Response to Turning Swords into Bombs
Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed,
President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
A. R. Tak, M.D.
President, Islamic Center of Louisville, Louisville, KY
This is in reference to an Op-Ed titled "Turning Swords into bombs" published in the Courier-Journal, October 17, 2006.
On page A5, of the Courier-Journal of October 17, 2006, one can read that suicide bombers rammed a truck laden with explosives into a Sri Lankan naval bus convoy, killing 97 people and injuring more than 100 others. These suicide bombers were not Muslims. In the aftermath of 9/11 every Tom, Dick and Harry has become an expert on Islam and "Islamic Terrorism" or "Islamic fascists". There are some who have become advisors to the National Security Agency, White House, Print and Electronic Media. A critical analysis shows their hollowness.
The scholars, the writer quoted to be little Islam are of her won tribe. She did not quote from Scholars such as Philip K. Hitti, Gibbon, Thomas Carlyle, Stanley Lane Poole, Washington Irving, W. Montgomery Watt, Bertrand Russel, Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, etc.
The Muslim world is from Indonesia to Morocco and beyond. The decline of Muslim fortunes has nothing to do with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, because the Ottoman Empire did not rule the entire Muslim world. The main reason is Western colonialism which depleted the wealth and natural resources of the Muslim countries. The Muslims had to fight for a few hundred years to liberate themselves from the Occupying Western powers. This lead to the declined status of the Muslims as well as non-Muslims who were under Colonial rule, such as India, African countries, China, etc. Muslim countries have achieved independence in the last 50 years. Muslims love freedom, democracy, affluence, modernity and intellectual achievements. The problem is they are ruled by despots (kings and presidents) supported and financed by Western administrations for decades. Muslim countries are manipulated by the West to fight each other. The West sells arms and ammunition to both sides. The Muslim countries are armed to the teeth and the major share of their budget is allocated to Defence/Military. The budget to promote education, health, to eradicate poverty, to remove unemployment, science and technology is marginal. Those who are under occupation want freedom and are relentlessly fighting as freedom fighters but are labeled as "Terrorists" by the West. Many countries fought for their freedom including our own the United States of America. There was no religion involved.
The last sermon of the Prophet, or farewell address known as Khutbatul Wada' was delivered in 632 CE on the 9th day of Dhul Hijjah on the plains of Arafat near Makkah.
In his Farewell address the Prophet never ordered or said "..to fight all men until they submit with the assertion that "There is no god but Allah".
Fighting all men to assert "There is no god but Allah" is meaning less. The word Allah means "The God". The non-Muslims such as Christians and Jews whose mother tongue is Arabic call "God" , "Allah" and assert "There is no god but Allah". This is a statement of monotheism and Christians and Jews adhere to monotheism. This was there before Islam came. Furthermore forceful conversion goes against the Qur'anic teachings.
The Quran states in Surah
(chapter) al-Nahl, v. 134, "Invite to the path of thy Lord with wisdom and good
advice, and argue with them kindly, for Thy Lord is well aware of those who go
astray and He is aware of those who follow true guidance."
In his last sermon the Prophet said "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds."
In the light of the foregoing what Osama Bin Laden said is his own distorted opinion to achieve his own agenda and has nothing to do with Islam.
The writer wrote "When the Jews of medina resisted Muhammad in the 7th Century; he beheaded the men and sold their women and children into slavery." This is a completely distorted story with the prejudiced, subjective personal opinion of the writer.
In 627, the army of Mecca attacked Medina (where Muslims and Muhammad lived) under the command of Abu Sufyan. This is called the battle of the Trench. Abu Sufyan asked the Banu Qurayza (a Jewish) tribe to help them conquer Medina, by attacking the Muslims from behind the lines or letting them into the town.
According to one early historian, Ibn Ishaq, the Banu Qurayza chief, Ka'b, was initially reluctant, but eventually decided to support the Meccans, being so persuaded by Huyayy ibn Akhtab, chief of the Banu al-Nadir (a Jewish tribe).
This was the second time Bani Qurayza had broken the peace treaty with the Muslims and allied with Banu Al-Nadir against the Muslims; the first time, Banu Qurayza suffered no loss and were allowed to stay in Medina.
However, Abu Sufyan's forces were defeated in the Battle of the Trench, and retreated, abandoning their allies to the victors. The very day of the victory, Muhammad led the Muslim troops towards the Banu Qurayza's neighborhood. The Banu Qurayza retreated into their stronghold and contemplated their alternatives. As the Banu Qurayza morale waned (according to early Historian Ibn Ishaq), their chief made a speech to them, suggesting three alternative ways out of their predicament: embrace Islam; kill their own children and women, then rush out for a "kamikaze" charge to either win or die; or make a surprise attack on Saturday (the Sabbath, when by mutual understanding no fighting would take place). But it seems that none of these alternatives were accepted. After a siege that lasted several weeks, the Banu Qurayza surrendered unconditionally.
According to Muslim accounts, Aws (an Arab tribe allied with the Jews) pleaded to Muhammad for Banu Qurayza and asked Muhammad to appoint Sa'd ibn Mu'adh as an arbitrator to decide their fate. Their request was accepted. Since, at that time, no specific punishment had been revealed in the Qur’an about the fate of the Jews, Sa'd ibn Mu'adh announced his verdict in accordance with the Torah. As per the Torah, the punishment for treason was that all men should be put to death; the women and children should be made slaves and the wealth of the whole nation should be distributed among the conquerors. In accordance with this verdict pronounced, all men were executed. John Esposito (Director for the Center for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Georgetown University) writes that Muhammad's use of warfare in general was alien neither to Arab custom nor to that of the Hebrew prophets, as both believed that God had sanctioned battle with the enemies of the Lord.
In contrast to the Jews, the Christians in Arabia had remained neutral, and had not sided with any party. The Prophet gave them a Charter which was a monument of enlightenment and tolerance. The Charter provided that the Christians were not to be unfairly taxed; that no bishop was to be expelled from the monasteries; that no Christian was to be restrained from the performance of pilgrimage; that no Christian churches were to be pulled down; and that where a Christian woman was married to a Muslim, she could retain her religion and go to her Church, even after marriage.
Christians and Jews are treated as People of the Book (Scriptures of Jews, Christians and Muslims). Christians and Jews prospered under Muslim rule. Leaders like Suleiman the magnificent of the Ottoman Empire contributed to our notions of tolerance and civic leadership. And perhaps we can learn a lesson from his example: It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population - that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions.
The US administration has spent over 300 billion dollars on the war on Terrorism. It is worth every penny to invest money on the weapons of anti-terrorism. The weapons of anti-terrorism are freedom from occupation, freedom from dictatorships, elimination of corruption (6 of the top 10 most corrupt countries are Muslim countries), giving opportunities to the Muslim population in political activity, education (65 per cent are illiterate) and employment ( a staggering 40 to 60 % are unemployed in Muslim countries).
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