بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over (the claims of) either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice: for if you distort (the truth), behold, God is indeed aware of all that you do! [4:135]”
While cruising through Facebook (when I perhaps should have been other things), I stumbled across this letter written to an anonymous, aspiring, would-be mujahideen (“people who struggle” or “people engaged in jihad“, with jihad meaning “struggle,” NOT “holy war”) by a prominent American Muslim scholar, lecture, writer, and activist named Imam Zaid Shakir. I found the logic and veracity he employed within the letter to be so impeccable and so caustic that I decided to post a link to it on my blog. My favorite poet, Emily Dickinson, advised that one should “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.” I’m not sure if Imam Shakir has every read this adage from Dickinson, but I think his address to the ubiquity of the so-called mujahideen might constitute a wise application of her advice. The links to his website and letter can respectively be found below.
I’m not going to even try to top Imam Shakir’s eloquent letter, but I would like to say to those who think it appropriate to commit acts of wanton violence against non-combatants that your actions only serve the interests of those who want to persecute or steal from us Muslims in the first place. Our case is not to be won through the indiscriminate killing and maiming of civilians; the only outcome of such actions will be further punishment for all Muslims in this life with increased aggression from foreign oppressors coupled with increased discrimination against Muslims where they are in the minority and further punishment in the akhira (the Hereafter) because, as Allah says in the Qur’an, the slaying innocent life is strictly prohibited: “Because of this [referring to Cain’s (Qibal’s) slaying of his brother Abel (Habil)] did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind. [5:32]” If you happen to think that the only means of rectifying the injustices done to us is to be unjust ourselves, then I’m afraid the cycle of unnecessary violence will never cease and will continue ad infinitum. You may receive some instant gratification for your suffering in taking someone’s life, but the damage you do to your own soul is much more enduring, whether you perceive or not. As such, let us vie for justice in the way the Prophet صلى الله عليه instructed us, that being, to riposte a bad with a good. Our rejoinders should be such that we maintain the integrity both of our bodies and our souls, and they should reflect the higher ideals that we as Muslims are called to serve.
Whether you be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or secular, we would all do well to remember the folly of those that came before us: “And, indeed, there came unto them (the Children of Israel) Our apostles with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them go on committing all manner of excesses on earth. [5:32, the second half of the verse].” We have been given the chance to be better than those who came before us. Let us not waste that chance.
Now, for all the conservative, jingoistic, Islamophobic, neo-fascists out there who claim that “moderate” Muslims never decry wanton violence or terrorism (even though so-called “moderate” Muslims have been doing so for quite some time now), well, here you go! But I know you won’t accept it since you are agenda-driven.