Over at reddit, a user posted a question under the heading “Atheist looking for knowledge in light of the horrible events in Kenya.” A user named /u/Alienm00se responded with a very clear and cogent look at the extremist mentality, one I wish were shared openly by more members of the Muslim faith. It’s worth repeating, so I share it here.
First; you need to understand the extremist mentality. This is simultaneously independent of any single, and inclusive of any and all religious (Christian/Muslim/Jew ), socioeconomic ( Communist/ Capitalist ) and political beliefs ( White Supremacist Conservative/Eco-terror Liberal ). The extremist believes that their way of life, the circumstances in which they grew up, are the only righteous/fair/proper way to live and believes this with such fervor that they are offended merely by the existence of other lifestyles and points of view.
Now (thank God), most religious, socioeconomic and political beliefs do not claim this extremist view, and in fact preach against extremism in favor of tolerance of – if polite disagreement with – other points of view. The extremist must therefore seek twist the belief system in order to make it seem as though its original intent was to promote the destruction of other points of view.
Extremists in Islam, admittedly, perhaps have an easier time with corruption this than other groups, because Islam itself was born in a rebellion of sorts against the ruling pagans of the city of Mecca – the Qurayish. In an effort to liberate themselves from Qurayish rule, and to guarantee their right to freedom of religion and speech, the early muslims fought a revolution against the Meccans for many years; and both the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Qu’ran give lessons on the rules of war to guarantee that the Muslims did not lose their humanity whilst fighting for freedom.
The Islamic rules of warfare are as follows:
- “Fight in the name of your religion with those who fight against you.” (read; for self-defense only)
- “And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.”
- “Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed – Allah indeed has power to grant them victory – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah”.
Explicitly forbidden is:
- Murder of women and children, old men, monks, peasants, employees and traders who are not engaged in the battle.
- Fighting during months that are sacred to the muslims and to their enemy.
- Fighting solely to make the enemy muslim; “There is no compulsion in religion. The right way has become distinct from error.” , “But if the enemies incline towards peace, do you also incline towards peace. And trust in God! For He is the one who hears and knows all things.” , “Fight in the way of God against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! God loveth not aggressors.”
- Disturbing the peace of civillians: “‘Anyone who disturbs free passage in the streets and renders them unsafe to travel, striving to spread corruption in the land by taking money, killing people or violating what God has made it unlawful to violate is guilty . . .”
- Sneak Attacks – Muhammad (saw) mandated that 4 months notice be given before an attack.
- Any violence that is not absolutely essential to one’s survival; ““Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” , “And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.”
- Cutting off water to an enemy population
- Depriving them of food by destroying crops/livestock; “I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town…”
- Mistreatment of the enemy’s body while living (torture) or dead (mutilation)
CLEARLY – Terrorist attacks of any kind, including the atrocious massacre in Kenya, goes directly opposed to all muslim teachings; including and especially laws governing war because the terrorists:
- Killed innocent men, women, the old and children and
- Did so in an unprovoked sneak attack that
- Disturbed free passage of the streets for the purpose of
- Attacking people for not being muslims to make non-muslims fear for their lives because
- They were filled with hate so strong it prevented them from being just and righteous human beings
Obviously, many religions do not have any rules regarding warfare, so as stated above the arguments made by other extremists are intellectual, rather than having the ability to point to scriptural mentions of war. However, these laws regarding warfare lead to many lives being saved and the reputation of the Muslim army as good and honorable in its time. For example, when the Christian armies took Jerusalem during the Crusades, they murdered every muslim or jewish man, woman and child in the city. Despite this fact, when the Muslims came to re-conquer the city, Saladin allowed even the surrendered soldiers to leave peacfully with their families, despite the earlier massacre, and allowed christians and jews to visit the city for pilgrimage. Despite their claims to the contrary – today’s Mujihadeen are nothing like the early Islamic warriors.
Finally; The Qur’an assures Christians and Jews of paradise if they believe and do good works, and commends Christians as the best friends of Muslims. I wrote elsewhere, “Dangerous falsehoods are being promulgated to the American public. The Quran does not preach violence against Christians.
Quran 5:69 says (Arberry): “Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabeaans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness–their wage waits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow.”
In other words, the Quran promises Christians and Jews along with Muslims that if they have faith and works, they need have no fear in the afterlife. It is not saying that non-Muslims go to hell– quite the opposite.
When speaking of the 7th-century situation in the Muslim city-state of Medina, which was at war with pagan Mecca, the Quran notes that the polytheists and some Arabian Jewish tribes were opposed to Islam, but then goes on to say:
5:82. ” . . . and you will find the nearest in love to the believers [Muslims] those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”
So the Quran not only does not urge Muslims to commit violence against Christians, it calls them “nearest in love” to the Muslims! The reason given is their piety, their ability to produce holy persons dedicated to God, and their lack of overweening pride.
The actions of the extremists on rampage killings in Kenya are no more loved by us Muslims than any of the school, temple, workplace, mall, parking lot, or movie theater mass shootings are loved by Americans, and we condemn and despise them for their actions every bit as much as you do.
The doctrinal differences in belief systems in this context is irrelevant. Neither Christianity nor Islam is practiced perfectly by imperfect people. But hearing a declaration of this nature from a practicing Muslim goes a long way toward reassuring me that Islam is a religion of peace, at least with respect to their non-Muslim neighbors, and those who are guilty of extremist violence are defiling the very faith they claim to honor.
The Old Wolf has spoken.