Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Suicidal or not, targeting civilians is immoral and criminal:

Last week has been a busy time for suicide bombers.

In Israel, two days ago, a suicide bombing in Dimona took the life of a 73 year-old Israeli woman, and critically injured her old husband. The killing of the ”dangerous” 73 year-old civilian was promptly and proudly claimed by the following 3 groups, in order of their claims: Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the secular Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and finally by Hamas officials. They all must feel very good about themselves; wasting the life of a young 22 year-old Palestinian man, and killing a 73 year-old non-fighting woman.

Call me a doubting Tom, but, I have the funny feeling that this did not bring us any closer to liberating Palestine. Moreover, I think this is going to be the beginning of a week or two of non-discriminate Muslim bashing in the world media, and worse, to a frenzy of killing of mostly Palestinian civilians in Gaza and possibly the west Bank, courtesy of the great guardians of Palestinians and Islam, Hamas and the Martyrs Brigade.

On another sad note, and on the Muslim holy day, Friday, it was Iraqis turn to suffer. Two women exploded in the middle of two busy markets. The vengeful criminals behind the attacks were “equal opportunity” killers: one bomb for a Sunni market, and one for a Shi’a market. They did not want anyone to feel they were left out.

Notice that I did not say, “the two women exploded themselves” because they did not. They were unable to make that critical decision. They were, reportedly, mentally retarded as per the survivors who frequented the markets, and knew the women. The criminals behind the the killing of a hundred Iraqis, and of the two poor souls used as tools in the crime, pulled the trigger for them using cellular phone-rigged detonators. All fingers are pointing to Al-Qaeda Islamist. This is not a new low for Al-Qaeda as they have used a 15 year-old boy with Down syndrome before. Al-Qaeda does not only kill other Muslims- which they have done before, shamelessly and repeatedly- they feel free to use unwitting mentally-retarded women.

Two weeks ago it was time to bomb a different kind of target: a high school in Baghdad attacked with explosives hidden on a peddler-pushed cart, killing a bystander and injuring 21 others, mostly school children. And as I was writing this the news of another attack by Al-Qaeda came. The news is still sketchy, but it seems that 8 members of an Anti-Qaeda Sunni group were killed in a suicide bombing. The horror does not seem to end.

It baffles me, in the middle of all this, how these people find the theological backing for their insanity. When I study the Quran I find the following verse:

And, when I read early Islamic history I find that Abu-Bakr, the first Muslim Nation leader after our Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him - echoed the Prophetic teachings as he instructed one of his generals on the way to a battle: “Do not mutilate the dead; do not kill a child, an elder or a woman”. Omar, the second Muslim nation leader, maintained the same stance with his military leaders: “Never kill and old man, a woman or a child. Make sure to avoid them during battles and in conducting raids”.

[For an essay I put together on the rules of war in Islam, and Islamic view on violence against civilians, please click here]

What is more baffling is how we, Muslims, do not get ANGRY every time we hear about incidents like those mentioned above. But do not get me wrong: I am not saying that we condone it or that we are not upset by it. Almost all of us know very well that there is nothing Islamic about those who kill civilians. But in fact we need to get VISCERALLY ANGRY at the idea that some Muslims will resort to this sort of barbarity believing that it is Islam.

And I guess many of us like to believe that the horror we hear about, committed in our name, is not true; that is a quirk in history, a mistake, a conspiracy, or a result of media bias, etc, etc, etc. The truth is all that does not matter; we need to be denouncing the evil deeds loudly and vehemently as a matter of principle. It is not about where to lay blame. It is about what you, and I, stand for. And in this case it is about what we know that Islam stands for.

There should be no ‘mincing words’, no half-hearted, conditional or ‘qualified’ denouncement. We need to keep denouncing until every one around us, as individuals, and as a community become fully aware that our denouncement is not a facade of civility, but is a true expression of our faith and core beliefs. Do not say, we have denounced enough. If your audience cannot hear you, it does not matter if you think you are loud and clear; you obviously are NOT LOUD ENOUGH.

With the shameful incident of the Iraqi retarded-women bombers, I circulated emails to many friends, and many in leadership position (religious and administrative) asking them to encourage the religious leaders, and others in leadership positions in Islamic councils, foundations, Mosque leadership etc, to be vocal: Friday sermons (Khutbas) SHOUD be about how abhorrent targeting civilian is to Islam, how suicide bombers in civilian areas should be prosecuted as criminals under Islamic law if they by chance survived their evil deed or even posthumously to set a precedent, how the popular culture should not celebrate them as heroes but rather feel pity on them for being so misled so as to waste their lives in such an un-Islamic way. Friday Sermons and speeches should be on how we, Muslims, should be at the forefront of denouncing such deeds whether they are committed against Palestinians, Muslims, Israelis, American or any other civilian population, and whether they are committed by Muslims, Israelis, Americans or anybody else anywhere in the world. Islamic justice and fairness have one yard stick. Using moral standards that vary with our emotional inclinations is a great evil according to the many verses of Quran such as in chapter 4:

as well as in chapter 38: There are millions of our brothers and sisters, Muslims and non-Muslims, in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other places that are suffering, and they need our cries for help and justice on their behalf. Our cries for the poor, the weak, the occupied, the displace, the intentionally-starved, and the oppressed in all those places will be better felt and received if we convincingly, and publicly, apply our moral values equitably to every one, and everywhere.

1 comment:

  1. there is no doubt and i totally agree with you that targeting civilians is totally unislamic and immoral, but, i'm talking about the palestinians specifically, i think if we put ourselves where they are, in so much despair, opression, not being able to get food or not having electricity (referring to what happened recently in ghaza) i think one would not think whether civilians are targeted or not. u just want to get back at those people occupying your country and making you suffer that much especially with no one being able to do anything about it for so many years. i think if one is living under these circumstances you cannot expect him to think about anything else than revenge. i'm not saying it is right but this is the human nature and we cannot blame them.