- Qadri’s admirable take on terrorism conceals another large elephant in the room. Islam has for centuries used violence against non-Muslims in what is considered a legitimate manner: through jihad. It is not simply that Muslim armies have fought their enemies much as Christian armies have engaged in war. Jihad is commanded in the later verses of the Qur’an, is endorsed in the Traditions and the biography of Muhammad, and codified in the manuals of shari’a law. Qadri knows this perfectly well, and at times inadvertently reveals as much in several ways.
- Qadri does not just insist that Islam is a religion of peace and security. By tucking all references to jihad in footnotes in transliterated Arabic, he never has to explain what it is about and how it relates to his rulings on what is and what is not permissible.
- It is hard to be a reasonably knowledgeable Muslim and not know that calls for violence pervade the Qur’an and sacred traditions, or that Islamic armies have been fighting European Christians, Indian Hindus, and others since the 7th century.
- Islam, after all, conquered Persia, Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Spain and most of Eastern Europe — until its armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1863.
Following the terrorist attack outside Britain’s Houses of Parliament on March 22, 2017, it was not surprising or wrong that many Muslims denounced the attack and declared it to be un-Islamic. Two days afterwards, Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Shropshire Islamic Foundation, said:
We need to be united in this situation.
We should not give any religion a bad name and these people need to be dealt with in full force and there should be zero tolerance when it comes to dealing with them.
My heart goes out to these victims. And my heart goes out to the people’s families and those who are injured. I pray they all have peace in their minds.
There is no place for these acts in the religion of Islam.
The people are being radicalised and the young and vulnerable people need to be protected.
We need to disassociate this with Islam, as Islam is a religion of peace.
This view was echoed in a press release by the Foundation, in which sympathy for the dead and their families was followed by a commitment to non-violence: “as a community, we need to come together to condemn violence and hatred and work towards cohesion and tolerance”.
More recently, a document about Islamophobia published by the Green Party of the United States affirmed the purportedly peaceful character of Islam:
The highest goal of the Islamic faith is Peace. Peace is pursued over all and for Muslims the world over, ‘holy war’ has nothing to do with the concept of jihad. The Arabic word translates as ‘struggle,’ and is used a handful of times in the Quran to speak of the struggle to stay on the righteous path, to fulfill obligations to family, community and Creator, what the Islamic scholars call a higher jihad.
These claims, however, seem innocent of the verses that say:
So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds…. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah — never will He waste their deeds. Surah Muhammad [47:4]
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. [Sahih International] Verse (8:60)
There are said to be 123 verses in the Quran concerning fighting and killing for the cause of Allah — more than a few.
These claims also show that many people seem to be buying into the narrative of Islam as a perfect religion of peace, even if saying so runs counter to more than 1400 years of history and the official record of classical Islamic scholarship about jihad. Islam, after all, conquered Persia, Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East, Greece, Spain and most of Eastern Europe — until its armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1863.
At the same time, there can be no doubt that Muslim leaders who speak out against terrorism and radicalism need our support and that they must be the very people governments, churches, and the security services speak to and work with if we are to head towards the deradicalisation of Muslim communities in the West. Qureshi’s remarks deserve to be taken at face value. Neither he nor his foundation and its associated mosque and academy has any known links to radicalism. They belong to the largest mainstream form of Sunni Islam, the Hanafi school of Islamic law, and there is no overt reason that Qureshi is not sincere in his belief that Islam is a religion of peace.
At the same time, however, he must know better. His own second name is Mujahid, which means “a fighter in the jihad”. Not only that, but his mosque is, like most others in the UK, Deobandi in orientation; and it is out of Deobandi madrasas [Islamic religious schools] that the Taliban originated. Deobandi Islam, although mainstream, has over the years appealed to Muslims in Pakistan and abroad who have a fundamentalist disposition. Qureshi cannot be unaware of that. It is hard to be a reasonably knowledgeable Muslim and not know that calls for violence pervade the Qur’an and sacred Traditions, or that Islamic armies have been fighting European Christians, Indian Hindus, and others since the 7th century.
What we in the West know is that a string of modern politicians and churchmen in Europe and North America have, like Qureshi, insisted — perhaps in a sometimes-desperate attempt to dissociate Islamic terrorism from the religion of Islam — that Islam is a religion of peace. The violence, they say, is a perversion of Islam, and they say this even as terrorist after terrorist invokes Islam as his motivation and shouts “Allahu Akbar!” [“Allah is the greatest!”] while committing the crime. Terrorist groups, such as al-Qaeda and Islamic State, confidently quote the Qur’an, Traditions [Hadith] and shari’a legislation to justify their attacks.
Western leaders often turn to Muslim imams and scholars to confirm their view that Islam is essentially like modern Judaism or Christianity, if not a mirror image of the Quaker religion…