Islam and Violence
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This page provides brief summaries of a few select articles concerning Islam and its relationship with various forms of violence. More relevant articles can be found via the Hub and Category pages (see the Site Map).
Facts and Figures
Invitations to Islam Prior to Violence
The practice of inviting non-Muslim nations to join Islam or pay the Jizyah prior to engaging in offensive Jihad was first initiated by the Prophet Muhammad. For example, he sent a letter to Heraclius, the Eastern Roman emperor in Constantinople, stating "I invite you to Islam, embrace Islam and you will be safe; ...But if you reject this invitation of Islam, you shall be responsible for misguiding the peasants (i.e. your nation)." Similarly, another letter was sent to Muqawqas, the vicegerent of Egypt, stating "I invite you to accept Islam. Therefore, if you want security, accept Islam... But if you refuse to do so, you will bear the burden of the transgression of all the Copts." Muhammad's lead was then followed by the Rightly-Guided Caliphs Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and Umar Ibn al-Khatab. The leaders of later Islamic empires such as the sultan of the Ottoman Empire also followed suit, and it has even been codified within the Islamic Shari'ah (see sections o9.0 to o9.8 in 'Umdat as-Salik wa 'Uddat an-Nasik). This practice is continued today by Islamic leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and Boko Haram.
Killings Ordered or Supported by Him
Violence under Prophet Muhammad was a frequent occurrence. The use of assassination to achieve political/religious goals has been important throughout the history of Arabia and Islamic expansion. The list of known killings ordered or supported by him number at least forty-three. Muhammad and his companions murdered (and even tortured) hundreds of people (most of these being Jews). His targets included men, women and children, both young and old. The reasons behind their executions varied from "causing offence" and writing or reciting poetry, to purely monetary gains for Muhammad, his companions and the wider Muslim community. This page lists some of the results and reasons for the targeted killings and assassinations ordered or supported by Muhammad, as well as the primary Islamic sources which mention these incidents.
Genocide of the Jewish Banu Qurayza
Hijra year 5 (627 AD), on the orders of Prophet Muhammad, almost nine hundred Jews of a Medinan tribe named Banu Qurayza were massacred by Muslims. The killing began early in the day, ending in torchlight. Those who escaped death (women and children, excluding boys who had begun to grow pubic hair) were taken captive by Muslims to be sold in slave markets and exchanged for horses and armour. Muslims propose many apologetic arguments to excuse this crime. The most favored argument they use is the alleged treachery of Banu Quraiza. Its flaws are evident when considering any act of treachery from this tribe would have put an end to Islam at Khandaq, and as a result, Islam would never have existed outside of Arabia.
Murder of Umm Qirfa
Umm Qirfa was an old Arab woman contemporaneous to Prophet Muhammad. She belonged to a pagan tribe named Banu Fazara at Wadi Al-Qurra. This old woman who was also a chief of her clan was killed when Muhammad’s followers raided her tribe and won over them. She was tied between two camels which were driven in opposite directions and her body was split apart. Later her decapitated head was presented to Muhammad as a gift. He then ordered it to be paraded throughout the streets of Medina.
Facts and Figures
These pages consists of various statistics concerning Islam and women. A small sample include:
- In terms of cultural/tribal/religious danger to women, 4 of the 5 most dangerous countries are Muslim majorities.
- Egyptian women are sexually harassed 7 times every 200 meters and well over two-thirds are harassed on a daily basis.
- 91 percent of all honor-related killings around the world are carried out by Muslims (84% in US, 96% in Europe).
- The number of honor killings in Pakistan are estimated to be around 2,500 to 3,000 cases every year.
Wife-beating is supported by the teachings of Islamic religious texts such as the Qur'an and the Hadiths, and has been an accepted part of Islam since its inception. Surah 4:34 states that men are in charge of women and that husbands may beat their wives if they fear disobedience. Prophet Muhammad provided tacit approval of wife beating by not scolding Muslims for beating their wives, referred to women who spoke-out against abuse as "not the best among you", forbid Muslims from questioning men who beat their wives, allowed others to hit his wives (the very women whom all Muslims adore and refer to as "the Mother of believers"), reaffirms the command of wife-beating in his parting sermon, and himself struck one of his wives in the chest. In addition to Muhammad's actions, three of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs are also reported to have beaten women. Because of its many endorsements within Islamic scripture, wife-beating is permitted by the majority of Muslim scholars and leaders. This has led to domestic violence being permitted under law in several Islamic states or being largely ignored by the authorities.
Honor related violence is physical violence that is inflicted on an individual by perpetrators who believe the victim has brought dishonor upon the family, clan, or community by engaging in any conduct that is perceived as immoral or unacceptable by religious or social/cultural standards. This type of violence frequently in Muslim families, where women are killed for many "honor" related reasons, including being raped or associating with non-related males.
In practice, honor related violence is not limited to humans, but can also apply to animals. For example, in July 2011, a male who was caught in Pakistan having sex with another man's donkey was fined 110,000 rupees. This fine was not imposed for having sex with an animal, but for committing adultery. The raped donkey was labelled a 'kari' (an adulteress) and eventually honor killed by its owner.
There is no equivalent term for ‘rape’ in the Qur'an. In contrast, there are several verses that permit rape and other sexual crimes against women. Qur'an chapter 4 verse 24 discusses lawful and forbidden women for Muslims, stating that, "(forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess." What we see in the beginning of this verse as “forbidden” refers to sexual intercourse. The Qur'an dictates, women already married are forbidden for Muslims except those whom their right hands possess (slaves). It is clear from such verses that a Muslim man can rape his slave-woman. This is supported by a copious amount of hadith and tafsir and is enshrined in Islamic law.
The belief in possession by jinn, witchcraft, and the effects of the "evil eye" are common Islamic beliefs, supported by sahih (authentic) hadith. The evil eye was described as being a true "fact" by Muhammad. Muhammad believed himself to have been affected by the evil eye, the witchcraft of a Jew, and the whispers of demons. Today, the motif of the Hand of Fatima (daughter of Muhammad) is used in North Africa, especially in jewelry and in door knockers, because it "keeps away the Evil Eye," and according to Islamic scholars, witches and warlocks must be executed without hesitation. Consequently, witch-hunts are not a distant memory from the Middle Ages, but are a very real part of everyday life in the Muslim world, where women (and sometimes men) are accused of this crime and are frequently hunted down, persecuted, jailed or executed for it. Islamic scriptures also confirm the reality of astrology and the like, but prohibit its practice, deeming it to be a type of magic.
Facts and Figures
Lesser vs Greater Jihad
During Prophet Muhammad's lifetime, and onwards to the present, the word 'Jihad' was, and is, almost always used in a military sense. This idea of a greater and lesser jihad was a later development which originated from the 11th century book, The History of Baghdad, by the Islamic scholar al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, by way of Yahya ibn al 'Ala'. The "lesser versus greater jihad" hadith's isnad has been categorized by scholars as "weak" (da`if), and generally in Islamic law, only the authentic (sahih) and good (hasan) hadiths are used in deriving the rules. The weak hadiths are far lesser value for the purpose of Shari'ah. Contemporary Islamic scholars have even classed it as "maudu" (fabricated), meaning this narration, by some, is not even considered to be a hadith at all. This narration does not appear in any of the famous hadith collections, and even appears to contradict the teachings found in corroborated (Mutawatir) sahih hadith. Furthermore, all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence (Fiqh) as well as the Shi'ite tradition make no reference at all to the "greater" jihad, only the lesser.
Suicide is forbidden in Islam, however, martyrdom operations (Istishhad) is considered an altogether different topic in Islamic law, with scholars being split on the issue. Notable scholars and apologists such as Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, the world's most quoted independent Islamic jurist, Dr. Zakir Naik, known for his advocacy of "Qur'anic science", and Tahir Ashrafi, the Chairman of the All Pakistan Ulema Council, have justified the use of suicide bombing in Islam. Opinion polls have further shown that an extremely large number of Muslims from around the world support the practice.
From the synopsis of an in-depth fatwa on the subject: "We have arrived at the conclusion that martyrdom operations are permissible, and in fact the Mujahid who is killed in them is better than one who is killed fighting in the ranks, for there are gradations even among martyrs, corresponding to their role, action effort and risk undertaken. Then, we explained how martyrdom operations are the least costly to the Mujahideen and most detrimental to the enemy. We have heard, as you must have, that most scholars today permit such operations; at least 30 Fatawa have been issued to this effect. We explained how this issue is derived from the issue of plunging single-handedly into the enemy ranks; something which is praiseworthy by the agreement of jurists. We then further stated that we preferred the view that such an action is permissible even if martyrdom is the only goal, although it is certainly not the optimal practice."
Converts to Islam
Although terrorism is not exclusive to the Islamic extremism, it should be noted that a disproportionate number of terrorists are Muslims who are motivated by the teachings of Islam. Peter Neumann, a Professor of Security Studies at King’s College in London, has noted that Western converts were "overrepresented among jihadists", and a 2011 study found that 55% of US born Muslims arrested for Islamic terrorist activities were converts to Islam. In the Philippines there is even an entire terrorist organization comprised solely of converts to Islam.
Facts and Figures
Facts and Figures
Amputation is the removal of part or all of a body part enclosed by skin. It is a prescribed punishment in the Qur'an, and within the context of Islamic law, it refers to the removal of the hands or feet. Today, amputation is used as a punishment for theft in Saudi Arabia and Northern Nigeria, which reintroduced Shari'ah law in 1999. In Somalia, a court run by an extremist Islamic group sentenced four Somali men in June of 2009 to each have a hand and a leg cut off for allegedly stealing mobile phones and guns. In 2008, the Islamic Republic of Iran saw five double amputations in a single week -- five convicted robbers were each sentenced to have their right hands and left feet amputated. When the Taliban, an Islamic militant group, took over Afghanistan in 1996, within a year, public executions, amputations and stonings were a regular Friday event in Kabul.
Stoning to death, according to traditional interpretations is primarily a punishment for persons who engage in unlawful sexual relations (which include homosexual relationships). The criminals "hands are tied behind their backs and their bodies are put in a cloth sack." They are then "buried in a hole, with only the victims heads showing above the ground. If its a woman, she is buried upto her shoulders." The stones which are to be thrown at the criminal "should not be so large that the offender dies after a few strikes, nor so small as to fail to cause serious injury." Due to the Islamic laws on rape requiring four male eye witnesses before guilt can be ascertained, many rape victims end up being charged with 'adultery.' As was the case for a 13-year-old girl in Somalia who in October of 2008 was buried up to her neck and stoned to death in front of more than 1,000 people in a football stadium. She was the victim of gang-rape. Incidents of stonings have been reported in Iraq and Pakistan, and forms a part of Afghan, Iranian, Nigerian, Indonesian, Sudanise, Saudi Arabian, and United Arab Emirate law. The Qur'an itself does not explicitly mention the act, but there are several sahih (authentic) hadith which speak of Muhammad ordering people to be stoned to death. According to a sahih hadith, the Qur'anic verses of stoning were written on a piece of paper and were lost when a goat ate the paper.
Crucifixion typically refers to the method of execution and/or torture by tying and/or nailing someone to a cross, stake or tree. It can also refer to the method of public display of a body after execution, such as the incident in Saudi Arabia when a convicted killer was beheaded and his body was "crucified." Whereas Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, abolished crucifixion in the Roman Empire in ad 337, out of veneration for the most famous victim of crucifixion, Jesus Christ, Muhammad perpetuated the practice by declaring it a prescribed punishment in the Qur'an. Crucifixion as a method of torture and execution is reportedly still being used in Sudan and Iraq, both Islamic countries, and it is still a part of Iran's criminal code. Hamas, the Islamic governing body of Gaza, reinstated the penalty of crucifixion in 2008.
Violence in the Afterlife
There are nearly 500 verses (roughly one out of every twelve) in the Qur'an which speak of Jahannam (Hell). It was specifically created and prepared with eternal fire by Allah, so that he could torture disbelievers. In fact, disbelievers are the fuel of Allah's fire, and he even says that he had the option of 'giving every soul its guidance' but has decided instead to 'fill Hell with jinns and men', for a reason "beyond human comprehension". Some of the tortures include: wearing garments of liquid pitch and fire, being bound in yokes and chains, spending eternity in a blazing fire with exchangeable skins so that they can be roasted over and over again, faces being covered in fire and lips being burned off, boiling water being poured over heads and used to scald skin and internal organs, being dragged by the face through boiling water and fire, beaten with maces of iron, and being fed painful, noxious, choking foods (shaped like the heads of demons) which will leave people hungry and boil their insides.
Accidents and Natural Disasters
Following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, some Muslims claimed this tragedy befell the Japanese because "Denying the Lordship of Allah and refusing to submit to Him in worship is the biggest act of injustice," and following the 2005 Atlantic hurricane which struck the United States, the high-ranking Kuwaiti official, Muhammad Yousef Al-Mlaifi, referred to Hurricane Katrina as a "wondrous storm", a "Wind of Torment and Evil from Allah", and a "Soldier of Allah". This belief stems from the fact that the Qur'an often states earthquakes are specifically sent to punish non-Muslims for their disbelief.
- Free Speech - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Free Speech
Other Core Articles
Core articles contain an overview of other articles related to a specific issue:
- Islam and Apostasy
- Islam and Homosexuality
- Islam and Miracles
- Child Marriage in Islamic Law
- Islam and Science
- Islam and Scripture
- Islam and the People of the Book
- Islam and Women
- This is because, according to some Islamic jurists, if the act of rape is not witnessed by four males, it is considered an admission of Zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) which is punishable with death.
- "Definition of Amputation" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12537. - Medicine Net
- "Kingdom’s Leading Executioner Says: ‘I Lead a Normal Life’ - Mahmoud Ahmad, Arab News - June 5, 2003" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.arabnews.com/?page=0§ion=1&article=27038&d=5&m=6&y=2003.
- "Nigerian Islamic court orders amputation - Mail & Guardian Online - September 19, 2005" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.mg.co.za/article/2005-09-19-nigerian-islamic-court-orders-amputation.
- "Islamic Extremists Sentence 4 Somalis to Amputations - Associated Press, FoxNews.com - June 22, 2009" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,528139,00.html.
- "Somali Islamists Amputate Teenagers` Hands, Legs - JAVNO, June 25, 2009" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.javno.com/en-world/somali-islamists-amputate-teenagers-hands-legs_267541.
- "Spate of Executions and Amputations in Iran - Nazila Fathi, The New York Times - January 11, 2008" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120909/http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/world/middleeast/11iran.html.
- "Flashback: When the Taleban took Kabul - Terence White, former AFP correspondent in Kabul - BBC News - October 15, 2001" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120713/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/1600136.stm.
- "What happens in Stoning?" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.apostatesofislam.com/media/stoning.htm. - apostatesofislam.com
- "Should Sharia laws be reconsidered?" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.iheu.org/node/262. - Sandhya Jain - International Humanist and Ethical Union, March 9, 2004
- "Stoning victim 'begged for mercy'" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120712/http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7708169.stm. - BBC News, November 4, 2008
- "Stoning - Frequently Asked Questions about Stoning" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.stop-stoning.org/faq_stoning. - stop-stoning.org
- References: Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal. vol. 6. page 269; Sunan Ibn Majah, page 626; Ibn Qutbah, Tawil Mukhtalafi 'l-Hadith (Cairo: Maktaba al-Kulliyat al-Azhariyya. 1966) page 310; As-Suyuti, ad-Durru 'l-Manthur, vol. 2. page 13
- "Convicted killer beheaded, put on display in Saudi Arabia - CNN - May 30, 2009" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/30/saudi.arabia.execution/index.html.
- ""crucifixion" - Encyclopædia Britannica Online - 2009" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120729/http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/144583/crucifixion.
- Sudanese slave 'crucified' by his master not unusual in central African nation - Michael Ireland (Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service) - November 9, 2004 7 Christians mutilated & Crucified During a Series of Raids on Villages - Simon Caldwell (The Catholic Herald) - 25 September 2009
- "Christians in Iraq, including converts from Islam and people involved in mixed-faith marriages, are being crucified by Muslim terrorists, according to a Dutch member of Parliament studying the war-torn country (WorldNetDaily.com) July 17, 2007" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=56726.
- ""Case Study in Iranian Criminal System" - Ehsan Zar Rokh, University of Tehran - 2008" (archived from the original), http://archive.is/20120915/http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1108208.
- Hamas Reinstates Crucifixions of Christians - Nicole Jansezian - January 9, 2009