Pakistan clerics explain ‘jihad’
Pakistan’s top Muslim clerics have said it is becoming increasingly
difficult for them to preach the real concept of jihad, or holy war, to
"The situation in Iraq,
Afghanistan and Palestine is radicalising young people," says Mufti
Rafi Usmani, one of Pakistan’s highest-ranking clerics.
"And an angry young man is in no-one’s control," he said.
Other high-ranking Islamic scholars have also endorsed these views.
Circumstances for jihad
Mufti Rafi Usmani heads Darul Uloom Karachi, one of Pakistan’s most respected religious schools, or madrassas.
under any circumstances," he said in an interview with the BBC News
Asked to explain the concept of jihad as expounded in
mainstream Islamic thought, Mufti Usmani said it had been laid down in
great detail precisely to avoid any confusion.
"To begin with, jihad is not incumbent on all Muslims
and a call for jihad can be given only under special circumstances," he
Islamic scholars – or ulema – agree that injunctions
explaining the circumstances for jihad and the people’s conduct during
jihad constitute the core principles of the doctrine.
According to three top scholars interviewed by the BBC News website, jihad can only be called in the following circumstances:
If a Muslim community comes under attack, then jihad becomes an
obligation for all Muslims, male and female, in that community
- If that particular
community feels it cannot fight off attackers on its own, then jihad
becomes incumbent on Muslims living in nearby communities
- If a Muslim ruler
of a country calls for jihad, then it is incumbent upon the Muslims
living under that ruler to join the jihad.
Jihad ‘not obligatory’
Mufti Usmani says that even in such circumstances, jihad is obligatory
only on as many Muslims as are required to defend the community under
"If Pakistan is attacked but its army is sufficient to deal with the
threat, then Pakistani civilians are under no obligation to join
jihad," he said.
The second principle relates to the conduct of the
jihadis. Under no circumstances are Muslims allowed to attack women,
children, the old and the meek, the sick, those that are praying and
civilians, say these ulema.
Muslim militants argue that if innocent Muslims are
killed in enemy action then Muslims are allowed to kill innocent people
But clerics strongly disagree with this line of
thinking, arguing that Islam does not allow Muslims to respond to "a
mistake" by another mistake.
"Islam is absolutely clear on this issue. Two wrongs do not make a right," Mufti Usmani said.
"If they feel that the US or the UK are killing innocent civilians in
Iraq or Afghanistan, it does not give them the right to kill innocent
citizens in London or New York," he said.
Dr Sikander, who heads Jamia Binoria in Karachi, says the Muslims have
their options clearly cut out under Islam if they do not agree with the
foreign policy of those countries where they are living.
Jamia Binoria is credited with producing several
students who later took to militancy. The founder of the now banned
Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, Maulana Masood Azhar, is also said to
have attended this seminary.
residence is doing something terribly wrong, then all they can do is to
leave the country.
"If an Iraqi living in London is outraged over
Britain’s role in what is happening in Iraq, then he should go to Iraq
and fight the coalition forces there," he said.
"Nothing gives him the right to hit back at innocent civilians living in the UK."
Pakistani clerics say that the doctrine evolves from the fundamental Islamic principle of honouring commitments.
"When a Muslim visits a Western country or if he is living there, then
he is under a kind of a contractual obligation to abide by the law of
that land," explains Mufti Usmani.
"Islam is so strict about honouring commitments that a commitment cannot be revoked unilaterally even in times of battle."
Mufti Akram Kashmiri, the head of Jamia Ashrafia in Lahore – another
top madrassa whose students have risen to top posts in various Islamic
countries – says that the existing circumstances are making it
extremely difficult for the ulema to preach this message to disaffected
"Angry young Muslims are no longer satisfied with this doctrine," he says.
"That is why they go around to all kinds of ulema with dubious
credentials to seek religious sanctions to deal with the rising tide of
anger inside them," he says.
These ulema are convinced that the solution to terrorism no longer lies in the hands of the Muslim world or the clerics.
The West, they say, must seek a resolution of all the conflicts
involving the Muslim world and hit at the root causes that have spawned
terrorism all over the world.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/07/23 17:10:05 GMT