Insult, Spirituality, Terrorism

Issue 734 » April 19, 2013 - Jumada Al-Thani 9, 1434

Living The Quran

Surah al-Imran (The House of Imran) Chapter 3: Verse 186 (partial)

"And you shall certainly hear much that will insult you from those who received the Scripture before you and from the polytheists. But if you persevere patiently and guard against evil, this will be the best course with which to determine your affairs."

This passage was revealed in Medina, and it leaves little doubt that the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his Companions often encountered insulting and irritating incidents at that time. Given the nature of the Prophet's mission and campaign, opposition verging on insult and abuse from the disbelievers was by no means unexpected. It would be neither feasible nor wise, under such circumstances, to have been too preoccupied with prosecution and punishment. This is precisely what the Quran has recommended and also what the Prophet actually did. But the juristic doctrine that was later developed followed a different course, one which moves more along punitive lines, rather than those of patience and perseverance.

Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp. 244, 245

Understanding The Prophet's Life


Placing spirituality, the intimate quest for meaning, light, and peace, at the centre of the religious experience makes it possible to overcome the formalistic reductions that turn religion into a closed, restrictive Universe of norms, limits, and prohibitions. There are, to be sure, rituals, obligations, and morals, but they pertain to a conception of life and death that imparts to them a meaning and substance that one must perpetually recall to avoid becoming deluded by the presence of a formal set of rules emptied of the heart of their meaning. This is what the Prophet of Islam indicated in a tradition that should be understood both literally and figuratively: "God does not look at your bodies or at your image but God looks into your hearts." [Bukhari, Muslim]

Compiled From:
"Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 310, 311



Nothing excuses the killing of innocent people. The devastation and anguish that such violence causes is often beyond description. Ask the families who lost loved ones in 9/11 or 7/7 or the terrorist attacks in Madrid and Boston. Their agony is mirrored a world away by families who have seen relatives torn apart by air strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Gaza or by suicide attacks in Iraq and Indonesia. The cultures and languages may be different but the emotional and psychological impact is very similar. Islam condemns the killing of all innocent people no matter if the killings were committed by an individual or a group or by a state. All of these crimes must be condemned.

To end any cycle of violence its root causes must be properly examined. Although Muslims die in greater numbers from terrorist acts than any other group, it is often their religion that is held up as the cause. But according to the University of Chicago’s Dr. Robert Pape, the world’s foremost expert on suicide terrorism, “The root cause of suicide terrorism is foreign occupation” and “over 95% of all suicide attacks are in response to foreign occupation.”

What is the way forward? Are we locked in a permanent cycle of war, terrorism and death? Is the suicide rate of 6500 American soldiers a year an inevitable by-product in this global blood feud? Fortunately, public opinion in the U.S. seems to be slowly changing. A Zogby poll in 2010 “found that 27% of Americans now believe that the `most important factor’ motivating terrorists to attack the United States is that they `resent Western power and influence,’” while 33% still believe the terrorists want Islam to dominate the world. For the 33% it may be helpful to note that, according to CPOST, groups like Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah are not working and conspiring with one another like a fascist monolith  – “what stands out is that each is driven by essentially nationalist goals to compel target democracies to withdraw military forces from their particular homeland.”

Compiled From:
"Islam and Terrorism" - IslamACloserLook.com