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

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