In the name Almighty God, the Most Gracious, The Most Merciful. The prophet Muhammad once warned his followers, and by extension us, about a group of people called the "khawaarij". While it would take a whole book to explain the details of who and what he was talking about, It is recorded in hadiths that the prophet once said of them that "when you see them pray, they will make you feel inadiquate in your own prayer, but when they recite the Qur'an, it will never leave their throats, and that they pass thru this religion in a way like an arrow passing through a game animal".
The meaning of this is to say that these people would appear very religious outwardly, but in fact the Qur'an is never really in their heart. And they only have an outward "residue" of Islam, as the blood left on an arrow after it passes through a game animals body.
He said of them that there would be successive generations of them that will appear amongst his ummah (the Muslims) until the end of time. He even said that the Dajjal (Anti-Christ) will be from among them. Many Muslims therefore don't realize this, but the Anti-Christ will actually be from among the Muslims (or he will claim to be a Muslim). The prophet also said that they are the worst of all creation. He said that they will kill innocents believing that the Qur'an supports them, and he said they will twist verses of the Qur'an around to suit their own desires, in particular applying verses in the Quran referring to dis-believers to believers (ie the process of takfir or calling Muslims kufar or disbelievers, simply because they don't have the same theological views as they do).
Does this sound familiar? Sound like anyone we know today? Sounds a lot like the likes of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood and other "Islamist" groups and movements of our time. It amazes me that more Muslims, especially the 'ulema (scholars), don't bring this topic up more often. Ironically I stumbled upon this information through the writings of Sheikh Nasr Deen Al Bani, one of the fathers of the Salafi/Wahabi movement.
Salafis readily refer to these terrorists as "khawaarij", however they fail to realize that terrorism, or violence against non-combatants, is only a symptom of the khawaarij ideology. The root of the khawaarij ideology is in fact a "Muslim-supremacist" ideology that centers around the idea that that they are the "true Muslims" or the Muslims upon real "truth" and all others and all other ideologies or philosophies are inferior.
This is the ideology of the modern day "Islamist". I personally prefer to call them "Muslim-fascists" because I don't like the idea of associating the word "Islam", my faith, with these people. These people have nothing to do with my faith, nor the faith of the majority of Muslims that I know. At any rate, we have to recognize that we don't need to only fight "terrorism", but we need to fight the ideology that breeds it.
Almost all Muslims condemn terrorism. Also, most "Islamists" condemn terrorism. However, in the case of Islamists, it is a very slippery slope from being a passive "Islamist" to being a violently aggressive one. This is because the Qur'an most definitely teaches that Muslims have a responsibility to defend their faith and their brothers and sisters in Islam. If one, who is already indoctrinated into Islamist thinking, is convinced that America ideology is not only inferior to Islam (which is the basic Islamist ideology), but is also convinced that America is actually at war with Islam (as many are led to believe by Al Jazeera, other mid-east media outlets and EVEN at times, American groups like CAIR) then it becomes natural for one to think that engaging in a militaristic jihad against America is incumbent upon them.
Terrorism is a military and law enforcement issue that needs addressed by law enforcement and military personnel. We as Muslims can and do assist them in that. Many Muslims even serve as police officers, FBI agents, soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. However the real fight isn't a martial one, but an ideological one. That is a fight that only we Muslims can fight. That is a fight that only we Muslims can wage, on the battlefield of the minbar (pulpit) against those that would turn our spiritual and personal relationship with God, into a political ideology that seeks domination over all others under the guise of "establishing God's rights on His earth".
Islam is fundamentally a religion based in personal liberty. God says in the Qur'an,
"Let there be no compulsion/coercion in matters of religion" (2:256)
This is to say that religious law or "shariah" is never meant to be civil law, or the law imposed by government. It is only the "law" that exists between the individual and God. Shariah tells me to not eat pork. It tells me to dress in a modest way. It tells me to pray 5 times a day according to the way of the prophet Muhammad. It tells me to fast during Ramadan and make the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in my life. And, it tells me that I nor any Muslim individual or group has the right to impose it on others, whether they be Muslim or not. This brings us back to the description of the khawaarij that they, "believe the Qur'an to be in their favor, when in reality it stands as a witness AGAINST them", as the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said.
With all this being said, we as Muslims need to stop making excuses for ourselves and our problems. We need to recognize that it is not a conflict of "us verses them" but indeed a conflict of "us verses us". I am not a scholar nor expert in anything, but I might humbly suggest some actions that need to be taken by the Muslim community to counter these problems.
We need to be educated about the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (or example) of the prophet Muhammad. Many people point to the fact that the prophet Muhammad was a head of state and head of military during his time, and that many verses of the Qur'an refer to civil law. However, we have to understand the context of those verses and examples of the prophet. The prophet was put into a position of being a head of state by being invited to do so by the people of Yathrib, which later became Medina. So he had to do things, and verses of the Qur'an came as guidance, that were relevant to running a city-state such as that of Medina. Those verses are still just as relevant today, however they have to be understood in that context. Muhammad drafted the Charter of Medina which, while recognizing Muhammad as a prophet and messenger of God, outlined the laws and ordinances of the city-state along mostly secular guidelines. There wasn't a single verse from the Qur'an included in that Charter, and it was that Charter that served as the "Constitution" or legal framework of that city-state.
So if we really want to understand the Islamic ideal for state/national government, we should look to that, the Charter of Medina, as an example. The Charter of Medina can be readily found many places online, but in general the main principles outlined in the Charter are that all tribes, both Muslim and non-Muslims (including a large Jewish population who lived there at the time), are citizens of the city-state of Medina and all are accountable to each other. Jews were not to be treated poorly or in any way differently simply because they were Jewish. It established the death penalty for murderers, and it established that when the city-state is at war, none of the tribes had a right to opt out or to assist an enemy of the state in any way. There isn't a single verse of the Qur'an mentioned in it, thus, separation of mosque and state. THIS was the law of the land during the time that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a head of state. From the time of his death, we have had an almost constant downward slope from that point, away from the liberty based governmental policies of that Charter.
The US Constitution is probably the most "Islamic" constitution/national charter written since that time in terms of most closely representing the principles of individual liberty and the separation of church (or mosque) and state established by the Charter of Medina. Just as the Prophet Muhammad was of course a devout Muslim (along with his followers at the time), the American founding fathers were devout Christians (mostly Unitarians) who recognized that the separation of religious scripture and governmental policies were not only important for protecting people from theological persecution like that seen in Europe, but also that it was necessary to protect the religious tradition itself. Muslims in the US and abroad should study and revere the US Constitution as a supreme example of how rule of secular law can exist, without secularizing the society at large. There has never, in the history of the world, been a nation in which people of so many differing religions and world views have been able to live peacefully side by side, under the rule of law, a secular law, while still maintaining their own religious individuality. This is fundamentally different from fascist-secular regimes like the Soviet Union, Tunisia and others that seek to "secularize" society as a whole (ie destroying religion in the public square). The US truly is a shining city on a hill, and all Muslims, especially American Muslims, should revere and respect that fact, and that comes with good civics education for our kids and new immigrants not only in public schools, but in our mosques and private Islamic schools as well.
2. POLITICAL ACTION
Once we have these most essential education elements, they need to be implemented both within our mosques and Islamic organizations, and in our participation in the political process at large, i.e. voting and running for public office. We have to ensure that our mosques are being administered by people who embody these principles. That goes especially for the imam, who is delivering sermons and providing the congregation with spiritual guidance. We need to be sure that the imam is indeed delivering spiritual guidance, and not spreading Islamist rhetoric. While the vast majority of our imams condemn and most certainly don't preach violence, the number of them that preach "Islamist" ideas is far greater. Be very mindful of who you listen to because I've heard many imams and Muslim preachers who are considered "mainstream moderates" saying things that are very "Islamist" or anti-American in nature. That's not to say that they are themselves raging "Islamists" or "khawaarij", but as I said its a slippery slope and sometimes you can catch yourself on that slippery slope, not having ever realized that you were close to it. The remedy for that is of course understanding the proper meaning of shariah, which is that it is the ties that bind between the individual Muslim, and Almighty God, and it is NOT a matter of civil and governmental law to be imposed on the masses. As God says, "let there be no compulsion in religion".
We Muslims need to also involve ourselves in the republican process that is United States politics. Notice I used the word "republican process" and not "democratic process". These two terms are often used interchangeably, however they are actually very different. A democracy is a system by which the ultimate power comes from the people, and specifically the majority. It is, in a sense, mob rule. That is not what the United States is. The United States is a republic. A republic is a system in which the ultimate power derives from a charter or constitution. Therefore, the city-state of Medina during the time of the prophet was actually a republic. In the United States the Constitution, which is our charter, protects minorities that would, in a democracy, be marginalized by the majority. That's why votes in Congress don't always just take a simple majority vote, but in some cases take 2/3rds majority votes and so on. That is why the US Constitution counted slaves as 3/5ths of a citizen, because making them whole citizens (as per census numbers) would have given southern slave states an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives where representation is based on states population. It is also why the US Senate was created to give smaller population states the same legislative prowess as larger population states in that body.
We Muslims, after vigorously familiarizing ourselves with that Constitution, must exercise our duty, not right but duty, as citizens to vote for candidates that embody and believe in the principles of that Constitution and not for those who seek to undermine it, twist its meanings, or otherwise circumvent it in the name of "progressivism". When one of us has the financial means and most of all knowledge and experience to do so, they should also consider running for office and fighting for those Constitutional principles. Too often today, our Islamic organizations align themselves with the political left, or "progressives" who are not governing or legislating in the interest of the Constitution, but rather are governing in the interests of often foreign ideologies like socialism for example, that is a complete antithesis of the Constitution and of Islam. These organizations only align themselves with such people because the left pays lip service to Muslims and claims to "understand our plight". Our only plight is that we all to often play the victim card and don't get off our own rumps to change and better our situation. The left shares nothing with us in our core values and principles whether on social OR economic fronts. In the 2000 elections, Muslims overwhelmingly supported George W. Bush, and that was because the Muslims at that time found that their views and values seemed to align naturally with Republicans. Then 9/11 happened and all of a sudden we don't want to admit that the cancer, our cancer, of politcal Islamism had at that point boiled over, caused the death of over 3,000 innocent people and left us in the spotlight with our pants down. Instead of brushing ourselves off and and getting to work on the root problem, we deflect blame, deflect accusations, and deflect absolute facts about the Muslim world as if they don't matter. We deflect blame saying that "well those who commit terror are only a small few". Well yes but recent events have shown that those small few can work to great effect, and they will continue to do so until we address the root issue, which is politicized Islamism. Yes it is true that our own American government doesn't help the situation in the Muslim world in the way that they do things, but the problem of political Islamism would be there whether the American State Department and/or military was as well or not. It existed long before America stuck its nose in the business of the Middle East. Those of us Muslims who have the material and intellectual means to do so, should consider running for public office, but in doing that, run on the platform of Constitutional government and the ideal of liberty.
Liberty and freedom always come at a price. The struggle to achieve them is almost never bloodless. The American Revolution represents one of the most glorious struggles and victories for liberty that the world has ever seen. However, for the Americans at that time, there seemed nothing glorious about the horrors of war. There was nothing glorious about turning their guns on people who they only a few years earlier considered their countrymen. There was nothing glorious about having to look upon their former country's flag as now the flag of their sworn enemy. Many soldiers in the Continental Army were veterans of the British Army in the French and Indian wars, and now had to turn their guns at the same red uniforms that they themselves had once wore into battle and drive their bayonets into the bellies of men who they once would have taken a musket ball for. Despite the horrors of that experience, they did what was necessary to establish liberty, to establish justice, and to once and for all end the sectarian violence that had become the norm of Europe. America was and is at its core a living breathing rejection of Europe and all that it stood and in some ways does still stand for.
The word in Arabic, "jihad", literally means to struggle. This can apply to any struggle whether it be intellectual, financial and/or economic, and in some cases can be a martial or military jihad. Almighty God says in the Qur'an, "fight those who fight you, and drive them out of the places where they drove you out, and kill them wherever you find them, for verily oppression is worse than killing..."
To put this verse into context, it was revealed when hostilities first broke out between the Muslims of the city-state of Medina, and the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca. The Quraysh had declared war on the Muslims and had vowed to stamp it out. Up until that point Muslims had taken a pacifist stance, and refused to be drawn into violence. However, then these words of the Qur'an came.
The Quraysh had persecuted the Muslims in Mecca before they fled to Medina. In Mecca they had killed and tortured many Muslims who did not have the financial and social status to defend themselves in the tribal system of the Arabs. They persecuted them financially by forbidding anyone from trading with them or doing any kind of business with them. They spat on them and threw dung on them as they prayed at the Kaaba, and even at one point plotted and attempted to assassinate Muhammad.
This eventually culminated in a massive migration or "hijra" to the city of Yathrib, which like I mentioned would later become Medina. It was there that the natives, known as the Ansar or "helpers", together with immigrants from Mecca were able to build a thriving republic, based on equality under the law of the Charter of Medina, where they, the Muslims, were able to practice their faith freely and Islam was able to flourish.
Then, however, because of the threat posed by the flourishing city state of Medina, the Quraysh set out to destroy Muhammad and his religion of Islam, declared war, and marched on Medina to do just that. When these verses of the Qur'an came, the Muslims, despite how much they appalled war against their former countrymen and in many cases against their own family, formed an army and met the pagan Quraysh and ultimately defeated them.
In many ways this story parallels that of the American Revolution. The Americans were mostly people who fled persecution at the hands of European regimes, namely the British. They came to America to make a new way and a new and brighter future, only to find those same tyrannical forces coming to them to destroy that dream, and despite having no desire to do so, they fought, fiercely against the British, and eventually freedom and liberty won out over tyranny.
Both of these stories also parallel the story of Muslim immigrants to the United States. Many Muslim immigrants have come to the US fleeing persecution at the hands of tyrannical regimes of the "old world" (Muslim world). In most cases the core of these tyrannical regimes is politcal Islamism. They have come and found help amongst the "Ansar of the US" (American converts to Islam as well as friendly non-Muslims), to establish a freedom loving and liberty based Islamic community. Now we find those same tyrannical demons of the old world have followed those freedom and liberty loving Muslims to the "new world" and seek to extend their reign of terror and oppression here. Just as the British did to those early Americans. And just like the British had the Boston Massacre, today we have 9/11. Afghanistan and Iraq are our "Lexington and Concord". With 9/11 the war against this oppressive, tyrannical ideology that many of our brothers and sisters fled from, has begun. The only problem is that our situation today is like if the early Americans had just coward in a corner and let the French fight the British for them. That's not what they did. They faught alongside the French yes, but they indeed faught and steered the direction of that war. The non-Muslims of America in our Armed Forces today are like the French in the American Revolution....we can't just sit back and let them do the fighting. Muslims need to be LEADING THE CHARGE into battle against political Islamism! We need more and more and more Muslims joining the US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, not just for scholarships and GI grants, but because they WANT to be part of defeating this desease that is afflicting our religious community! We need our intellectuals actively engaged in intellectual battle against their clerics. We need our financiers and economists finding ways to block and destroy their funding that gets funnelled through Islamic banks and charities in the Middle East. We need our Muslim leaders and elected officials and military officers standing with our non-Muslim leaders, elected officials and military officers to plan and direct that battle together! WE, the Muslims of America and like-minded Muslims of the world, need to make a stand and FIGHT this cancer that is political, fascist Islamism. If there is any legitimate jihad, it is that.
I want all to know that I don't say these things with a light heart. I love my brothers and sisters in Islam with all my heart, including those who through misguidance or ignorance find themselves on the wrong side of this fight. It pains me to see those young brothers killed who have been brainwashed by Islamist pigs like Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, Anwar Al Awlaki and others. It pains me to see brothers and sisters killed accidentally by bombs meant for some of these pigs. However it pains me more to see brothers and sisters killed while attending jummah at their mosque on Friday by suicide bombers in Pakistan, or brothers and sisters killed in market places in Iraq by suicide bombers, or little girls having their genitals mutilated in Somalia, or Muslim women executed for adultery after being raped by their brothers and uncles, or seeing small children being dowsed in gasaline and set ablaze simply because they are a "Sunni" or a "Shi'i". This ideology, this barbaric, fascist, satanistic ideology that cloaks itself in my beloved faith must be stopped, stamped out, and destroyed. No more excuses, no more buts.......stand now for justice, stand now liberty, and stand now for Allah and for Islam.
...And Allah Knows Best...