Definition of Terrorism

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Islamic Fiqh Council, Saudi Arabia. Source: Muslim World League
Journal, Jumad al-Ula 1423/July 2002 CE
During its sixteenth session, which was held between 21-27 Shawwal
1422 H (5-10 January 2002), the Islamic Fiqh Council laid emphasis on
the fact that extremism, violence, and terrorism have no connection
whatsoever with Islam. In fact, they are manifestations of perilous
acts with dangerous consequences, and an aggression and iniquity
against the individual.

Whosoever carefully studies the two sources of the Shari'ah (Islamic
law), namely the Book of Allah [the Qur'an] and the Sunnah
(Traditions) of Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), would discover
that they are devoid of any import of extremism, acts of violence or
terrorism, which imply carrying out aggression against others without
a just cause.

Therefore, in order to draw an Islamic definition of terrorism that
unites the vision and attitudes of all Muslims; and in order to
clearly state this fact and highlight the danger of associating Islam
with extremism and terrorism, the Islamic Fiqh Council presents the
following definition of terrorism and Islam's attitude toward it both
to the Muslims and the world at large.

Definition of Terrorism

Terrorism is an outrageous attack carried out either by individuals,
groups or states against the human being (his religion, life,
intellect, property and honour). It includes all forms of
intimidation, harm, threatening, killing without just cause and
everything connected with any form of armed robbery, hence making
pathways insecure, banditry, every act of violence or threatening
intended to fulfil a criminal scheme individually or collectively, so
as to terrify and horrify people by hurting them or by exposing their
lives, liberty, security or conditions to danger; it can also take the
form of inflicting damage on the environment or on a public or a
private utility or exposing a national or natural resource to danger.

All these are manifestations of the mischief in the land, Allah has
prohibited Muslims from committing. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"And seek not occasions for mischief in the land: for Allah loves not
those who do mischief" (28:77)
Hence Allah did not only enact deterrent punishment against terrorism,
aggression and corruption, but considers these acts tantamount to
waging war against Allah and His Messenger. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger,
and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is:
execution, or crucifixion, or cutting off of hands and feet from
opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this
world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter" (5:33)
Obviously, in view of the enormity of such acts of aggression, which
are viewed by the Shari'ah (Islamic law) as an act of war against the
laws and the creatures of God, there is no stricter punishment
anywhere in the manmade laws. Moreover, according to the Islamic Fiqh
Council, there are various forms of terrorism, which include state
terrorism, the most conspicuous illustration and the most heinous of
which is practiced in Palestine today by the Israelis, and by the
Serbs in Bosnia- Herzegovina and Kosovo.

According to the Islamic Fiqh Council, state terrorism is the most
menacing to security and peace in the world, and, therefore, standing
up against it is tantamount to self defense and striving in the cause
of Allah.

Islam's Remedy for Extremism & Terrorism

In combating terrorism and protecting society against its evil
consequences, Islam is a trail-blazer. Through clear-cut limitations
that must not be trespassed, Islam urges the protection of human life,
honour, property, religion and intellect. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"If any do transgress the limits ordained by Allah, such persons wrong
themselves as well as others" (2:229)
Accordingly, in furtherance of this honour bestowed upon mankind,
Islam prohibit[s] man's injustice to his fellow man, and condemn[s]
those who cause harm to people, not only in the Muslim world, but
anywhere in the
world. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Say: The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are; shameful
deeds, whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or
reason." And: "When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread
mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny. But Allah
loves not mischief. When it is said to him 'Fear Allah,' he is led by
arrogance to (more) crime. Enough for him is Hell - an evil bed indeed
to lie on" (7:33 & 2:205-206)
Furthermore, Islam ordered its adherents to keep away from anything
that may cause turmoil among the people, and warned at the same time,
against its evil consequences. Allah says in the Qur'an:
"And fear tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular (only)
those of you who do wrong: And know that Allah is strict in
punishment." (8:25)
In Islam, both the individual and the community are exhorted not only
to tow the line of moderation, but likewise, to root out extremism and
religious intolerance which are sure to destroy the mankind. The
Prophet (peace be on him) said in a report by Imams Ahmad and Al-
"Beware of excesses in matters of religion. For, as a matter of fact,
those before you were destroyed by religious immoderation"
Islam also addressed the issue of evil tendencies that are apt to lead
to intimidation, terrifying, horrifying and killing without any just
cause. The Prophet (peace be on him) said:
"A Muslim must not terrify a fellow Muslim"
"Whoever points an iron rod towards his brother, the angels shall go
on cursing him until he stopped, even if he (the victim) happens to be
his full brother (from the sides of his father and mother)" (Sahih
With regard to the Dhimmis (Non-Muslims living under Muslim
protection), Islam ordered that they must be treated justly. It gave
them rights and imposed duties on them. It gave them security in the
Muslim world, and imposed blood-money and expiation for an act of
killing committed against anyone among them. Allah says:
"If he belonged to a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual
alliance, blood-money shall be paid to his family, and a believing
slave be freed" (4:92)
Furthermore, in conformity with the saying of the Prophet (peace be on
him), Islam prohibits the slaying of a Dhimmi living in the Muslim
"Whoever kills a person under the contract of protection shall never
smell the scent of Paradise" (Ibn Majah)
Moreover, Islam does not forbid its followers from being charitable
towards those who do not fight them or expel them from their homes.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for
your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and
justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just" (60:8)
"And let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and
depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah.
For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do" (5:8)
In view of the foregoing, therefore, the Islamic Fiqh Council would
like to make it public that the felony of taking away one life without
a just cause is tantamount to killing all people, whatever the faith
of the murdered or the murderer; and that punishments and retributions
are solely the prerogative of the ruler, not of individuals or groups.
Jihad is not Terrorism

In Islam, Jihad is ordained to uphold right, repel injustice and
establish justice, peace, security and clemency, with which the
Prophet (peace be on him) was sent to take mankind out of darkness
into light. More specifically, Jihad has been ordained to eliminate
all forms of terrorism, and to defend the homeland against occupation,
plunder and colonialism.

Jihad is waged against those who support others in driving out people
out of their homes, as well as against those who are in breach of
their covenants. Jihad is meant to avoid tempting away Muslims from
their faith or restricting their freedom to conduct peaceful
propagation of their religion. Allah said:
"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for
your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and
justly with them: For Allah loveth those who are just"
"Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for your
faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support others in driving
you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is
such as turn to them in these circumstances that do wrong." (60:8-9)
Islam has crystal clear rules and provisions that forbid the killing
of non-combatants, innocent persons, such as the elderly, women and
children; pursuit of fleeing persons, slaying persons who have
surrendered, injuring prisoners, or mutilating the bodies of the dead,
or destroying structures and buildings that have no connection with
Thus it is illogical to equate violence committed by usurpers and
tyrants who violate human dignity, defile sanctuaries and plunder
wealth, with the right of legitimate self-defense, exercised by the
oppressed in asserting their legitimate right of self-determination.
In view of the above, the Islamic Fiqh Council would like to call the
attention of all nations, peoples and organizations of the world to
the necessity of drawing a distinction between legitimate Jihad
against aggression or oppression designed to establish truth and
justice, and the act of violence which aims at occupation of land,
encroaching on national sovereignty and terrifying civilian
populations and turning them into refugees.

Re: Definition of Terrorism

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