In the Name of Almighty God, The Merciful, The Compassionate

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

Salaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)! I hope you may gain some insight from my work here. Remember, I'm not a scholar and don't claim to be. I only claim to be a person who has a passion for both Islam and this great republic in which I live and wish to share my thoughts with others. Remember that anything good you find in this blog is from Allah, and anything wrong or bad is from my own flawed self.

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The Holy Ka'aba

The Holy Ka'aba
The House of God built by Abraham (peace be upon him)

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance
take out the 9th line, and it would be haram (forbidden) to say this.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Reflections on Tawheed (The Oneness of God)

In the name of Almighty God, Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Probably the most important part of our aqeedah or theology is the concept of tawheed, or the absolute oneness of Allah, God Almighty. It is the foremost important element of the deen or religion of Islam; more important than no drinking alcohol, more important than avoiding pork, more important than how you dress, and even more important than the daily ritual prayers which are regarded as the most important "act" that Muslims are required by Allah to do.

The original Muslims, meaning firstly the prophet Muhammad himself of course, his contemporaries who followed him (the sahaaba), the generation immediately following the sahaaba (taba'een) and the generation immediately following the taba'een (taba taba'een) are known now as they were then, as the greatest generations of Muslims, known as our righteous predecessors, or as they are commonly referred to in Arabic, the Salafi Saleh. This concept comes from the saying of the prophet himself, when he said, "the people of my generation will be the best (in religion), and then those after them, and then those after them". These Muslims not only knew the concept of tawheed very well, it was the entire essence of their being. Everything they did, said, thought and believed revolved solely around this concept.

As succeeding generations came and went, the concept of tawheed started to become lost in the practice of Islam, as more and more Muslims became more and more distant from those earliest generations. Many Muslims began to mix local custom (which largely contradicted tawheed) with elements of Islam. All of the divinely inspired faiths are unfortunately subject to this phenomenon. A prime example is how so many ancient pagan rituals of Druid Europe made their way into the common practice of Christianity such as Christmas trees and Easter bunnies. As this phenomenon began to influence Muslims, the scholars of the time realized a need to systematically teach the concept of tawheed so that as new peoples and even whole nations entered into Islam, they would have the ability to be educated on this most important of principals. After all, the first pillar of Islam is the declaration of "laa illaha ila Allah" or "there is none worthy of worship except God". So for any worship to be directed at anything besides Allah was fundamentally anti-Islam, and as such was many of the practices of Muslims of the day which included the worship of graves and the veneration of so-called "saints". In order to teach tawheed in a relatively easy to understand way, the scholars broke the concept down into three parts.

1. Tawheed ul Rubbubiyyah (The Oneness of God's Lordship).
This is the element of tawheed which recognizes that everything in existence belongs solely to Allah, and Allah ALONE has dominion and control over it. A common Qur'anic du'a (supplicatory prayer) laa hawla quwata illa billah (there is no power or might except Allah) is a dhikr, or statement of remembrance, that emphasises this element of tawheed. This is emphasised in the hadith or saying of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that, "if the whole universe came together to harm you, they would not be able to unless Allah has willed it, and likewise if the whole universe came together to benefit you, they would not be able to unless Allah has willed it". This element of tawheed means that anything and everything belongs to Allah; the trees, the animals, us, all of the things we've made like buildings and art and literature, and everything else belongs to Allah. The fourth pillar of Islam, zakat (giving of at least 2.5% of one's wealth to the poor) is actually an act of worship that reflects this element of tawheed. We are required to spend of our wealth on those that aren't so fortunate because doing so is a recognition that your wealth is not really YOUR wealth; it belongs to Allah. You are only entrusted with it. Those who hoard wealth, are actually committing shirk (idolatry) because they are taking their money as lord instead of Allah. They hoard wealth because they believe that the money will benefit them. Remember the above hadith, no amount of money will ever benefit you unless Allah wills it. Therefore, it's not the money that ever benefits you, it's only Allah. So, it is impossible for anyone with true faith in Allah, and true taqwa (God fearing-ness) to be stingy with money. Those that are are either very weak in faith, don't have faith in Allah at all, or are just ignorant of this most important concept of tawheed ul rubbubiyyah.

2. tawheed ul asmaa wa sifaat (the oneness of God's names and attributes):
This element of tawheed basically means that only Allah Himself has the right to describe Himself, and we as His creation have no right apply attributes of creation to Allah and we have no right to apply attributes of Allah to anything in creation. Allah says in the Qur'an,
"All of the most beautiful names belong to Allah, so call Him by them, and leave the company of those who belie or deny his names" (Qur'an 7:180) The reference to names is referring to what we commonly know as the 99 names of Allah. The names of Allah reflect various attributes of Allah. For example one of Allah's names is Al Waduud (The All Loving). The Arabic word waduud is the generic word for love, but when we put the "Al" ahead of it, it then becomes a proper noun and means that Allah is "the all loving, the epitome of love, absolute love beyond any notion of love understood by anything in creation". The principal of tawheed ul asmaa wa sifaat indicates that you can give the name 'waduud' to things in creation but nothing in creation can be given the name "Al Waduud", because that name only belongs to Allah. It is for this reason that Muslims who are often referred to as "Wahhabis" resent that term because "Al Wahhab" is one of the names of Allah. The name of the founder of that movement was named Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab meaning "Muhammad, the son of the servant of 'The Giver of All".
In this element of tawheed we CANNOT attribute characteristics to Allah that He does not attribute to Himself. For example, some people believe that Allah, God, is present in everything; present in His creation. Some believe that all elements of creation are essentially "pieces" of Allah. This concept did creep into Muslim thought and some still believe that, but it is a blatant violation of tawheed ul asmaa wa sifaat, because Allah in His own words in the Qur'an, clearly indicates His separation from creation. The famous ayat ul kursi or "verse of the throne" indicates that when it says,
"His throne extends over the Heavens and the Earth and he feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them".
Also Allah says in Surat al Ikhlaas or "the chapter of purity"

"Say: He is Allah, the ONE. The Eternal, The Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten, and THERE IS NONE IN CREATION COMPARABLE TO HIM.

Likewise the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once asked a young girl where Allah was and she pointed to the sky. Muhammad (pbuh) then indicated that she was correct.

So, to attribute the notion that Allah is "in" His creation is a violation of tawheed ul asmaa wa sifaat. The key to this element of tawheed is "don't saying anything about Allah that He did not say about Himself, and don't say anything about anything in creation that Allah reserved for Himself".

3. tawheed ul 'uluheeyyah (The Oneness of God's Worship) This element of tawheed "seals the deal" is a sense. We can often get someone to fall in line with tawheed ul rubbubiyyah by them simply understanding that there is no power in all the universe other than Allah. Also we could relatively easily get people to understand that you can't say things about Allah that he didn't say about Himself and so on. However, both of those together don't make a Muslim a believer. Allah says in the Qur'an "Invoke not, nor pray to any Deity but Allah, there is no god but Him". (Qur'an 28:88) This means that our worship cannot be directed at anything or anyone except Allah, and Allah alone. Now, when we say "worship", we often think of ritual prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, sacrificing live-stock, and things like that. However worship is defined in Islam as "any act of invocation, seeking reward or aid from a Deity". Why do Muslims pray? Because Allah orders us to do so, so we do it for fear of His punishment for not doing it. Therefore we do it in order to seek reward or to seek protection in Allah from His anger. However, what about this; why do you obey the law? By law, I'm talking here about the law of the land, established by the government. We obey the law because if we don't we can be locked up right? Wrong. As Muslims, we must obey the law of the land because Allah orders us to do so when he says, "Obey Allah, His messenger, and those in authority over you". If we obey the law strictly in order to avoid being locked up or fined, then we are actually committing an act of shirk, because at that point we are taking the government as a lord besides Allah. This is where a lot of Muslims erroneously claim that we don't have to obey American laws because they are "kafir" laws (such as the law that states a man can only have one wife). This is a grave error because as the above verse states, we are required by ALLAH to obey those in authority over us, and it makes no reference to whether they are Muslims or Kufaar or People of the Book or whatever. As long as the law doesn't prevent you from practicing an essential part of Islam, you must obey (and marrying multiple wives is not 'essential'). Thus, obedience is also worship. We cannot show allegiance or obedience to anyone but Allah because to do so would be shirk (idolatry) and a violation of tawheed ul 'uluheeyyah. However, this is one of the main reasons why being a Muslim is so compatible with being an American. The US Declaration of Independence states that, "All men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator (Allah) with certain unalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". As such the American ideology recognizes that rights come from God, not government. In reality, without really knowing it, they stumbled upon the concept of tawheed ul 'uluheeyyah because they recognized that government doesn't give people rights, only God does, and therefore it is not the job of the government to "rule" the people (i.e. the government acting as God) but rather it is only responsible for protecting the peoples' access to those God given rights. In keeping with that the Pledge of Allegiance, which is essentially a bayyah (pledge of allegiance in Arabic/Islamic termonology) say,
"I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all". Notice the "one nation under GOD" line. Many Muslims claim it is haraam (forbidden) to recite this but I would argue otherwise based on this line, because the pledge recognizes that the republic isn't God, but it exists under God, subserviant to God, recognizing Allah's sovereignty over it, just as the founding fathers realized that government does not exist to "play God" but it exists to protect the peoples' relationship with God (note: there have been moves by many atheist groups to remove the 'one nation under God' line from the pledge. Insha'Allah they will fail, but if they succeed then it would indeed be haraam or forbidden for a Muslim to say it; in my opinion). It is for this reason that I would argue, and Allahu 'Alim I may be wrong, that the United States, at least in it's founding principal, is the MOST Islamic country in existence today, even though it was founded mostly by non-Muslims.
Tawheed ul 'Uluheeyyah is about obeying, invoking, and putting one's trust in NONE but Allah and Allah alone, and then by doing that we also have responsibility to obey those who Allah orders us to obey like the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), our parents and those in authority over us (our government). If one finds themself unable to practice Islam while still obeying the laws of the land, remember Allah's words

"When the angels take the souls of those who died in sin, they (angels) will ask 'in what plight were you in?' and they (the sinners) will reply 'we were weak and oppressed in this land'. The angels will ask, 'was Allah's earth not spacious enough that you might move away from evil?' Such people will find there abode in Hell; what an evil refuge!" (Qur'an 4:97)

In layman's terms, "if you don't like it here....LEAVE". In some countries like Communist China, Cuba or other nations, many Muslims may indeed have difficulties practicing essential parts of Islam. Unfortunately that is the case in many Muslim majority countries such as Turkey where women are barred from wearing the hijab in public offices and schools, and in the formally Taliban occupied Afghanistan where women were barred from seeking education (which is an obligation on all Muslims). Fortunately, for us in the US, there really aren't any legal barriers to us practicing Islam, but nonetheless if a Muslim feels that they are not able to live "Islamically" here in the US, then as Allah says, they can always leave.

In conclusion, tawheed is indeed the most important concept of all Islamic concepts. It is this concept that should be taught first to new Muslims. I know that it wasn't really among the first things I was taught. It should be the first thing taught because once it is engrained in the mind and heart and soul of the new Muslim, all other elements of Aqeedah (theology, doctrine, lifestyle) will fall easily into place. New Muslim sisters wont have an issue with wearing hijab if tawheed is firmly engrained in their hearts. New brothers wont have problems lowering their gaze from the "poisonous eye candy" of our modern society, and most of all, ALL Muslims will be much more united and focused on our common goals of promoting what is good and preventing evil as opposed to focusing so much on our small and petty differences. I say all this first as a reminder to myself to focus on these concepts of tawheed and to use it to work towards bettering myself and bettering my iman. Insha'Allah I hope that some of you may find some benefit or at least food for thought. And, anything that I have said that is wrong is strictly from my own flawed self, and anything in this that is good is solely from Allah the Most Glorious, and the Most High.

...Allah Knows Best...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Combating Extremism Needs to Become the Muslim Communities Top (or near top) Priority

In the name of Almighty God, Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. We are bombarded on a daily basis with news stories of violence in Muslim majority countries. Whether it be the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the pirates or Al Shabaab in Somalia, Al Qaeda insurgents in Iraq, or state sponsored terrorism and political intimidation within the borders of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Of course the news media, which is anything but unbias, tends to only show Muslims doing these sorts of things and do little to show Muslims doing anything positive. For example the national news media did absolutely NO reporting on the work of groups like Islamic Relief in Haiti earthquake relief. Of course this is because fear makes for better ratings. The national news media always has to have someone to paint as the "boogie man" in order to keep people watching.

However, even though these stories of indiscriminate violence against largely innocent masses in the Muslim world aren't the whole picture, they ARE still indeed part of that picture. When faced with questions about terrorism and its relationship to Islam, we Muslims often point out the peaceful teachings of Islam; we point out that violence is only permissible in self defense according to Islam; and we point out that the VAST majority of Muslims are peaceful people and that people like those in Al Qaeda are a very small minority. While all these things are indeed true, we are still not really addressing the issue. Yes these terrorist are a small minority BUT they are a small group with BIG consequences. We can't simply ignore that and try to make it a non-issue.

When incidents of terrorism or attempted terrorism occurs in the US or the west in general, groups like ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) or CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) will always issues statements that all pretty much say the same thing; "We condemn these actions...we applaud law enforcement...we stand with all Americans against terrorism"and on and on and on. While these responses are indeed necessary, they are nothing but empty words if we don't actually do something to act on those condemnations of terrorism in order to do our part to prevent these incidents from happening in the first place.

Muslims may ask though, "well what are we really supposed to do. Of course we do condemn terrorism but what more are we supposed to do to stop it. Past incidents have shown that virtually no one who is a terrorist or terrorist in training is born and raised in that ideology. Everyone who gets rapped up in this movement gets indoctrinated or "radicalized" at some point in their life but more often than not it's when they are in their teens or early adulthood. That isn't surprising as this is when people are usually the most idealistic and the most impressionable. They usually come from more secular families, not religious ones. After all Osama bin Laden was an engineer and has no formal religious schooling whatsoever. They are usually plucked by terrorist recruiters from Muslim youth from socially, politically and economically disenfranchised backgrounds, which is basically everyone outside the ruling class in most Muslim majority countries and from poorer inner-city areas of the US and other western countries. Bear in mind that there have been Muslim converts from more upper class suburban areas of the US and western countries that have become radicalized but usually become radicalized after falling into radical Muslim groups within inner-city environments. John Walker Lindh or the "American Taliban" is an example of that. They are radicalized using a combination of two basic ideological tactics
1. Terrorist recruiters take possibly legitimate grievances that Muslims generally have against the west and the US and grossly over exaggerate them. They use the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to say that the US is murdering innocent Muslims including women and children. They use political puppets like Saddam Hussain and Hosni Mubarak to claim that the US is a political colonial power (hearkening the memories of "actual" colonialism by European nations), and they will point to things like MTV and American films and music in general to claim American cultural imperialism. That's ultimately what they paint America as; an imperialist power bent on world domination, akin to Nazism and Communism. They also utilize extreme left-wing socialist ideologies including the hatred of Capitalism and the claim that Americans are fat, greedy hoarders of wealth. By making these gross exaggerations, the newbie is left believing that America is the most evil force on Earth.
2. They have to twist Islamic scriptural doctrines from the Qur'an and the example of the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in such a way that it can be used to justify violence against innocents. For example the Qur'an teaches that taking an innocent life is akin to killing all of humanity. So, they simply twist the facts to convince their recruits that they're not innocent. Osama Bin Laden says in a letter addressed to the American people that because the American people elect those in government, the American people are therefore part of the government, and therefore part of the aggression, and therefore legitimate targets. When recruits ask about the killing of children or other Muslims, they'll simply say they are just casualties of war and that Allah will not judge them unjustly, or they will say (about other Muslims) that's the consequence of living in the Dar ul Harb (land of war). The Qur'an is interpreted willy-nilly based on their own "interpretations" and recruits are NEVER exposed to the 1000+ years of Islamic theological scholarship on the Qur'an which overwhelming condemns all forms of physical aggression, especially against non-combatants.

Once these recruits are convinced of the evil imperialistic intentions of America, and the permissibility within Islam to commit acts of aggression against innocent people, then they are officially "radicalized", and ready for para-military training.

So how can we, the Muslim Ummah, combat these issues. Well I would break down my suggestions as such.

1. EDUCATION: This means both Islamic and secular education. We need to be ever increasing our youths access to quality Islamic education in our Islamic centers. We need to have "hip" and relevant means to keep our youth interested in being at the mosque and learning about the true tenants of Islam while socializing with other Muslim youth, thus building our community leaders of the future. We Muslims in the wealthier nations in the west also need to be financially supporting quality Islamic and secular education in the Muslim majority countries. Muslims in those countries have little to no access to quality education save a few exceptions and we who have the financial advantage in the west need to be supporting the de-radicalization of Muslim youth overseas. What we have right now is actually the exact opposite as many American mosques and Islamic centers are funded thru such entities as the Saudi embassy. Also remember it's not the job of the US government to help "build" good societies in the Muslim countries. We need to take care of our own and the American government needs to focus on economically and militarily protecting and serving the American people.

2. JUSTICE: We have to stand for justice. Allah says in the Qur'an, "O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do." [Sûrah al-Nisâ: 135] As we can see by this verse we must strive hard to act justly, even when it is against ourselves, even if it be against the poor (we often are against the rich), even if it be against our own families. We can't protest Israel just because they're Israel and they occupy Palestinian lands. There are indeed times when Israel is the aggressor but there are also times when the Palestinians are the aggressor. When that happens we have to defend Israel, no matter how much it may pain us, just as much as we defend Palestine when they are treated unjustly. Like Allah says, follow not the lusts of your heart, lest you swerve (from doing justice). We can't respond to incidents based on emotions. We have to assess the FACTS and not the "sound bites" and "talking points" of a situation before making judgments on people; even people who we normally assume to be wrong.

3. BE POLITICALLY NEUTRAL: Many Muslim organizations in the US claim to be politically neutral but anyone with half a brain can tell that they lean far to the left. It's no coincidence that the first two Muslim US Congressmen were Democrats. I'm not saying that's a bad thing necessarily but we as a community have to be careful to not get to much in bed with either party. We tend to side with Democrats because we don't hear many Republicans saying many nice things about Muslims, but don't let that fool you. Neoconservatives may not really like Muslims, but liberals don't like religion in general, but both will use you to get votes if they can. In keeping with justice, we have hold both parties accountable for their wrongs, and give them both our support in their good. This may be dealing with strictly the American Muslim community but ultimately we are the one's who have the potential to influence the rest of the world. Both parties have the potential to only feed the fire of extremism and radicalization of Muslims. Republicans tend to enrage the Muslim world due to their arrogance, and Democrats tend to make American look weak. The answer is somewhere in between. We need to show our brothers and sisters across the oceans that we are proud American Muslims. We need to show them that America is NOT an imperialistic power bent on world domination, and that even though America has made mistakes, America is ultimately only interested in protecting its citizens and preserving justice. Barack Obama's speech in Cairo was a very good step to dispelling the "over exaggerated" claims by terrorist recruiters.
Also in this same topic, be politically active. Be as informed as you can about political issues, including those not related to Islam or Muslims, and when I say be informed I don't mean just listen to media and politician talking points and sound bites. Actually go and read legislation for yourself. Study and learn the Constitution and understand the "proper" role of government. Register to vote if your a citizen. If your not a citizen and intend to stay here indefinitely, then work towards becoming a citizen. Learn the history of this nation. Know where the things we take for granted come from. Then actually go and vote.

4. ACTION: Once we've done these things (and we have in some ways been working on these things) we need to actually take action against those who are radicalizing Muslims into terrorist behavior. The first and best action is watch where your money goes. There are many good and legitimate Islamic charities but there are indeed some in which money does get funnelled to extremists. I once read a book called "My Jihad" by Aukai Collins, a white American Muslim, who fought as a mujihadeen in Bosnia (one example of a 'legitimate' modern day Jihad) and he tells of how he actually got to Bosnia under the disguise of a worker with an Islamic charity organization and how money and weapons were funnelled through their network. While that fight was a justified one, the same channels are being used by terrorists today. We need to find, as Muslims, what those channels are and rigorously boycott them and shut them down if we can. We need to actively boycott and protest oppressive Muslim governments including and especially Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a Muslim nation that's official doctrine is that of so-called Wahhabism. This doctrine, while not in and of itself one of preaching terrorism, has many elements that can lead to that type of indoctrination. Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab and his protectors from the family of Saud did engage in what they called "jihad" against the other Muslims of Arabia and the world as whole in order to establish their puritanical version of Islam. Don't get me wrong Abd al Wahhab was a great preacher of tawheed (monotheism) and a rejector of saint and grave worship, but the way in which he chose to spread his message, through violent coercion, was and is unacceptable in Islamic theology. Saudi Arabia has many official policies that are blatant violations of traditional Islamic law. Women are forced to wear niqab or a face veil in addition to the traditional khimar or head covering, they are not allow to drive, etc. Christianity, Judaism and other religions are officially banned from Saudi Arabia, including what they see as deviant practices of Islam including that of the Sufis and Shia. There are many stories of women being executed for zina (adultery) when they were in fact rapped. All of these things are blatant violations of Islamic law and represent a dumbed down, over simplified, merciless and compassion less form of Islam that traditional Muslims in more free societies need to be more actively against. Just because they are the "custodians" of the Holy Kaa'ba and the cities of Mecca and Medina doesn't make them any authority on Islam. Firstly, we should not be taking funding from the Saudi embassy for our mosques and Islamic centers. The one who pays the piper calls the tune. So if the Saudis are funding American mosques and Islamic centers then that means they also may expect some homage be paid to them as well in regards to the influence of "Wahhabi" doctrine. The same is true of countries like Egypt or Syria or Jordan as well. Likewise we should oppose and boycott Muslim majority countries that actually prevent people from practicing Islam at all like in Tunisia or even Turkey. Both countries have passed laws actually banning the hijab of Muslim women in public offices. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we distance ourselves from the people of these countries; not at all. There are plenty of good and decent Saudis including many great scholars of Islam who live there. The same is true of Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey and every other Muslim country, but what I advocate is a complete boycott and political opposition to the governments of these countries. We need to do this primarily because it is the oppression of these governments that helps to breed the disenfranchisement that leads to radicalization. Ordinary Muslims are much less likely to be radicalized when they have jobs, when they have freedom of speech and assembly, the freedom to question their government and replace them when they see fit, and when they have the freedom to learn the true tenants of Islam in the midst of the places where that history actually took place. There are many things that I might not even be thinking of but the point is we need to take economic, political and cultural steps to make oppressive Muslim governments aware that the Muslims of the "free world" will no longer tolerate their completely un-Islamic behavior and treatment of our brothers and sisters living under their thumb, and we need to call them themselves back to the true tenants of Islam.

5 BE WILLING TO DEFEND THE DEEN: Even if all the above steps are taken, and even if Islamic governments did reform their ways, and we ended the sort of disenfranchisement that was behind most radicalization, there will still be radical extremists. There were extremists and terrorists in Islams past, even when Islamic civilization was flourishing. The prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), taught that whenever someone sees evil they have a responsibility to stop it with their hand, and if they cannot to stop it with their tongue, and if they cannot do that then to at least hold hatred for it in their heart, and that that is the least of faith. Likewise he also said that it is the responsibility of every Muslim to support their brother whether they do wrong or right, and when asked how we are supposed to support our brother when they are wrong, he said, "by preventing them from doing wrong". With regards to murder, Allah says in the Qur'an,

"If anyone kills a person, UNLESS IT BE FOR MURDER OR SPREADING MISCHIEF IN THE LAND, it will be as if he killed all of humanity, and if anyone saves a life, then it will be as if he saved all of humanity. " (Qur'an 5:32)

The verse states that killing a person in unequivocally forbidden UNLESS, they are guilty of murder or "spreading mischief in the land". By "spreading mischief" in this case, it means someone oppressing others, starting war, killing innocents, etc. Therefore, by this verse, it is not forbidden, for a Muslim to kill someone who is doing those things. Now this is a very complicated issue as there is very little black/white in these issues, but generally, people like Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist groups would fall under that category. I'm not a scholar of any kind but it seems to me that that might be a basis for a fatwa of jihad against those groups. After all, the leading killers of innocent Muslims are indeed these groups, not the American or other western military. So, what I'm saying is that true mujtahidoon might be able to look at this issue and issue an official fatwa of jihad against terrorists amongst the Muslims. In the history of Islamic civilization there were examples of Muslims having to fight other Muslims in battle in order to preserve order and prevent oppression being committed by Muslims. Now I want to make this very clear; Violence should never be resorted to as a quick fix to a complicated problem (because then we are no better than them), and all life is sacred, including the lives of these misguided young Muslims who become radicalized by evil forces within these groups. Those responsible for that misguidance need to be captured and brought to justice and exposed for what they are. For this reason Muslims need to support American and other coalition military campaigns to find, arrest, and if necessary kill the leaders of these groups. There is nothing un-Islamic in that. The sad truth is that it shouldn't be the responsibility of the Americans to do this. Muslims should have done this long ago, but unfortunately we have too many problems in the areas of faith and education to understand that responsibility. Right now the Afghan Army is fighting alongside US troops to end this radicalization. The same is true for Iraqi troops and Pakistani troops. I feel that they are the real mujihadeen in the world today because they are fighting the true oppression of the Muslims today. Likewise for this reason, American Muslims shouldn't be apprehensive about joining the US military. The American military and other government agencies need Muslims for the sake of educating troops, translating and helping bridge the cultural gap between the soldiers and those people that they come into contact with on a daily basis. Yes this may mean being put in a situation of having to fight other Muslims, but you have to bear in mind that the Muslims who US troops are fighting mostly are Muslims who are working for, supporting and protecting people who are undoubtedly vile enemies of Islam, regardless of their claimed adherence to it. Many Muslims both in the official army as well as civilian militia are volunteering to fight alongside the Americans because they recognize that threat, and they recognize that threat because they see what many of the rest of us don't; the brutality and ruthlessness of these people who's ideologies have no place in the religion of Islam.

These are a few steps that I might humbly suggest as viable steps towards actually doing something, as the Muslim community, about the terrorist problem. I am no kind of scholar so don't take this as any kind of fatwa and don't think that I'm not open to other notions, ideas, or points of view. I'm not perfect and I'm open to any thoughts on the issue. Anything good in it is from Allah and anything bad or wrong is from my own flawed self.

...And Allah Knows Best...