In November two Palestinians mercilessly attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem claiming the lives of five Israelis and injuring eight others. Four of those who were killed were Rabbis. Fears are spreading that the attack could spiral into a religious war and all efforts for peace will be hampered. Muhammad Sharif Odeh, President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community covering the areas of both Palestine and Israel (the Holy Land), here unreservedly condemns the savage attack and explains why it has nothing to do with Islam.
Allah has given Muslims permission to fight a defensive war to defend the freedom of all religions and has said that it is the duty of Muslims to defend not only mosques, but also other places of worship such as churches, temples and synagogues. God promised to give Muslims success, victory and prosperity if they were committed to this noble cause to establish freedom of religion and to protect all places of worship against aggression and subversion. Allah has said categorically in the Holy Qur’an:
“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed has power to help them— Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’—And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty—”
This wonderful teaching of Allah set for Muslims a goal that they have to sacrifice their souls for, which is upholding the religious freedom of others and to protect their places of worship. In this verse God has taken a pledge from Muslims to adhere to this principle at a time when the Muslims were themselves victims of religious persecution and did not yet have the power and influence they would later attain, when they ruled vast areas of land inhabited by citizens of other faiths. This clearly shows that Allah does not give any justification for failing to protect the temples of others under any circumstances, even if Muslims themselves are religiously persecuted and their mosques are subjected to antagonism. Muslims should rise up to protect temples, churches and synagogues from any harm or damage in the same spirit in which they would defend their mosques.
In wartime, Islam protected the places of worship as well as the worshippers. The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa commanded the Muslims not to attack any place of worship or to kill any worshipper in their hermitage, to only fight those who fight them and not to attack any non-combatant innocent, elderly, woman or child. Islam has also forbidden kidnapping or the killing of fighters unless in war, and it does not consider the state of aggression an excuse to commit either. Only if there is a war can they fight the aggressors and imprison them, and even then it is admonished that there is no other way to deal with prisoners except for releasing them as a favour or by taking ransom.
As for mosques, Islam has established that it is open for visitors and for the worshippers of any religion, as long as their visit is without provocation and devoid of the intent of harming worshippers. So if these visits meet the conditions agreed upon, no Muslim will have the right to prevent anyone from visiting the mosques of Allah. Moreover Allah states in the Holy Qur’an that those who prevent visitors from visiting mosques would face disgrace in this world and a great punishment in the Hereafter:
“And who is more unjust than he who prohibits the name of Allah being glorified in Allah’s temples and seeks to ruin them? It was not proper for such men to enter therein except in fear. For them is disgrace in this world; and theirs shall be a great punishment in the next.”
These are clear Islamic principles supported by strong evidence from the Qur’an and the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and his authentic sayings, and those who contradict them have not a single proof to rely on to justify their wrong beliefs and their immoral behaviour, which has nothing to do with Islam nor with its tolerant law. Muslims should remember these principles and teachings and should reject the unwarranted ideas that call for violence, criminality, and aggression and should not try to unduly justify them. Those who adopt this ideology are in reality misusing the religion to achieve their personal or political goals, by stoking the fire of disorder by whatever means they can.
It is the duty of all to pay attention to these principles and to remember them and to make them a constitution of their behaviour. Muslims should not accept these criminal acts that Islam is entirely innocent of and should instead condemn the crimes with their loudest voice. Our readers will witness that members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have never and will never act in this manner. Certainly, Allah has promised to grant victory to Muslims who are committed to these principles and believe in them. As Allah has fulfilled His promises in the past, Muslims will see the fulfilment of such promises again as Allah is a living God and does not break His promise.
A few days ago, I visited the synagogue in Jerusalem that was barbarically attacked. I was saddened from the moment I arrived, recalling the shameful act committed at this holy place of worship; an act which was completely unbefitting of Islam and violated all of its peaceful teachings and principles of tolerance. My condemnation of this crime is because of my understanding and my belief in my religion – the great Islam – which extremists are trying to disgrace with their erroneous views and decadent behaviour. These and similar criminal acts bear no resemblance to true Islamic Jihad or ethics. The duty of every Muslim brother and sister in this country and worldwide is to condemn and deny such atrocities. I assure you that those who enjoin or encourage such acts of crime or incite evil in the name of Islam can cite no proof from the Qur’an or the practice of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa to support their corrupt ideologies. It is sad that such acts will prove to have a devastating impact on our people and future generations.
My reaction is due to feeling sympathy towards my Palestinian brothers and sisters as I belong to the people of the same nation and my duty is to speak the truth at any cost, and to advise them for the sake of Allah, His Messenger the Prophet Muhammadsa and the believers and not to appease them by merely saying what they want to hear. I am confident that the honest ones among my people will understand and be attracted to the true beauty of the teachings of Islam. I also hope and pray the numbers of such sincere and peaceful people will continue to increase.
1. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Hajj, Verse 40-41.
2. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Anfal, Verse 68.
3. Holy Qur’an, Surah Muhammad, Verse 5.
4. Holy Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 115.