Being accessories to oppression
First, my gratitude to all of you who showed concern about my eyes, wished me well, prayed for me and raised my morale.
I submitted this article last Friday, a day earlier than usual, because on Saturday morning, a day before you read this in ‘Pakistan Today’, I will have gotten the first injection in my left eyeball and, if I’m normal (about which there may be reservations amongst some), I should be out of action for the day. So to save my eyes from further strain, let me make just a few universal points in light of the chatter going on about the NATO supply routes and what people refer to as our strategic and diplomatic failure in Chicago.
First, we should always remember that we chose to call Pakistan an Islamic state in all three of our constitutions. Thus we can make no law that is repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah. That also means that we cannot do anything that is repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah. Now let’s see the extent to which we live up to Islamic ideals.
For those of you who believe that the Quran is God’s Word, He says that the utmost and every possible effort must be made to avoid war. For those who don’t, read on, for no civilised and truly educated person can think otherwise.
God repeatedly emphasises in the Quran, particularly in verses 2:190 to 2:194 in its second chapter, Surah Al Baqarah, and in verse 4:90, the conditions in which Muslims can go to war as a last resort. The Prophet (pbuh) also gave us rules of war. These conditions were revealed to him at a time when he and his small band of followers had been evicted from Mecca to Medina and their homes and properties taken over by the rulers of the city. Thus was fought Islam’s first armed Jihad at the wells of a place called Badr, which the heavily outnumbered Muslims won.
To put it in a nutshell:
1. First and foremost, every effort must be made to avoid war.
2. War can only take place after all peaceful efforts to prevent it fail.
3. All war in Islam is defensive, a struggle for liberation to vacate one’s home, property or homeland from occupation and to help other Muslims to do the same provided it has been sanctioned by the central authority to which one belongs. This is the only kind of war sanctioned in the Holy Quran. It is called armed Jihad.
4. Jihad means struggle. Armed Jihad is not to be confused with higher forms of Jihad or struggle, like Jihad against one’s baser instincts, Jihad of the Pen or Jihad with or against one’s own wealth or against illiteracy, poverty and so forth.
5. Justice must prevail during armed Jihad.
6. Action can be taken only against armed combatants.
7. No action can be taken against women, the elderly and children.
8. Animals, crops and trees are to be spared.
9. There can be no loot and plunder, the supreme example of which was set by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) after the peaceful conquest of Mecca.
10. Even during conflict, all possible efforts must be made repeatedly through all means to end war. (Verse 8:61).
11. Prisoners of war must be treated humanely, they cannot be tied, when they walk, walk with them, feed them from what you eat.
12. If a POW teaches 10 Muslims to read and write, free him.
13. If ransom is paid for a POW, free him.
14. There is no compulsion in religion and every one has freedom of religion. (Verse 2:256). Thus POWs cannot be forced to become Muslims.
15. If a POW embraces Islam freely and willingly, free him.
Talk of the Geneva Conventions that came centuries later.
Thus, we must understand that fighting to protect oneself or liberate oneself against invaders and occupiers is the only kind of combat, skirmish, battle or war sanctioned in Islam. Verses 2:192 and 4:90 also tell us that relations with all states, whatever their religion, if any, should be peaceful. Verse 49:13 enjoins that necessary wars should be limited in time and space, meaning you cannot go on fighting forever, anywhere and everywhere, for no rhyme or reason, once the cause for war has been removed. As soon as the occupier is ejected, the cause for war ceases to exist so all hostilities must cease forthwith and peace return, or at least an absence of war should prevail.
Assuming it indeed was Al-Qaeda led by Osama Bin Laden operating out of Afghanistan that was the perpetrator of 9/11, alone or unwittingly being used by some agency, did the United States of America have just cause for war? Yes, it did, for their homeland had been attacked and many of its citizens killed. They had every right to take action against them. It matters little whether the US is an Islamic state or not, God’s principles are universal in time and space and applicable to all humankind.
Did the US first use peaceful means to prevent war? Yes, it did. It asked the Taliban government of Afghanistan led by Mullah Omar to either hand over Osama Bin Laden to them or, at the very least, evict him from there. We helped the US in this effort, which was not the wrong thing to do. We tried for a month. Mullah Omar refused. Only then did the US attack on Afghanistan take place with the avowed purposes of either killing or arresting Bin Laden and toppling the Taliban government for giving him refuge and thereby becoming accessory to the crime, so that another such attack could never take place again. They failed in their first objective; they succeeded in the second, though Mullah Omar escaped on a Honda motorcycle we are told.
So far so good. But for the US and NATO to have occupied Afghanistan for over a decade, subjugate it and install their puppet government there is totally wrong. Thus, for us to ally ourselves with them in this latter endeavour is un-Islamic and not a Jihad by any means. Further, for the US to kill our innocent citizens even as collateral damage is a disgrace to us and to Muslims. Making impotent threats and noises makes it pathetic as well. With the Taliban government gone, with Osama Bin Laden killed as they claim on May 2 last year, with Al-Qaeda in disarray and out of Afghanistan and virtually out of Pakistan, the causes for war against Afghanistan don’t exist any longer, nor certainly do they exist for its continuing occupation. They talk of getting out by 2014, but only to get their troops out of harm’s way. They will still retain 20,000 troops there till 2024 and have military bases. That is wrong, to put it mildly. What makes it comical is that such conditions are imposed by the victor, not the vanquished, which America, NATO and by extension all those that helped the US are. To help them in this endeavour is un-Islamic too. Our effort should be to assist America and NATO to get out of there as soon as possible. That would be Islamic, to help liberate the Afghans from their occupation and subjugation by foreigners.
Second question: are the USA and NATO using every means possible to end the war, the occupation and subjugation of Afghanistan? No. Yes, they are certainly creating the optics of making such efforts, like talking to some Taliban and holding bootless meetings in Bonn and Chicago, but that is only to get their troops out of harm’s way by 2014 and to create the impression of liberation. But that will remain an impression only so long as 20,000 or whatever number of troops and military bases remain.
Thus, in the light of God’s injunctions, I would suggest that the war we were involved in during the Eighties in alliance with the USA and others to expel the Soviet Union from Afghanistan was truly a Jihad – just, moral and Islamic. Today, the war in which we are allied with the USA and NATO in their continuing occupation and subjugation of Afghanistan is an anti-Jihad – truly unjust, truly immoral and totally un-Islamic.
Now decide for yourself whether we should open the NATO supply routes or not.
The writer is a political analyst. He can be contacted at email@example.com