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Reflections on Terrorism | Dr Hatem al-Haj

BisMillah

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

I am sure most of you have reflected on the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris recently. I am also confident that you have very variant thoughts, not necessarily because of your varying convictions, but mainly because of the different angles from which you approached the events. In addition to what you have thought of and read, I am hoping that you may find something worthy of your time in my own reflections. However, I must first be honest with you and admit that, aside from the Islamic legal (fiqhi) contribution in this article, I am approaching the discussion from a layperson’s perspective. I am not involved in politics, and I am not privy to any special information about those attacks or the immediate circumstances that resulted in them. This article is merely my own attempt at analyzing their root causes and suggesting some measures to help curb their spread and flare-up.

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Having read many op-eds, posts, and comments from people around the globe, including the Middle East, it is obvious that the vast majority of Muslims are shocked and disgusted by the despicable injustice committed against the innocent victims of those attacks. Those who approve of them are (in my estimation) much less than 1%. However, those who condemn them in the strongest language differ over their root causes and the best way to avoid them in the future.

Many commentators claim if Western countries stopped their military interventions in Muslim countries, their meddling in those countries’ affairs, and their support of tyrannical regimes that serve Western interests, terrorism will stop. Some add that the West also needs to stop their discriminatory domestic policies and Islamophobic rhetoric and work to end the inequality their own Muslim citizens suffer. Did I forget something? Of course, any conversation on the relationship between the West and Muslims always has an elephant in the room – the plight of the Palestinian people. World-wide, Muslims consider the West to be the major backer of Israeli injustices against Palestine.

Now, if you are a Muslim who aims to be fair and objective, you should not exercise these good qualities with non-Muslims only. If you deny your Muslim brethren any basis for their frustrations and fail to validate their feelings, you will be dismissed before the discussion even begins. This is because, obviously, there is much truth to these statements. To admit this does not mean, in any way, that you are justifying terrorism.

However, we Muslims easily point out what the Western regimes need to do yet we often say nothing about what we, Muslims, need to do. Are we not indirectly responsible for any part of this madness? Are we, the 99% of the ummah, just victims who got caught in the middle between the hegemony of the West and the madness of the fanatics? Are the Muslims in the Muslim-majority countries not responsible in any way for the unbearable environment they have collectively created, which has pushed many otherwise benign youth into extremism? Are we, the Muslims of the West, doing our best to have functional, inclusive and supportive communities? I think not.

If we want to contribute positively to suffocating the phenomenon of terrorism, we must begin by trying to understand its roots. As Muslims living in the West, here is a common stereotype of someone who may partake in mass-scale terrorism in the name of our religion: a disenfranchised Muslim youth, who may or may not be religious, but certainly is misinformed, and who embarks on “defending the religion and avenging the ummah.” Now, to help stop him, we need to end his disenfranchisement, his misinformation, and either end the plights of the ummah or show him how to defend it in a more productive and, yes, sharia-compliant way. You think it is a lost cause! It will only be if we continue to think it is. We must start somewhere.

Countering the Misinformation

A complete rebuttal of the ideologies of those groups is beyond the scope of this article. Here, I will only attempt to share points that could assist you in helping someone out of their confusion. In one recent virtual discussion, I expressed my extreme disapproval of the attacks in Paris. Sure enough, I got this question from someone: “But didn’t Allah say: ‘and fight against the polytheists collectively as they fight against you collectively‘ [at-Tawbah: 36] and ‘…when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them‘ [at-Tawbah: 5]”

While the vast majority of Muslims do not think that we should be fighting perpetually against the rest of humanity, it appears that some of us have a different opinion. They cite the text of revelation and the opinions of scholars, making a simple Islam-is-all-about-peace answer unsatisfying to them. Here is what we should be sharing with them:

It is true that the verses cited are the words of Allah, Most High. He also said,

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“Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth [i.e., Islam] from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah (poll tax) willingly while they are humbled.” [at-Tawbah: 29]

And He said:

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“Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] religion [i.e., worship] is [acknowledged to be] for Allah.” [al-Baqarah: 193]

and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“I was commanded to fight the people until they testify that none is worthy of worship except Allah, and [until] they believe in me and what I came with. If they do that, then they have protected their blood and wealth from me, except according to it (Islam), and their judgment is upon Allah.” [Agreed upon, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah]

Additionally, in the previous scriptures, namely the Bible, much more than this is attributed to God, including the killing of  infants and children, as in the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua. Certainly, we do not believe that the statements about killing children and infants are from God, because it will be too hard to provide an explanatory context for those. However, in Islam, there is an explanatory context for all of the above verses.

First, it is important to note that Allah also said,

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“And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [al-Anfâl: 61]

and:

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“So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them.” [an-Nisâ’: 90]

and His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“O people, do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allah for pardon. But if you meet them, then be patient and know that Paradise is under the shade of the swords.” [Agreed Upon, on the authority of ‘Abdullâh ibn Abi Awfâ].

Who should be connecting the dots and reconciling these seemingly conflicting reports? The scholars well-grounded in the tradition. One of them, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, wrote a treatise on Qitâl al-Kuffâr wa Muhâdanatuhum [War and Peace (treaties) with the Disbelievers] in which he conclusively emphasized that the effective cause (‘illah) for fighting the disbelievers is their aggression, not their disbelief. He pointed out that texts implying an open fight against them can never be used as proof for fighting the people at large. This is because they appear to contradict the other evidences (some of which are mentioned above), and even the consensus. Likewise, they contradict the life of the Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

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Dr. Hatem Al-Haj has a PhD in Comparative Fiqh from al-Jinan University. He is a pediatrician, former Dean of the College of Islamic Studies at Mishkah University, and a member of the permanent Fatwa Committee of the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John Howard

    November 30, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    No where in this commentary is there stated if the author is loyal to his country which I am assuming is the United States of America. He talks in the third person when referring to western powers including the USA. The fact it is a given that for muslims an attack on any muslim where ever he resides is an attack on all of them even those of no ethnic relation as was seen in the UK when those two Nigerian murderers killed the British soldier Lee Rigby. The claim that he and the rest of the British Army along with all the western armies were murdering and raping “their sisters” in Afghanistan was given as the excuse to commit their gutless act. Simarly in the US when the 4 marines and the sailor were murdered at the recruiting stations by another member of the ummah. Just where is the loyalty of muslims is it as we suspect/realise/know that it is first and last to the religion over the country they have come to live in and take the benefits that those countries offer namely as we see every day here in the west.
    Finally let us look at Palestine shall we? The Islamic nations are all hypocrites all 50+ muslim countries. Where has there been the financial support for the Palestinians in the muslim world. It has been very little and what has been promise more often than not undelivered. I would put it to you that the plight of the Palestinians is of little or no consequence to the muslim world because it represent the ideal stick to use against Israel and the rest of the west. No uslim country takes in Palestinians and gives them citizenship but funnily enough the west does.
    Stop crying victim and look at your own standards

    • Avatar

      M.Mahmud

      December 1, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      We are sinking in the number of munafiqeen we have and that is why we suffer. Most Muslims are unable to help their brethren. The hypocrites sabotage us and are capable of doing so due to our sins.

      Muslims are for Muslims as Jews are for Jews-it has been clear to most people that whatever loyalty to their home nation Jews are foremost loyal to their tribe/religion. This is to be expected from a group with thousands of years of history as a tribe and having lived in various parts of the world split off from one another, tied in tribe and religion and shared history and split off by place.

      Likewise, whatever personal feelings and attachment I have to California, and my desire for it to grow and prosper, my loyalty first and foremost is to my nation since it is the only nation that can enter Paradise.

      Yes people have done very wrong things out of loyalty to the Ummah. However British nationalists have committed uncountable slaughter around the world in the name of loyalty to their nation. The difference between us and you is we have a command from God to reject ALL injustice while you are not even a member of the right religion to begin with.

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        Hatem al-Haj

        December 5, 2015 at 12:47 PM

        I have a different take on this issue than the two comments in this thread. It is hard for a person who belongs to the religious majority in his country to understand the intricacies of the relationship between religious loyalty and national affiliation. However, I invite Mr. Howard, who is likely from the UK to examine the issue of Northern Ireland because it is one of the manifestations of these intricacies. This is happening after centuries of attempts in Europe to trivialize religious differences in the interest of the civic good.
        As long as one’s ultimate allegiance is to the truth and cause of justice for all, Muslim minorities in the West should not have a conflict between their religious and national loyalties. Loving one’s co-religionists and having allegiance for the nation of believers (in one’s own religion) does not negate what kinship, social relationships, national affiliation and other forms of human interaction cause to arise of love and natural affection – so long as this does not include supporting them in falsehood or taking part in injustice.

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          john Howard

          December 14, 2015 at 7:27 PM

          To follow up finally (2 attempts have failed to go on) I would like to answer your comments
          Firstly the comment regarding the
          “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
          We have a certain gentleman in the UK who uses that line frequently namely Anjem Choudhary. For me it stinks of what we crudely call in the UK Arse covering – In other words we agree not to attack the local citizenry because we have to live among them and if we want to keep all the benefits that gives us (especially here in the UK and the rest of Europe) but lets not rile the locals too much or we might lose them and get deported. It does not mean that we can’t support the killing off shore of those citizens either in the armed forces or as tourists. It does not in any way give loyalty to the nation they are in .
          Your third person style of narrative I can accept as your style and am happy to accept your argument. and that is not meant in a patronising manner on my behalf.
          Palestine a very perplexing argument! Your reasoning for not giving citizenship to the Palestinians by other Muslim countries is one I don’t accept because they also deny them the right to benefits or jobs and forces them to live in ghastly camps. In other words it gives the Muslim nations a good excuse to keep the Palestinians under control. The sectarian violence among Muslims is legendary witness Lebanon, Iraq, Syria etc, The fact that many Palestinians have taken citizenship asks the question why again is i only the west who has to carry the burden when so many if not the great majority do not?
          As for the military support for Israel well considering that the majority of Muslim countries are very happy to destroy the only truly democratic nation in the region I will support them too over the rubbish that the Muslim nations have thrown up as governments. The fact that Israeli Arabs have a far higher standard of living and freedom than any other Arab in the region speaks volumes for Israel. It is also notable that to date over 2000 so called freedom fighters have been treated by the Israelis with care they could never have gotten from their own kind. Yes Europe helped the Jews migrate to Palestine after World War 2 and for a number of reasons primarily because of guilt over the genocide. The British tried to protect the Palestinians from this influx I know this because one of my family was killed there by the Irgun while he was serving in the British Army in Palestine. My fatjer was alos there and he saw many atrocities committed by both sides and to the day he died he had little sympathy for either party. But let us not forget that Palestine was a Jewish nation long before Islam came on the scene The Temple Mount was Jewish long before it became a symbol for Islam
          Israel for all its faults is a far more tolerant society to live especially if you are a minority such as a Muslim, gay or Christian.

          Ireland. Look into the history of Ireland and what happened after the Republic was formed. Rightly or wrongly the 6 northern counties chose to stay with the UK because of the sectarian fears that they would be destroyed by the Catholics in the south. Looking back at the social standards of the north versus the republic one can understand why. The power that religion had in controlling the lives of the Irish was almost absolute (I wonder where you can see that today ????) and it is only in the last few years as the Irish have seen what their religious masters were doing in the name of God that they have woken up to them and now fortunately faith in any religion has dropped there probably at a greater rate than any other country. Amazing what education can do to people’s minds.
          Finally Sir i would ask this question of you as a Muslim. One of the many things that your fellow followers of your religion like to throw at us in the west is how you give stewardship and altruism for all the unfortunate and less well off. Why is it that so many of the educated such as yourself have immigrated to the west in your tens of if not hundreds of thousands and as such have benefitted greatly from our living standards instead of staying to help your fellow citizens whose need is far greater than ours in the services especially in medicine of having you there? How does that sit with your faith when you are just as greedy for western societies life style as we decadent westerners/non Muslims?

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 1, 2015 at 1:43 PM

      Thank you, Mr. Howard, for the comment. Here are some explanations:
      As for the question of loyalty, I hope that a second reading of the article may ease your valid concerns about this issue. You do need, however, to do that while keeping in mind the intent of the article and the intended audience, as well as the capacity in which I am writing as a Muslim theologian. In case you do not have time to go through the article once again, let me share with you some statements from it.
      1- “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
      This statement should ease your Trojan Horse concerns. The use of covenant (Mithâq) means a lot to the audience, because it is a Quranic term.
      2- “It can involve our youth and give them the sense (and hope) that they can gradually make a positive difference, and yes, change their unfair world, along with fair-minded individuals from other religious affiliations, to make it more just and peaceful.”
      This shows that the author is not about isolation and sequestration of the Muslim minorities in their respective countries.
      As for the third person, this is a style of speech that may be warranted, at times, if you are making an impartial assessment of the behavior of two groups, such as your own family and your aunt’s. You are right; I am from the USA. Many of my fellow Americans, from the far right to the far left, refer to the regime, government, or the “establishment” in the third person. This may also be a style of speech that certain individuals use more frequently than others. I find myself, in certain discussions, referring to myself in the third person. I invite you to reflect on this question. Had my name been a little more familiar than ‘Hatem al-Haj’, would you have felt the same way? In conclusion of this point, I thank you for alerting me to how it comes across to some people, regardless of how I feel or what I intended.
      As for the Palestinians, I will not defend the regimes in the Muslim countries, because I do not think of them more favorably than you do. Many of them only give lip service to the Palestinian cause. However, I would like to point out to you that most of the displaced Palestinians live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Gulf, not the West. As for giving them citizenships, that is exactly what Israel wishes. This is like suggesting to the Germans to accommodate the French people displaced by a Chinese invasion of their country so that they may leave France to them. Additionally, I am sure you do not mean that the Western regimes are not even partially responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. Not even because they were responsible for the relocation of the Jews of Europe to Palestine during the colonial era and forcing them on the local population, or because of the Balfour Declaration? What about the ongoing immense financial backing of Israel, the declared commitment to keep it militarily superior, by far, to all of its neighbors, the multitudes of vetoes used at the UN by my own government to block resolutions condemning Israeli aggression or requesting Israel to abide by any of the UN resolutions or international laws? It seems that you do acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians, but I would believe that learning more about it from independent sources will make you even more sympathetic. May I suggest Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine Peace not Apartheid. You may also visit the UN’s page about Palestine (https://unispal.un.org/pdfs/DPI2499.pdf) or http://www.ampalestine.org. Finally, the article was not about crying victim; after all, crying does not help. Therefore, I would second your advice, but only if does not entail a denial of our justifiable grievances.
      Sorry for the long reply. Thanks again for writing and have a good day/ night!

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 1, 2015 at 3:26 PM

      Thank you, Mr. Howard, for the comment. Here are some explanations:
      As for the question of loyalty, I hope that a second reading of the article may ease your valid concerns about this issue. You do need, however, to do that while keeping in mind the intent of the article and the intended audience, as well as the capacity in which I am writing as a Muslim theologian. In case you do not have time to go through the article once again, let me share with you some statements from it and their implications.
      “These verses mean that those of us who are citizens of the West should not betray the trust of the covenant of citizenship.”
      The use of covenant (Mithâq) means a lot to the audience, because it is a Quranic term.
      “It can involve our youth and give them the sense (and hope) that they can gradually make a positive difference, and yes, change their unfair world, along with fair-minded individuals from other religious affiliations, to make it more just and peaceful.”
      This shows that the author is not about isolation and sequestration of the Muslim minorities in their respective countries.
      As for the third person, this is a style of speech that may be warranted, at times, if you are making an impartial assessment of the behavior of two groups, such as your own family and your aunt’s. I am talking about the West as an entity, and more specifically the Western regimens. You are right; I am from the USA. Many of my fellow Americans, from the far right to the far left, refer to the regime, government, or the “establishment” in the third person. This may also be a style of speech that certain individuals use more frequently than others. I find myself, in certain discussions, referring to myself in the third person. I invite you to reflect on this question. Had my name been a little more familiar than ‘Hatem al-Haj’, would you have felt the same way? In conclusion of this point, I thank you for alerting me to how it comes across to some people, regardless of how I feel or what I intended.
      As for the Palestinians, I will not defend the regimes in the Muslim countries, because I do not think of them more favorably than you do. Manu of them only give lip service to the Palestinian cause. However, I would like to point out to you that most of the displaced Palestinians live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and the Gulf, not the West. As for giving them citizenships, that is exactly what Israel wishes. This is like suggesting to the Germans to accommodate the French people displaced by a Chinese invasion of their country so that they may leave France to them. Additionally, I am sure you do not mean that the Western regimes are not even partially responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. Not even because they were responsible for the relocation of the Jews of Europe to Palestine during the colonial era and forcing them on the local population, or because of the Balfour Declaration? What about the ongoing financial backing of Israel, the declared commitment to keep it militarily superior to all of its neighbors, the multitudes of vetoes used at the UN by my own government to block resolutions to condemn Israeli aggression or force Israel to abide by any of the UN resolutions or international laws? It seems that you do acknowledge the plight of the Palestinians, but I would believe that learning more about it from independent sources will make you even more sympathetic. May I suggest Jimmy Carter’s book Palestine Peace no Apartheid. You may also visit the UN’s page about Palestine or http://www.ampalestine.org. Finally, the article was not about crying victim; after all, crying does not help. Therefore, I would second your advice, but only if does not entail a denial of our justifiable grievances.
      Sorry for the long reply. Have a good day/ night!

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 18, 2015 at 4:27 PM

      Here are my answers to your answers, Mr. Howard.
      First, thank you for accepting my explanation regarding the use of the third person in my speech.
      As for the issue of Northern Ireland, I was not taking sides, but only pointing out the internal conflict that may arise at a time when a certain group of people have to reconcile between their religious and national affiliations. I hope that, regardless of the details of that example, it was still capable to illustrate my point. If it wasn’t, then may be a hypothetical one could. Imagine if the USA had, for some reason or another, to go to war with Israel. Will the American Jews have some discomfort dealing with this scenario?
      As for my talk about the covenant of citizenship, I am disappointed in the way you understood my treatment of this issue. I was pointing out the high moral standard Islam holds us to concerning the honoring of all covenants. The framework of my discussion was moral, not pragmatic. I was citing verses from the Quran (revealed a long time before we came to enjoy Western prosperity). I was telling my fellow Muslims that even if your countrymen were to commit atrocities against your coreligionists, you should still not betray the covenant. This means that you are not only prohibited from attacking your fellow civilians who may never be targeted in any scenario, but you are also not allowed to attack the combatants on their way to drop bombs on your coreligionists. This high moral standard was stated in the verses I mentioned in the article and others and practiced by the Prophet who ordered one of his companions by the name of Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamân to not partake in the battle of Badr because he promised the Meccans that he was not going to fight them. The covenant applies, without a shred of doubt, to the tourists. As for members of the armed forces from our fellow countrymen, as I stated before, the covenant of citizenship bars us from attacking them regardless of where their mission belongs on the scale of good and evil. As for sympathizing with them, I hope that you agree with me that it must depend on the mission of the expedition they will embark on. If they were on the wrong side, one may still humanitarianly sympathize with the ordeal their families go through or that many of them may be deceived (and brainwashed) by those who sent them. Having said that, if you want me to sympathize with the soldiers who tortured the Iraqi prisoners in Abu Gharib and other concentration camps, after they invaded their lands on the basis of the lie of WMD, and wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilians (remaining from Gulf War I and the merciless embargo, which was called barbaric by the previous pope) I will proudly and determinedly refuse to do so. Many decent humans, Muslim and non-Muslim and American and non-American, share my feelings.
      As for greed being the motive of our immigration to the West, I would like to remind you first that more than half of the Muslims in the USA are not immigrants. They are mainly African Americans, with some from all other ethnic groups, including Americans of European descent and natives. There are also the children of the immigrants, who did not make the choice to emigrate and know of no other homeland, so your last comment doesn’t pertain to all of those. It does, however, pertain to me because I am an immigrant. I agree with you that most of us, immigrants, came to the West for economic opportunities. This was to a great extent for the mutual benefit of the Western countries, which needed laborers to contribute to their economic growth, and the immigrants, who certainly enjoy a much higher living standard in their host/adopted countries than their original ones. I don’t see a problem in that, and the “decadent Westerners” stereotypical language is not part of my dictionary. Some of us, however, came to the West to run away from tyrannical regimes, believed by many Muslims to be installed by the West in the post-colonial era to serve its interests. I usually don’t subscribe to the extremes of the conspiracy theory, but I would second George W Bush’s assertion that those regimes have been at least supported and propped up by the West for too long. There are others who may see themselves more productive and capable of serving the cause of justice-for-all by being in the West and engaging the Western audience since they have the leverage to change the conditions of the World and make it fairer and more conducive to peace. There are those who may have to come to the West to call Westerners to Islam, just as many Christian missionaries go to all corners of the World to call mankind to their religion. This may be done by some people out of zeal and religious nationalism, but for many, it is a manifestation of devotion to God and compassion for humanity.
      As for the Palestinian issue, my answer will follow shortly!

  2. Avatar

    Hamid

    November 30, 2015 at 11:52 PM

    beautifully written piece that explores the core issue through the legislative lens and supports the points with opinions of scholars.

  3. Avatar

    Adeeb

    December 2, 2015 at 1:11 AM

    Superb article clearing all misconceptions. I have one question, I had read a fatwa islamqa.Com that stated that verse of no compulsion has been abrogated by verse of sword. Hence people can be forced.
    Please explain

    • Avatar

      Hatem al-Haj

      December 3, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      I invite you to go back and take another look at that fatwa. It is impossible that anyone would say that Islams approves of forceful conversions, because you would be basically producing hypocrites. I do not recall the name of any scholar in the past or present who said that.

      • Avatar

        Abu Muhammad

        December 6, 2015 at 3:07 AM

        Sheikh Hatem, the fatwa the brother is quoting can be found here >>> http://islamqa.info/en/34770 . According to the article Sheikh bin Baz (rA) is quoted as saying,

        وقال آخرون من أهل العلم : إنها كانت في أول الأمر ثم نسخت بأمر الله سبحانه بالقتال والجهاد ، فمن أبى الدخول في الإسلام وجب جهاده مع القدرة حتى يدخل في الإسلام أو يؤدي الجزية إن كان من أهلها ، فالواجب إلزام الكفار بالإسلام إذا كانوا لا تؤخذ منهم الجزية ؛ لأن إسلامهم فيه سعادتهم ونجاتهم في الدنيا والآخرة ، فإلزام الإنسان بالحق الذي فيه الهدى والسعادة خير له من الباطل ، كما يلزم الإنسان بالحق الذي عليه لبني آدم ولو بالسجن أو بالضرب ، فإلزام الكفار بتوحيد الله والدخول في دين الإسلام أولى وأوجب ؛ لأن فيه سعادتهم في العاجل والآجـل إلا إذا كانوا من أهل الكتاب كاليهود والنصارى أو المجوس ، فهذه الطوائف الثلاث جاء الشرع بأنهم يخيرون . فإما أن يدخلوا في الإسلام وإما أن يبذلوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون .

        “Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, but was subsequently abrogated by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought when the Muslims are able to fight, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.” [Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219]

      • Avatar

        adeeb taqui

        June 13, 2016 at 7:37 AM

        >>> islamqa.info/en/34770 . According to the article Sheikh bin Baz (rA) is quoted as saying,

        وقال آخرون من أهل العلم : إنها كانت في أول الأمر ثم نسخت بأمر الله سبحانه بالقتال والجهاد ، فمن أبى الدخول في الإسلام وجب جهاده مع القدرة حتى يدخل في الإسلام أو يؤدي الجزية إن كان من أهلها ، فالواجب إلزام الكفار بالإسلام إذا كانوا لا تؤخذ منهم الجزية ؛ لأن إسلامهم فيه سعادتهم ونجاتهم في الدنيا والآخرة ، فإلزام الإنسان بالحق الذي فيه الهدى والسعادة خير له من الباطل ، كما يلزم الإنسان بالحق الذي عليه لبني آدم ولو بالسجن أو بالضرب ، فإلزام الكفار بتوحيد الله والدخول في دين الإسلام أولى وأوجب ؛ لأن فيه سعادتهم في العاجل والآجـل إلا إذا كانوا من أهل الكتاب كاليهود والنصارى أو المجوس ، فهذه الطوائف الثلاث جاء الشرع بأنهم يخيرون . فإما أن يدخلوا في الإسلام وإما أن يبذلوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون .

        “Other scholars said that this applied in the beginning, but was subsequently abrogated by Allaah’s command to fight and wage jihad. So whoever refuses to enter Islam should be fought when the Muslims are able to fight, until they either enter Islam or pay the jizyah if they are among the people who may pay jizyah. The kuffaar should be compelled to enter Islam if they are not people from whom the jizyah may be taken, because that will lead to their happiness and salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. Obliging a person to adhere to the truth in which is guidance and happiness is better for him than falsehood. Just as a person may be forced to do the duty that he owes to other people even if that is by means of imprisonment or beating, so forcing the kaafirs to believe in Allaah alone and enter into the religion of Islam is more important and more essential, because this will lead to their happiness in this world and in the Hereafter. This applies unless they are People of the Book, i.e., Jews and Christians, or Magians, because Islam says that these three groups may be given the choice: they may enter Islam or they may pay the jizyah and feel themselves subdued.” [Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Maqaalaat li’l-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 6/219]

  4. Avatar

    Elisabeth Jefferson

    December 14, 2015 at 12:49 PM

    That is so sad why would someone do that to thousands of people that is the worst thing i would never think about doing that to someone the terrorists are the worst am i write or not

    P.S-u can write your answer on fuzzy.org to get on my face book a count ;) or nolllllllllllllllll!

  5. Avatar

    sparky

    December 30, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    Ok if there are so many good muslims why are they not turning in the ones the know are up to no good. Supposedly your faith has
    been hijacked but you do not do anything about it. I hear muslims are afraid to turn in radical muslims. If no one stands up for
    good evil will reign. Your so called religion calls for killing the infidels (your own terms). If you try to kill us we will retaliate sucker.

    • Avatar

      Shakir M.

      March 23, 2016 at 6:29 PM

      Entire Muslim Nations and their military and police forces are arrested and fighting those that are up to not good, for the people in those countries and internationally. Do not wait on the corporate media to talk about Muslims who are doing good, operating charities, feeding the needy, or working with law enforcement. In my area there Muslims who walked off the job due to work standards and rules they felt were not welcoming to them as Muslims. The national media contacted a local rep asking to talk to a Muslim person who was angry. Your comments were based on hearsay or simply you feel that you are not informed about something happening that it is not happening at all. Below is a compilation of crimes and evil doers that were turned in by Muslims/Mosques to the authorities. Call your nearest metropolitan FBI office and ask them if Muslims in the region have been helpful and cooperative to their efforts. Hear it from the horses mouth.

      October 2008: Neo-Nazis Daniel Cowart and Paul Schesselman are arrested by local police, who received a tip from a concerned friend of the two suspects, before seeking to go on a shooting spree against African-Americans.

      July 2009: Mosque leaders in Raleigh, North Carolina contact law enforcement to notify them of “violent, threatening action… considered to be dangerous” leading to the arrest of Daniel Boyd and 6 other individuals.

      September 2009: Queens Imam Ahmad Afazali, a community liaison to the NYPD, helps local police and the FBI in the investigation and arrest of suspect Najibullah Zazi. Though Zazi is initially accused of tipping off Zazi to police surveillance, information in the court complaint and corroborating reporting from mainstream media sources found this notion to be false. (Afzali was, however, deported on charges of lying to FBI agents, but subsequent media reporting also strengthens Afzali’s claims that he was scapegoat for getting caught up in a turf battle between NYPD and FBI officials.)

      November 2009: Five Virginia Muslim youth are arrested in Pakistan, allegedly seeking to join a terrorist group, after family members told American federal authorities they went missing.

      March 2010: Michigan Militia member and Muslim convert Matt Savino refuses aid to a fugitive member of the Hutaree Militia and instead helps law enforcement authorities track him down.

      April 2010: Senegalese Muslim Alioune Niass first spots the suspicious vehicle used as a bomb to attack Times Square in New York City. Clues from the vehicle and defused explosive immediately led to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad’s, arrest.

      June 2010: Suspects Mohammed Mahmoud Alessa and Carlos Eduardo Almonte are arrested, after the FBI first receives an anonymous report in 2006 from one of the suspects’ family members. News reports indicate one of Alessa’s family members provided the tip.

      October 2010: Former Hawaii resident Abdel Hamid Shehadeh is arrested for attempting to join the Taliban. Local media noted that the Muslim Association of Hawaii “assisted law enforcement agencies in the case” and that it has “in the past reported suspicious activities.”

      October 2010: Farooque Ahmed is arrested on charges of allegedly attempting to bomb the Washington, DC metro railway system. The FBI first learns of Ahmed’s intentions from a community tip-off.

      October 2010: An attempt by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to bomb Western targets using air cargo transportation is prevented by US and European authorities. Intelligence that prevented the plot came from ex-militant Jabr al-Faifi, who voluntarily handed himself into Saudi authorities.

      November 2010: Mohamed Osman Mohamud is arrested for attempting to bomb a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The New York Times notes, “In the Oregon [Mohamud] case, the FBI received a tip from a Portland Muslim.”

      December 2010: Antonio Martinez is arrested for attempting to bomb a military recruiting center in Maryland. Statements from Justice Department officials indicate a Muslim community member reported Martinez to the FBI during its ongoing investigation.

      June 2011: Two Al-Qaeda inspired violent criminals planning to attack a military installation in Seattle are arrested by law enforcement. FBI officials first become aware of the planned attack after a fellow Muslim who was trying to be recruited into the conspiracy went to Seattle Police and informed them of the plot.

      January 2012: Violent Al-Qaeda sympathizer Sami Osmakac is arrested for planning to attack several sites in Tampa, Florida using guns and explosives. The U.S. Attorney for Central Florida noted, “This investigation was also predicated, in part, by assistance from the Muslim community.”

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#Current Affairs

Will The Real Aya Sofia Please Stand Up?

They say history is the biography of great men and women. Well, history is also the story of great buildings. This case is rarely more painfully obvious than when it comes to identity of The Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofia (“the Holy Wisdom”).

Church, Mosque, Museum: the Aya Sofia has lived under many guises over the years and each transformation came hand-in-hand with momentous political change. This year, it was no different.

By reverting to the previous designation of Aya Sofia into a mosque, the Turkish courts have set off a firestorm of controversy across the world. It is understandable that faithful Christians would object. The sense of loss they must feel is the same feeling that many Muslims get when they see the Grand Mosque of Cordoba’s conversion into a cathedral. However, what is confusing is that some Muslims are also conflicted – or even downright hostile – to the idea of the Aya Sofia being used as a mosque.

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Why are they upset? Is there weight to their feeling that this was an act that was against the laws and spirit of Islam? How true is it that this was pure political theatre?

A summary of the arguments are detailed below as each point reveals a great deal about us as Muslims today and our current mentality:

The Vatican – a clear example of Museum and Church buildings in one

1. “It should just remain a museum…”

The Aya Sofia IS remaining a museum. The ruling states and the government echoes that it is a mosque and museum but, unfortunately, if you read the headlines you will be given the impression that the museum is being destroyed. This is not the case.

The world is full of buildings with dual functions. The White House is the seat of government and the residence of the President. The Vatican is a museum, a church and the home of the Pope. St Paul’s Cathedral is a tourist attraction as well as functioning church. If Muslims alone were somehow exempt from the ability to combine museum and mosque in one building, then that would be very strange indeed. Yet that is exactly what opponents of the mosque designation are saying.

What opponents for the reversion of the building are arguing for is not for the preservation of the museum – in fact, it will be more accessible than ever by becoming free and open till the late evening – but for the prevention of worship in a building that was built and intended for that very purpose.

2. “It was illegal to turn it into a mosque in the first place…”

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: many Muslims quote the example of Umar (R) and his treatment of the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In fact, this is the number one excuse used by many so-called Muslim intellectuals who lazily have projected their own biases on to our pious predecessors. They say, not without a little pious sanctimony, that Umar (R) exemplified that Islam is not a triumphalist religion and – though he could have converted the church into a mosque – he chose not to.

For most of history, it was common practice that any conquering army gained full ownership of the conquered lands. Islamic law was actually quite progressive in this regard, stipulating that property in surrendered lands would remain with their owners and not the conquerors. It was only if a land was taken without surrender, according to Imam Al Qurtubi amongst others, should their properties be forfeit. Jerusalem surrendered and Damascus surrendered. Constantinople – despite multiple attempts requesting it to do so – did not. Therefore, Islamically and according to the norms of the time, the conversion of the Church into a mosque was legal.

This is highlighted by the case of a district of Constantinople called Psamatya (present day Koca Mustafa Pasha) whose residents surrendered to Muhammad Fatih separately. The area had the highest density of extant churches, since none were touched or taken over.

Muhammad Fatih and The Patriarch Genaddios discussing the patriarchate

3. “But it has been a museum for so long now, so why turn it back?”

Some sources say that they have found evidence of the Church being purchased by Muhammad Fatih with his own money. The evidence has yet to be verified by external sources although it is accepted by the Turkish authorities, but even if you withhold it, the established status of the entire complex as a Waqf (Islamic endowment) is definitive. Waqfs cannot be unilaterally taken over or converted to another use.

The reality is that the conversion of the Aya Sofia from mosque to museum was a highly contentious decision taken in a manner that went against the then legal, moral and spiritual standards. It was a state sanctioned action to satisfy a political objective of the hyper-secular post-war Government. This was an injustice and it is not a good look to say that an injustice should be allowed to continue because it has been there for over eight decades.

4. “We don’t need more mosques in Istanbul…”

Would anyone think it reasonable if their local mosque was taken over unilaterally by the Government and then, when they ask for it back, they are brushed off by officials saying, “there are lots of mosques in the city and many are half empty: we are keeping this one.” Of course not. So, if it is not good enough for you, why should it be good enough for anyone else? In fact, this was the argument used by the RSS in taking over the Barbari mosque in India.

A mosque is not a property like every other. It is owned by Allah and not something we are allowed to rationalise or barter away. Allah has no need for even one mosque, but that does not mean we should stop building them or start giving them away. To go by the utilitarian argument, then anything that is not in full use by its owner is fair game for someone else to usurp. We would never accept this for our possessions so how can we accept it for something that does not belong to us?

The hadith about the conquest of Constantinople and praising Muhammad Fatih

5. “This is all a politically motivated…”

Every decision in a public sphere is political, or can be construed to be political, in some way. Building the Aya Sofia into a magnificent cathedral was a political decision by Justinian. Turning it into a mosque upon conquest was also a political decision by Muhammad Fatih. Stopping prayers in the mosque and converting it into a museum was a political decision by Mustafa Kemal. And now, returning the building to use as a mosque and museum is also a political decision by the current Turkish state.

The question is not whether it is a political act to convert the building: it will always have a political dimension. The question is whether you like the politics of someone who was praised by the Prophet ﷺ in a hadith and turned it into a mosque (Muhammad Fatih) or someone who insulted that same Prophet ﷺ as an “immoral Arab” and turned it into a museum (Mustafa Kemal.)

Pick a side.

The Grand Cathedral of Cordoba – formally the Grand Mosque

6. “This will hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and make us look bad.”

This is perhaps the only real argument of them all that has any weight to it. All the previous arguments are intellectual (and less than intellectual) smokescreens for the desire to not hurt the feelings of others – especially when we need all the friends we can get. This is understandable given our current geopolitical situation. This is also why you are more likely to find those Muslims living as minorities objecting to the change of status, reflecting their own precarious situations in their respective countries.

However, if looking at it objectively, we see that this argument also has limitations. Muslims are equally if not more hurt at the ethnic cleansing that took place in Andalusia. Does that mean we get the Al-Hambra or the Cordoba Mosque back? What about the Parthenon – since that used to be a mosque – conquered by the same Muhammad Fatih? What about the Kremlin, where St Basil’s Basilica was made from bricks of a Tatar mosque? And can we have the Philippines back while we are all trying to not offend each other?

Making decisions such as these on the highly subjective grounds of causing offence is not only impractical, but untenable. Many expressions of Islamic faith outside a narrow paradigm of what is palatable to specific audiences, can be seen as offensive to some. If we were to make decisions based first and foremost to protect the comfort of others, you would end up with a set of groundless rituals rather than a faith. It is the equivalent of changing your name to Bob instead of Muhammad since you were worried that even Mo was too exotic. Sometimes, the proper practice of our faith and upholding of our cultural and historical traditions will upset others not because what we are doing is deliberately offensive or wrong, but because we have different values and different standards.

Conclusion

What is most upsetting about the change of use for the Aya Sofia is the double standard at play. Athens has not even one mosque whilst Istanbul has hundreds of churches and synagogues: yet the Greeks are calling the Turks intolerant. The Roman Catholics plundered the Aya Sofia of all treasures and took them to St Marks church in Venice (where they still are to this day): yet it is the Pope that says that he is distressed at the Muslims – who preserved the Byzantine inheritance- for turning it into a mosque and Catholic churches calling for a day of mourning.

All the commentators calling for it to not be converted back into a mosque are also correspondingly mute regarding the Granada Cathedral built on site of a mosque, or the Barbri Mosque turned temple in India, or the Al Ahmar Mosque turned into a bar in Palestine.

But this is human nature and they will shoot their shot. Nonetheless, as Muslims, if we are against the reversion of the Aya Sofia to be a mosque again, then we really need to take a long hard look at ourselves. Just as Muhammad Fatih conquered Constantinople, we need to conquer our own ignorance, our own inferiority complex and our own insecurities.

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#Current Affairs

Oped: The Treachery Of Spreading Bosnia Genocide Denial In The Muslim Community

The expanding train of the Srebrenica genocide deniers includes the Nobel laureate Peter Handke, an academic Noam Chomsky, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, as well as almost all Serbian politicians in Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. One name in this group weirdly stands out: “Sheikh” Imran Hosein. A traditionally trained Muslim cleric from Trinidad and Tobago, Hosein has carved his niche mostly with highly speculative interpretations of Islamic apocalyptic texts. He has a global following with more than 200 hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel, and his videos are viewed by hundreds of thousands. He has written tens of books in English, some of which had been translated into major world languages. His denial of the Srebrenica genocide may seem outlandish, coming from a Muslim scholar, but a close inspection of his works reveals ideas that are as disturbing as they are misleading.

Much of Hosain’s output centers around interpreting the apocalyptic texts from the Qur’an and Sunnah on the “end of times” (akhir al-zaman). As in other major religious traditions, these texts are highly allegorical in nature and nobody can claim with certainty their true meaning – nobody, except Imran Hosein. He habitually dismisses those who disagree with his unwarranted conclusions by accusing them of not thinking properly. A Scottish Muslim scholar, Dr. Sohaib Saeed, also wrote about this tendency.

In his interpretations, the Dajjal (“anti-Christ”) is American-Zionist alliance (the West or the NATO), the Ottomans were oppressors of the Orthodox Christians who are, in turn, rightfully hating Islam and Muslims, Sultan Mehmed Fatih was acting on “satanic design” when he conquered Constantinople, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a false flag operation carried out by the Mossad and its allies, and – yes! – the genocide did not take place in Srebrenica. Such conspiratorial thinking is clearly wrong but is particularly dangerous when dressed in the garb of religious certainty. 

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Hosain frequently presents his opinions as the “Islamic” view of things. His methodology consists of mixing widely accepted Muslim beliefs with his own stretched interpretations. The wider audience may not be as well versed in Islamic logic of interpretation so they may not be able to distinguish between legitimate Muslim beliefs and Hosain’s own warped imagination. In one of his fantastic interpretations, which has much in common with the Christian apocalypticism, the Great War that is nuclear in nature is coming and the Muslims need to align with Russia against the American-Zionist alliance. He sees the struggle in Syria as part of a wider apocalyptic unfolding in which Assad and Putin are playing a positive role. He stretches the Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to read into them fanciful and extravagant interpretations that are not supported by any established Islamic authority.

Hosain does not deny that a terrible massacre happened in Srebrenica. He, however, denies it was a genocide, contradicting thus numerous legal verdicts by international courts and tribunals. Established by the United Nations’ Security Council, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered a verdict of genocide in 2001 in the case of the Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstić. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague confirmed, in 2007, that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In 2010, two more Bosnian Serb officers were found guilty of committing genocide in Bosnia. The butcher of Srebrenica, Ratko Mladić, was found guilty of genocide in 2017.

In spite of this, and displaying his ignorance on nature and definition of genocide, Hosain stated in an interview with the Serbian media, “Srebrenica was not a genocide. That would mean the whole Serbian people wanted to destroy the whole Muslim people. That never happened.” In a meandering and offensive video “message to Bosnian Muslims” in which he frequently digressed to talking about the end of times, Hosain explained that Srebrenica was not a genocide and that Muslims of Bosnia needed to form an alliance with the Orthodox Serbs. He is oblivious to the fact that the problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the former Yugoslavia stem not from the Bosniaks’ purported unwillingness to form an alliance with the Serbs, but from the aggressive Greater Serbia ideology which had caused misery and destruction in Bosnia, Slovenia, Croatia, and Kosovo. 

Hosein’s views are, of course, welcome in Serbia and in Republika Srpska (Serb-dominated entity within Bosnia), where almost all politicians habitually deny that genocide took place in Srebrenica. He had been interviewed multiple times on Serbian television, where he spewed his views of the Ottoman occupation and crimes against the Serbs, the need to form an alliance between Muslims and Russia, and that Srebrenica was not a genocide. His website contains only one entry on Srebrenica: a long “exposé” that claims no genocide took place in Srebrenica. Authored by two Serbs, Stefan Karganović and Aleksandar Pavić, the special report is a hodge-podge of conspiracy theories, anti-globalization and anti-West views. Karganović, who received more than a million dollars over a six year period from the government of the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska for lobbying efforts in Washington, was recently convicted by the Basic Court in Banja Luka on tax evasion and defamation. The Court issued a warrant for Karganović’s arrest but he is still on the loose. 

True conspirators of the Srebrenica killings, according to Hosain, are not the Serbian political and military leaders, and soldiers who executed Srebrenica’s Muslims. The conspirators are unnamed but it does not take much to understand that he believes that the massacres were ultimately orchestrated by the West, CIA, and NATO. Hosain even stated on the Serbian TV that if people who knew the truth were to come forward they would be executed to hide what really happened. Such opinions are bound to add to an already unbearable pain that many survivors of the Srebrenica genocide are experiencing. It is even more painful when Bosniak victims – who were killed because they were Muslims – are being belittled by an “Islamic” scholar who seems to be more interested in giving comfort to those who actually perpetrated the heinous crime of genocide than in recognizing the victims’ pain. These views are, of course, welcome in Serbia, Russia, and Greece.

It is not difficult to see why Hosain’s views would be popular in today’s day and age where misinformation and fake news are propagated even by the world leaders who should know better. A conspiratorial mindset, mistrust of established facts, undermining of international institutions – these are all hallmarks of the post-truth age. In another time, Imran Hosain would be easily exposed for what he truly is: a charlatan who claims religious expertise. Today, however, his opinions are amplified by social media and by the people who already question science and established facts. For these reasons, he needs to be unmasked to safeguard the very religious foundations which he claims to uphold but ultimately undermines. 

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#Life

Staying Emotionally Connected While Social Distancing

Sending food to our neighbors like most Muslim households, is a norm in ours too. As usual, I was about to plate some up for our neighbors Steve and Annette the other day, when suddenly  a gush of uncertainty pricked me, and I wasn’t so sure anymore. I was pounded by so many thoughts: “Would they, like, mind?” “What if they’re reluctant, and think it’s against the whole ‘social distancing’ rule?” “What if I accidentally transfer germs?” “What if they think the virus can transmit through our containers?” Recognizing that I was becoming anxious and giving into cognitive distortions, I simply decided to ask.

I called Steve and said, “Can I bring some food over and leave it by your front door? I’m not sure whether it’s okay or not.” His voice was brimming with gratitude, “Sure!” he responded. “We were just sitting here in the garden wondering whether we should take out leftovers from the fridge or not. So your hot food will be more than welcome.” His warm and welcoming voice washed away my fear and uncertainty, and I felt grounded again.

Maintaining physical distancing doesn’t mean social and emotional detachment. We have to remember that when there is anxiety and uncertainty, what most people need is exactly the opposite of social distancing; we crave solidarity, mutual support, and a sense of strength in togetherness. Social closeness, even from a distance, is definitely good medicine and is much needed these days. If we can’t open our doors, we definitely can open our hearts to people.

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Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا 

“Verily, with hardship there is relief.” [Surah Ash-Sharh;6]

Alhumdulillah, it seems that physical separation has allowed us to have more meaningful connections, both, with others as well as our own selves. People are finding purpose, satisfaction and relief in turning some of their time and energy towards others, even though interactions are increasingly online or on the phone and from a distance. The qualities of connection these days seems to be purposeful and  entrenched with gratitude, kindness, and compassion; ingredients which were always there, but due to the ‘touch and go’ mind set, many of us were conditioned to make it more of a touch-base exercise rather than meaningful interaction.

In this COVID-19 era of communal care, we have found alternative ways of creating meaningful connections with people. The same telephones and technology can now give families an extremely useful platform to connect and socialize. It is a blessing that we have the means to connect, as we know that social isolation and loneliness isn’t just emotionally destructive, but also physically so, with some research suggesting loneliness to be as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

Keeping physically isolated is the right response to the coronavirus pandemic, but we need the exact opposite in response to the loneliness epidemic. So how can we cultivate social well-being while avoiding infection at the same time?

This pandemic is actually offering us an opportunity to deepen and nurture our relationships rather than focusing on broadening them, which unfortunately has been like a disease of the heart where many of us want to have more fake friends, likes, and followers on social platforms. This is an opportunity to fix our unhealthy attachment with our phones and social media. This is an opportunity to harness the beast, to tame it, and then become in charge so that the balance can be restored.

So, investing in checking up on people through our phones, and using virtual meet up platforms like Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime, etc. to connect with larger family groups to get a sense of meeting virtually is useful, and people find immense joy in seeing their children and grandchildren via these mediums. This is also a time to teach our technology-phobic elders how to use some of these user-friendly apps. We have to be mindful of others’ well-being too, and not let this uncertainty destroy our innate (fitri) natural disposition. Kindness and connection has a universal language, and we can’t let fear dominate us.

The concept that “good fences make good neighbors” isn’t true. We can follow social distancing rules, but also go that extra mile to make sure people around us as okay. Small acts of kindness definitely go a long way. Whether Steve and Anette know it or not, I know that neighbors hold a special status in Islam.

“The best companion to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the best to his companions, and the best neighbor to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the best to his neighbors.” [Tirmidhi]

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