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Friday, December 11, 2015

COMBATING VIOLENT EXTREMISM (2)

Sheikh Youssef Machria, Mr Belkacem Smaili, Ambassador of Algeria, Alhaji Ibrahim Abubakar Jega, ES, National Mosque 



I started last week with a meeting in which I participated and which was organised in partnership with the Office of the National Security Adviser. We hosted some Algerian scholars of Islam at the National Mosque who had come to share their experience in combating terrorism with us; something relatively new to us but which they had been tackling since the 90’s. This week, I continue with the translation of the speech given by the head of the Algerian delegation. Please enjoy.


‘In the early 1990s we were the ones (as a country) under this scourge of terror. Now it covers many other nations, Muslim and non-Muslim, but in the 1990s ours was the only country consigned to the wrath of terrorism and violent extremism. 

‘In our intercourse with these terrorist, extremist, takfeeri organisations, I recall, in 1997, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Groupe Islamique Arme, (in French) and the pogrom it carried out in the name of Islaam against infants, children, women and the aged. Even animals were not spared; all in Islaam’s name. These youth were vying with one another in who would be the first in killing women and children. We said, in our dialogue with them, ‘Why don’t you confine your bloodshed to, say, the armed forces as they are contenders with you for political authority, why kill innocent civilians - women and children?’

‘ I remember the image of the sadistic massacre of Tadjena, a city around the villages of Bouhamed and Ayachiche, where an infant not more than nine months old was among the slain, and it was afterwards burnt. Amidst these, throats were slashed, arms and legs cut off, and bodies were thrown in a boiling pot. 

‘Imagine this organised massacre (perpetrated by murderers) in the name of Islaam, depicting it as the Deen of Muhammad, blessings and peace of Allah be upon. Wallaahul Musta’aan! (Only Allah can aid us!)

‘So, I said to them, what is your religious justification for this? One of them answered and said to me, ‘Oh Sheikh! Have you not read the words of Allah in Surat an-Nuuh (71:27) “..and they will beget but wicked kuffaar”?

‘Laa ilaaha illallaah! I was expecting something else from him, not this. I thought he might justify what they did as a retaliation for some wrong done them, but he justified this savagery that is abominated by all laws and religions  with this Qur’anic verse. This emanated from flawed understanding of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet, blessings and peace of Allah be upon him.

‘You (the imams) and scholars know this reality: misinterpretation and deformed understanding of the corpus of the Shariah leads only to disaster and catastrophe. I call to mind, in this connection, Allah’s word, ‘Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? -  "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?” (al-Kahf 18:103-104)

‘Look at it from that angle, dear scholars. They worked evil, killing, mutilating bodies, and thinking that to be jihad in the cause of Allah; but on the Day of Resurrection ‘And We shall turn to whatever deeds they did [in this life], and We shall make such deeds as floating dust scattered about.’ (al-Furqaan 25:23)

‘All these organisations, The Armed Islamic Group, The Islamic Armed Movement (MIA), The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, etc, personified flawed understanding of Islaam, and each is saying we want to return to the Islamic Caliphate. But this is not the way to effect change in a system. If you desire the establishment of the Caliphate,  tread the path followed by the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. ‘Say thou: "This is my way: I do invite unto Allah, - on evidence clear as the seeing with one's eyes, - I and whoever follows me. Glory to Allah! and never will I join gods with Allah!” (Yusuf 12:108)

‘The corollary of deviating from that path was the massacre of countless innocents, which led to the emergence of hundreds of thousands of widows, and orphans. In their madness they did not spare the police, the military, members of the press, politicians or even civil servants; even fire service personnel were not immune. They threatened doctors and teachers to stay away from hospitals and schools or face death. Moreover, Muslim scholars were assassinated on their mimbars (pulpits) and dwellings for speaking against extremism. We, at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowment, lost no fewer than 300 imams, scholars and Qur’anic instructors.

‘I recall an incident in a local Qur’anic school which we call zaawiyah (the equivalent of Tsangaya in Nigeria), in the middle of Algiers. These extremists cordoned the entire zaawiyah and slaughtered each and every member of the school - teachers and students. Their sin? They were engaged in a bid’ah of some sorts, memorising the Glorious Qur’an in a system under the sponsorship of the government!

‘This is extremism in its extremity! This is misinterpretation and the application of flawed understanding of the text. How did this start? It started with  altercations on trifling matters. With this, I would like to admonish my brother-scholars in Nigeria, and in every Muslim country. Difference of opinion starts from the branch and graduates to the trunk. Pay attention to this very well. As Ibn Hazm mentioned in his book Al-Muhalla that the beginning of the exit of the Khawaarij during the Umayyad Dynasty was their refusal to pray behind the imam of the mosque.  That was how it all started; their refusal to pray behind those they called the sultanate imams, or government imams. And we have the same thing today. The extremists have separate mosques other than the ones with imams under the Ministry of Religious Affairs. History, they say, repeats itself. 

‘We noticed the first incident of such division after the return of the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, from the Expedition of Hunain, when he distributed the spoils to some of his companions. A certain Dhul Khuwaysirah said, ‘Oh Muhammad! Do justice, for in this matter of distribution of spoils, you have not acted justly.’ 

‘He was so impudent that he called the Messenger of Allah, ‘Oh Muhammad!’ while Allah, Almighty has called the Messenger by his name three times in the Qur’an for definitive purposes only. But always we read Allah’s words in the Glorious Qur’an, ‘Oh Messenger… Oh Prophet…’ as an honour to him, peace be upon him, by the Highest Authority. But this man said   ‘Oh Muhammad! Do justice, for in this matter of distribution of spoils, you have not acted justly. The Countenance of Allah was not sought in the division of the spoils!’

‘The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, said, ‘Woe unto you! If I fail to deal justly, who is there to do that? How will Allah trust me with the Heavenly Chronicles, and you demurred to trust me with the division of fleeting glitter of the world?’ 

‘When the man went away the Messenger of Allah said, “From the progeny of this man,” or he said, “From the offspring of this man, there will come a people who will recite the Qur’an but it will not go beyond their throats. They will go through the religion like an arrow going through its quarry. They will murder the people of Islam while ignoring the people of idol-worship…’ (end of quotation)

You see, of course, how this describes the new inheritors of Dhul Khuwaysirah among us in the global community. Bloodthirsty, ignorant and cowardly people who use the Book that condemns them to justify an action the Book condemns. Scholars of Islaam over the centuries have always taught their people and warned their students about deviant sects with deviant ideologies. The gullible and ignorant are their foot soldiers.


Have you noticed how the Army in the North East keeps reporting cases of so-called Boko Haraam commanders who cannot read the Quran properly, let alone understand it? One of such captured men could not even recite the first Surah of the Qur’an with which every Muslim says his daily prayer. This is what you find with all the sickening Muslim terrorist groups. You have ISIS soldiers captured with tattoos of women on their arms; things, which are abhorrent to their professed faith and to any decent person. The recent killers in Paris had just left a bar where they drank alcohol before shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ and murdering people in the name of Allah, Who forbids both murder and alcohol! 
  
Notice that I write, “Muslim terrorist groups” and not the disingenuous “Islamists” or “Islamic terrorists” you see every day written by either ignorant or bigoted, biased reporters. The words “Islamic terrorist” and “Islamists” are repulsive to Muslims. Terrorism is not Islamic! In fact, Islam is the only religion, which has a legal punishment for acts of terrorism. (Al-Maa’idah Q5:33)

Insha Allah, I will continue, next week, with the speaker’s advice to Nigerian Muslim scholars on dialogue with extremists.


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