THE “SHAHĀDAH” OF PEACE AGAINST EXTREMISM

Beheadings! Beheadings! We will grind you to the dust!

From the hotbeds of Pakistani extremism, a wicked exhortation resounds among Muslims all over the world, with the aim to push them to draw the “sword” and avenge Prophet Muhammad (saw) once again, due to the (silly) cartoons published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. Such an appeal to kill ferociously takes on an even greater significance because it comes from a (pseudo)religious female school, where hundreds of girls and young students are initiated into a cult of blood and death that can in no way be associated with Islām’s spirituality, ethical principles, as well as theological and doctrinal tenets.

Yet, this shows the astonishing degree of perversion that the deviance from the Prophet’s (saw) message has managed to inoculate like a virus into the hearts and minds of millions and millions of Muslims: not just those who have openly been sucked into the ranks of extremism (from the Pakistani girls to the “foreign fighters” of ISIS and Al Qāʿida), but the ordinary faithful, among whom a certain tendency to justify beheadings (Paris, Nice) and gunshots (Vienna) has spread in a more or less visible way, even in Europe.

The crucial issue for Muslims to unravel pertains to the modalities of the Shahādah, the “witness of faith” in Allāh (swt) and in His oneness (Tawhīd). It is exactly here that Iblīs, the Satan enemy of Allah, comes into play, with his ambushes and snares that aim to “lure” Muslims away from the “Straight Path” leading to salvation (Sūrah “Al A’rāf”, 16-17). In this respect, the Pakistani “bad teachers” offer us a clear example of how one can easily confuse the “witness of faith” in Allāh (swt) with the “witness of pride” typical of Iblīs, with all that follows.

Only one of you has gone to hell, but there is still fire burning in our hearts.

You challenged Muhammad’s slaves, you started this and we will finish it.

We can endure anything, but attacking the Prophet is a matter of life or death.

We will not stop until we take revenge on your insult.

What you have sown you will reap.

This is the ego inflamed by pride speaking, the pride that blinds any capacity for discernment, and generates the hatred, resentment, and anger that are essential to fuel violence and terrorism.

Iblīs has already paid a heavy price for his pride: “Go away! − Allāh (swt) said − You cannot be proud here. Leave! You will be among the abject” (Sūrah “Al A’rāf”, 7:13). Never repentant, Iblīs continues to work relentlessly in order to plunge Muslims and the whole humanity into its abyss, exploiting their weaknesses to drift them away from Allāh (swt) and push them to act contrary to the divine will: that is, killing but also being killed and killing oneself while killing others, although Islām clearly forbids suicide (Sūrah “An-Nisā’”, 4:29: “Do not kill yourselves”).

However, the path indicated by Iblīs does not take to salvation, as one is led to believe according to the deceptive prospect of extremism.

Our blood longs to flow for the sake of our Prophet.

We look forward to drinking from the cup of Muhammad in Heaven.

Is it possible that the blood of Muslims does not bear fruit?

If the blood of Muslims is shed for the false “cause” of extremism, while pursuing its false eschatological perspectives, the resulting fruits cannot but be unwelcome to Allāh (swt), “the Compassionate, the Merciful”.

Chopping heads and then being killed by the police, or even turning children and adolescents into suicide bombers: can such behaviors be compliant with what Allāh (swt) requires as a “witness of faith”, and with the teachings of the Prophet (saw)? Could Allāh (swt) and the Prophet (saw) ever be proud of such Shahādah and of the manipulators of Islām in the service of Iblīs? These are rhetorical questions for those who really know the Qurʾān, and do not distort its content.

Throughout his life, in carrying out of his mission as Messenger of Allāh (swt), Prophet Muhammad (saw) was subjected on numerous occasions to insults and ridicule, which today would fall into the category of “blasphemy” no less than the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo (Sūrah “An-Nahl”, 16:101; Sūrah “Al Isrā’”, 17:47; Sūrah “Al Furqān”, 25:8; Sūrah “As-Sāffāt”, 37:36). Even the Qurʾān was ridiculed (Sūrah “Al Anbiyā‘”, 21:5; Sūrah “An-Nahl”, 16:103; Sūrah “Al Furqān”, 25:5; Sūrah “Sād”, 38:7), but Allāh (swt) never commanded the death penalty, much less with the cutting of the head, for the offenses addressed to His revelation and to the Prophet (saw).

Rather, the Qurʾān requires Muslims to raise their spirit and intellect above pride, in order for them to understand and see clearly with their own eyes that today the great battle to be fought “in the path to Allāh” (Sūrah “Muhammad”, 47:4) is the one against those who advocate for the use of violence in the name of Islām, the “misguided” (Sūrah “Al Fātiha”, 1:7) who have fallen into the trap of extremism, the other side of the coin of the “ignorant” who insult Prophet Muhammad (saw). Actually, Allāh (swt) has already established their fate: “I will fill Hell with all of you, with you [Iblīs], and with those who have followed you” (Sūrah “Al A’raf”, 7:18).

According to Allāh’s (swt) ineffable “knowledge and wisdom”, Muslims have before them a triple challenge, and the fulfillment of the “effort” (Jihād) necessary to face and overcome it, constitutes the authentic “witness of faith” to which they are called by the Most High Himself.

The first challenge, relating to the internal dimension, aims to test the ability of the believers not to give in to the bad feelings generated by pride: in the event of provocations and offenses, Muslims always and constantly need to maintain an attitude based on the golden principle of wasatia (Sūrah “Al Baqara”, 2:143), the balance and moderation prescribed by the Qurʾān. This challenge implies an “effort” (Jihād) of spiritual perfectioning that is much more difficult to make, especially in a successful way, than the easy and immediate solution provided by Iblīs of resorting to the “sword” in order to obtain revenge.

On the other hand, this is an “effort” (Jihād) that any individual who tries to get close to Allāh (swt) cannot escape. As per the exact words reported in Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) Hadīth:

The best battle is to fight against one’s soul and one’s passions along the way of Allāh the Most High.

The Mujahid is the one who fights against himself.

Armed with wasatia, Muslims are requested to take up a second challenge, undertaking an “effort” (Jihād) of dialogue with the “misguided” (Sūrah “Al Fâtiha”, 1:7) who “traded the right guidance with perdition” (Sūrah “Al Baqara”, 2: 16), although they believe that embracing violence and terrorism is equivalent to acting for the sake of Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Do you want us to mention those whose works are most useless, those whose effort in this life has led them astray, while they believed they were doing good? (Sūrah “Al Kahf”, 18:103-104).

Satan embellished their actions in their eyes and led them astray from the Straight Path despite being invited to be alert (Sūrah “Al ‘Ankabūt”, 29:38).

The Shahādah thus calls the believers to an “effort” (Jihād) aimed at making the “misled” aware of their condition of subjugation to the deception of Iblīs. Here is the second challenge. Of course, Allāh (swt) “the Almighty”, “the Lord of the worlds”, does not need any human mediation, since He “directs whomever He wills to the Straight Path” (Sūrah “An-Nūr”, 24:46). At the same time, it is the duty of Muslims to actively engage in the fight against Iblīs and his work of misleading believers and destroying Islām, the “Religion of Truth” (Sūrah “At-Tawba”, 9:33).

What to do then with those who, not knowing the “truth”, do “evil out of ignorance” (Sūrah “Al An’ām”, 6:54)? Beheading or shooting them? Blowing them up, and blowing ourselves up with them? According to the will of Iblīs, the answer is yes, but Allāh (swt) unequivocally prefers a totally opposite solution.

Following the Qurʾān, as a first step Muslims must encourage the “misguided” (Sūrah “Al Fātiha”, 1:7) to put aside their pride and exercise the virtue of patience with the “ignorant”.

Indeed, Allāh is with the patient (Sūrah “Al Baqara”, 2-153).

Follow what has been revealed to you and endure with patience, until Allāh judges (Sūrah “Yūnus”, 10:109).

If you endure with patience, it will be better for those who have been patient (Sūrah “An-Nahl”, 16:126).

Be patient! Your patience [does not come from others] except from Allāh. Do not grieve for them and do not be distressed by their plots (Sūrah “An-Nahl”, 16:127).

Bear with patience what they say (Sūrah “Tā-Hā“, 20:130; Sūrah “Sād”, 38:17; Sūrah “Qāf”, 50:39; Sūrah “Al Muzzammil”, 73:10).

Patience is the fundamental prerequisite for establishing a constructive dialogue with the “ignorant”, so that the latter can recognize and understand by the force of arguments and reasonableness the error inherent to the misunderstood idea of ​​”freedom of expression” underlying the publication of the offensive cartoons on Prophet Muhammad (saw), in the specific case of Charlie Hebdo. This is the third challenge, which implies an effort (Jihād) of a cultural nature aimed at illuminating what “ignorance” had left shrouded in darkness. Allāh (swt) will then judge, since He is “the best of judges” (Sūrah “Al-An’ām”, 6:57; Sūrah “Al A’rāf”, 7:87). As reported in the Qurʾān by Prophet Muhammad (saw):

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice, and debate with them in the most dignified manner. Your Lord is aware of those who stray from His path, and He is aware of those who are guided (Sūrah “An-Nahl”, 16:125).

It is Allāh (swt) who guides “whomever He wills toward His light” (Sūrah “An-Nūr”, 24:35), drawing him “out of darkness” (Sūrah “Al Baqara”, 2:257) in the direction of His knowledge. Nevertheless, as a “witness of faith”, Muslims are asked to seek dialogue with the “ignorant”, combining patience with courtesy and humility as a function of “forgiveness”, “reconciliation”, and the achievement of the final goal: “Peace”.

Be courteous when discussing with the Peoples of the Book (Sūrah “Al Ankabūt”, 29:46).

The servants of the Compassionate: they are those who walk the earth with humility and when the ignorant turn to them, they answer: “Peace!” (Sūrah “Al Furqān”, 25:63).

The reward for an insult is an insult of the same entity: but if a person forgives and is reconciled, his reward from Allāh is due, because Allāh does not love those who do evil (Sūrah “Ash-Shūrā”, 42:40).

Therefore, salaam: no violence and terrorism. The irreconcilability between the authentic “witness of faith”, rooted in the wasatia of the Qurʾān, and the “witness of pride” of extremism, characterized by hatred, resentment, anger, violence, and terrorism, is as evident as it is irremediable. For true Muslims, there is no other Shahādah in Allāh (swt) than that of peace against extremism.

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