.

Prior to the time when the Prophet passed away, he had not instructed people to establish an Islamic state. In fact, no particular form of government was indicated, but whoever governed was expected to govern in accordance with principles of equitability and righteousness.

In the Qur’an one finds the following verses concerning the issue of equitability:

“O you who believe, equivalence is the law decreed for
you when dealing with murder - the free for the free, the
slave for the slave, the female for the female. If one is
pardoned by the victim's kin, an appreciative response is
in order, and an equitable compensation shall be paid. This
is an alleviation from your Lord and mercy. Anyone who
transgresses beyond this incurs a painful retribution.”

“O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and
observe Allah, when you serve as witnesses, even against
yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether
the accused is rich or poor, Allah takes care of both.
Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If
you deviate or disregard (this commandment), then Allah
is fully aware of everything you do.” (4:135)

“During the Sacred Months, aggression may be met by an
equivalent response. If they attack you, you may retaliate
by inflicting an equitable retribution. You shall observe
Allah and know that Allah is with the righteous.” (2:194)

“O ye who believe. Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in
equity and let not hatred of any people seduce you so
that you do not deal justly (with them). Deal justly,
that is nearer to your duty.” (5: 8)

“They are upholders of lies, and eaters of illicit
earnings. If they come to you to judge among them, you
may judge among them, or you may disregard them. If you
choose to disregard them, they cannot harm you in the
least. But if you judge among them, you shall judge
equitably. Allah loves those who are equitable.” (5:42)

“Allah does not enjoin you from befriending those who
do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict
you from your homes. You may befriend them and be
equitable towards them. Allah loves the equitable.” (60:8)

Elsewhere in the Qur’an believers are warned to be equitable in matters of commercial transactions, the conducting of loans, as well as in the treatment of orphans, adopted children, spouses, and slaves (and as with many other issues such as consumption of alcohol and the rights of women, the trend of reformation in the Qur’an was toward encouraging Muslims to free slaves, not keep them or take them, but if slaves were maintained, then, these individuals had the right to be fed, clothed, and treated in the same way as other members of the family). Equitability is a re-current theme throughout the Qur’an.

Righteousness is also a theme which is reiterated and emphasized throughout the Qur’an. Being pious, just, grateful, patient, kind, charitable, compassionate, honest, sincere, loving, tolerant, forgiving, repentant, humble, modest, and one who does not transgress due boundaries, are qualities which are advocated throughout the Qur’an.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Muslims are brothers and sisters in Deen, and they must not
oppress one another, nor abandon assisting each other, nor
hold one another in contempt. The seat of righteousness is
the heart; therefore, that heart which is righteous does
not hold a Muslim in contempt.”

A Muslim is anyone who submits to God, and who believes in the Last Day, and who tries to act in accordance with the qualities of righteousness, and who seeks to abide by the Deen of God. One should not be too quick to jump to conclusions about who is, and who is not, a Muslim … and, therefore, one should not be too quick to jump to conclusions concerning whom one must not oppress, nor whom one should avoid abandoning in assistance, nor whom one should treat with righteousness.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“I have been given all the Names and have been sent
to perfect good character.”

Principles of equitability and righteousness are at the heart of good character. If one has lost confidence in the capacity of the tools of faith -- such as equitability and righteousness -- to assist others and to help one refrain from oppressing them, and if one believes that violent, armed conflict is the only solution to problems, one fails to understand that is not possible to violently impose good character on others and, therefore, the purpose for which fundamentalist, extremist jihadists claim to be fighting -- the establishment of Islam -- will always be doomed to failure. Good character can only arise through struggle within oneself, not through imposition from without.

There are some advocates of violent, armed conflict -- such as Muhammad 'Abd al-Salam Faraj (author of the Neglected Duty) -- who believe that it is not necessary to make any plans for what should be done after the time of jihad (in the sense of armed conflict), but, rather, one should just pursue jihad and, then, God will provide what is needed later on. How foolish, ill-considered, and illogical!

If one is prepared to trust in God to look after things following jihad -- in the sense of armed conflict -- then, why not trust in God to look after things prior to, if not independently of, armed conflict? If one is prepared to use tools of violence in the way of God because one believes that such a tool has been sanctioned by God, then, why not be equally prepared, if not more so, to use the tools of faith which have clearly been sanctioned by God in the Qur’an and in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Why are fanatic, fundamentalist, extremist jihadists so intent on reducing the tools of Islam down to nothing but violence when such a reduction cannot be justified either by the full array of teachings of the Qur’an or by the traditions of the Prophet? These are individuals who have lost their faith in the tools of faith, and, yet, they are promoting themselves as the defenders of faith.

The tendency of people who have lost their faith in the tools of faith is to spiritually abuse others and to oppress them. People who have lost their faith in the tools of faith must resort to delusional systems of thought because they have lost contact with the only thing which is capable of putting them in touch with spiritual truth -- namely, real, authentic, sincere faith that God’s guidance concerning principles such as equitability and righteousness have a far greater capacity for transforming individuals and society than tools of violence and oppression could ever have.

Tools of violence are limited, stop-gap measures for extreme sets of circumstances which rarely exist. Tools of faith encompass an unlimited array of opportunities for pursuing principles of equitability and righteousness which are intended to provide the primary means through which one engages struggle within oneself, in relation to others (both believers and unbelievers), and with all of life.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) understood this truth (as did all Prophets). The Qur’an bears witness to this truth (as do all Books of revelation). Unfortunately, those who are inclined to making violence the solution to everything neither understand the foregoing truth, nor do they bear witness to it in their lives.

Those who have lost faith in the tools of faith and who advocate violence and oppression as the solution to all problems create delusional belief systems concerning the teachings of God and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The truth will not permit them to advocate what they are advocating in the way they are advocating it, and, as a result, the only recourse they have -- if they are not prepared, spiritually speaking, to acknowledge the truth of things -- is to create delusional belief systems which seek to justify what they are doing as being in accordance with the wishes of, and by permission of, God … neither of which is true.

Those who are in a state of dissociation (due to political, social, economic, international, historical, and/or personal trauma) are vulnerable to the delusional teachings of those who worship violence like an idol. The reason why those who are in a state of dissociation are vulnerable is because the psychic, emotional, psychological and spiritual pain of dissociation is very intense and eats away at the fabric of the soul.

For such a person, meaning, purpose, identity, motivation, and truth are very elusive, whereas, doubt, anxiety, fear, alienation, depression, hopelessness, helplessness, directionless, loss of identity, and de-personalization are all too real, prevalent, and intense. A person in such a condition of dissociation will grab onto almost anything if they are led to believe that what is being acquired will permit them to escape the pain of dissociation.

Terrorist leaders are individuals who understand the condition of dissociation and the kind of vulnerability to which that state opens people up. Terrorist leaders, and the theologians, imams, government leaders, and jurists who support them, are spiritually abusive individuals who exploit that vulnerability by (1) locating individuals who are in a state of dissociation, (2) initiating the latter individuals into a delusional framework which undermines whatever remnants of faith are present in the person who is in a dissociated state and, thereby, (3) inducing such a person to abandon the tools of faith and to pick up the tools of violence as a way of solving problems -- both personal and collective.

Terrorist ‘leaders’ -- whether of the state-sponsored, small group, or individual variety -- are very clever in the techniques used to manipulate and exploit people who are in a state of dissociation. For instance, such leaders often get individuals to sign contracts and/or make videos about their coming exploits and, by doing this, those leaders have a means of pushing the individual back into a dissociative state by labeling anyone who does not follow through on a terrorist act to be: cowardly, a traitor, an unbeliever, one who lacks faith in God, someone who has betrayed the community, or a person lacking in character

The foregoing technique has an unsettling resonance with something, unfortunately, which also happens in so-called democratic, free societies in relation to people who object to the use of violence and oppression as a means of solving problems (whether domestic or international in nature). People who advocate using the tools of faith rather than tools of violence to solve problems are often threatened with a barrage of accusations concerning their loyalty, patriotism, rationality, and/or commitment to democracy, and such labeling is intended to push people into the pain of dissociation and, thereby, either punish them for speaking out, or silence them through the specter of being pushed further toward the condition of dissociation.

In Muslim’s collection of hadith, one finds the following narration of Bibi A’isha:

“Allah's Apostle said, "If somebody innovates something
which is not in harmony with the principles of our religion,
that thing is rejected." (Volume 3, Book 49, Number 861)

To insist on using the tools of violence as the primary and best, if not only, way of dealing with the problems which face the Muslim community, is an innovation which is not in harmony with the principles of Deen -- when the latter is considered in its entirety and issues are not removed from their proper context. Consequently, in accordance with the teachings of both the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) such an approach should be rejected.

The delusional teachings of extremist, fundamentalist jihadists gives expression to shirk -- that is, the associating of partners with God. This is so because, in reality, such individuals are inventing a religion of their own and they have declared themselves lords of such a religion and, as well, they not only consider themselves to be the ‘prophets’ of this new religion, but they consider the words which issue forth from their mouths to be the word of God. As the Qur’an indicates:

“Shall we tell you who will be the greatest losers in
their works? Those whose striving goes astray in the
present life while they think they are working good
deeds.” (18: 104)

The spiritual abusers who constitute the terrorist leaders, together with those vulnerable individuals whom become infected with the delusional teachings of those so-called ‘leaders’ concerning the nature of jihad and Islam, both pursue strivings of the foregoing sort. These are individuals who have forgotten, or who never knew, that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“Shall I not inform you about a better act than fasting,
charity, and prayer? – making peace between one another.
Enmity and malice tear up heavenly rewards by the roots.”

When those who govern -- whether Muslim or non-Muslim -- do not observe the principles of equitability and righteousness (principles with which all spiritual and humanist traditions tend to be in agreement) and, as a result, oppress those whom they govern, then, people have the right to resist such oppression, injustice, and unrighteousness through whatever combination of the tools of faith that may, God willing, help the oppressed to overcome oppression, and in the process, serve the best interests of the oppressor as well. The purpose of such resistance is not to establish an Islamic state, nor to impose Shari’ah on the community, but, rather, to reinstate principles of equitability and righteousness as the proper tools of governance.

A state should be governed neither by secular nor religious principles. A state should be governed by those principles of equitability and righteousness which help create, God willing, a safe and protected environment through which people will have the opportunity, without being compelled in either a secular or a religious direction, to strive and struggle toward realizing one’s essential potential and identity.

Anyone who believes that the terrorist phenomenon is going to be defeated by waging a war on terrorism in which indiscriminate violence is used as the antidote to the indiscriminate violence of terrorism has just handed terrorists a major victory. Using indiscriminate violence and oppression to combat the oppression of terrorist violence does nothing but pour oil onto a raging fire, both spreading the fire and making it more intense.

Every violation of human rights, every curtailment of freedom, every subterfuge concerning constitutional principles, every show of force which results in “collateral damage”, every imprisonment of innocent people, every expression of contempt for the international community, every penny which is spent benefiting government contractors more than it does people who are being oppressed, every form of oppression which is brought about by occupying forces, every opportunity for real democracy which is undermined by the imposition of sham democracy, every denial of the real causes which help push people into dissociative conditions -- all of the foregoing mistakes of the “war on terrorism” can be woven into the fabric of the delusional paradigm of terrorists in the most problematic way. More specifically, it is not the delusion which can be shown to be completely false that constitutes the most difficult problem facing those who wish to try to realistically address the issue of terrorism … rather, one of the biggest obstacles facing the search for peace involves those terrorist-oriented delusional systems which are laced with actual exemplars of inhumanity, cruelty, and oppression that have been committed by the other side and, thereby, lend a ring of truth and authenticity to the other false claims by the propagandists of terrorism (whether in the form of theologians, jurists, government leaders, self-styled revolutionaries, or imams).

Every time indiscriminate violence and oppression are used in an attempt to quell the tide of terrorism, one has difficulty differentiating the so-called ‘good’ (because it comes from us not them) forms of terrorism from those ‘evil’ forms of such activity which are perpetrated by those whom we condemn -- and, in truth, both varieties of terrorism and oppression are equally reprehensible. Once one resorts to using the same tools of violence as extremist, fundamentalist jihadists, then, the tools of faith which are the only tools that, God willing, have the chance to solve the problems which underlie terrorism, become lost in the shuffle and with this loss, so, too, are opportunities lost for making real, lasting progress with respect to the many problems and forces which play key roles in the etiology of the dissociative states that render people vulnerable to the delusional systems of the proponents of terrorism.

Terrorism (whether state sponsored or that of a small group or set of terrorist cells) is an expression of spiritual abuse. The spiritual abuse is perpetrated through the intention of so-called ‘leaders’ to exploit and manipulate someone who is in a state of dissociation and to assist the latter out of that condition through a delusional system which undermines faith and is intended to induce people to replace the tools of faith with tools of violence.

As such, the intention of terrorist leaders is very similar to the intention of spiritual charlatans. Each seeks to undermine faith through initiating vulnerable people into a delusional perspective that helps lower the threshold against committing acts (violent or otherwise … with respect to one's self or in relation to others) that are contrary to the actual requirements of spiritual etiquette.

There are legitimate forms of jihad and there are illegitimate forms of jihad. The legitimate forms of jihad have nothing to do with indiscriminate violence and, with the exception of very special and limited circumstances, have nothing to do with violence. Rather, all forms of legitimate jihad -- whether in the form of speaking the truth in the face of tyranny, or the performance of a Hajj which is accepted by Allah, or struggling and striving against the problematic urgings of the desires and motivations of the nafs (the seat of rebellion against Divinity in a human being) -- have to do with refining moral character through sacrifice, and not with sacrificing moral character (as well as the concomitant tools of faith which are associated with such character) through committing violence against others.

There are legitimate forms of mysticism, and there are illegitimate forms of mysticism. The legitimate forms of mysticism require the assistance of someone who is not a spiritual charlatan, just as the pursuit of authentic jihad (which only very rarely requires armed conflict and when this is truly necessary must be pursued within strict guidelines) requires assistance from those who are well ensconced in the tools of faith, rather than the tools of violence.


To further pursue ideas related to the problems and issues surrounding the process of making a constitution which is built around principles of equitability and righteousness, please link to O Canada: Whose Land, Whose Dream?)

Anab Whitehouse

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


The creation of categories such as Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb is exploited by radical, violence-prone extremist leaders in a number of ways. For instance, once one has constructed a category of people who are described as being beyond the pale of Islam (i.e., Dar al-Harb), then, it becomes a quick hop, skip and a jump to begin referring to everyone in such a category as infidels, unbelievers, apostates, idol-worshipers, and people of jahili [that is, those who supposedly exemplify the qualities of spiritual ignorance -- jahiliyyah -- which existed in Arabia prior to the advent of the Prophetic mission of Muhammad (peace be upon him)].

For example, consider the following verse of the Qur’an:

“You shall fight back against those who do not believe in Allah,
nor in the Last Day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His
messenger have prohibited, nor do they abide by the religion
of truth -- among those who received the scripture -- until
they pay the due tax, willingly or unwillingly.” (9: 29)

Some individuals attempt to use the foregoing as justification for waging war against Christians and Jews because they claim that the latter groups do not “abide by the religion of truth” They claim that this verse gives Muslims permission to fight and wage war against such groups.

Such an understanding is problematic in a number of ways. First of all, individuals who argue in this manner cannot convincingly demonstrate -- via the complete set of teachings given expression through the Qur’an and Hadith … not just partial, distorted, and selectively edited versions of these texts -- that Allah intends for the foregoing verse to apply for all times and to all Muslims, rather than to just the Prophet and the circumstances of that period of history.

There appears to be a general belief among many Muslims that because the Qur’an is a book of Divine guidance, then, this means that whatever occurs, or is said, in relation to the Prophet is applicable to everyone else. However, the fact of the matter is there are differences between the Prophet and other Muslims.

For more than thirteen years -- a time encompassing the period of time in Mecca and the first several years after hijra, or migration, from Mecca to Yathrib (later Medina) -- God did not permit Muslims to defend themselves through armed conflict. This was the case despite the many forms of abuse -- including a two year period of siege in which the Prophet, members of his family, and followers were nearly starved to death -- which were directed against Muslims, in general, and the Prophet, in particular.

At a certain juncture following hijra and prior to the Battle of Badr, permission came for the Prophet to organize the defense of Muslims against aggression. Over the next five or six years, there were a number of armed battles which took place, and, yet, through all these conflicts, no more than 250 non-Muslims were killed and an even smaller number of Muslims lost their lives.

Following the conquest of Mecca by Muslims, there were a number of minor conflicts with several regions near Mecca and Medina, but these were handled largely through the tactic of siege rather than armed battles. Toward the last few years of the Prophet’s life, there was peace in the land.

Why do modern-day, fanatical, fundamentalist extremist jihadists automatically assume that the part of the Prophet’s life which should be used as a model for conduct is armed conflict rather than the non-violent approach -- despite substantial provocation -- which characterized the vast majority of the Prophet’s life? Why do these modern-day jihadists automatically assume that the Divine permission which was given to the Prophet with respect to the waging of war under certain circumstances necessarily accrues to all ensuing generations of Muslims? Why do modern-day jihadists only treat those portions of the Qur’an which mention armed conflict (and there are only about 164 verses, out of some 6,000, or so, total verses in the Qur’an which deal with these matters) in terms of the permissions to fight which is given rather than the many prohibitions which place due limits on such permission, and rather than on the many other non-violent spiritual lessons which are woven into the Quranic text surrounding, as well as within, such verses? Why do modern-day jihadists accrue to themselves the same spiritual authority and stature of the Prophet and, therefore, arrogantly presume that God necessarily will extend to them the same permissions concerning armed conflict that was accorded to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) or that the Prophet approves of what they are doing?

Secondly, in relation to the Quranic verse cited toward the beginning of this post, Christians and Jews do believe in God as well as the Last Day, and they prohibit many, if not most, of the same things which Allah and the Prophet prohibit -- such as: killing, stealing, dishonesty, corruption, injustice, adultery, not respecting one’s parents, and so on. Even the dietary prohibitions given through the Qur’an are observed by Jewish people and should be observed by Christians because such prohibitions are in the Old Testament which, supposedly, is accepted by Christians as the Word of God and, and, yet, many Christians have been spiritually misled by their so-called church leaders into supposing that such dietary permissions and prohibitions do not apply to them.

Thirdly, the foregoing Quranic verse refers to those who do not abide by the “religion of truth among those who received the scripture”. This raises a variety of questions.

For instance, with respect to the identity of those individuals who are alluded to as those who do not abide by the religion of truth, there is some ambiguity -- at least on the surface of the Quranic text -- both with respect to who they are and the precise way in which such people are not abiding by that ‘religion of truth’. In addition, one wonders who, beside Allah and the Prophet, is qualified to make such a judgment?

Whose conception of the “religion of truth” is to serve as the standard against which all other understandings are to be measured? -- that of the Wahhabis? that of the philosophers? that of the fundamentalist theologians? that of jurists? that of the jihadists who treat everyone as an apostate and infidel except those who believe and act as they do? What proofs can be offered that such interpretations are acceptable to God? Why should only the opinions of theologians and jurists be considered in such matters, and why doesn’t the quality of such theological and juridical opinions seem to matter as much as the fact that these individuals are willing to give their blessings to violence and armed conflict against anyone who disagrees with them?

Moreover, to what extent must someone not abide by the religion of truth before one can wage war against them? After all, none of us is perfect. We all make mistakes for which we are in need of God’s forgiveness, if not, as well, the forgiveness of our fellow human beings.

Consequently, to one extent or another, there are few, if any, of us who do not, in one way or another, fail to abide by the religion of truth. If this were not so, we would not be encouraged to seek God’s forgiveness. If this were not so, the Qur’an would not have indicated:

“If Allah were to take humankind to task for their wrong-doing,
God would not leave on Earth a living creature, but God reprieves
human beings until an appointed time. (16: 61)

Is one to assume that in the earlier Quranic verse (i.e., 9: 29), God is instructing human beings to make constant war on one another no matter how trifling the manner may be in which someone does not abide by the religion of truth and despite the fact that, notwithstanding the mistakes which someone may make, that, nonetheless, such people still do believe in God, the Last Day, and the things which have been prohibited by God and the Messenger? And, just how does God’s directive that there is to be no compulsion in matters of Deen fit into the alleged directive that Muslims are supposed to fight anyone who does not abide by the religion of truth?

God is not saying things in a contradictory way. Human beings -- such as would-be terrorist leaders -- are imposing contradictions upon the sacred texts by failing to take into consideration the entire body of teachings and how those teachings can modulate one another in ways which give human beings a lot more degrees of freedom concerning the manner in which one abides by ‘the religion of truth’ than are fanatical, fundamentalist, violence-prone, extremist jihadists who are trying to induce people to adopt a delusional framework through spiritually abusive techniques of misrepresenting the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet.

In addition to the foregoing considerations, the Quranic verse (9: 29) noted previously, indicates there is still a remedy which permits Muslims to avoid having to fight back even if those other individuals do not believe in God, nor the Last Day, nor prohibit what God and the Prophet forbid, nor abide by the ‘religion of truth’ -- even if they are among the people who have been given scripture. More specifically, if those who satisfy the foregoing conditions pay Jizya (a tax on non-Muslims), then, not only is no fighting required, but the paying of the Jizya tax is the end of the matter and there are no further requirements which need to be imposed on such people with respect to matters of belief or abiding by the ‘religion of truth’.

In the time of the Prophet, there was a legitimate source of authority through which reasonable judgments about such matters could be made. Furthermore, the requirement for paying Jizya extended only to those who lived within territory controlled by that legitimate source of authority. In other words, Jizya was not a tax which could be levied on just anyone by just anyone.

For hundreds of years, now, there are serious questions which can, and should, be raised about whether most of the people who currently govern in the Muslims world -- or who, in the past, have governed in the Muslim world -- constitute legitimate sources of authority. In fact the very issue of what it means for someone to be said to possess a legitimate source of authority (and on what grounds and in whose opinion) or whether such individuals are spiritually competent to make judgments about various social and individual matters (such as Jizya or collecting it) -- all of these matters are still very much unsettled within the Muslim world. Consequently, there also are serious questions which need to be asked today about who, if anyone, in the Muslims world has the legitimate, God-given spiritual authority to even ask for Divine permission to fight back against those who do not believe in God, nor the Last Day, nor prohibit what God and the Messenger prohibit or who do not abide by ‘the religion of truth’ -- and such matters are quite apart from the issue of defending oneself, or one’s family, or one’s community against unjust, unprovoked aggression.

Just because someone issues a fatwa (theological decree concerning legal issues), or just because someone speaks Arabic, or just because someone has attended this or that madrassa (school), or just because some people recognize someone as a spiritual authority, or just because someone has certain degrees or a certain educational pedigree – none of this necessarily means anything in and of itself. Unfortunately, these days, there are a lot of irresponsible, spiritually ignorant, abusive ‘leaders’ (among both alleged Sufis, as well as their exoteric namesakes) who call themselves shaykh or sheik who seem to believe that they are Divinely qualified to tell other people how to live their lives.

There are many individuals who are claiming that all manner of spiritual permissions have been given to them. However, claiming this, and actually being given such permission, are not necessarily the same thing -- especially when there are many questions which those people need to answer with respect to the fact that they seem more interested in inventing their own religion than following the full guidance given by God through the Qur’an and through the quality of character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Above and beyond the many questions which have been raised in the foregoing discussion, there is the question of why anyone would prefer the tools of violence over the tools of faith? Why, in other words, should fighting back -- even when permission is given -- always have to be understood to mean violent, armed conflict? Why can’t fighting back mean employing the tools of faith? Wasn’t the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reported to have said: “If someone treats you with nafs (the lower soul), then, treat them with ruh (spirit)?”

Yes, there are times when fighting back, in the sense of armed conflict, may be unavoidable. But, surely, discretion is the better part of valor.

The Qur’an indicates that “oppression is worse than murder” (2: 217). Yet, many of those who claim to be conducting jihad, in the sense of armed conflict, against the infidels are, themselves, guilty of much oppression, including against themselves, in relation to matters of truth.

In Volume 3, Book 43, Number 624, one finds the following hadith which is narrated by Anas:

Allah's Apostle said, "Help your brother, whether he
is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People
asked, "O Allah's Apostle! It is all right to help
him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him
if he is an oppressor?" The Prophet said, "By
preventing him from oppressing others."

Almost all those who have committed themselves to armed conflict against those whom they consider to be infidels, apostates, unbelievers, jihilist are guilty of oppressing others because they indiscriminately use tools of violence and oppressive compulsion. In the process, many innocent lives are destroyed.

Those who are inclined toward violence seem bereft of the tools of faith which, God willing, might open up the possibility of peaceful means for resolving difficulties. Unfortunately, most of these violence-prone individuals appear to have lost faith in the tools of faith -- the very tools for which they claim to be fighting and which they claim people are not practicing and the absence of which they cite as the cause of all the problems which face the Muslim community.

Fanatical, extremist, fundamentalist jihadists need to be restrained from oppressing others. However, using violence to restrain these individuals is neither, necessarily, the only option or the best option. Preferably, such individuals need to be shown that what they believe and what they are being taught and what they are teaching and what they are trying to bring about is delusional in character and an expression of spiritual abuse (which is always oppressive), and as such, is not, at all, an accurate reflection of God’s guidance in the Qur’an or the example provided by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Once an individual jettisons considerations of discernment in such matters -- as extremists frequently are intent on doing -- then, one will begin to see certain verses of the Qur’an, along with various hadiths selectively and inappropriately used in conjunction with the members of such artificially constructed groups.

For example, verses such as:

"And say not of those who are killed in the Way of
Allah, "They are dead," Nay, they are living, but
you perceive (it) not." (2: 154)


"And if you are killed or die in the Way of Allah,
forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than
all that they amass (of worldly wealths, etc.)."


"Think not of those who are killed in the Way of
Allah as dead, Nay they are alive, with their Lord,
and they have provision. They rejoice in what Allah
has bestowed upon them of His Bounty …” (3:169-170)


"But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He
will never let their deeds be lost." (47:4)

are cited, and potential converts to the terrorist cause are told that being killed in the way of Allah (Shaheed) is just the flip side of the coin of killing others in the way of Allah. Furthermore, the way of Allah is equated with performing jihad, and, then, jihad is restrictively interpreted to mean engaging in armed conflict against whoever is labeled and demonized as being infidels, apostates, unbelievers, and jihili by the extremist leaders.

In truth, all of the Quranic verses concerning armed conflict are specifically focused on the permission to engage in defensive wars which was given to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by God. At a certain juncture, a pledge (sometimes referred to as the Pledge of Ridhwan) was taken by those who were traveling with the Prophet at a place called Hudaibiyah, near Mecca. The nature of this pledge, which was taken by both men and women, was to give support to the Prophet and to be willing to engage in armed conflict whenever called upon to do so by the Prophet.

The pledge was directly accepted by the Prophet. However, as the Qur’an indicates:

“Surely, those who pledge allegiance to you, are pledging
allegiance to Allah. Allah approves their pledge; He
places His hand above their hands.” (48:10)

The Pledge of Ridhwan took place in the month of Dhul Qadah, 6. A.H. No fighting ensued immediately following the taking of this pledge, but, rather, a peace treaty was negotiated.

When the aforementioned treaty had been drawn up, it began with “In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.” The Quraish objected to this and wanted it struck from the accord. The Prophet had those words struck from the agreement.
Then, the Quraish objected to the fact that the document was signed with the name of Muhammad (peace be upon him), Messenger of Allah. They indicated that this was the very issue with which they most disagreed and wanted this removed from the agreement as well. The Prophet complied.

The treaty contained provisions and conditions which a number of the Muslims, who were accompanying the Prophet, felt placed Muslims at a tremendous disadvantage and which they believed were almost entirely favorable to the Meccan forces opposed to the Prophet. Some of the Muslims grumbled about, and were unhappy with, the terms of the accord.

The Prophet noticed the visible lack of pleasure with the accord and addressed the matter, asking the Muslims with him why they were upset with the treaty. After informing him of their concerns, the Prophet indicated that, in point of fact, the treaty was a great victory because it gave them the opportunity, free from hostilities and in an atmosphere of peace, to invite people to Islam.

Indeed, many people accepted Islam during this period of negotiated peace. And, the peace ended when the non-Muslims broke the conditions of the treaty, and it was the breaking of the treaty by the non-Muslims which led to subsequent armed conflict over the next several years.

The Qur’an mentions the pledge taken by the Muslims at Hudaibiya in the following way:

“Indeed Allah was pleased with the believers when they
gave their Bai`at (pledge) to you, (O Muhammad ) under
the tree, He knew what was in their hearts, and He sent
down ‘As Sakinah (calmness and tranquillity)’ upon them,
and He rewarded them with a near victory." (48: 18)

How many of modern-day radical, fundamentalist terrorists who call themselves Muslim understand that the reference to the “near victory” mentioned in the foregoing Quranic ayat may have been an allusion to the establishing of peace through non-violent means which followed soon after the collective making of the pledge of allegiance? Many so-called modern-day “jihadists” mention the Pledge of Ridhwan -- albeit in a distorted way which, through misdirection, seeks to transform a willingness to die into a willingness to kill -- and, yet, these same “leaders” fail to mention that such a pledge was immediately followed not by war but by a peace accord.

In the treaty of Hudaibiyah, the Prophet permitted, among other things, one of the most basic, recurring themes of the Qur’an -- namely, ‘in the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful’ -- to be removed from the document, and, as well, he permitted his own role as a Prophet to be denied and struck down. Where is the battle cry of the ‘jihadists’ in these actions of the Prophet … a battle cry which supposedly demands that the duty of all Muslims is to wage war against the pagans, unbelievers, infidels or people who are under the influence of the times of jahiliyyah and force these individuals to submit to Islam?

Presumably, modern-day jihadists would assassinate the Prophet as an apostate because he abdicated his responsibility -- according to them -- of observing the alleged duty to participate in violent, armed conflict against anyone who would not submit to Islam. Presumably, modern day jihadists would consider the Prophet to be a leader of insufficient and inadequate faith because he was inclined to use tools of faith first and foremost and would only sanction armed conflict under very specific and narrow set of conditions, as a last resort after other, peaceful, avenues had been met with rejection and hostility.

Modern-day, fundamentalist jihadists are spiritual charlatans who selectively distort the Qur’an, the Hadiths, along with Islamic history, in order to re-frame matters in a way that can be used to induce those who are in a state of dissociation to commit violence and feel as if they (those in a dissociative state) are serving the wishes of God and the Prophet when nothing could be further from the truth. This is spiritual abuse of the worse kind.

Extremist, terrorist leaders attempt to argue that the permission for armed conflict spoken of in the Qur’an, along with the Prophetic/Divine acceptance of pledges concerning participation in armed conflict are both in perpetuity and universal in character. In other words, they are claiming that such verses of the Qur’an give carte blanche permission to anyone and everyone to engage in armed conflict against whomever is labeled as unbelievers, apostates, or infidels, and, moreover, such extremists are alleging that the pledge of anyone -- regardless of circumstances, time, and intentions -- concerning his or her willingness to engage in armed conflict against whomever will automatically be accepted by the Prophet and Allah.

All such arguments are nothing but theological speculation and presumption. In fact, consider the following from Bukhari which is narrated by Nafi’:

“During the affliction of Ibn Az-Zubair, two men came to Ibn
'Umar and said, "The people are lost, and you are the son of
'Umar and a companion of the Prophet, so what stops you from
coming out and joining the conflict?" He said, "What stops
me is that Allah has prohibited the shedding of my brother's

They both said, "Didn't Allah say, 'And fight then until
there is no more affliction?’

Ibn ‘Umar said "We fought until there was no more affliction
and so that worship would be for Allah Alone, while you want
to fight until there is affliction and until the worship
becomes for other than Allah."

(Volume 6, Book 60, Number 40)

Through another group of sub-narrators, Nafi narrated the following hadith:

“A man came to Ibn 'Umar and said, "O Abu Abdur Rahman!
What made you perform Hajj in one year and Umra in another
year and leave the jihad for Allah's Cause though you
know how much Allah recommends jihad?"

“Ibn 'Umar replied, "O son of my brother! Islam is
founded on five principles, i.e. believe in Allah and
His Apostle, the five compulsory prayers, the fasting
of the month of Ramadan, the payment of Zakat, and
the Hajj to the House (of Allah).

“The man said, "O Abu Abdur Rahman! Won't you listen
to why Allah has mentioned in His Book: 'If two groups
of believers fight each other, then, make peace between
them, but if one of then transgresses beyond bounds
against the other, then you all fight against the one
that transgresses. (49.9) and:--"And fight them till
there is no more affliction "

Ibn 'Umar said, "We did this, during the lifetime of
Allah's Apostle when Islam had only a few followers.
A man would be put to trial because of his religion;
he would either be killed or tortured. But when the
Muslims increased, there was no more afflictions or

Interestingly enough, and perhaps related to the foregoing comments of ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) -- who was the son of Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) -- is the following tradition. More specifically, there is a long hadith narrated by Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) in which a stranger, who showed no signs of travel upon his clothes, came to the Prophet one day while the latter was seated with a number of Companions. The stranger proceeded to question the Prophet about the nature of Islam, Iman (faith), and Ihsan (spiritual excellence).

Nowhere in the answers given by the Prophet to these queries by the stranger was there any mention of jihad as being one of the five duties of a Muslim, or of jihad being one of the six basic articles of faith, or of jihad being the essence of spiritual excellence. And, yet, when the Prophet asked Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) if he knew who the stranger was and Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) replied in the negative, the Prophet is reported to have said:

“That was Gabriel (peace be upon him) and he has come today to teach you your Deen”

When the assassination of Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) was being plotted and plans were set in motion to trick his wife into poisoning him, Hazrat Hasan (may Allah be pleased with him) did not declare jihad against those who were plotting against him even though he knew about the plot and knew that his wife was involved. Instead, when he was dying from the poisoning, he warned his wife about the dangers which lay in wait for her at the hands of those who had induced her to poison him (her conspirators were going to assassinate her after she completed her permission).

When Hazrat Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him) traveled a great distance to stand up to, and resist, the oppression of Yezid, Hazrat Hussein (may Allah be pleased with him) did not compel his companions and family to engage in armed conflict. Rather, he gave them all the opportunity to withdraw from the situation and save their lives -- which they chose not to do and, as a result, almost all of them were slaughtered.

Whenever the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) participated in armed conflict, it is reported that he never raised a weapon against those who were opposed to him. The extent of his physical resistance was that, from time to time, he would pick up the arrows which had been shot at the Prophet, as well as the Muslim warriors surrounding him, and, then, hand the arrows to the Muslim archers.

The Prophet was always in the thick of battle because taking his life was the primary focus of his adversaries. Yet, he did not wield a weapon or try to kill anyone even though he was constantly under attack during such battles.

His jihad was of the very highest order of striving. He was willing to sacrifice his own life and all that he possessed for the sake of God, and, yet, he did not take the life of others.

At the battle of Badr, which is the first, major armed confrontation between Muslims and non-Muslims, the Prophet picked up some pebbles from the ground and threw them in the direction of the opposing forces. After this happened, the far superior and better equipped army of those who sought to exterminate the Prophet, Muslims and Islam all scattered, apparently perceiving themselves to be under attack by strange beings who filled the hearts of the Muslim opposition with tremendous fear. The Qur’an informed the Prophet about this occasion with “it was not you who threw when you threw. God is the one Who threw.” (8: 17)

God had given the permission for Muslims to defend themselves in the battle of Badr. The Prophet complied with the Divine directive in a relatively non-violent manner.

Contrary to the claims of modern-day, extremist ‘jihadists’, the Prophet did not pursue a policy in which polytheists must accept Islam or die. For example, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite
them to three courses of action. . . . Invite them to
(accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from
them and desist from fighting against them. . . . If
they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya
[the tax on non-Muslims which is fairly nominal]. If
they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off
your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s
help and fight them”. (Sahih Muslim, book 19, no. 4294).

First, one should understand that the foregoing counsel was given in relation to a situation in which a Muslim ambassador was assassinated in Byzantium territory. Secondly, the foregoing hadith refers to polytheists and not to people of the Book, or people who believe in God, or people who believe in the Last Day, or to converts. Thirdly, the polytheists are to be invited -- not compelled -- to accept Islam, for, indeed, as the Qur’an stipulates -- and as modern-day, extremist ‘jihadists’ are averse to remembering: “There shall be no compulsion in religion: the right way is now distinct from the wrong way.” (2:256) Fourthly, as long as such polytheists pay the Jizya tax (and Muslims, themselves, are required to pay zakat, so something is not being imposed on non-Muslims for which Muslims do not have a counterpart in financial responsibility in relation to the community), then, no further action is indicated, and they should be left alone. Fifthly, there is absolutely no indication about whether, or not, the foregoing hadith was meant to be a universal principle applicable across all time or was intended only for the circumstances which existed at that time. Finally, if polytheists refuse to pay the jizya tax, it does not necessarily follow that the only way of fighting with them is to kill them or do violence against them.

One could apply economic sanctions against them. Or, one could interact with them in non-cooperative, but non-violent ways. One could keep one’s social distance from them and not take them as allies or friends. Or, one could refuse to help defend them against other people who aggress against them.

With respect to anyone who was seeking to oppress the Prophet and the Muslim community, the Qur’an says:

“If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust
in Allah. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.” (8: 61)

The Qur’an did not say that the Prophet shall resort to peace only if the antagonists surrender to Islam. The guidance was unconditional and revolved only around the issue of whether, or not, those who were being hostile sought peace.

One of the favorite Quranic verses of modern-day, extremist jihadists is sometimes referred to as the ‘Sword Verse’. This verse says:

“Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make
peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter
them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they
repent and observe the obligatory prayers and give the
obligatory charity, you shall let them go. Allah is Forgiver,
Most Merciful.” (9: 5)

Just prior to the foregoing verse is a Divine reminder that:

“If the idol worshipers sign a peace treaty with you,
and do not violate it, nor band together with others
against you, you shall fulfill your treaty with them
until the expiration date. Allah loves the righteous.”
(9: 4)

Just after the so-called ‘Sword Verse’ there is guidance (9: 6) about how the Muslims should provide safe passage to any of the idol worshipers who request it so that such a person can hear the word of God and, then, the individual should be permitted to return to her or his people.

Furthermore, when one considers the ‘Sword Verse’, itself, in the context of the Quranic guidance which comes both before and after that verse, there are a number of factors which should be taken into consideration. First, the permission to fight is being given only if the idol-worshipers refuse to make peace. Secondly, Muslims are not being given permission to actively seek out such idol worshipers but, rather, Muslims are being told that ‘if’ the idol-worshipers should be encountered, and if they refuse to make peace, and if one is not bound by any treaties with them, and if they are not seeking safe-passage, and if they do not repent for their aggression, then, one has a variety of options -- namely, one may, if necessary, kill them, or one may punish them in some non-lethal and, possibly, non-violent way, or one may seek to resist (again, possibly, in non-violent ways) every non-peaceful move they make, or one may accept their becoming Muslim. Thirdly, one needs to emphasize that Muslims are not being specifically ordered to kill idol-worshipers but, rather, this is just one possibility among a number of options -- although, not surprisingly, those who are inclined to violence always wish to indulge their predilection for violence and conveniently forget that God is providing an array of alternatives. Fourthly, and, perhaps, most importantly, there is nothing to indicate that the Divine guidance expressed through the ‘Sword Verse’ is intended to serve as carte blanche permission for all Muslims who come after the Prophet to be able to kill idol-worshipers or to engage the latter in armed conflict.

Finally, and once again, attention needs to be drawn to the fact that the ‘Sword Verse’ refers to idol worshipers or polytheists -- not to people of the Book, not to Jews, not to Christians, not to those who believe in God, or the Last Day, or who seek to do deeds of righteousness for the sake of God. Although modern-day, extremist jihadists seek to try to expand the category of ‘idol worshipers’ to include everyone with whom they disagree or who disagrees with them, or whom they consider to be ‘insufficiently Muslim’, or whom they consider to be apostates, or whom belongs to another faith tradition, or are secular leaders, or whom they consider to be infidels, the so-called ‘Sword verse’ applies only to idol worshipers/polytheists, nonetheless, the mental gymnastics of fanatical, extremist jihadists are just part of the package of techniques they have to spiritually abuse those who are vulnerable as a result of the latter’s condition of dissociation due to a variety of personal, social, political, economic, historical, and spiritual circumstances.

Some of these modern-day, extremist jihadists refer to the Quranic verse:

“For this reason did We prescribe to the children of
Israel that whoever slays a soul, unless it be for
manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as
though he slew all men; and whoever keeps a soul alive,
it is as though he kept alive all men; and certainly
Our apostles came to them with clear arguments, but
even after that many of them certainly act
extravagantly in the land.” (5: 32)

They use the foregoing verse as justification for committing free-wheeling aggression against other than idol worshipers, claiming that those whom the terrorists oppose are precisely those individuals who are spreading mischief and corruption in the land. How convenient!

The Qur’an verse above does not specify what constitutes mischief. Consequently, the arguments of extremist jihadists concerning the meaning of the foregoing Quranic verse are rather presumptuous and self-serving.

However, if one reflects upon the rest of the Qur’an, then, one might suppose that the real mischief makers are those who continue to commit aggression and resist overtures to peace, or those who seek to oppress and tyrannize believers (of all stripes), or those who are polytheists and are seeking to destroy believers (of all stripes), or those who are driving believers (of all stripes) from their homes or who are actively preventing believers (of all stripes) from worshiping Divinity. Somewhat ironically, the activities of modern-day, extremist jihadists tend to qualify such jihadists as being the very sort of mischief makers to whom they claim to be opposed.

One might also note in passing that it is interesting that the ‘Sword Verse’ only mentions prayer and zakat in reference to the conditions which the idol-worshipers are to observe if they are to be let go. Nothing is said about the first pillar of Islam concerning the bearing witness that ‘there is no reality but Divinity and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God’. Furthermore, there is nothing said in the verse about those who repent having to observe either fasting or Hajj.

When -- for their own self-serving, non-spiritual goals -- fanatical, extremist ‘jihadists’ seek to broaden the notion of who is to be considered to be an infidel, or a corrupter of the earth, or a polytheist, or an unbeliever, or an apostate, or one who is under the influence of jahiliyyah (ignorance), or one who is ‘insufficiently Muslim’ -- that is, all of the categories of human beings with respect to whom the ‘jihadists’ claim that a ‘real’ Muslim is not only justified in killing in the ‘way of Allah’, but, nay, has a religious duty to do so -- some of these fundamentalist fanatics wish to make women, children, the elderly, and non-combatants as legitimate targets for violence. In truth, there is no Quranic support for such delusional ideas, nor is there any justification for this in the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In Book 21, Number 21.3.9 of Muslim, one finds the following tradition:

“Yahya related to me from Malik from Nafi from
Ibn Umar that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, saw the
corpse of a woman who had been slain in
one of the raids, and he disapproved of
it and forbade the killing of women and

In another tradition, the following is reported:

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had
heard that Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz wrote to one
of his governors, "It has been passed down to
us that when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, sent out a raiding
party, he would say to them, 'Make your raids
in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah.
Fight whoever denies Allah. Do not steal from
the booty, and do not act treacherously. Do not
mutilate and do not kill children.' Say the
same to your armies and raiding parties,
Allah willing.
Peace be upon you."

Book 21, Number 21.3.10 of Muslim reports the counsel of Hazrat Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) -- the first Caliph, father in-law and close companion of the Prophet – namely:

"I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or
children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut
down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an
inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or
camels except for food. Do not burn bees
and do not scatter them. Do not steal from
the booty, and do not be cowardly."

In addition, as noted previously, the Quranic verse 5: 32 indicates that whoever kills another human being for “other than manslaughter or corruption in the Earth” it is as if such an individual killed the whole of humanity. How is it that women, just because they are women, or children, just because they are children, or the elderly, just because they are elderly, or a Muslim who one considers to be ‘insufficiently Muslim’ have – according to some fanatical ‘jihadists’ -- suddenly become perpetrators of corruption in the Earth and, therefore are worthy of being killed … despite the fact that the Qur’an, the Prophet (peace be upon him), and Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him) all teach something quite different?


God willing, Part 4 should appear tomorrow.

Anab Whitehouse

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


(Continued from Yesterday's Blog Entry)

The term “jihad” has been bandied about by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Oftentimes, individuals from both of these groups (e.g., fundamentalists of all stripes tend to use words in ways which best express their dogmatic interests) have sought to exploit this word by means of delusional systems which are intended to serve something other than the truth.

In Arabic, jihad is a verbal noun which conveys a sense of striving, struggle, or determined effort. Quite frequently in the Qur’an, the term jihad is followed by the words fi sabil Illah which means: in the way, path, or cause of Allah.

If the ‘way’, ‘path’, or ‘cause’ of Allah were meant to be violent, God wasted an awful lot of time with the thousands of other verses of the Qur’an which explore issues that are far removed from matters of armed conflict. If the ‘way’, ‘path’ or ‘cause’ of Allah were meant to be violent and oppressive (as so many fundamentalists seem to suppose), then, one can’t help but wonder why the Qur’an spends so much time talking about the importance of qualities such as patience, forgiveness, peace, tolerance, kindness, integrity, equitability, charitableness, honesty, modesty, and love.

Mujahid is the active participle of the underlying root and refers to someone who strives, struggles, or makes a determined effort. A mujahid, therefore, is someone who participates in jihad, broadly construed -- which is to say: activities that encompass a wide variety of modes of struggle, striving, and making a determined effort.

In Arabic there are terms which give expression to the idea of armed conflict much more directly, and less ambiguously, than does the word jihad. For instance, both ‘harb’ and ‘qital’ refer to the act of waging war, and, yet, the more ambiguous and nuanced term “jihad” is the word around which discussion revolves.

Those Muslims who are prone to violent solutions to problems don’t say: “Let’s declare ‘harb’ or let’s declare ‘qital’”. They say “We are declaring jihad” because the term “jihad” has a noble spiritual currency in Islam which war-mongers frequently wish to leverage for purposes other than the ‘cause’, or ‘path’ or ‘way’ of Allah.

Under the appropriate circumstances, harb or qital may be subsumed under, or encompassed by, the idea of jihad. However, not all forms of jihad will necessarily be expressed through the waging of armed conflict.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have said that ‘one performs the best jihad when one stands up and speaks out against injustice in the face of tyranny and oppression’. Moreover, when asked by A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) about whether women should be participating in the armed conflict which was taking place, Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: ‘The best and the most superior Jihad is the Hajj (pilgrimage) which is accepted by Allah’.

Some people claim that the latter saying of the Prophet applies only to women. However, the people who make such an allegation have absolutely no evidential proof concerning what the intention and frame of mind of the Prophet was at the time he is reported to have made the statements about the Hajj which is accepted by God as being the most superior form of jihad. Moreover, those who seek to argue that the foregoing reported words of the Prophet were intended only for women seem to forget that the Prophet accepted the pledge of fidelity, support, and willingness to die in the way of Allah, which was given at Hudaibiyah in 6 A.H., from both women and men.

At the very least, the Prophet’s statement to A’isha demonstrates that jihad can mean something besides armed conflict. In other words, in the foregoing hadith (a saying or tradition which is attributed to the Prophet), Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reportedly using the term jihad to refer to a form of striving and struggle which is other than armed conflict, and, therefore, anyone who wishes to reduce jihad to being nothing more than a synonym for waging war is contradicted by such sayings of the Prophet.

There is also another saying attributed to the Prophet which makes a distinction between the lesser jihad (al-jihad al-asghar) and the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar). More specifically, according to this tradition, the Prophet was returning from a physical battle against those who were seeking to oppress, if not destroy, Muslims. The Prophet indicated to those with him that they were going from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad, and when someone asked about what the Prophet meant, the Prophet explained that the physical battle was the lesser jihad and the struggle against one’s inner, carnal soul was the greater jihad.

The foregoing tradition does not appear in any of the major compilations of Hadith. However, this fact, in and of itself, means little more than that the methods used by those who compiled hadiths did not capture or yield the foregoing saying.

In other words, one needs to understand that any given collection of hadiths does not encompass everything which the Prophet actually said but, rather, includes only those sayings or traditions which are considered to be authentic sayings based on the methodology used to collect such sayings. There may be many things which the Prophet said which do not appear in a given compilation of hadiths simply because such sayings either fell outside the reach of those methods or because those methods did not recognize such sayings as being authentic.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) may, or may not, have said the above tradition about the distinction between the greater and lesser jihad. All that can be said is that none of the major sets of compilations contains the aforementioned hadith, but, nevertheless, the hadith is accepted as authentic by many Sufi shaykhs who are well versed in the methodology of hadith compilation, and despite knowing that the above tradition does not appear in any of the major collections, nonetheless, the tradition is accepted by them as authentic.

In order to motivate would-be terrorist candidates, modern-day jihadist extremists like to speak about jihad in terms of its being the most virtuous deed one can perform. They site hadiths such as the following which is narrated by Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) in Volume One of Bukhari:

“A man came to Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) and
said "Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad
(in reward)." The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied,
"I do not find such a deed." Then he added, "While
the Muslim fighter is in the battlefield, can you
enter your place of worship to perform prayers without
cease and fast and never break your fast?" The man
said, "But who can do that?" Abu Huraira (may Allah
have mercy on his soul) added, "The Mujahid (i.e.
the person participating in jihad) is rewarded even
for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders about
(for grazing) tied on a long rope".

In another hadith which is narrated by Abu Said
Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him), somebody
asked, "O Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him)!
Who is the best among the people?" Allah's
Messenger (peace be upon him) replied, "A
believer who performs Jihad with his life
and wealth."

The latter hadith is more general than the former hadith. More specifically, the latter hadith does not mention battlefields or armed conflict, and, consequently, leaves open the possibility that the Prophet (peace be upon him) may have been speaking about jihad in a more inclusive sense, encompassing an array of different kinds of striving which were not restricted just to armed conflict.

The Qur’an indicates that:

“Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard with their wealth and lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised salvation, but Allah has preferred those who strive hard above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward." (4: 95).

In the foregoing verse, the Qur’an is clear that those who strive hard with their wealth and lives are preferred above those who merely sit at home and do not use their wealth and lives to struggle in the way of Allah. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Qur’an also indicates that those who do not strive hard with their wealth and lives are not necessarily condemned thereby but, rather, if they seek to submit in other ways, are promised salvation by God.

In addition, once again, the wording of the Qur’an leaves open the possibility that a broader form of striving is being indicated than just armed conflict. Unfortunately, those individuals who are inclined toward violence often like to interpret the Qur’an according to their own violent inclinations, and they use their predilections to mislead (and, therefore, spiritually abuse) people who are vulnerable while in a state of dissociation and who are, therefore, desperately trying to seek release from their internal turmoil and pain.

More specifically, if someone feels lost, alone, alienated, scattered, hopeless, and without a sense of purpose or identity (i.e., they are in a state of dissociation), and, then, someone comes along and says I know a way for you to have purpose, meaningful identity, hope, a sense of belonging, and focus, then, naturally, the former individual is likely to express some degree of interest in such a ‘solution’. If the person in a condition of dissociation hears, as well, that the aforementioned solution to one’s problems is also the most virtuous deed in the sight of God and that this claim can be proved through verses of the Qur’an as well as through words which the Prophet, himself, has uttered, it is very difficult for a Muslim who is in a dissociated condition not to be very intrigued with such possibilities.

Understanding the foregoing motivational dynamics, ‘leaders’ who are prone to violence and are in need of foot-soldiers for their own agenda will actively troll the waters of society for those individuals who are in a dissociated state and, therefore, who are very vulnerable to anything which appears to offer an escape from their personal, emotional, and spiritual problems. The elements of doing violence to others and sacrificing one’s own life will be introduced at a time, and in a context, when the ‘candidate’ for terrorist acts is likely to be most receptive to the ‘pitch’ which is intended to close the deal which converts someone into a once and future terrorist.

It is interesting that none of the foregoing hadiths or verses of the Qur’an which have been mentioned in the last several pages use the words ‘harb’ or ‘qital’(that is, the Arabic words which unambiguously give expression to waging war and armed conflict). No one, apparently, came to the Prophet and asked him: “Show me a deed that is the equal to ‘harb’ or ‘qital’. Furthermore, the Prophet did not say that he knew of no deed which was the equal of ‘harb’ or ‘qital’.

Moreover, the Qur’an did not say that Allah prefers, by degrees, those who engage in ‘harb’ and ‘qital’ over those who sit at home. Striving with one’s life and wealth can be done in many different ways other than by engaging in armed conflict, and, yet, fundamentalist extremists who are inclined toward violence wish to restrict the meaning of jihad to being only about armed conflict.

Even with respect to the issue of whether, or not, jihad is the most virtuous deed, there are hadiths which indicate that jihad -- independently of how it is understood -- is not necessarily the most virtuous of deeds which a Muslim can perform. For instance, in Volume 1, Book 10, Number 505 of Bukhari, one finds the following tradition which is narrated by 'Abdullah:

“I asked the Prophet "Which deed is the dearest to Allah?" He
replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times."
I asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To be
good and dutiful to your parents". I again asked, "What is the
next (in goodness)?" He replied, 'To participate in Jihad
(spiritual struggle) in Allah's cause."

A variation of the foregoing hadith is reported by Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) in Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25 of Bukhari:

Allah's Apostle (peace be upon him) was asked, "What is the
best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah and His Apostle
(Muhammad). The questioner then asked, "What is the next
(in goodness)? The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied,
"To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's
Cause." The questioner again asked, "What is the next (in
goodness)?" He replied, "To perform Hajj 'Mubrur, (that
pilgrimage which is accepted by Allah and which is
performed with the intention of seeking only Allah's

In Volume 2, Book 15, Number 86 of Bukhari collection of hadiths, Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates the following:

“The Prophet said, "No good deeds done on other days
are superior to those done on these (first ten days of
Dhul Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet
said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad,
except that of a man who does it by putting himself
and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and
does not return with any of those things."

Finally, in another hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:

“There is a polish for everything which takes away
the rust of that which is polished, and the polish
for the heart is the remembrance of God (zikr).

One of the Companions said: “Is not repelling the
infidel like this?” Muhammad (peace be upon him)
said: “No! Even if one fights until one’s sword
is broken.”

In each of the aforementioned hadiths, there are deeds that are being described which, contrary to the proclamation of modern-day jihadists, are better or superior to that of jihad. Moreover, the one exception to the foregoing statement concerns the sort of jihad in which a person places his or her own life and wealth at risk and, then, both dies and loses one’s wealth in the process.

Nonetheless, even in the latter instance, the emphasis is on risking and losing one’s life and wealth rather than on killing others. Modern-day extremist jihadists seek to conflate and confuse the two (that is, willingness to give one’s life and killing others), but the two are not the same.

Indeed, there is another reported hadith which underlies the foregoing emphasis of sacrificing one’s life rather than on the taking of the lives of others. More specifically:

Book 21, Number 21.14.33:

“Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said,
"The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace, was sitting by a grave which was being dug at Madina.
A man looked into the grave and said, 'A terrible bed for
a believer. 'The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace, said, 'Terrible? What you have said
is absolutely wrong.' The man said to the Prophet, 'I
didn't mean that, Messenger of Allah. I meant being
killed in the way of Allah.' The Messenger of Allah,
may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, 'Being
killed in the way of Allah has no like!”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not say that killing in the way of Allah has no like. He said being killed in the way of Allah has no like.

If one speaks out against tyranny (a form of jihad) and dies in the process, then, according to the foregoing hadith, this is an act which has no like. If one goes on a Hajj that is accepted by Allah (another form of jihad) and dies along the way, then, this kind of action is one of the things for which there are no other non-jihad oriented activities that can compare. If one strives with all one’s life and wealth against one’s own carnal soul (a further form of jihad -- the greater jihad according to authentic Sufi shaykhs), then, this is a form of activity with which non-jihad activities cannot compare.

As indicated previously, on certain occasions, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that such and such was superior to jihad, while, on other occasions, he seemed to indicate that jihad was superior to all other kinds of activities. When juxtaposed next to one another, some people may be inclined to consider such traditions to be contradictory.

However, the Prophet is reported to have counseled people to speak with others according to the level of understanding of those with whom one was speaking. Consequently, quite plausibly, depending on circumstances, audience, and the Prophet’s own spiritual state at the time of a given discussion, the Prophet may have emphasized certain actions at some junctures to certain people, while emphasizing other actions at certain junctures to people of a different level of understanding or who had a different set of needs to be addressed which took priority under a different set of circumstances.

All of the guidance was valid, and all of the teachings, when properly delineated, could be reconciled with one another. However, how the spiritual material was presented, as well as what kind of emphasis would be given to such material, might vary from situation to situation and from person to person.

For example, during Hajj, different people came to the Prophet and indicated they had performed the various rites of pilgrimage in a certain sequence. They were seeking assurances from the Prophet that what they had done was correct.

The sequence of steps observed by these individuals was different in a number of instances. Yet, the Prophet is reported to have indicated that all such sequences were acceptable.

Similarly, there was a time when one of the Companions heard someone reciting the Qur’an in a way which was different from the way in which he recited the Qur’an. Since the latter individual had learned to recite from the Prophet, he took exception with that manner of reciting the Qur’an which differed from his.

They both went to the Prophet in order to discuss the situation. After providing demonstrations of their respective modes of reciting the Qur’an, they were informed that both styles of Quranic recitation were correct, and, in fact, there were seven different major modes of reciting the Qur’an, along with a larger number of minor variations, all of which were acceptable.

Consequently, just because different people may understand something in a variety of ways does not necessarily mean, in, and of itself, that all such understandings can’t simultaneously be true. Truth may admit to a variety of degrees of freedom, and unfortunately, God’s truth tends to be far more expansive than is the willingness of people who insist on making truth conform to their narrow, inflexible, dogmatic, limited, and, quite frequently, error-riddled conceptions of that truth.

Notwithstanding all of the foregoing considerations, one should try to keep certain factors in mind when thinking about hadiths of any kind. First of all, and quite ironically, there are hadiths which indicate that the Prophet did not approve of people making compilations of his sayings, and, as well, there are hadiths which indicate that on a number of different occasions the Prophet had such collections brought to him and destroyed.

Ibn Saeed Al-Khudry reported that Prophet Muhammad said:

"Do not write anything from me except Qur’an. Anyone who
wrote anything other than the Quran shall erase it."

In another tradition, some thirty years after the Prophet had
passed away, Zayd Ibn Thabit, a close companion of the Prophet,
visited the Khalifa Mu'aawiyah and related a story about the
Prophet which Mu'aawiyah liked. Mu’aawiyah ordered someone to
write the story down. But Zayd said: "the messenger of God
ordered us never to write down anything of his hadith."

In another tradition narrated by Abu Huraira, the messenger
of God was informed that some people are writing his hadiths.
The Prophet took to the pulpit of the mosque and said, "What
are these books that I heard you wrote? I am just a human
being. Anyone who has any of these writings should bring it
here.” Abu Huraira said we collected all these writings and
burned them.”

Abu Bakr Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with) had a collection of some 500 hadiths of the Prophet. However, after hearing from the Prophet (peace be upon him) about the dire consequences which might befall anyone who perpetrated untruths concerning what the Prophet said, this close Companion of the Prophet burned his collection of sayings after spending the night struggling over the issue of whether, or not, to retain his set of traditions.

Hazrat ‘Umar and Bibi A’isha (may Allah be pleased with them both) each had disagreements over the accuracy and authenticity of a variety of hadiths which had been collected and related by Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on him). Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) was among the first to begin compiling a collection of alleged Prophetic sayings and who, despite only being in the company of the Prophet for a few years had, apparently, collected thousands of hadiths more than people who had spent decades in the company of the Prophet.

During the time when Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was Caliph, he directed Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) to stop reporting hadiths to others as a result of these disagreements concerning the extent of the authenticity and accuracy of some of the traditions being reported by the latter individual. Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) complied with this directive until after Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was assassinated, at which point Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) began, again, to promulgate his collection of hadiths

In another context, Caliph, Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) appointed Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) to be governor of a certain region. However, after a time, the Caliph recalled his governor and asked him to explain how someone who had assumed such a position with no money had accumulated so much money in such a short period of time and required his governor to turn over a substantial portion of the money which the governor had accumulated during his tenure.

One of the conditions or requirements devised by later traditionalists, such as Bukhari and his student, Muslim, for determining which hadiths were to be accepted as authentic and which ones were to be rejected revolved about the moral character of the individuals who were part of the isnad, or chain of transmission, for a given saying. Without wishing to pass any final judgment about the quality of the character of Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy upon his soul), nonetheless, the foregoing discussion concerning disagreements about whether, or not, Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) was reporting Prophetic sayings accurately and whether, or not, he had conducted himself with integrity when a governor during the Caliphacy of Hazrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) tend to raise the sorts of question which might have disqualified Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy on his soul) as a reliable source of hadiths. However, this is not the case, and, as a result, one finds many sayings among the major collections of hadith that are attributed to the Prophet, yet which are traced back to Abu Huraira (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) as the primary narrator.

In addition to the foregoing considerations, one might also reflect upon the following facts. Muslim, who was a student of Bukhari and who became a prominent compiler of hadiths in his own right (and both of these compilers of traditions began their work several hundred years after the Prophet had passed away), rejected more than four hundred of the hadiths which his mentor considered to be authentic, while Bukhari rejected some 4-500 hadiths which his student, Muslim, considered to be authentic.

None of the compilers of hadith are the Prophet (peace be upon him), and none of the compilers of hadith are the Qur’an. Even when what is reported by compilers of tradition are authentic and accurate, these compilations do not necessarily provide any clues about the intention with which the Prophet said such things, or toward what kind of an audience (whether restricted or general) instruction was being directed by the Prophet, or what the meaning was of what the Prophet may have said.

The foregoing comments are not intended to demonstrate that there is no such thing as an authentic hadith of the Prophet. Rather, the previous discussion is meant to induce a certain amount of caution when thinking about reported hadiths and whether, or not, and the extent to which, one believes that such hadiths ought to govern one’s life -- this is especially the case in situations where one is being told that killing other people or doing violence to other people is the greatest virtue a Muslim can perform -- which many fundamentalist, extremist, jihadist leaders attempt to claim.

Whatever one’s views may be with respect to the authenticity of this or that hadith, the foregoing demonstrates that would-be terrorist leaders can site the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a authority for terrorist activities only by either completely ignoring hadiths which contradict their point of view, and/or selectively interpreting the traditions of the Prophet, and/or failing to consider individual hadiths against a far larger backdrop of teachings from the hadith and Qur’an which are intended to place limits on, as well as modulate in various ways, traditions which are being removed from, or considered independently of, a much larger context of spiritual guidance.

As a result, vulnerable people -- that is, those who often are in dissociative states and are seeking solutions for the pain, stress, doubt, anxiety, fear and so on of felt dissociation -- are not permitted by terrorist ‘leaders’ to explore all sides of a spiritual issue. Instead, these spiritually abusive ‘leaders’ present only that information which usually has been reframed, or deliberately distorted, or taken out of context and, therefore, removed from the limiting influence of other kinds of spiritual values and teachings which also should be taken into consideration before any decision is reached in a given matter -- for example, whether to commit violence against others.

In addition to the foregoing sorts of consideration, there are some individuals who -- lacking in tools of faith and, as a result, are inclined to resort to tools of violence as a way of ‘settling’ matters –- these individuals seek to frame the situation in ways that ‘help’ identify those people who should be the ‘rightful’ objects of their violence. For instance, there are some Muslims who have divided up the world into Dar al-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the Abode of War). Some of these same Muslims have further subdivided Dar al-Harb into People of the Book and polytheists.

Although both the Prophet and the Qur’an do speak about Muslims, people of the Book, and polytheists, neither the Prophet nor the Qur’an speaks in terms of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. These are concepts developed by theologians, jurists, philosophers, and others who arose after the Prophet passed away and who were advancing their own theoretical hermeneutics concerning their understanding of things.

The fact of the matter is there are parts of the Muslim world which are engaged in harb, while there are parts of the non-Muslim world which are not so engaged. If Dar al-Harb is meant to refer to those parts of the world which at war with faith, then, there are times when some Muslims should, themselves, be included in Dar al-Harb, just as there are times when the peace and submission to God which prevails in some non-Muslim communities would render them to be part of Dar al-Islam.

Furthermore, there is prima facie evidence from the Qur’an that placing People of the Book within Dar al-Harb is actually a mistake. For example, in the Qur’an, one finds the following verses:

[2:62] “Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in Allah, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.”

[5:69] “Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who (1) believe in Allah and (2) believe in the Last Day, and (3) lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.”

In addition, one also finds the following verses in different parts of the Qur’an:

[2:136] “Say, "We believe in Allah, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters."

[2:285] “The messenger has believed in what was sent down to him from his Lord, and so did the believers. They believe in Allah, His angels, His scripture, and His messengers: "We make no distinction among any of His messengers." They say, "We hear, and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny."

[3:84] Say, "We believe in Allah, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs, and in what was given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among any of them. To Him alone we are submitters."

[4:150] Those who disbelieve in Allah and His messengers, and seek to make distinction among Allah and His messengers, and say, "We believe in some and reject some," and wish to follow a path in between;

[4:151] these are the real disbelievers. We have prepared for the disbelievers a shameful retribution.”

To claim that People of the Book, Jews, Christians, converts, or anyone who believes in God, and in the Last Day, and seeks to do righteous works are not members of Dar al-Islam seems, at the very least, a problematic notion. Moreover, to try to claim that distinctions should be made among the Prophets in the sense that the followers of some should be assigned to Dar al-Islam and the followers of others should be assigned to Dar al-Harb is inconsistent with what the foregoing verses of the Qur’an are directing Muslims to do and, in fact, is precisely the sort of thing about which the Qur’an is seeking to warn believers to avoid in 4: 150-151, noted above. Finally, to use such terms as ‘harbis’ with respect to people who do believe in God and the Last Day, and who seek to do righteous works -- and, therefore, actually are, from the perspective of the Qur’an, among those who, according to their understanding, submit to God -- seems arbitrary, arrogant, presumptuous, lacking in humility, and unjustifiably discriminatory.

(To be continued tomorrow, God Willing)

Anab Whitehouse