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Statement on Terrorism

My statement on the terrorism comes from my perspective as a Muslim, and also in the wake of the Beslan, Russia criminality in which the full toll is still unknown. What is notable is that several Arab governments focused on the terrorist acts and rightly deplored them. The issue however, is why should they have waited so long to deplore that which occurred outside of the Arab world? Were the acts of criminality and barbaric terrorism not being committed in the Arab areas? In Iraq, are the acts of terrorism not being committed by Muslims and Arabs?

This raises an issue that is being obscured by semantic camouflage. It may be true that one man’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist. But the acts of terrorism are acts of terrorism nonetheless. And when we do not identify them as such, or that the perpetrators are terrorists, we are guilty of duplicity.

And despite the fact that I refuse to hang my head in shame—for the actions of some of my coreligionists, I hold, are due to their warped ideas, and I refuse to be smeared by their guilt-- I do feel shame at the fact that a Bahraini Scholar, Ali Abdullah, had the gall to suggest that the horrible massacre was the plot of Israeli and Russian governments (see San Diego Union Tribune, dated Sept. 4, 2004). “ I feel no doubt in my mind that this is the work of Israelis…” How can any Muslim be misled by this madness, when he breaks the first rule of evidence in the Qur’an: Produce your proof if you are telling the truth…” That a person of authority should make such a blatantly nonsensical statement only displays the true problem: we are in a state of denial. We blamed September 11 on non-Muslims, we blamed the Berg beheading on non-Muslims, and now we blame the Beslan issue on non-Muslims.

God, according to the Qur’an, declares to the Muslims: “God will not change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” And while we may say that not all Muslims are terrorists, the fact of the matter is that the most horrific acts of contemporary terrorism are being committed by Muslims—not only Muslims in name, but those who commit their crimes under some warped idea of religious duty. It is not enough that Muslims dissociate themselves from such ideas and people—but the least every Muslim can do is to speak out against such ideas. In Islamic law, there is a maxim that says “An opinion is not attributed to someone who remains silent.” (Laa yunsabu ila sakitin qawlun). By being silent, Muslims therefore are giving the impression that they are ambivalent about terrorism by coreligionists. Yet, that adage continues, “wa lakin, al sukoot fi ma’rad al-haaja ila bayan, bayan”-but silence when there is need for clarification is to be taken as clarification (on one’s position). This means that when a Muslim stays quiet in the face of terrorism, in light of the fact that one has to clarify his position on the issue, then his/her silence manifests that s/he supports terrorism.

One truly brave example is Abdulrahman al-Rashed, General Manager of al-Arabiya television who decried the popularity of terrorism among Muslims in an article in Al-Sharq al-Awsat. While I may not agree with his statement that all the world terrorists are Muslims, I must admit that the overwhelming majority of terrorists are from those who consider themselves Muslims. The question therefore is not simply a matter of declaring a fight against terrorism as if the enemy is invisible. For Muslims, we know who the enemy is—it is those who take our faith and desecrate it by committing horrible acts in the name of Islam. Those who live in Muslim communities must speak out. Those of us who live in non-Islamic communities that have declared a war against terrorism must take upon our shoulders that task of helping in the war as much as possible, from writing to bearing arms if possible. There can be no talk of not fighting against those of “our” common faith: the Qur’an makes it absolutely clear that Muslims must bear arms against errant Muslims in times of need: Surat al Hujurat, vs. 9, states: “And if two parties among the believers fight against each other, then make peace between them; then if after than one of them transgresses against the other, fight the party that transgresses until it returns to the order of God…” It is either one or the other. We must either fight against terrorism or deem our silence as evidence of complicity.

Khaleel Mohammed
San Diego State University
Foundation for the Study of Abrahamic Religion.
September 10, 2004






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