Why must Muslims be obliged to condemn crimes by other Muslims?


Consequent to the dreadful Orlando mass murder by Omar Mateen at Pulse, the gay bar where a Hispanic event was taking place, there has been the inevitable discussion on whether Muslims need to take responsibility for the crime.

Theologically speaking the answer is very clear, and it is a resounding yes. There are two Hadith that directly address this issue. For those that understand Islamic jurisprudence, it is based primarily on the following sources:

(i) The Quran,

(ii) the Hadith (the collection of sayings or conduct of the Prophet Muhammad),

(iii) ijma (group consensus when the first two are not clear), and

(iv) qiyas, or ijtihad - analogical reasoning based on the principles enumerated above.

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Orlando shooting: The aftermath. (AP)

As the Quran is a deeply poetic work, which has less than a tenth of it devoted to clear principles of rules, and is not in either chronological order, nor self-explanatory, the Hadith often stand as the way to interpret the Quran.

As the Hadith themselves were recorded more than a century after the death of the Prophet, they have often been disputes about the authenticity of some. Although he was one of the closest friends of the Prophet, Omar ibn Al Khattab, the second Caliph, has no recorded Hadith.

He is supposed to have said that he heard people saying things that he never remembered being said in the Prophet's company, and he did not wish to offer false testimony, even by mistake. The great feminist writer, Fatima Mernissi, who recently passed away, showed how many Hadith that were anti-women were often weak or deeply disputed. Her book, The Veil and the Male Elite, is required reading.

Also read - Why does Islam always need to be defended?

That said, there are many Hadith which are considered strong ones, ie, they have a strong chain linking the person who recorded them and who would have been there when certain events took place. One of them regards the idea of iman, or faith.

When asked what it was, Muhammad responded that iman meant that if you saw something wrong happening, you should stop it. If you did not have the strength to do so, then at least to say that it was wrong, and if you could not even do that, then you should at least say it to yourself, even if this was the weakest form of iman.

Also read - Why I felt insulted reading Modi's tweet on Orlando massacre

The second Hadith records how the Prophet responded when a person asked which brother to love more, one who practises zulm (tyranny, oppression) or one who suffers zulm. Muhammad replied that one should love both equally, but in the case of the one practising zulm that love should be expressed by helping them stop their crimes - by opposing them - while the one who is being oppressed needs to be helped to resist zulm.

It becomes very clear by these Hadith that the religious duty of Muslims vis-à-vis Omar Mateen and people like him is to try to stop them, condemn them, or at least acknowledge their wrongdoing.

Even if Mateen was not particularly religious, if he self-identified as part of the Muslim community, these are the rights and responsibilities that the community has towards him.

Also read - Orlando gunman's attack leaves many hard questions for America

While the religious obligation is clear, the political issue remains unresolved. Religion is something that should be voluntary and not enforced. While it may be clear that this is what faith demands, nobody can forcibly push people to follow their faith. That would mean making their political identity subservient to their religious identity.

It also would mean asking Muslims to become involved in all acts of zulm that involve Muslims - whether as perpetrators or as victims.

Are we clear that we want Muslims as a religio-political entity to be weighing in on issues such as the Iraq War and the war crimes associated with it?

Or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which the overwhelming majority of murders of civilians is by Israeli forces? Or the Kashmir conflict or the Rohingya situation?

Also read - Day after Orlando shootout: Why America won't put the guns down

Those who would like the Muslim community to act to condemn other Muslims when the latter commit a crime often do not realise what they are asking for - it is the creation of a political ummah, a Caliphate by default. In that sense they okay many of the political radicals in the Islamist networks, even if unknowingly.

For myself, I condemn the acts of Omar Mateen, and I am deeply ashamed that he comes from a Muslim background. I would, for what little it is worth, extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those murdered in this hideous fashion, and I will attend a meeting today with fellow Muslims with a local chapter of the LGBTQ community to show some support.

I do this because this is what I believe my faith teaches me. It is a personal choice and voluntary decision, as all faiths should be.


Source http://www.dailyo.in/politics/orlando-shooting-omar-mir-seddique-mateen-islam-muslims-crimes-hadith-homophobia/story/1/11179.html

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