Thursday, 1 July 2010

You Want Talks? Let's Talk About Islam...

The Taliban in Afghanistan has said it will not enter negotiations with Nato until foreign (read "infidel") forces withdraw from the country. A statement, given to the BBC, reads in part:

"We are certain that we are winning. Why should we talk if we have the upper hand, and the foreign troops are considering withdrawal, and there are differences in the ranks of our enemies?"

Why indeed - especially when their convictions stem directly from Islamic texts and teachings?

The Qur'an says, in language echoed by the Taliban statement: "“Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost..." (47:35)

The famous Muslim scholar and Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir interprets this passage as follows:

"So do not lose heart, meaning, do not be weak concerning the enemies. And beg for peace, meaning, compromise, peace, and ending the fighting between you and the disbelievers while you are in a position of power, both in great numbers and preparations. Thus, Allah says, 'So do not lose heart and beg for peace while you are superior,' meaning, in the condition of your superiority over your enemy."

Indeed, any Western leader who knew anything about Islamic law would instantly reject the idea of holding "peace talks" with Islamic jihadists, for the simple reason that any agreements they make will be determined by Islamic law, and consequently useless.

In Islamic law, truces are viewed not as documents of lasting peace, but as expedient ways to cease hostilities while weak Muslim forces regroup, and can be ditched as soon as the Muslims feel like it. For example, the classic Islamic legal manual Umdat al-Salik, which has been endorsed by Islam's highest spiritual authority, Al Azhar University in Cairo, as conforming to Sunni orthodoxy, states regarding truces:

“There must be some interest served in making a truce other than mere preservation of the status quo...Interests that justify making a truce are such things as Muslim weakness because of lack of members or materiel, or the hope of an enemy becoming Muslim...If the Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud. It is not permissible to stipulate longer than that, save by means of new truces, each of which does not exceed ten years. [emphasis added]”

Another legal manual, the Hedaya, reiterates this, and adds: “If the Imam make peace with the aliens [literally, harbis, i.e. unbelievers] for a single term (namely, ten years [emphasis added]) and afterwards perceive that it is most advantageous to the Muslim interest to break it, he may in that case lawfully renew the war, after giving them due notice...”

Ibn Kathir reiterates this as well, in his commentary on the Qur'anic verse mentioned above:

If, on the other hand, the disbelievers are considered more powerful and numerous than the Muslims, then the Imam (general commander) may decide to hold a treaty if he judges that it entails a benefit for the Muslims. This is like what Allah's Messenger did when the disbelievers obstructed him from entering Makkah and offered him treaty in which all fighting would stop between them for ten years.

Muhammad himself elucidated this in no uncertain terms: “If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better.” (Bukhari v.9, b.89, no.260) The entire basis for the above legal rulings, as Ibn Kathir alludes to above, also rests on an incident in Muhammad's life, in which he broke a ten-year treaty, the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, he had concluded with his enemies, the Quraysh.

The consequences of this principle have played out throughout history. Notoriously, Yasser Arafat compared the 1993 Oslo Accords, which some analysts believed to be a first step towards a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israel, with the Treaty of Hudaybiyya. Speaking in a mosque in Johannesburg when he didn't know he was being recorded, he said: “I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh in Mecca.” This implies that a peace deal had only been accepted on the part of the Palestinians as a temporary cessation of hostilities which Arafat could break at any time.

More recently, Hamas concluded a ten-year truce with Israel, which it undoubtedly saw as a good chance to regroup and emerge in a stronger position. Only a few months later, it was revealed that Hamas had been building a number of tunnels for the purpose of kidnapping Israeli soldiers, even while the truce was in effect. When Israel attacked one of those tunnels, Hamas responded with rocket-fire and accused Israel of breaking the truce.

The bottom line is that our leaders' suicidal ignorance of Islamic doctrine is killing our soldiers and wasting our money. That is unforgivable, and responsibility for it falls on all sides of the political spectrum.


  1. The debate between Islam and Christianity and whether to convert or not is a really being a big issue nowadays.. Debates have gone all over the world, and wouldn't it be nice if it goes to a complete stop?

  2. Sorry, Cassie, but this post was not about converting to or from Islam or Christianity. Take your advertisements elsewhere.