Friday, June 20, 2014
INTERVIEW ON ISLAM'S VIEW ON VIOLENCE
INTERVIEW: ISLAMIC VIEW ON VIOLENCE
The piece below is an interview with a newspaper reporter. The interview was to have been published in yesterday’s publication of the newspaper (Sunday 8th June, 2014). Perhaps the reporter dropped it because he found it too hot. He therefore used the responses of other Islamic scholars whose views did not ‘offend’ his own sensibility.
1. What is the Islamic injunction on violence and killing in the name of God?
Islam forbids the killing of innocent people for whatever reason. Life is sacred in Islam. The Glorious Qur’an says, “…Allah has made life sacred, therefore do not kill except by legal right …” (6:151)
To further amplify the concept of the sacredness of life in Islam, the Glorious Qur’an compares the unjust killing of a single person to the killing of the whole of humanity. It says, “… If anyone slays a fellow human being except by legal right, it will be as if he has slain the whole of mankind; and if anyone saves the life of a single person, it will be as if he has saved all mankind …”
Furthermore, the Qur’an forbids aggression. Muslims must not be the first to start an attack. They are only permitted to repel attacks, “Fight those who fight you but do not transgress the limits because Allah does not love transgressors” (Qur’an 3:190-192).
The Qur’an also says “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2:256). This means that people should not be forced to embrace any religion including Islam.
Reminding Muslims that not everyone will become a Muslim, that they should therefore tolerate people of other faiths and that they should not take extreme positions over their differences with others, Allah says: “If your Lord had so wished, He could have made mankind one people” (Qur’an 11:118).
The Qur’an urges admonition, not intimidation and it affirms that Muslims should leave those who reject the message; they should not attempt to punish them but instead they should leave them for Allah, “Give admonition, for you are one to admonish. You are not one to compel mankind. As for those who reject your admonition, (leave them alone) Allah will punish them severely” (not you, Qur’an 88: 21-24).
Religious tolerance is advocated either when non-Muslims attempt to draw Muslims to their religion or when Muslims face people of other religions in dialogue, “Say, Oh you unbelievers, I will not worship what you worship. You also will not worship what I worship. Neither will I worship what you worship. For you be your religion and for me mine” (Qur’an 109:1 – 6).
Prophet Muhammad warned against violence. He said, “Beware of violence. You must be peaceful”. He also forbade Muslims from attacking people who are inside monasteries, churches and mosques.
2. What is the quality of teaching/preaching by Moslem clerics on peaceful co-existence and brotherliness and how do members understand the message?
The quality is high and it is repeated weekly but few Muslims have the opportunity of listening to it. This is because the teaching or preaching is done mainly on Fridays during the weekly Jumat service from about 1 – 2 pm. Unfortunately few Muslims are able to reach the mosque early enough to hear the sermon (khutbah) because they are in their workplaces.
Friday service in the mosque has two parts. The first part is the sermon and it lasts about 30 minutes. The second part is the salat or prayer per se. This lasts only a few minutes, between five and seven minutes.
In reality, 90% of those who attend the Friday service arrive late. Most mosques are virtually empty at the beginning of the service because Muslim workers are either still at work or they are on their way to the mosque.
This may be due to the distance between a Muslim’s place of work and the mosque or because permission is not given to him or her by the employer on time. Some Muslims are not even permitted at all to leave work for the mosque.
You see, Friday is not free like Sunday. Christian families go to church together on Sunday whereas Muslims do not have that luxury. Muslim families do not listen to the same sermon. The husband may be a civil servant in the ministry, the wife a teacher and the children are all in one school or the other. They have to go to different mosques.
This has very serious implications for moral upbringing within the family. Christian families do not experience this inconvenience. This is part of the issue when the Muslims talk about marginalization. Who feels it knows it.
Colonialism brought oppression and marginalization of Muslims and until these issues are addressed, the headache will remain. I addressed this matter as early as 1993 in my book entitled The Friday Question but people thought I was one extremist from another planet. It is interesting that even some Muslims do not know the implications.
By denying the Muslims workfree Friday, Nigerians are cutting their noses to spite their faces. How can Friday sermons on peaceful coexistence have any impact on Muslims if the same Muslims are unable to listen to the sermons simply because they are at work?
When the Muslims demanded workfree Friday, their detractors screamed blue murder. They said we wanted to Islamise Nigeria whereas they are the ones who have Christianised Nigeria and it has become institutionalized. But it has a price. Everything has a price. If you deny people the opportunity to be educated, you will pay the price one day.
3. Does Islam encourage 'forced marriage' and human trafficking?
Islam forbids forced marriage and human trafficking. Any marriage conducted without meeting the four conditions stipulated by the Shari’ah is null and void and of no legal value. What are these four conditions?
One: Proposal and acceptance (i.e. the man must propose and the woman must accept or vice versa)
Two: A dowry (mahr) must be given by the man and collected by the woman. The dowry may be in cash or kind as agreed between the two.
Three: The parents must approve the marriage (parents from both sides).
Four: There must be witnesses.
On the matter of human trafficking, this is alien to Islam. Qur’an 49:13 affirms that all mankind are equal. It says Allah created us so that we may help one another and not to be cruel to one another. It is the fear Allah that makes a difference.