BINLADENISM: The heresy that must be exposed
When so many innocent minds have been ensnared by, and so many innocent lives sacrificed to an ideology that now threatens the very foundations of the religion it has usurped, the condemnation of terrorism is not enough. While repudiating the notion that there is anything intrinsically “Islamic” about terrorism (within the context in which the term ‘terrorism’ is currently understood) only those who profess to belong to the religion of Islam can identify and expurgate the heretical dogma that has taken hold :that the slaughter of innocents is Islamically acceptable. This is the heresy that is now propagated as though it were a part of Islamic scripture, and is distorting the message and tarnishing the image of Islam, as highlighted in the recent polls by CAIR and The Washington Post (3/9/06).
The charge of heresy is a grave one and especially complicated by the fact that Islam has no formal process of excommunication. An individual who accepts Islam with the simple declaration of faith that God is One and Mohammed is His prophet, (short of renouncing Islam, or introducing subversive doctrines that contravene the fundamental principles of Islam), remains a Muslim till death. Thus, a Muslim individual who commits murder, rape,adultery, robbery and acts of terror remains Muslim, certainly in so far as the majority of Muslims, the so-called ‘murjiah’ Muslims, are concerned. For his crimes against humanity a Muslim criminal is tried by the laws of this life; for the sins against God he can expect to be judged in the hereafter. In contrast if a Muslim challenges the core beliefs of Islam he is identified as a deviant, placed into the the realm of disbelief and de facto becomes a non-Muslim. Perversions of the core beliefs would include statements such as the Quran is not the word of God, or that Mohammed is not the last prophet, that the 5 obligatory prayers could be truncated to two, or that adultery and murder are sanctioned by the Quran. It would not require a Muslim scholar to recognize such heresy. Nor does it require an expert of Islamic jurisprudence to recognize that any individual or group that calls for or committs the indiscriminate mass murder of Muslims, Christians, or Jews, as for example, what we are today witnessing in the internecine sectarian carnage in Iraq, and seeks justification for such abominations in Islam, is guilty of the gravest heresy.
It is ironic that those who indoctrinate the ideology of hate and terror and market the jihadist propaganda as though it were a part of Islam, were once lionized as the ‘mujahideen’ who rescued the Muslims of Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya. In as much as by helping to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan they played a role in the collapse of communism, a debt of gratitude was owed to them not only by Muslims. However,what once originated as a quest for justice and a liberation struggle against the godless communist oppressors has now become a mission of mindless vengeance against the free and innocent in any and every corner of the globe. Under the pretext of rectifying the injustices and humiliation that the “West” has heaped upon Muslims (and the recent cartoon capers have not helped matters), the ‘neo- mujahideen’ have been able to package their criminal violence against innocents as a justifiable retribution (‘jihad’)against ‘oppressors’. They have propagated their mission as though it were sanctified by Islam, when in fact it is the total antithesis. The Muslims who sympathize with their actions have been duped by their past heroic record and their ongoing exploitation of religious symbolism.
Recently former President Clinton designated “violent fundamentalism as religious heresy” (3/7/06). This observation should spur on rather than slow down the Muslim scholarship, possibly spearheaded by the Organisation of Islamic Conference’s newly founded Islamic Jurists’ Academy, to expose the heresy for themselves. If not, there will be a generation of lost youth growing up in the belief that jihad (an intense personal struggle for self purification, but also a fight for one’s rights, freedom, justice and dignity) is the slaughter of innocent human beings. This is neither jihad nor Islam but absolute heresy, that can only bequeath a legacy of horror. And yet it is a tragic irony of Islamic history that while mainstream Muslims, represented by no less a leader than Caliph Ali, had been reluctant to label extremists such as the Kharajites as heretics, the latter had no qualms in depicting any Muslims who did not identify with their radical dogma as apostates! While such magnanimity may have been tolerable when the extremist radicalism could impact only on relatively small numbers of Muslims, today’s heretical views threaten both Muslims and non -Muslims and are being prepared, orchestrated and hyped to unleash actions of devastating consequences unless they are recognized, challenged and neutralized. Thus instead of the sermon of hate, the countervailing message for the angry, disenfranchised, misguided and jobless potential recruits of the demagogues should be that the murder of innocent peoples is not jihad, but an act of heresy. This sentiment needs to be echoed across the entire spectrum of Muslim opinion and not from just the so-called ‘moderates’, portrayed as lackeys of the West. If the ‘moderates’ fail to take the lead, then the opportunistic hustlers from the ‘drop-out’, ‘has-been’ and turncoat fringe will waste no time to define Islam in their self-serving ‘manifesto’.
Every Muslim who takes a stand against heresy must do so with an inner conviction emanating from a position of strength and not of weakness. He is doing it for no other reason than to please Allah. He is not an apologist for Islam and does not need to to ingratiate himself to the ‘civilized’ and ‘cultured’ ‘West’. His stance will not compromise his unyielding opposition to the neocon-driven so-called ‘war on terror’ that through its calculated misadventure in Iraq, has produced calamitous consequences for the United States, and the entire Muslim world, and has magnified the terrorist threat a thousand-fold (and only history will decide whether ‘terrorism’ or the so-called ‘neocon war’ was the greater curse to mankind). In his principled stand, he has little expectation that it will do anything to reduce the exploitation of Muslim resources, or to reverse the injustices inflicted upon Muslims, or to generate a ringing endorsement in support of those exercising their legitimate rights to resist oppressive regimes. As important as these concerns are to Muslims, they are tangential to ensuring the purity of their religion. To reclaim their religion is to purify it and this will bring them one step closer to God. And this may be the biggest step in improving the lives of Muslims, because the Quran promises, “Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change themselves” (Quran: 13, 11).