In a recent interview Huthaifa Azzam said, “If I saw an American or British man wearing a soldier’s uniform inside Iraq I would kill him because that is my obligation. If I found the same soldier over the border in Jordan I wouldn’t touch him. In Iraq he is a fighter and an occupier, here he is not. This is my religion and I respect this as the main instruction in my religion for jihad.”
He is also quoted as saying, “That is the last thing my father would have wanted but he knew the dangers of it. He always warned people to stay away from the extremists, he even put it in his will. What is happening today with Al-Qaeda is not his way.”
Abdullah Azzam (r) is attributed with the saying, “Muslims cannot be defeated by others. We Muslims are not defeated by our enemies, but instead, we are defeated by our own selves.”
I sense there is much truth in this from my discussions with many Muslims at the grassroots over the last few years. I have noticed that Jihad, and what Muslims have to say about it, is becoming an issue in itself, and this is true of many other - once unshakable and clear - foundations or pillars of our religion. Much of these are now becoming confused, and redefined in extremes of the left or the right. I won’t bother with what non-Muslims say or think, as it is of little or no value for us in our own understanding of our religion.
There are some Muslims who go out of their way to deny the full meaning and understanding of the term Jihad. They would look for ways to diminish its meaning to that of just self-purification – Jihad al-Nafs. Then you have the opposite, those who go out of their way to describe it as just Qital or warfare and exclude self-purification, and all the other meanings it encompasses.
There are a few Muslims who promote the understanding of the term Jihad in its comprehensive glory, one that reflects history as well as the practice of Muslims going back to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
There are multiple reasons for this, but primarily, in my opinion, it is to do with the restrictions (whether perceived or actual) placed on Muslims by themselves. Self-censorship has taken many Muslims to the point where you can almost feel the contempt they have for Jihad. We have had campaign after campaign that tells people Islam is peace, scholars, activists and droves of Muslims rush to let everyone know that Islam is peace.
Of course this action by the vast majority is noble and I am not knocking that – but I am concerned why they could not say Islam is about Justice – peace is related to Justice. What peace does a man have when he is oppressed? What peace does the soul have when it has transgressed Allah’s boundaries? Is it not said that Muslims are in the category of Nafs (soul) al-Lawamma (questioning/blame) and we aspire to be in the category of Nafs al-Mutma’innah (soul at peace)?
By this approach we have caused disillusionment and in some instances radical and extreme reactions from within. You may take Shaykh Anwar Awlaki as an example. Reading his blogs, one cannot help but feel his frustration at the constant denial of legitimate Islamic principles. Worse is the complete incompetence of some Muslims to distinguish between Jihad and acts of murder.
Whilst Hiqma is needed for Dawah – we cannot resort to it as a constant ‘asl’ (principle) for some of the major doctrines and pillars of our deen. We cannot and should not explain away Jihad using Hiqma – we need to ensure we give it the balanced meaning that it has.
The millions pumped in by the government to ‘de-radicalise’ Muslims will be a complete waste and will not really achieve anything other than one or two headlines here and there. The real victory will come when we start promoting ‘balance’ in this matter (and in our religion) and not either of the two extremes.
Abdullah Azzam (r) provided that balance – yet today he is viewed by some as a ‘terrorist’, by the same people who were his staunchest supporters and allies. Jihad was promoted and proved useful to repel the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan, but the same patrons now equate Jihad to terrorism when it comes to the Iraqi occupation by the Allies. Worse still are those who attribute the works of certain extreme groups to him – whilst we hear from his wife that “He was against attacks outside the battlefield. The enemy had to be clear and known and you didn’t leave the battlefield to attack elsewhere.”
To ensure that we as Muslims attain our goal of pleasing Allah – we have to be on the balance in respect of all matters. Of course, we expect the Islamophobes like Mad Mel and others to make an issue with this term – but we need to dismiss her and her fellow hypocrites for the hypocrisy and double standards that they spew.
Just remind yourself of what is taking place around the world and who is going around killing whom? Violence is a tool used for various reasons and it is justified by various means, some are religious and others are as simple as ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ or my personal favourite…for peace!
Where do you hear the ‘repentance’ and abdication of the use of violence as a tool for political, economic or ideological purposes? Did President-Elect Obama announce the dismantling of the American war machine?