Dear and Most Distinguished Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani
Recently I came across a new book entitled “CATASTROPHE” authored by Dick Morris and Eileen Mcgann. Dick Morris has been a political advisor to Mr. Bill Clifton, the former President of US. The Third Chapter of the book has discussed how Islamic finance is ‘sneaking’ into the West and adversely affecting its interests. In this chapter you have been portrayed as one of the most prominent figures who is responsible for bringing Islamic finance to the West. However, at the same time, the book has attributed to you some statements that I cannot fathom and that seem quite unlikely of you. For example it has quoted you as saying:
“Muslims living in the West conduct violent jihad against the infidels at every opportunity.”
This sentence is attributed to you within quotes, as if it is a verbatim reproduction of your words. Reference is given to an article entitled “Sharia Showdown on Wall Street,” from the website “FrontPageMagazine.com” (July 9, 2008) and some other websites.
On the basis of this quotation, the authors have commented as follows:
“So the Sheikh’s intent is to kill as many of us as possible.” (ibd)
My question is: Did you really issue a Fatwa as referred to by this book? If yes, on what basis? And if not, how was this attributed to you?
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,
Thank you for your letter. The simple answer to your question is that I never issued a Fatwa to the effect that “Muslims living in the West conduct violent jihad against the infidels at every opportunity.” nor did I ever express this opinion at any forum or in any of my writings, nor do I believe this as a true representation of an Islamic jihad.
It is very sad that a person who has been the political consultant of Bill Clinton has attributed this to me probably on the basis of hearsay publicized on some websites without verifying its correctness.
You have asked “How this was attributed to you?” In fact, this attribution is so baseless that I cannot find any clue to it in any of my speeches, writings, fatwas etc.
However, the websites referred to in this book have extensively quoted from my book “Islam and Modernism” (which again has no such sentence) and sometimes from one of my interviews given to a correspondent of “London Times”. Let me explain to you the reality of these two references:
In 2007, Mr. Andrew Norfolk, a correspondent of “TIMES” London sought an interview from me.
After the interview Mr. Norfolk called me and said that he had read my book “Islam and Modernism” and, when publishing my interview, he was going to quote from it. He sent some quotations from that book which he intended to publish. Realizing that these sentences, quoted out of context and without explaining their background, might create misunderstandings, I requested him to restrict himself to the issues discussed in the interview, because any content of that book was not a part of my interview, nor was any question asked about it.
I also told him that “Islam And Modernism” is not a book written by me. It is an English translation of some of my Urdu articles, and was published without my review. I reminded him that translation often does not convey the exact idea of the original author. I made it clear to him that unless clarified by me, if he reproduced some of its excerpts out of context, it would be unfair to me. Yet he persisted and quoted those sentences from that book without my clarifications.
I never knew when that interview was published in “TIMES”, because no copy of that interview was ever sent to me. Even after passage of more than two years, I am still unaware of the full text of the article published by Mr. Norfolk. But after going through various articles appearing on websites referred to by the book “CATASTROPHE” and some other websites, it appears that all of them have based their statements against me on Mr. Norfolk’s article.
Surprisingly, many of these websites claim that I have issued a fatwa that “Muslims living in the West conduct violent jihad against the infidels at every opportunity.” But I never made any such statement either in writing or verbally nor issued any so-called fatwa. Nor is there any sentence to that effect in any of my writings, including “Islam and Modernism”. If this statement is attributed to me in Mr. Norfolk’s interview with me, it is not but a blatant lie, because I never said this during the interview.
“Islam and Modernism” is a translation of my book “Islam or Jiddat pasandi”, which is a compilation of my different articles published on different occasions. One of these articles is an answer to a letter written by Mr. Badrussalam, a Muslim living in Saudi Arabia on the subject of jihad.
Jihad in Islam is not a haphazard battle fought to gain mundane benefits. It is a battle fought in the way of Allah, and bound accordingly by certain rules and laws described in the holy Qur’an and Sunnah of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and explained in detail by Muslim jurists in general books of Islamic jurisprudence and in those books as well that were written specially on Jihad and on international relations. Like any other branches of Islamic law, some rules of Jihad have also been subject to difference of opinion in their interpretation.
One such issue is whether jihad may be initiated against an enemy before he attacks the Muslim state. According to some thinkers, Muslims are not allowed to wage war against anyone unless the enemy attacks them physically. In other words, jihad is lawful only when it is fought to save the country from physical attack of an enemy. The other view is that jihad is permissible also as a preemptive measure though a Muslim state is not physically attacked, yet its freedom and honor is endangered by an alien force. Mr. Badrussalam held the first position, and argued that jihad cannot be initiated against a country that allows Muslims to preach Islam. In response, I took the second view and explained that jihad is not meant only when an Islamic state is actually attacked by an alien force, but it is meant also as a preemptive action when the honor and freedom of Muslims is in danger from any alien force. And this is what I meant by “iqdami jihad” which is wrongly translated as “aggressive” or “offensive” jihad.
This point is very clear when the article is read in its full context. I have quoted the statements of different eminent scholars upon whom I based my answer. For example I quoted a passage from the tafsir of my father Hazrat Moulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi ( رحمة الله عليه)and from a book of Moulana Muhammad Idris Kandhlawi ( رحمة الله عليه) :
In the same article, I addressed Mr. Badrussalam in the following words:
“You have written, “Subject to ability to do so, it is necessary to initiate jihad against the hostile and non-compromising non-Muslim governments, so that their power breaks, and they may not put obstacles in the way of preaching Islam, but it is not fair to wage jihad against compromising and non hostile non-Muslim states that allow preaching Islam in their countries.” This is correct, if it accords with what I have mentioned above, but if you mean that a non-Muslim government becomes compromising and non-hostile merely by giving legal permission to missionary work, and jihad is not allowed against it, then according to me, this notion is not correct”
Thus the main substance of my answer was that merely allowing Islamic missionaries entering into a non-Muslim country does not mean that it has no hostile designs against Islam and Muslims. It is possible that despite allowing Islamic missionaries working on its soil, a non-Muslim government is a political danger to the freedom and honor of an Islamic state, in which case jihad is not forbidden.
However it needs to be noted that whatever I have mentioned in my letter on jihad is relevant to a formal/regular Islamic state. It has no relation to the individuals living in a non-Muslim country.
In the same letter I wrote that if there is no danger from non-Muslim states to the power, freedom and prestige of the Muslims, it is not against the concept of Jihad to maintain peaceful relations with them by entering into treaties of peaceful coexistence. This is what the Holy Qur’an says in the following words:
(i) “And if they tilt towards peace, you too should tilt towards it, and place your trust in Allah. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.” (Surah Al-Anfal 8:61)
(ii) “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors.” (Surah Al-Baqarah 2: 190)
(iii) “Allah does not forbid you as regards those who did not fight you on account of faith, and did not expel you from your homes, that you do good to them, and deal justly with them. Surely Allah loves those who maintain justice. (Surah Al-Mumtahinah 60: 8)
Comparing this to what has been attributed to me in the book you have referred to, you may easily find how my statements are distorted.
It is astonishing that people who are raising hue and cry against preemptive jihad are the same whose governments waged bloody war against Iraq massacring hundreds of thousands of people, including women and children, and named it a preemptive war, while Iraq never posed any threat to these countries.
At the end, it is pertinent to point out that my Urdu letter written to Mr. Badrussalam has been translated by two persons and published by two different publishers without my review. Unfortunately, there are some glaring errors in both translations which have given rise to some confusion. I am requesting both publishers to correct them in the next edition.
Muhammad Taqi Usmani