After the commencement of war in Afghanistan, India has restarted open murder of the Muslim Kashmiris. Everyday the Muslims are martyred and their properties are put to fire. The same is happening in Palestine. No other Islamic country is in position to help them. These two countries have religious independence. Negotiations have failed and have fallen prey to the stubbornness of the oppressors. Now in this situation of cruelty and aggression, what should the Muslims of these two countries do?
Our opinion regarding what Muslims should or should not do under specific conditions is greatly influenced and framed by our understanding of any related directives of the Shari`ah. In view of this fact, before answering your specific question, it seems prudent that the major directives of the Shari`ah, which in my opinion should have a significant effect on one’s opinion regarding the specific issue, should be briefly mentioned1. Some of the important directives of the Shari`ah relating to armed aggression, are as follows:
I have clarified in a number of my previous responses that according to the directives of the Shari`ah, an armed aggression can only be undertaken by an organized Muslim state. No individual or group of individuals, without the declared authority of an organized Muslim state can declare a war on another people, however just the cause may be;
Even when Jihad is undertaken by an organized Muslim state for a just cause, the balance of power between the Muslim state and its transgressing enemy must not be less than 1: 2. In other words, if the balance of power between the two is such that the Muslims have less than half the material power as compared to that of their enemies, then they should avoid aggression and in place of that they should work to improve their power structure to the level of at least half that of their enemies. It should be kept in mind that God has promised help to the Muslim army, fighting for a just cause, only if its power structure is not less than half that of its enemies2.
Any aggression of a Muslim state must not be in violation of any agreement with the state against whom such an action is being contemplated;
This aggression must be preceded by an open declaration of war; Jihad is not a covert aggression against another collectivity, but a declared war against a transgressing state;
This aggression must not target non-combatant citizens of the other state.
Keeping these directives of the Shari`ah in perspective, let us now turn to your specific question:
First of all, it should be quite clear that whatever action is contemplated by the Muslims to correct the situation, it should not be against any of the stated directives of the Shari`ah.
Secondly, I agree with you that under the present circumstances, none of the large number of Muslim states, because of their weak power structure, is in a position to challenge the various nations perceived to be ‘transgressors’ and ‘oppressors’ and to take a stand in the way of what is considered to be their ‘atrocities’ against the Muslims. Under these circumstances, it is obvious that even if any of these nations were to declare a war on the oppressors, they are not likely to secure God’s help for their cause.
Under these circumstances, any unwise aggression of the Muslims is only likely to give the ‘oppressing’ nations a further moral justification for their already increasing ‘oppression’ and ‘atrocious’ behavior, which would invariably result in further shedding innocent blood and loss of life.
In view of these facts, the first action that the Muslims residing in these (“oppressed”) areas should take is to declare the discontinuation of all aggression against their ‘oppressors’. They must realize that their minor retaliations provide the ‘tyrants’ a moral justification for furthering their injustices and increasing their atrocities. This justification must not be provided to the ‘oppressors’, as this only results in the further loss of human life, property and peace. The Muslims in these areas must make it binding upon themselves to adhere to the Qur’anic directive of steadfast perseverance even in the face of all injustices and atrocities.
To complement the foregoing point, the political and religious leadership of the Muslim states, all over the world, should direct all its efforts in
Trying to find a peaceful settlement of the issue, through which it is secured, as far as possible, that no further life is lost due to injustice. In trying to find a peaceful settlement, the first and the foremost priority of the leadership should not be to secure any territory, but life. Even if further loss of life can be secured against by settling for less than the desired territory (or arrangement), it should be secured without any further delay;
Trying to relieve themselves and, subsequently, the Muslim masses of the psyche of ‘oppression’ at the hands of other nations, especially the West and the United States of America. It has become a normal practice among the Muslims to blame the West and, especially, the United States for all the misfortunes that befall them. We must not forget that every nation has a right to secure its self interests. It is not the responsibility of the West to secure the interests of the Muslims. If the Muslims are no longer in a position to even secure justice for themselves, it is because of their own faults, not the fault of other nations. The Muslims must realize that they lost their glory, not because of the conspiracies of the West, but because they no longer deserved that glory according to the Divine law, which had bestowed that glory upon them, in the first place. This point is extremely important from the perspective of developing a general positive frame of mind in the Muslims, which is a necessary requirement of any long-term sustained effort for development and prosperity;
Trying to rebuild the nation, whereby it is restored in a position where it is no longer left to the mercy and injustices of other nations. Rebuilding of a nation, in a nutshell, requires a “Jihad” primarily against ignorance and poverty. Jihad against ‘ignorance’ must focus on working toward:
Development of a law-abiding and disciplined nation;
Enhancing moral and socio-moral virtues – which provide the basis of all interpersonal directives of Islam – on a macro level;
Imparting the knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah in the masses; and
Motivating people to get the highest level of education, with the spirit and objective of contributing in the development and the rebuilding of their nation.
Jihad against poverty must focus on working toward:
Improving the general standard of living of the individuals, so that they are in a better position to contribute more effectively to the development process;
Developing an infrastructure for advancement in industry, agriculture and defense; and
Strive for unmatched technological advancement in all spheres of activity, including warfare and defense.
If, however, no peaceful settlement can be achieved or if it can only be achieved at the cost of religious freedom (just an assumption), then the Muslims residing in the areas of oppression may not be left with any other option but to migrate to a piece of land where they can, at least, secure to live a life of religious freedom. If this option has to be resorted, then it would be incumbent upon any neighboring countries to open their doors for these oppressed Muslims.
My dear brother, I do appreciate that my recommendations are poles apart from what the Muslims would like to hear or desire to achieve in the short-run. Nevertheless, I am fully convinced that if the Messengers of God could settle for less than ‘justice’ for their people only to secure peaceful time for the development and elevation of their people – as was the case in, for instance, the Hudaybiyyah agreement – then the same solution will, insha’Allah, work for us as well.
We must suppress our egoistic inclinations and direct all our energies toward regaining our lost glory, through rendering ourselves deserving of the great blessing of the Almighty.
I hope this helps.
October 25, 2001