Are the Muslims in Palestine and Chechnya freedom fighters?
Suicide bombers kill innocent people. They are using the ayat (2:178) (free for free slave for slave) as evidence for this. Is this correct?
Many issues have implicitly been raised by the question that you have put forth. I shall, insha Allah, try to explain them to you one by one.
First take the issue of suicide, which is mostly misconstrued despite its clarity. As you know, Islam condemns suicide and sees it as an utter transgression regarding the scheme of Allah for the creation of this world. However, this so pronounced decree regarding the sanctity of life becomes obscure when it comes to giving up your life for the sake of some holy ends. However, a cursory look at the life of the Messenger (pbuh) of Allah and his Companions (ra) reveals that though they wished to be martyred, they would always take precautionary measures to secure and safeguard their lives. A war should be fought like it normally should be. This implies that a warrior needs to take whatever measures he finds at his disposal to safeguard his life while striving for the holy ends. Therefore, I find myself compelled to take suicide bombing and suicide on almost equal grounds. Whatever situation a warrior is placed in, he needs to exercise prudence and try his level best to save himself while causing huge damage to the enemy. It is only in some rare situation, where he is felt with no choice but to blow himself up, that this would be allowed. I would like to elucidate this a bit more by presenting before you a short example. Let’s assume that an ammunition depot of the enemy needs to be demolished. The extremist approach is to go there and blow yourself up near the store. The prudent approach is that you will plant a bomb there and then would try your best to escape. It is only in the situation that you are watched while planting the bomb that you choose to blow yourself up. Excepting such circumstances where you are left with no choice but to set the bombs off in your very presence, it is sinful to commit suicide.1 Viewed thus, it becomes amply clear that taking lives of non-combatant civilians through suicide missions is not only against the norms of common sense and morality but also against the explicit directives of the Islamic Shari’ah.
On many occasions, the team at ‘Understanding Islam’ has endeavored to show that Jihad can only be waged against oppression and that too under an established government. So it seems needless to say that the offensive launched by these fighters of various groups is no Jihad. Therefore the term that their sympathizers should use for them is indeed ‘freedom fighters’ instead of Mujahdeen (holy warrior). Obviously, their exponent would call them ‘terrorists’.
June 10, 2003
- You may also like to refer to one of our earlier responses to a related question titled ‘Regarding Suicide Bombers – What Exactly is Jihad‘.
The second question is whether it is allowed to launch an armed offensive against innocent citizens. The answer is obviously in the negative. Islam has totally prohibited killing of women, children and those men who do not lift arms against Muslims.
You write that they support such killings by presenting verses relating to Qisas. First of all, I would like to mention that the law of Qisas does not mean that for one person, you are to kill one person whoever he/she may happen to be. It means you are to execute the murderer in retaliation of the slain person. More explicitly, it is not that if you fail to find the murderer, you will execute any poor creature on which you are able to lay your hands. The verses thus read:
O you who believe! decreed for you is the Qisas of those among you who are killed such that if the murderer is a free-man, then this free man should be killed in his place and if he is a slave, then this slave should be killed in this place and if the murderer is a woman, then this woman shall be killed in her place. (2:178)
The second thing that must be kept in mind is that claiming Qisas is no doubt the right of the family of the slain person but this right is to be exercised strictly under the authority of an organized rule. No individual has the right to take the law in his hands and avenge his loved one’s murder on his own. There is a consensus among all the authorities of Islam that punishments like taking Qisas, amputating the hands of a thief, can only be administered by the government. Finally, it should also be kept in mind that the directive related to Qisas cannot be applied to international aggression. The law of Qisas relates to a situation that is internal to a Muslim state. ((Edited by Moiz Amjad. [↩]