Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
The Greatest Evil of History
WAR is not a new phenomenon. It has always been a part of human history. In the very first generation of man, fighting broke out between Adam’s two sons and, as a result, Abel was killed by his brother Cain. Fighting has continued since then in every group and nation.
However we learn from history that every period of conflict has its end. Conflict has always had a limited span. There is no battle which has raged indefinitely; even the First and Second World Wars were fought for limited periods of time.
But the case of the Muslim community appears to be totally different. We learn from history that once a battle is waged in the Muslim ummah it has continued. In this respect, Muslims have become an exceptional community. A deeper analysis of this matter shows that the reason for this is a justification having been found for violence. That is, violence has been legitimized by misinterpretation of religious law. Since, sacred law is unchangeable, the violence which is held justified by it allows no room for revision.
What is this ‘justified violence’? It is the perpetration of violence in the name of Islamic jihad. In Muslim history, all battles were fought in the name of jihad. And the traditional concept of Islamic jihad is that success awaits one in either of the two situations: in the case of victory as well as defeat. If they are victorious, Muslims who engage in jihad gain in worldly terms and in the case of defeat and death, they become martyrs and go straight to Paradise.
Rightfully speaking, in Islam, jihad in the sense of qital, or war, is undertaken only in defense. Since defense is a matter only for the state, it takes place infrequently.
All those Muslim activists who are engaged in war in the name of Islam are “non-state actors”. No established Muslim state is involved in this act. The nature of this present violence is itself un-Islamic. It is an accepted principle of Islam that, ‘To declare war is the prerogative of an established state.’ According to this principle, all those Muslim mujahideen who are engaged in war have no justification to do so in Islam.
Such people must unilaterally and unconditionally abandon all their violent activities and adopt totally peaceful activities. In present times, in particular, there is no possibility of such wars. Now, according to modern universal norms, man has been left no option but that of peace.
The fact is that this concept of 'justified war'—actually, a wrongful war—has been developed on the basis of a wrong interpretation of the Islamic scriptures, both the Quran and the Hadith.
The battles waged by Muslims in later times have not been in defense of their country, but—according to their own claim—have been engaged in, in order to eradicate tyranny and establish justice. This is without doubt a war of their own innovation. No where in the Quran or the Hadith have Muslims been commanded to resort to war for the purposes of eradicating oppression and establishing justice.
The fact is that this concept of ‘justified war’—actually, a wrongful war—has been developed on the basis of a wrong interpretation of the Islamic scriptures, both the Quran and the Hadith.
The worst form of this actually unjustified war is that which, in the beginning, is directed against other nations, but, in its second phase, develops into infighting among Muslims.
The reason is that when combatants see that they have derived nothing positive from war, they think that there must be some conspiracy against them to explain why their efforts have become futile. They even come to regard the people of their own community as conspirators, and imply that their failure is due to their machinations, and, this said, they direct their animosity at their own community.
When things come to this level, the evil goes beyond all limits, that is, Muslims start killing Muslims. The Prophet of Islam had already predicted this evil, which he said would creep into the ummah.
This prediction of the Prophet has been fulfilled in the twenty-first century. The self proclaimed jihadists are killing Muslims as well as others.
No where in the Quran or the Hadith have Muslims been commanded to resort to war for the purposes of eradicating oppression and establishing justice.
This phenomenon tells us that, in present times, violence among Muslims is the worst kind of evil. It is a warning to Muslims that if they do not repent and abandon the way of killing and bloodshed, they are taking the risk of being held as unbelievers in the eyes of God.
This prophetic warning should be enough to make the Muslims of today sincerely repent and altogether give up violence without a moment’s delay. They should throw their weapons into the sea and lead their lives as peaceful citizens. There is no other option for Muslims.