Anti-Terrorism Resources

January 6, 2008
In some Muslim majority nations religious extremists force free people to confess and practice a government-approved version of faith that they call Islam. These self-righteous terrorists and tyrants want to subdue Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These enemies of freedom use their handpicked Imams to issue fatwas to validate their tyranny. Unfortunately, most of these Imams' values and fatwas that have never been subjected to the scrutiny of a free press, are accepted as truly Islamic values in many Muslim societies. Under many such regimes, women cannot drive, own a business, or even acquire the most rudimentary education. In some of these countries religious police whip and herd the common people like camels into mosques during prayer time. When women become victims of torture and honor killing in the name of Islam, these Imams ignore or declare these atrocities to be isolated incidents. They claim that Islam and Muslims are protected under their "just" rule.

Muslims are quick to condemn non-Muslim societies for their human rights violations. However, they are silent when it comes to the abuse of innocent women and other members of Muslim society. In such a sad state of Muslim society, many Muslims blindly dream of a utopian "Islamic government", in much the same way as Christians anticipate the "Kingdom of God."

Unfortunately, this idea of "Islamic government" is a myth created by the power-hungry to subdue Muslims and non-Muslims alike to benefit exclusively those who rule. The Koran unambiguously exposes the tyrants' forgery of Islam.

The Koran states:

"Whosoever will, let him believe and whosoever will, let him disbelieve" (Koran 18: 29)

"[O Prophet,] exhort them; thy task is only to exhort: thou cannot compel them to believe." (Koran: 21-22).
"O Prophet.!...Thy duty is not more than to deliver the message; and the reckoning is Ours." (Koran 13:40).
These verses teach that an atmosphere of safety and liberty is an absolute necessity to the development of faith in the heart. These verses demand Muslims to guarantee freedom and safety for all. Moreover, the "reckoning" belongs to God only. Therefore, if a governmental or Imams' Fatwas demand public obedience and submission, such an outward appearance of obedience is not faith. The tyrants or any humans have no means to know what is in the heart of the individual thus subdued. When government enforces religion, the control is over the body, not over the soul. Unfortunately, many Muslims want to make the reign over the body, the most important tenet of Islam to send human "meat and blood" to God. However, the Koran rejects such tyranny over body:

"It is not your meat or blood that reach God: It is the fealty of your heart that reaches Him" (Koran 22:37).
The Koran states:
"We sent down the Torah which contains guidance and light...Later, in the train of Prophets We sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah which has been sent down before him, and gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light. ...Unto to you [O Muhammad] this writ (Koran) and a way and a pattern of life, confirming what were revealed before...Unto everyone of you have We appointed a different law and way of life. And if God had so willed He could surely have you all made one single community professing one faith. But He wished to try you and test you. So try to excel in good deeds" (Koran: 5:44-48).

Therefore, the very existence of different kinds of faith and religion contesting one another in acts of good work is the will of God. Hence, freedom without the enforcement of conformity in religious matters is Islamic. The so-called Islamic governments of the self-righteous violate Koranic principles and tyrannize people of all faith including Muslims.

God told the Prophet (s): "...Fear not people, but fear Me (God)..." (Koran 5:44).

"Say [Muhammed]: 'I possess no power to give benefit for myself, nor power to hurt save by God's leave. Had I the knowledge of the unknown, I would have acquired much good, and evil would not have touched me...."(Koran 7: 188).

The Prophet (s) preached, "I am no more than a human like you..." (Koran 41:6).

And so, he proclaimed that humans are free and individually accountable to God only.

He preached freedom of faith. He struggled to establish a free society. Prophet Muhammad (s) functioned as a democratically elected leader after the invitation of the entire citizens of Medina. The Prophet (s) never forced a decision upon his community even when he believed that the majority decision on a particular secular matter was a mistake, as happened in the case of the disaster at the battle of Uhud. He and a minority of the citizens of Medina argued for the fortification of the city of Medina and planned to fight the Meccan army from within. Yet, he agreed to go along with the wishes of the majority of his followers to fight the Koraisch in an open field instead of fighting from fortified Medina, even though he believed that the strategy of the majority was wrong. He upheld the democratic principles even when there was maximum danger to the community. So in conclusion, it is imperative to note that Islam demands freedom, and not tyranny by Imams, Ayatollahs or Khalifas.

Following the footsteps of the Prophet (s), all Muslims must ardently and peacefully struggle to establish a free society. This would require a dictate of freedom. Such freedom ensures that a totalitarian government, an Imam, or a sunni/shiah does not presume self-righteously to impose a personal interpretation of faith upon others. Everyone is equal and free. If any one wants to be a believer, let him/her be. If anyone wants to be an apostate let him/her be safe to live the life of an apostate.

Government is a tool to maintain communal policy. Within the framework of a democratic government, community policy is generated by communal consensus. The concept of communal consensus, though valuable in establishing communal parameters, becomes irrelevant in the assessment of an individual's soul on " The Day of Judgment." What is critical in the Islamic context is faith. Faith is an exclusively personal and private experience. We embrace faith individually just as we confront our death individually. An Muslim philosopher, Souroush, correctly said that we have communal actions but not communal faith. We can express faith in public but the core of the faith is mysteriously private. The preeminence of Islamic faith is for the Hereafter where people are to be judged individually:

"Everyone of them will come before Him all alone on the Day of Resurrection. Surely, the compassionate (God) will show love for those who believe and do right." (Koran 19:95-96).

In Islam, there is no Original Sin to blight the goodness inherent in mankind; therefore, the prime criterion on the Day of Judgment is the cumulative action of the individual. The officials of a government can have faith and religious values, yet God judges the individual not for what the community has sanctioned as ethical, but for what the individual has chosen as honorable action. One individual cannot bear the sole responsibility for a communal decision. So on the Day of Judgment, a communal policy does not outweigh one's actions determined in the course of free will.

The function of government is enforcement. Therefore, the concept of so-called Islamic government is an oxymoron because the Koran is against any form of compulsion or enforcement of a particular religion. It proclaims:

"No compulsion is there in religion, for rectitude is henceforth distinct from perversity..." (Koran 2:256).
However, closed minds of contemporary Muslims at large cannot grasp the straightforward and simple message. A community can have Islamic values. The community values do not come from the simple pronouncement of fatwas by Imams or Ayatollahs, but after comprehensive free discussion of all fatwas and opinions in a free press, without coercion and intimidation. Such open discussion and decision-making by the community are important Islamic tenets because God asked the Prophet (s):

"...And seek their [i.e., people's] counsel in all matters of public concern..." (Koran 3:159).

Mistakes are possible when humans make decisions. However, the Compassionate God states:

"There is no sin upon you for what mistakes you commit unintentionally, but there is sin in what your hearts have intended." (Koran 33:5)

Unintentional mistakes happen less frequently when the mind is exposed to free press, public dialogue, and reason. The Prophet stated "God has not created any thing better than reason." So, any Muslim who opposes a free press, public debate, and reasoning commits a sin knowingly because he/she refuses to listen to the merit or demerit of an opposing point of view. The Koreishs of Mecca rejected the Prophet (s) because they refused to listen to reason. Muslims must reject the paradigm of ignorance that pervades in their community and in individual minds. Let Imams and scholars issue Fatwas freely without power to enforce it over the community. Let us free ourselves from the concept of enforced forms of outward Islam that demand the conformity and submission of our "meat and blood." Reject any form of conformity by force. Reject totalitarianism and monarchies that want to rule our bodies. Let freedom with the safeguard of a free press rule our "meat and blood" and let faith rule our heart. Let the hearts and minds fly freely until truth, based in reason, pervades the earth so that there may be liberty and justice for all (God willing).

Unlike the enforced distorted Islam of tyrants and terrorists, the faith chosen freely at the individual level without coercion and without forced conformity is the genuine faith. In a world where faith freely chosen fills the heart, the true religious spirit comes alive vibrantly to establish the ideal society where all people may partake of that precious freedom called choice. Early Muslim history corroborates this fact. Muslims helped Jews to create their Golden Age and liberated Christians from the tyranny of the Roman church. Muslim philosophy and science promoted the Enlightenment and Renaissance of Europe. Muslims also created the experimental science. In those days, we educated anyone who came our way without force-feeding our faith. Now we have governments that have taken control of our bodies claiming to send our "meat and blood" to God while Muslims have to beg from non-Muslim societies for their daily bread to keep their bodies alive. Islam would remain a dream and a theory with no practical value until faith rules the hearts and freedom, liberal democracy with an accountable free press rules human "blood and meat."

The American struggle against authority is only a different version of the Prophet's and his immediate followers' struggle against authority. The democratic paradigm draws inspiration from the Koranic axiom that human beings are free under God. The American constitution reflects this as it states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press." In America, hearts can choose their faith at the individual level. In this great nation, everyone is free to believe or disbelieve in the Day of Judgment when free human spirits face God for their individual acts and faith, not for governmental or communal sins.

American Muslims must struggle along with the rest of Americans against any threat from external or internal forces that endanger our re-discovered freedom. We must struggle for a better America without abridging freedom. America may not be the perfect utopia of Christians or Muslims, or of anybody else, but it is the best resilient nation in the contemporary world. Muslim Americans joining hands with the rest of Americans, without impinging on the freedom of others, must strive to make America a greater nation than what it is now. Free Muslims of America know that America and American freedom must be protected and preserved at any cost if Muslims want to practice Islam as each Muslim understands it, not as authoritarians such as monarchs or religious bigots choose to enforce it. Finally, I thank God for creating America where my faith rules my heart and liberal democracy rules my "meat and blood" without anyone forcing me to conform my Islamic practices to anyone else's Islam or vice versa.

by T.O.Shanavas