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Ali Mahdi

Islam And Violence

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Al-Serat

Islam and the Question of Violence

Sayyed Husayn Nasr

Vol. XIII, No. 2

Despite the presence of violence in many regions of the world ranging from Ireland to Lebanon to the Pacific Basin and involving many religions from Christianity to Hinduism, the Western world associates Islam more than any other religion with violence. The Muslim conquest of Spain, the Crusades - which were not begun by Muslims -, and the Ottoman domination of Eastern Europe have provided a historical memory of Islam as being related to force and power. Moreover, the upheavals of the past few decades in the Middle East and especially movements using the name of Islam and seeking to solve problems of the Muslim world created by conditions and causes beyond the control of Muslims have only reinforced the idea prevalent in the West that in some special way Islam is related to violence.

To understand the nature of Islam and the truth about the assertion often made of Islam's espousal of violence. it is important to analyze this question clearly remembering that the word Islam itself means peace and that the history of Islam has certainly not been witness to any more violence than one finds in other civilizations, particularly that of the West. However, it is the Islamic principles and ideals which we are especially concerned with and not particular events or facts relating to the domain of historical contingency belonging to the unfolding of Islam in the plane of human history

First of all, it is necessary to define what we mean by violence. There are several dictionary definitions that can be taken into account such as 'swift and intense force', 'rough or injurious physical force or action', 'unjust or unwarranted exertion of force especially against the rights of others', rough or immediate vehemence' and finally 'injury resulting from the distortion of meaning or fact'. If these definitions are accepted for violence, then the question can be asked as to how Islam is related to these definitions. As far as 'force' is concerned, Islam is not completely opposed to its use but rather seeks to control it in the light of the divine Law (al-shari'a). This world is one in which force is to be found everywhere, in nature as well as in human society, among men as well as within the human soul. The goal of Islam is to establish equilibrium amidst this field of tension of various forces. The Islamic concept of justice itself is related to equilibrium, the word for

justice (al-'adl) in Arabic being related in its etymology to the word for equilibrium (ta'adul). All force used under the guidance of the divine Law with the aim of re-establishing an equilibrium that is destroyed is accepted and in fact necessary, for it means to carry out and establish justice. Moreover, not to use force in such a way is to fall prey to other forces which cannot but increase disequilibrium and disorder and result in greater injustice. Whether the use of force in this manner is swift and intense or gentle and mild depends upon the circumstances, but in all cases force can only be used with the aim of establishing equilibrium and harmony and not for personal or sectarian reasons identified with the interests of a person or a particular group and not the whole.

By embracing the 'world' and not shunning the 'kingdom of Caesar', Islam took upon itself responsibility for the world in which force is present. But by virtue of the same fact that it made limited the use of force and despite all the wars, invasions, and attacks which it experienced. Islam was able to create an ambiance of peace and tranquility which can still be felt whenever something of the traditional Islamic world survives. The peace that dominates the courtyard of a mosque or a garden whether it is in Marrakesh or Lahore is not accidental but the result of the control of force with the aim of establishing that harmony which results from equilibrium of forces, whether those forces are natural, social or psychological.

As for the meaning of violence as 'rough or injurious physical force or action', Islamic Law opposes all uses of force in this sense except in the case of war or for punishment of criminals in accordance with the shari'a. Even in war, however, the inflicting of any injury to women and children is forbidden as is the use of force against civilians. Only fighters in the field of battle must be confronted with force and it is only against them that injurious physical force can be used. Inflicting injuries outside of this context or in the punishment of criminals according to the dictum of the shari'a and the view of a judge is completely forbidden by Islamic Law.

As far as violence in the sense of the use of unjust force against the rights of others and laws is concerned, Islam stands totally opposed to it. Rights of human beings are defined by Islamic Law and are protected by this Law which embraces not only Muslims but also followers of other religions who are considered as 'People of the Book (ahl al-kitab)'. If there is nevertheless violation in Islamic society, it is due not to the teachings of Islam but the imperfection of the human recipients of the Divine Message. Man 15 man wherever he might be and no religion can neutralize completely the imperfections inherent in the nature of fallen man. What is remarkable, however, is not that some violence in this sense of the word does exist in Muslim societies, but that despite so many negative social and economic factors aggravated by the advent of colonialism, overpopulation, industrialization, modernization resulting in cultural dislocation, and so many other elements, there is less

violence as unjust exertion of force against others in most Islamic countries than in the industrialized West.

If one understands by violence 'rough or immoderate vehemence', then Islam is totally opposed to it. The perspective of Islam is based upon moderation and its morality is based upon the principle of avoiding extremes and keeping to the golden means. Nothing is more alien to the Islamic perspective than vehemence, not to say immoderate vehemence. Even if force is to be used, it must be on the basis of moderation.

Finally, if by violence is meant 'distortion of meaning or fact resulting in injury to others', Islam is completely opposed to it. Islam is based on the Truth which saves and which finds its supreme expression in the testimony of the faith, la ilaha illa 'Llah (there is no divinity but the Divine). Any distortion of truth is against the basic teachings of the religion even if no one were to be affected by it. How much more would distortion resulting in injury be against the teachings of the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet!

In conclusion it must be emphasized that since Islam embraces the whole of life and does not distinguish between the sacred and the secular, it concerns itself with force and power which characterize this world as such. But Islam, in controlling the use of force in the direction of creating equilibrium and harmony, limits it and opposes violence as aggression to the rights of both God and His creatures as defined by the divine Law. The goal of Islam is the attainment of peace but this peace can only be experienced through that exertion (jihad) and the use of force which begins with the disciplining of ourselves and leads to living in the world in accordance with the dicta of the shari'a. Islam seeks to enable man to live according to his theomorphic nature and not to violate that nature. Islam condones the use of force only to the extent of opposing that centripetal tendency which turns man against what he is in his inner reality. The use of force can only be condoned in the sense of

undoing the violation of our own nature and the chaos which has resulted from the loss of equilibrium. But such a use of force is not in reality violence as usually understood. It is the exertion of human will and effort in the direction of conforming to the Will of God and in surrendering the human will to the divine Will. From this surrender (taslim) comes peace (salam), hence Islam, and only through this Islam can the violence inbred within the nature of fallen man be controlled and the beast within, subdued so that man lives at peace with himself and the world because he lives at peace with God.

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(bismillah)

thank you for the article, I love Seyyed Hossein Nasr's work, especially his book 'Heart of Islam,' so many wonderful things he says, mash'Allah he has so much knowledge.

(salam)

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(bismillah)

if you say that again I'll beat you up! (kidding, ya know, Islam, violence, hehehe) actualyyy I think there is a good reason , see christianity teaches non violence in all cases (actualy it didnt at first buit now it does) but Islam teaches that when someone is on the path of righteousness it is his right and duty to defend that path, and those on it against all the enemies of good and right. so inherently, when there is a situation that ANY God-fearing person should stand up to fight back against, it is usualy only Muslims who faithfully discharge their duty to Allah, while Christians sit on the sidel;ines, preaching cowerdice under the guisse of non violence.

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(salam)

People, groups and organizations professedly espousing the cause of Islam, using the name of Islam for their own ends, over quite a long period of recent history, have used and still do use violence to attain such ends.

The result is this perception of Islam as a faith that encourages or requires violence from its adherents -- a perception which is patently false.

Sayyedah Siddiqua Haqnawaa

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(bismillah)

I would disagree SLIGHTLY with my brother here, I think that jihad AS A CONCEPT is intregal to Islam, it sets us appart in that we will not let injustice happpen and do nothing, all in the name of "holieness", we see that sometimes, unfortunately, Fighting is a holy Duty, but All the same, keep in mind I agree for the most part that what mainly has given people a violent perception of Islam has not been jihad itself, but "pretenders to the throne" killing innocent people and calling it a jihad.

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Al-Serat  

 

Islam and the Question of Violence   

 

Seyyed Hossein Nasr  

 

Vol. XIII, No. 2  

 

Despite the presence of violence in many regions of the world ranging from Ireland to Lebanon to the Pacific Basin and involving many religions from Christianity to Hinduism, the Western world associates Islam more than any other religion with violence. The Muslim conquest of Spain, the Crusades - which were not begun by Muslims -, and the Ottoman domination of eastern Europe have provided a historical memory of Islam as being related to force and power. Moreover, the upheavals of the past few decades in the Middle East and especially movements using the name of Islam and seeking to solve problems of the Muslim world created by conditions and causes beyond the control of Muslims have only reinforced the idea prevalent in the West that in some special way Islam is related to violence.  

 

To understand the nature of Islam and the truth about the assertion often made of Islam's espousal of violence. it is important to analyze this question clearly remembering that the word islam itself means peace and that the history of Islam has certainly not been witness to any more violence than one finds in other civilizations, particularly that of the West. In what follows. however, it is the Islamic religion in its principles and ideals with which we are especially concerned and not particular events or facts relating to the domain of historical contingency belonging to the unfolding of Islam in the plane of human history  

 

First of all, it is necessary to define what we mean by violence. There are several dictionary definitions that can be taken into account such as 'swift and intense force', 'rough or injurious physical force or action', 'unjust or unwarranted exertion of force especially against the rights of others', rough or immediate vehemence' and finally 'injury resulting from the distortion of meaning or fact'. If these definitions are accepted for violence, then the question can be asked as to how Islam is related to these definitions. As far as 'force' is concerned, Islam is not completely opposed to its use but rather seeks to control it in the light of the divine Law (al-shari'a). This world is one in which force is to be found everywhere, in nature as well as in human society, among men as well as within the human soul. The goal of Islam is to establish equilibrium amidst this field of tension of various forces. The Islamic concept of justice itself is related to equilibrium, the word for justice (al-'adl) in Arabic being related in its etymology to the word for equilibrium (ta'adul). All force used under the guidance of the divine Law with the aim of re-establishing an equilibrium that is destroyed is accepted and in fact necessary, for it means to carry out and establish justice. Moreover, not to use force in such a way is to fall prey to other forces which cannot but increase disequilibrium and disorder and result in greater injustice. Whether the use of force in this manner is swift and intense or gentle and mild depends upon the circumstances, but in all cases force can only be used with the aim of establishing equilibrium and harmony and not for personal or sectarian reasons identified with the interests of a person or a particular group and not the whole.  

 

By embracing the 'world' and not shunning the 'kingdom of Caesar', Islam took upon itself responsibility for the world in which force is present. But by virtue of the same fact it limited the use of force and despite all the wars, invasions, and attacks which it experienced. it was able to create an ambiance of peace and tranquillity which can still be felt whenever something of the traditional Islamic world survives. The peace that dominates the courtyard of a mosque or a garden whether it be in Marrakesh or Lahore is not accidental but the result of the control of force with the aim of establishing that harmony which results from equilibrium of forces, whether those forces be natural, social or psychological.  

 

As for the meaning of violence as 'rough or injurious physical force or action', Islamic Law opposes all uses of force in this sense except in the case of war or for punishment of criminals in accordance with the shari'a. Even in war, however, the inflicting of any injury to women and children is forbidden as is the use of force against civilians. Only fighters in the field of battle must be confronted with force and it is only against them that injurious physical force can be used. Inflicting injuries outside of this context or in the punishment of criminals according to the dictum of the shari'a and the view of a judge is completely forbidden by Islamic Law.  

 

As far as violence in the sense of the use of unjust force against the rights of others and laws is concerned, Islam stands totally opposed to it. Rights of human beings are defined by Islamic Law and are protected by this Law which embraces not only Muslims but also followers of other religions who are considered as 'People of the Book (ahl al-kitab)'. If there is nevertheless violation in Islamic society, it is due not to the teachings of Islam but the imperfection of the human recipients of the Divine Message. Man 15 man wherever he might be and no religion can neutralize completely the imperfections inherent in the nature of fallen man. What is remarkable, however, is not that some violence in this sense of the word does exist in Muslim societies, but that despite so many negative social and economic factors aggravated by the advent of colonialism, overpopulation, industrialization, modernization resulting in cultural dislocation, and so many other elements, there is less violence as unjust exertion of force against others in most Islamic countries than in the industrialized West.  

 

If one understands by violence 'rough or immoderate vehemence'. then Islam is totally opposed to it. The perspective of Islam is based upon moderation and its morality is grounded upon the principle of avoiding extremes and keeping to the golden mean. Nothing is more alien to the Islamic perspective than vehemence, not to say immoderate vehemence. Even if force is to be used, it must be on the basis of moderation.  

 

Finally, if by violence is meant 'distortion of meaning or fact resulting in injury to others', Islam is completely opposed to it. Islam is based on the Truth which saves and which finds its supreme expression in the testimony of the faith, la ilaha illa 'Llah (there is no divinity but the Divine). Any distortion of truth is against the basic teachings of the religion even if no one were to be affected by it. How much more would distortion resulting in injury be against the teachings of the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet!  

 

In conclusion it must be emphasized that since Islam embraces the whole of life and does not distinguish between the sacred and the secular, it concerns itself with force and power which characterize this world as such. But Islam, in controlling the use of force in the direction of creating equilibrium and harmony, limits it and opposes violence as aggression to the rights of both God and His creatures as defined by the divine Law. The goal of Islam is the attainment of peace but this peace can only be experienced through that exertion (jihad) and the use of force which begins with the disciplining of ourselves and leads to living in the world in accordance with the dicta of the shar'ia. Islam seeks to enable man to live according to his theomorphic nature and not to violate that nature. Islam condones the use of force only to the extent of opposing that centripetal tendency which turns man against what he is in his inner reality. The use of force can only be condoned in the sense of undoing the violation of our own nature and the chaos which has resulted from the loss of equilibrium. But such a use of force is not in reality violence as usually understood. It is the exertion of human will and effort in the direction of conforming to the Will of God and in surrendering the human will to the divine Will. From this surrender (taslim) comes peace (salam), hence islam, and only through this islam can the violence inbred within the nature of fallen man be controlled and the beast within subdued so that man lives at peace with himself and the world because he lives at peace with God.  

 

Source: http://www.al-islam.org/al-serat/

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Even if you make them persuade with one thing , they will jump to another and after that another. You can't make a Monkey become human. Those who believes that there ancestors are Ape are really from Ape :P

 

Today's terrorism is very much given by Policy to rule world. USA want to rule world but bcoz almost every where education is going on , they was looking for a Mobile target system so that where ever they want to attack they just move the target to that area which will cause trouble and for that reason they will interfere. If you study properly you can see they are provoking only those disturbance where they are interested at this time. And they are providing there Terrorist to support that dispute and make platform ready to attack.

 

In Drone attack on Pakistan 4300 Casualities in which 32 were terrorist rest all are Innocent villagers. But still whole world is praising there weapon and buying .. if you check the percentage it should go in failed Weapon but they are so good in making market that All so called Educated Brain are behaving like illiterates.

 

A guy today wrote an article in Indian news paper about ISIS , insisting other writers to write about ISIS and Terrorism .. whole article i read but there is nothing mentioned USA Policy is behind all Terrorism. So you can understand how people think .. there intention is nothing but to make you annoyed, they are not going to get converted neither convinced.

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Does Islam cause the violence? What’s your answer? Some people say, yes. What’s their reason? Maybe they refer to the phenomena that are happening in Islamic community. Take a look at Islamic societies, and see the conflicts among them. What’s the massage of these phenomena? Do you conclude that Islam is violent religion? When you see what is happening in Iraq and Syria you confirm this idea: Islam is religion of sword.

I don’t deny these conflicts and struggles and I am, as a Muslim, sorry about that; but if we want to give a moral judgment about this issue, we must contemplate carefully about that and explore it in various aspects. We must study all aspects of this issue. I consider the reader of this comment as an educated person who doesn’t judge as soon as he see these tensions and don’t permit the presuppositions make his judgment.

These struggles have various roots. I don’t want to refer to these roots; but I am going to say something that make us to stop judging hastily. Did Islam rose violently? When an educated person seek the time that prophet Mohammad presented the Word of God, find out that the majority of people denied him and tempted him; suggesting the plenty of money and marriage him the most rich and beautiful women , while threating him to kill if he deny the suggestion. The prophet hadn’t any material power to spread his idea. He hadn’t any sword to expand his religion. So how he invited people to Islam?

To answer this question we must consider two factors. First: the sociology of Arabian society in that time, and second: understanding the moral characters of Prophet Mohammad.

On that time the tribalism dominated in Arabian society. The tribe was very sacred and it said what must be done. All person obeyed the commands of the head of tribe. I want you study the excellent book of professor izutsu. toshihiko; “Ethico-Religious Concept in Quran”. In this book he, skilfully, characterizes the organization of the tribes in that time. He refers to the conflicts, happened among tribes because of some banal thing.

How conducted the prophet in such a society? How attracted the poeple to his new religion? By violence, by force, by sword? Not at all. He attracted them by his excellent character and virtues. In addition to the historic narrations about his very good virtues we can study the Quran in this view. There are many verses that introduce his very good moral character. It takes the time and need the separate article for gathering these verses. Here I refer to one verse among a lot: we send you to be the mercy for the human beings(Al-Anbiya: 107); but this very beautiful picture is hidden behind the violent and bleak picture we observe today.

At the end I quote these very good statements from Walter Terence Stace that say: “Perhaps every ideal has its own characteristic abuse or form of degeneration. For instance, mob rule is the characteristic evil which tends to disfigure the ideals of democracy. Learning tends to degenerate into pedantry; religion into priest craft. But it is of prime importance to understand that no ideal is to be judged by its abuses, but rather by its inherent nature.”(Mysticism AND Philosophy, p339)

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I'm inclined to say Islam doesn't' cause violence, and that people do.   People tend to use Islam as justification if they can to reconcile their actions.  If Islam wasn't in the picture, the same history cycle would have repeated in my opinion but with some other narrative of violence. 

Those who inherit a religion, perceive it differently than those who were there when it was revealed.  If one is to read the Qu'ran from front to back, every verse inciting some form of violence is immediately followed by a conditional stipulation to resort to peace if the circumstance/opportunity presents itself.  It also quite clearly explains to never be an instigator of aggression or oppression of any form.  

Yet we have people in Egypt and other Arab nations are plagued with the filthy likes of racism and ill treatment of non-arabs or blacks.  When our own religion has people like Bilal, and other lessons regarding the equality between mankind.  Violence is not an ideology of any religion, it's a corruption man introduces and needs to use a pedestal to express it. 

Time has proven to us that the outside behavior of people are poor indicators/reflections of the fundamental tenets of a faith.  How many of us actually know our own religion?

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Like secular regimes in the Islamic system, in some cases, violence is accepted and cannot be absolutely and completely aside like violation of the personal and social laws and to deal with those who threaten the security of life and property of citizens who are Muslims or non-Muslims in Islamic society. Otherwise, Islam is the religion of kindness.

Tolerance and violence in Islam:  Mesbah Yazdi 

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14 hours ago, wmehar2 said:

I'm inclined to say Islam doesn't' cause violence, and that people do.   People tend to use Islam as justification if they can to reconcile their actions.  If Islam wasn't in the picture, the same history cycle would have repeated in my opinion but with some other narrative of violence. 

Those who inherit a religion, perceive it differently than those who were there when it was revealed.  If one is to read the Qu'ran from front to back, every verse inciting some form of violence is immediately followed by a conditional stipulation to resort to peace if the circumstance/opportunity presents itself...

Thank you my brother for sharing this topic. As you refer to, during the history, there has been many people that, use religion as an instrument, to justify their unmoral behaviors. We see such people in this verse:" When they commit an indecency, they say, ‘We found our fathers practising it, and Allah has enjoined it upon us.’ Say, ‘Indeed Allah does not enjoin indecencies. Do you attribute to Allah what you do not know?" (Al-A'raf:28)

Edited by Hojjat

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11 hours ago, jafariali said:

Like secular regimes in the Islamic system, in some cases, violence is accepted and cannot be absolutely and completely aside like violation of the personal and social laws and to deal with those who threaten the security of life and property of citizens who are Muslims or non-Muslims in Islamic society. Otherwise, Islam is the religion of kindness.

Tolerance and violence in Islam:  Mesbah Yazdi 

Thanks my brother for sharing. I am agree with what you said, but I tried to reject the claim that, Islam is a religion of sword and have spread by force and violence.Unfortunately we observe many unmoral violence in Muslims history that we cannot accept those violence  and attribute those to Islam. Islam has a very beautiful picture, that attracts people, but this very beautiful picture is hidden behind the violent and bleak picture we observe today

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