Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In Islam God is the only judge - Dr Larbi Sadiki

'Killing the Americans?'

The anti-Islam filmmaker or the cartoonist wouldn't be ordained by the Prophet himself, writes scholar.

If killing were a solution, human beings would today be living in a dull planet - univocal, monocultural, monochromatic and devoid of diversity.

In such a world brimming with the brightness of endless diversity, difference is not a failing. Failing is to lack toleration towards fellow human beings, theistic and non-theistic alike.

Killing, disparaging or censoring differences once again challenges Western-Muslim relations and tolerant behaviour in our world.

What is wrong with September?

Once again, ugliness rears its head in September. Anti-Islam films, cartoons, killings, protests and violence stamped the month of September with tension, intolerance and hubris, staining it with blood. Libyan friends who knew the murdered US Ambassador Chris Stevens killed by the mob that stormed the US mission in Benghazi were saddened by his death and credit him with a great input in helping Libya's democratic reconstruction.

The mob that killed him may be incensed by the video, made by an amateur filmmaker of Egyptian origin, Muslims deem to be blasphemous to Prophet Muhammad. Killing Stevens, which may not have anything to do with the video given the timing of the killing more or less coinciding with 9/11, or the burning of a school near the US embassy in Tunis or the attempt to mob Cairo’s American embassy solve nothing of the issues at hand.

The problems go deeper. The problem lies not with September! Just as the solution lies not in spilling the blood of innocents, and poisoning inter-religion relations or Muslim and Arab relations with the US and the Western world.

On the Muslim side

Muslims - and I am one - are theoretically equipped to embrace, celebrate and practise toleration: Compulsion (ikrah) is a religious aversion. And in the Noble Book, the Quran, human beings are commanded to surrender to faith and, to that end, seek knowledge accordingly to solidify belief. However, the Quran grants the choice of belief and disbelief to all.

Moreover, killing is not the way of Islam unless faith, progeny, property, territory and dignity are physically threatened, requiring self-defence. In Islam, killing is juridical, not different from the conduct of rule of law in Western courts such as in the US: "By way of justice" declares the Noble Book.

Islam is not alone in its claim for universalism through which it valourises equality before the law of all humans - even if the practical record of this in modern times does not marshal supportive evidence to be proud of under all kinds of jingoistic and chauvinistic brands of rule. Establishment of justice is one constant in the sayings and deeds of the Prophet of Islam, who was villified in that video, threatening a return of Muslim-Western relational hubris.

Moreover, Islam forbids the excesses of vengeance and retaliation; it even leaves open the opportunity for forgiveness for those who have the lightness and wisdom of granting it.

More importantly, for critical reflection on the insanity to kill all things American or Western these days, Islam does not anywhere in the Quran ordain either unjust killing (outside juridical frameworks or outside the battlefield, which is also governed by discriminatory rules of killing excluding civilians, fauna and flora), or killing Christians or Jews.

Finally, the Quran reminds and commands Muslims to heed one important fact: God is the only judge.

The verse "The infidels are your morbid/sworn enemies" (4:101) must be read contextually. The infidels are the non-believers who engaged the emerging new religion preached by the Prophet through violence, exclusion and persecution. Nowhere has it said "The Christians and Jews are your sworn enemies". They are accorded a special place as "peoples of the book" (ahlu al-kitab). Differences of opinion, clash of interests and disagreements 1,400 years ago created tensions and animosities - in Mecca and Medina as it did in the known world at the time. In Medina but also in Mecca, the Prophet shines out as a model for inter-religious dialogue and rapprochement.

Finally, the Quran reminds and commands Muslims to heed one important fact: God is the only judge.

Killing Americans or Westerners, the producer of the amateurish video that insults the Prophet or the French cartoonist from Charlie Hebdo, would not be ordained by the Prophet himself. It is not the way of Islam. More