There is a phenomenon that has become part of the world that we live in today. It has been called by many names. Perhaps, the most common name for it is "terrorism". It occurs in many ways. We have witnessed some of its means in Muslim countries and in Western Countries. Examples include the bombing of the World Trade Centre and the Oklahoma City Bombing. It may also take on other forms, such as kidnappings, attacks on villages and so forth.
These are things that go on in the world today. Therefore one view of them must be very clear in our minds. We know that some Muslims sometimes get involved in such acts. Some Muslims may think they are doing very positive things when they do such acts. However, they must realise the shariah's position concerning their acts. They must realise that what they are doing is not sanctioned by the shariah in any way.
First, let me state that all of us would be very happy to be among those people who bring back the khilaafah or establish a true Islaamic state. Obviously, it cannot come about through just any means. The question is how is that to be done and what kinds of things must we be aware of in that process.
Obviously, Jihaad is a very noble and important act - although some Muslims today try to pretend that there is no such thing as jihaad in Islaam. Their approach is just an overreaction - and like all overreactions, their approach must be avoided. Instead, look to Allaah's words in the Qur'aan:
"O you who believe shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allaah and His Messenger, and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allaah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but knew! [If you do so] He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of Eternity, that is indeed the Great Success. And also [He will give you] another [blessing] which you love - help from Allaah and a near victory. And give glad tidings to the believers". (as-Saff, 10-13)
But what is jihaad? Is jihaad simply fighting and killing the disbelievers without any real goal to that fighting? Is it killing them simply for the sake of killing them because they are disbelievers? Is it their killing for the sake of revenge? A current mujaahid, who is very famous for his activities throughout the world and Allaah alone knows what is in the hearts, stated about a group in the Philippines that is well-known for those types of terrorist-acts, "They are not interested in jihaad". Yes, they are not working for jihaad. They are interested in attacking and killing but what does that by itself have to do with jihaad? Everyone must realise what exactly jihaad is. Jihaad is a struggle and a battle with the intention of making the word of Allaah supreme.
It is important to realise that jihaad is not a matter of revenge or punishment. Some people get upset that a certain sheikh is arrested or that some Muslims were arrested or killed or one's family is attacked - and therefore he wants to attack and kill any of the disbelievers - and maybe even other Muslims - in any way possible and he calls that Jihaad, although in the Shariah there may be no sanction whatsoever for what he has done. In fact, his behaviour must be considered closer to the kind of conflicts and fighting that they had in the days of jaahiliyya. This, then, is not jihaad. One can find no example of that nature in the life of the Prophet (saw) even though the Muslims were greatly persecuted in Makkah, and some were even killed, even though the Muslims were forced to emigrate from Makkah to Abyssinia and from Makkah to Madinah, and even though the Prophet's own uncle has his level eaten by one of the disbelievers after he was killed - there was nothing whatsoever of this nature during all those twenty-three years of his life - although there were many causes and possibilities for it to occur. There was never any attacking or indiscriminate killing just for revenge or simply out of hatred for the disbelievers. There is even a story narrated of 'Ali that he was once about to kill a person during jihaad and then that person spat in his face. At that moment, 'Ali left him. When the person asked him why he spared his life, he stated, "I was going to kill you for the sake of Allaah, but when you spat in my face, I was going to kill you out of my own anger. So I had to leave you be". Thus, one can see that the only kind of fighting and killing that they engaged in was fighting that would help establish or keep the supremacy of the Word of Allaah.
Sometimes some Muslims get frustrated at the plight of Muslims today and they want to do something. They want to do something but they cannot figure out what. They are not satisfied with doing something that may take a long time to have an effect. They don't realise that their lack of patience and doing things at the wrong time and in the wrong way is something unacceptable in the shariah. They are actually hurting the cause of Islaam much more than they are benefiting it. Is that jihaad - hurting the cause of Islaam?
We have an example for us to learn from during the time of the Prophet (saw). Once, the Prophet (saw) asked for someone to go and spy on the disbelievers' army camp. He gave that companion explicit instructions just to go and get information and not to do anything else. That companion got very close to the leader of the disbelievers and he stated that he could have killed him if he had wanted to. However, he did not. Had he done so, he would have gone against the Prophet's commands and he would have done something that the Prophet (Saw) had known was not in its proper time. Thus, he could have hurt Islaam, even by striking at the leaders of the disbelievers, had he acted on his own in that example.
During the time of the Prophet (saw), they also became anxious. We see them asking for permission to fight. Yet Allaah did not give them such permission until the proper and best time. Instead the Prophet (saw) told them that soon Islaam would be dominant but they were being hasty. The Prophet (saw) said:
"A man from those before you would be taken and have a trench dug in the earth for him. Then he would be brought and put into that trench and a saw would be brought and put over his head. He would be cut into two halves and that would not stray him from his religion. Or he would be combed with a comb of iron between his meat and his bones and that would not sway him from his religion. By Allaah, Allaah will complete this matter [make this religion dominant] until a rider would ride from Sana to Hadhramaut and only have to fear Allaah and the wolf for his sheep. But you people are being hasty." (Ahmad and al-Bukhaari).
It is clear that the Messenger of Allaah (saw) knew that fighting would take place but at the right time and in the right way in which it could be beneficial. We have such examples of proper jihaad throughout the history of Islaam. We have examples of that nature during our times in which Muslim groups under a Muslim leader have announced a jihaad against Muslims and have announced their intention of making the law of Allaah supreme. This is the way that Jihaad is supposed to take place.
However, the point is that jihaad like any other act must be done correctly according to the shariah and with the proper intention. If either of these two conditions are not met, then it is not jihaad. Furthermore, after making sure that the act is permissible in the eyes of the shariah, the next step is to make certain that the act will be a beneficial act for the sake of the jihaad. There is a fiqh of jihaad in the same way that there is a fiqh of prayer and purity - and we must abide by that of fiqh of jihad in the same way that we must abide by the fiqh of prayer. If we are truly serious about change and jihaad, we must follow that correct methodology. For example, it is not permissible for the Muslim army to deliberately and intentionally target children or non-combatant women, even though they are from the disbelievers.
Again, let me stress this point, we must make sure that the act is correct according to the Shariah. Also, again, we must make certain according to the best of our reasoning abilities, that the act is beneficial for Islaam itself and the jihaad and that its benefit outweighs its harm. If it does not meet these conditions, the act is wrong and cannot be justified - and it certainly isn't true jihaad.
Once again, we can find guidance from the Prophet (saw) concerning this matter. During the time of the Prophet (saw), he did not kill the hypocrites - although he knew each and everyone of them and although they had spread a great deal of evil among the Muslims such that they were deserving to be killed. Although they deserved to be killed and it would have been permissible according to the Shariah, he did not do so because it would not have been beneficial. He explained his action to 'Umar ibn al-Khattab who wanted to have the leading hypocrite put to death. The Prophet (saw) told him, "Leave him - so the people will not say that Muhammad kills his companions" (al-Bukhaari).
On another occasion, recorded by Muslim, the Prophet (saw) told his wife Aisha that if it were not for the Quraysh just recently embracing Islaam, he would have rebuilt the Kaaba on its proper foundation.
The overriding aspect that we must keep in mind - after we make sure that an act is permissible - is that the interest of Islaam must be our goal not revenge or killing simply for the sake of killing and so forth.
Those "extremist" acts - yes they are extremist even from an Islaamic point of view when they do not meet the criteria mentioned above - neither advance the cause of jihaad nor do they benefit Islaam. Indeed, they can make people hate and fight Islaam and Muslims even more. When I say people, I mean even some Muslims. This is one reason why the leaders of the disbelievers are probably not completely displeased with such acts. They know that they can use then to their benefit. They can use them as a pretext to attack Muslims - the true Muslims who do not do such things but who are bringing about change in peaceful ways - and to turn others away from Islaam or from helping oppressed Muslims in any way.
The point is: the interest of the jihaad must be served and any act that you perform must be correct and sanctioned by the shariah. Otherwise, your claim of jihaad and working for Islaam is simply a lie.
When acts of this nature occur, then one of two things must be true.
(1) Muslims actually perpetrated the act. Those Muslims must be considered ignorant extremists. We have had that kind throughout the history of Islaam, such as the Khawaarij and the Mu'tazilah with their incorrect view of ordering good. We must recognise that they have been misled by Shaytaan.
(2) Muslims did not actually do the act - however, they still may be framed or implemented. The media and the disbelievers will still use the act to their advantage. They can pass tougher laws also aimed at Muslims, they can arrest and accuse more Muslims and so forth.
The point is that Shaytaan and his allies will use such events to their advantage. They will try to pressure and scare Muslims into giving up any real viable form of Islaam. For example, governmental agencies will come to your house in intimidating fashion, and scare your parents, spouse or children or they may take you for questioning - which in some countries is the same as being arrested and possibly tortured. This is even though you never did and never intend to do any such act but simply because you are Muslim and some Muslims may have done such acts in the past. These things have great effect on people. Hours after the bombing in Oklahoma City, a brother called me and said that they have a new Muslimah who just talked to his wife and said that she is not sure if she is willing to stick to Islaam.
This is exactly what Shaytaan and his allies want. They want Muslims to give up any kind of social/political Islaam - to accept all the munkar (evil) around them in the name of freedom and democracy - and simply pray and fast on their own. Don't say anything. Don't make da'wah. They want us to give up making da'wah and even speaking when wrong is done. However, we must recognise that this is simply another extreme - and it is also wrong. Many people recognise the first form as extreme yet they fail to recognise that this is also a form of extremism. In the same way that the Muslim history witnessed the first type, it also witnessed this type in the form of Sufi groups or Modernists who argue that Islaam has nothing to do with politics. For the ummah as a whole, this form of extremism can be just as dangerous as the other form.
It is not true Islaam to give up making da'wah, advising others, showing what is correct and what is wrong. In reality, they want us to give up a major portion of what Islaam is all about. But we do not have the right to keep a portion of the religion and abandon another portion of the religion.
This is their trick and this is what we have to make sure not to fall into. We should not fear them but we must fear Allaah. Allaah says,
"It is only Shaytaan that suggests to you to fear his supporters and followers. So fear them not. But fear Me, if you (true) believers". (al-'Imraan, 175)
They can only threaten our dunya - and even then they cannot do anything to us unless Allaah wills it. But we sometimes give them both our dunya and aakhirah by being scared or accepting their falsehood. We must make the right choice. We might expect such tests to come to us if we are true believers. Allaah has reminded us of this fact of life in numerous places in the Qur'aan. For example, Allaah has said,
"And certainly We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient" (al-Baqara, 155)
To withstand such pressures for the sake of islaam is a kind of jihaad - a true kind of jihaad. It is a correct form of jihaad in which there is a great reward. It helps Islaam and the Muslims. This form of jihaad will, Allaah willing, in the long run lead to the other forms of jihaad - done in a manner that is correct and proper according to the shariah with positive results for the participants in both this life and the Hereafter.