Arab Press Rejects Bin Laden's Call to Arms

Jihad for Whom?

Uthman Mirghani, Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Saudi-owned), London, England, Oct. 24, 2001, , Translated and posted to, November 19, 2001

Protesters from Indonesia's Islamic Youth Movement outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Nov. 19, 2001 (Photo: AFP).
Recently, some isolated voices have called for jihad. In fact, these voices are not doing Islam a service. They are asking Muslims to take actions that will cause the gravest harm to Islam and to Muslims across the world. But we must question these calls so that the voices of the demagogues do not eclipse the voice of reason. What jihad are they calling for and for whose sake and for what purpose? Does the Taliban regime represent the true image of Islam that people must defend and fight for? Are the practices of Al Qaeda organization—killing innocent people, and carrying out acts of terrorism that cause the gravest harm to Muslims and tarnish the reputation of Islam—at all related to Islam so that some people make calls to defend this organization?

It is clear that some organizations and individuals are either deceived or are themselves trying to deceive people in the service of an extremist minority. This minority harms Islam and seeks to cause divisions among the people, create unrest, and destabilize the [Middle East] out of a hunger for power. Their goals are political, not religious.

Isn't this Taliban regime the same regime that the Muslim ulema [teachers] criticized on many occasions prior to the Sept. 11 incidents for some of its practices? Didn't the ulema view the Taliban's practices as alien to Islam and its luminous message of tolerance and civilization? Isn't the Taliban the same regime that is benefiting from the narcotics trade, that prohibits the education of girls, and shuts its doors to any practices that preserve the people's right to a dignified life?

It is the duty of those who claim to be calling for jihad to defend Islam by ridding it of those who harm its shining image of tolerance and justice. It is their duty to do what might benefit, not harm, Islam and Muslims throughout the world and stay away from things that jeopardize the interests of Muslims and endanger the Islamic community in Europe, the United States, and Africa.

There is no doubt that what happened in New York and Washington on Sept. 11 was a reckless, irresponsible, and senseless act. It had nothing to do with Islam and it did not render any service to religion or Muslims. Instead, it caused the gravest harm to Muslims, tarnished the reputation of Islam, and placed Muslims in the position of having to defend their religion, to explain and justify themselves to the rest of the world.

In addition, the terrorist attacks have given extremists and racists a chance to attack Islam, taking advantage of some practices that have nothing to do with the glorious religion.

If any jihad is required today, it must focus on explaining the fundamental justice of Islamic faith and law, and their tolerant message. Those who have tarnished Islam's image, and in so doing, have harmed Muslims must be confronted. Whoever assists an individual in causing injustice is practicing a greater act of injustice. And whoever tries to justify a mistake is committing a graver mistake. The best jihad is to utter the truth, and the best defense of Islam is to confront those who exploit it to justify practices that have nothing to do with Islam's essential message of justice and tolerance, who tarnish its image, who undermine its message, and who cause the gravest harm to Muslims everywhere.

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