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islam related issues, jihad/terror, responses

Dialogue Between Talib (Student) and Sheikh (Teacher)

Talib: Why are we condemning the attacks on the WTC and Pentagon in America?

Sheikh: Because it was a monstrous act that sacrificed the lives of innocent people. Islam absolutely prohibits attacks on civilians even in the event of war.

Talib: But America’s foreign policy is hostile towards Islam?

Sheikh: Those policies were created by politicians and the government of America, not the man-in-the-street. Oppositions to politics should be dealt through political means.

Talib: Weren’t the politicians elected by the American people?

Sheikh: In the two attacks, thousands became victims. How can we be certain that the victims were all hostile and were responsible for the policies that were implemented? How can we justify what happened to the non-Americans who were killed when they had nothing to do with American policies? How can we justify their death?

Talib: Millions of Muslims are killed in Iraq and Palestine because of America. They are civilians too but the American government and its people do not care at all!

Sheikh: What is halal and haram in Islam is not determined by the conduct of others on us.

If the Serbian army raped Muslim women, should the Muslim army go out and rape Serbian women in turn? Absolutely not. So even if the American politicians are responsible for killing thousands in Iraq, it doesn’t equate justifying the death of civilians in America.

Talib: The attacks were for the glory of Islam?

Sheikh: The attacks will only increase opposition towards Islam. The attacks would have planted the seeds of hatred in the hearts of the thousands of family members and the public. If they were neutral or were never hostile to Islam before this, now they would have become our enemies. Unfortunately this hostility may be passed on to the next generation too.

Ultimately, all Muslims will be stigmatised by the incident. They will have to bear the burden of guilt and shame for the atrocity although they have not given their mandate for the course of action that was taken!

Talib: Those who launched the attach deserved some sympathy, don’t they!

Sheikh: Firstly, majority of Muslim scholar condemned the attacks on the WTC in America because it is a transgression that is not permitted in Islam.

Secondly, the principle of Islam states that those who condone any acts of evil are just as guilty as of committing the act. Hence when we condone the action of a person who commits murder, then we are just as guilty of committing murder!

Islam teaches us that a person who witnesses a transgression should try to stop it with his hands, or advice the person to stop the action or at the very least does not allow himself to approve of it.

Talib: What do you mean by this explanation?

Sheikh: It is wrong for any Muslims to praise and condone the perpetrators of the attacks or even encouraged others to commit similar attack.

Talib: But Usamah is a Mujahid. He has fought against Russia with his wealth and life, while the rest of the ummah was caught up in the affairs of this world!

Sheikh: He shall certainly be rewarded for the good that he has done in the past and his contribution to jihad. Nevertheless he is an ordinary man who is not immune from mistake.

Talib: But that’s not possible!

Sheikh: There was a companion of the prophet named Kaab who participated in the Battle of Badr, the first, important and determining battle against the Quraisy of Mecca. Later, he was found to have divulged information on the prophet’s plan to take capture Mecca, when the Quraisy was found to breach the agreement of Hudaibiyah. Despite his seniority as the Prophet’s companion and his previous contribution, Kaab was still not immune from making mistake. Another companion was reprimanded by the prophet for killing his opponent in a battle in spite of the latter announces his Shahadah (embracing Islam).

The lesson for us is that if the companions of the Prophet can make such mistakes, then we are certainly just as likely to err in our eagerness to contribute to Islam.

As Muslims, we have to be objective and rational. We have to differentiate the right from the wrong. However, being wrong in our judgment does not mean that we are forever condemned without any recourse.

Certainly we should not obey anyone in violation of the syariah whether he is a scholar or Usama himself!

Talib: Are you then supporting America in this matter?

Sheikh: Condemning the attacks on America, does not mean we support American foreign policies. Our disagreement with Usama, does not mean we condone American attack on Iraq. One violation will not fix another.

The attacks on American are a violation that should not be condoned even if it is in opposition to its foreign policies.

The American attack on Iraq is wrong as suggested by many scholars and observers.

Going back to the principle makes the attacks on America and Afghanistan, and the view held by Usama, unacceptable.

Talib: But the ummah is in need of a hero who is willing to challenge the oppressors. Usama has been able to fill that void. He has raised our spirits and put the dictators to shame.

Sheikh: Is Usama the only voice in this world? God has given us the capacity to think and hundreds and thousands of Muslim scholars. With such resources, are we not able to find a solution or stand that is different from that of Usama’s in order to solve our present problems.

Why are we limiting our choices to either America or Usama only? Are we in the wrong if we do not side with either of them?

Talib: I don’t know. I don’t know if I can accept your argument!

Sheikh: Do not be carried away by your emotions – following the dictates of our emotions can be detrimental. This is a basic teaching in Islam. Should we let our anger towards America justify the call of our emotions and to ignore rational judgement?

Have we forgotten that the Messenger has said that a person is strong not because he can wrestle, but because he can control his emotions and his anger.

Therefore those who fight in the streets in protest against America and in support of Usama are not necessarily brave and commendable, and those who are not with them are not necessarily cowards.

About Muhammad Haniff Hassan

Muhammad Haniff Bin Hassan is a Fellow. He holds a PhD and M.Sc. in Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (previously known as the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies), Nanyang Technological University. He received his early education in Aljunied Islamic School. He then continued his tertiary education at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, National University of Malaysia, with honours in Syar`iah and Civil law. Mr. Haniff is also active in social activities as a member of the Islamic Religious Council Appeal Board, HSBC Insurance Islamic Advisory Board from 2000 to 2014, Association of Islamic Religious Teachers and Scholars of Singapore (PERGAS) and Management Committee of Al-Irsyad Islamic School. He writes extensively in Berita Harian (a local Malay newspaper) and has also published articles in The Straits Times. He has published six books in his name, co-authored a monograph and helped publish two books for PERGAS and the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore. His personal website in Malay is at


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