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War and Peace-And Deceit-In Islam - Ibrahim

War and Peace-And Deceit-In Islam - Ibrahim

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Published by PRMurphy
Today, in a time of wars and rumors of wars emanating from the Islamic world — from the current conflict in Gaza, to the saber-rattling of nuclear-armed Pakistan and soon to-
be Iran — the need for non-Muslims to better understand Islam's doctrines and objectives concerning war and peace, and everything in between (treaties, diplomacy), has become pressing. For instance, what does one make of the fact that, after openly and vociferously making it clear time and time again that its ultimate aspiration is to see Israel annihilated, Hamas also pursues "peace treaties," including various forms of concessions from Israel — and more puzzling, receives them?
Today, in a time of wars and rumors of wars emanating from the Islamic world — from the current conflict in Gaza, to the saber-rattling of nuclear-armed Pakistan and soon to-
be Iran — the need for non-Muslims to better understand Islam's doctrines and objectives concerning war and peace, and everything in between (treaties, diplomacy), has become pressing. For instance, what does one make of the fact that, after openly and vociferously making it clear time and time again that its ultimate aspiration is to see Israel annihilated, Hamas also pursues "peace treaties," including various forms of concessions from Israel — and more puzzling, receives them?

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Published by: PRMurphy on May 31, 2010
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War and Peace-and Deceit-in Islam
by Raymond Ibrahim
 Pajamas Media
Editor's note: Substantialportions of the following essay made up part of Mr. Ibrahim'swritten testimony that was presented to Congress on February 12, 2009
Today, in a time of wars and rumors of wars emanating from the Islamic worldfromthe current conflict in Gaza, to the saber-rattling of nuclear-armed Pakistan and soon-to-be Iranthe need for non-Muslims to better understand Islam's doctrines andobjectives concerning war and peace, and everything in between (treaties, diplomacy),has become pressing. For instance, what does one make of the fact that, after openlyand vociferously making it clear time and time again that its ultimate aspiration is to seeIsrael annihilated, Hamas
also
pursues "peace treaties," including various forms of concessions from Israeland more puzzling, receives them?Before being in a position to answer such questions, one must first appreciate thethoroughly legalistic nature of mainstream (Sunni) Islam. Amazingly, for all the talk thatIslam is constantly being "misunderstood" or "misinterpreted" by "radicals," the fact is,as opposed to most other religions, Islam is a clearly defined faith admitting of noambiguity: indeed, according to Sharia (i.e., "Islam's way of life," more commonlytranslated as "Islamic law") every conceivable human actis categorized as being eitherforbidden, discouraged, permissible, recommended, or obligatory. "Common sense" or"universal opinion" has little to do with Islam's notions of right and wrong. All thatmatters is what Allah (via the Koran) and his prophetMuhammad (through the hadith)have to say about any given subject, and how Islam's greatest theologians and jurists —collectively known as the
ulema
, literally, the "ones who know"have articulated it.Consider the concept of lying. According to Sharia, deception is not only permitted incertain situations but is sometimes deemed
obligatory
. For instance, and quite contraryto early Christian tradition, not only are Muslims who must choose between eitherrecanting Islam or being put to death permitted to lie by pretending to haveapostatized; many jurists have decreed that, according to Koran 4:29, Muslims areobligated to lie.
The doctrine of taqiyya
Much of this revolves around the pivotal doctrine of 
taqiyya
, which is often euphemizedas "religious dissembling," though in reality simply connotes "Muslim deception vis-à-visinfidels." According to the authoritative Arabic text
 Al-Taqiyya fi Al-Islam
, "Taqiyya[deception] is of fundamental importance in Islam. Practically every Islamic sect agreesto it and practices it. We can go so far as to say that the practice of taqiyya ismainstream in Islam, and that those few sects not practicing it diverge from the
 
mainstream. … Taqiyya is very prevalent in Islamic politics, especially in the modern era[p. 7; my own translation]."Some erroneously believe that taqiyya is an exclusively Shia doctrine: as a minoritygroup interspersed among their traditional enemies, the much more numerous Sunnis,Shias have historically had more "reason" to dissemble. Ironically, however, Sunnisliving in the West today find themselves in a similar situation, as
they
are now theminority surrounded by
their
historic enemiesChristian infidels.The primary Koranic verse sanctioning deception vis-à-vis non-Muslims states: "Letbelievers [Muslims] not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allahunless you butguard yourselves against them, taking precautions" (3:28; other verses referenced bythe ulema in support of taqiyya include 2:173, 2:185, 4:29, 16:106, 22:78, 40:28). Al-Tabari's (d. 923) famous
tafsir
(exegesis of the Koran) is a standard and authoritativereference work in the entire Muslim world. Regarding 3:28, he writes: "If you [Muslims]are under their [infidels'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them,
withyour tongue
, while harboring inner animosity for them. … Allah has forbidden believersfrom being friendlyor on intimate terms with the infidels in place of believersexceptwhen infidels are above them [in authority]. In such a scenario, let them
act
friendlytowards them."Regarding 3:28, Ibn Kathir (d. 1373, second in authority only to Tabari) writes,"Whoever at any time or place fears their [infidels'] evil may protect himself throughoutward show." As proof of this, he quotes Muhammad's close companion, Abu Darda,who said, "Let us smile to the face of some people [non-Muslims] while our heartscurse them"; another companion, al-Hassan, said, "Doing taqiyya is acceptable till theDay of Judgment [i.e., in perpetuity]."Other prominent ulema, such as al-Qurtubi, al-Razi, and al-Arabi, have extendedtaqiyya to cover deeds. In other words, Muslims can
behave
like infidelsincluding bybowing down and worshiping idols and crosses, offering false testimony, even exposingfellow Muslims' weaknesses to the infidel enemyanything short of actually killing aMuslim.Is this why the Muslim American sergeant Hasan Akbar attacked and killed his fellowservicemen in Iraq in 2003? Had his pretense of loyalty finally come up against a wallwhen he realized Muslims might die at his hands? He had written inhis diary: "I maynot have killed any Muslims, but being in the army is the same thing. I may have tomake a choice very soon on who to kill."
War is deceit
None of this should be surprising considering that Muhammad himselfwhoseexample as the "most perfect human" is to be tenaciously followedtook an expedientview of lying. It is well known, for instance, that Muhammad permitted lying in threesituations: to reconcile two or more quarreling parties, to one's wife, and in war (seeSahih Muslim B32N6303, deemed an "authentic" hadith).
 
 As for our chief concern herewarthe following story from the life of Muhammadreveals the centrality of deceit in war. During the Battle of the Trench (627), whichpitted Muhammad and his followers against several non-Muslim tribes known as "theConfederates," one of these Confederates, Naim bin Masud, went to the Muslim campand converted to Islam. When Muhammad discovered that the Confederates wereunaware of their co-tribalist's conversion, he counseled Masud to return and trysomehow to get the Confederates to abandon the siege"For," Muhammad assuredhim, "war is deceit." Masud returned to the Confederates without their knowing that hehad "switched sides," and began giving hisformer kin and allies bad advice. He alsowent to great lengths to instigate quarrels between the various tribes until, thoroughlydistrusting each other, they disbanded, lifting the siege from the Muslims, and therebysaving Islam in its embryonic period(see
 Al-Taqiyya fi Al-Islam
; also, Ibn Ishaq's
Sira
,the earliest biography of Muhammad).More demonstrative of the legitimacy of deception vis-à-vis infidels is the followinganecdote. A poet,Kab bin al-Ashruf , offended Muhammad by making derogatory verseconcerning Muslim women. So Muhammad exclaimed in front of his followers: "Who willkill this man who has hurt Allah and his prophet?" A young Muslim named Muhammadbin Maslama volunteered, but with the caveat that, in order to get close enough to Kabto assassinate him, he be allowed to lie to the poet. Muhammadagreed. Maslama traveled to Kab, began denigrating Islam and Muhammad, carrying on this way till hisdisaffection became convincing enough that Kab took him into his confidences. Soonthereafter, Maslama appeared with another Muslim and, while Kab's guard was down,assaulted and killed him. Ibn Sa'ad's versionreports that they ran to Muhammad withKab's head, to which the latter cried, "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great!)It also bears mentioning that the entire sequence of Koranic revelations is a testimonyto taqiyya; and since Allah is believed to be the revealer of these verses, he ultimatelyis seen as the perpetrator of deceitwhich is not surprising since Allah himself isdescribed in the Koran as the best "deceiver" or "schemer" (3:54, 8:30, 10:21). Thisphenomenon revolves around the fact that the Koran contains both peaceful andtolerant verses, as well as violent and intolerant ones. The ulema were baffled as towhich verses to codify into Sharia's worldviewthe one, for instance, that states thereis no coercion in religion (2:256), or the ones that command believers to fight all non-Muslims till they either convert, or at least submit, to Islam (8:39, 9:5, 9:29)? To getout of this quandary, the ulema developed the doctrine of abrogation (
naskh
, supportedby Koran 2:106) which essentially maintains that verses "revealed" later inMuhammad's career take precedence over the earlier ones, whenever there is acontradiction.But why the contradiction in the first place? The standard view has been that, since inthe early years of Islam, Muhammad and his community were far outnumbered by theinfidels and idolaters, a message of peace and coexistence was in order (soundfamiliar?). However, after he migrated to Medina and grew in military strength andnumbers, theviolent and intolerant verses were "revealed," inciting Muslims to go onthe offensivenow that they were capable of doing so. According to this view, quitestandard among the ulema, one can only conclude that the peaceful Meccan verseswere ultimatelya ruse to buy Islam time till it became sufficiently strong to implementits "true" verses which demand conquest. Or, as traditionally understood and

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