Are Muslims permitted to partake in violent actions and demonstrations as a response to insults thrown at the religion or at the image of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.?
by Ibn Anwar, BHsc (Hons)
First and foremost it should be made clear that we are completely one hundred percent against the vile attempts of some quarters to disparage the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. We are in concert with those who strongly oppose the exploitation of the so called “freedom of expression” article to ridicule and throw unruly and surly remarks against the religious figures of any faith. There is in fact no such thing as absolute freedom of speech or expression even in many European countries. If one were to publicly argue that the holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany is a myth one might end up getting incarcerated in many European countries including Austria, Belgium, France etc. In America incitement to commit crime and defamation are illegal and possible legal action may be taken against perpetrators who incite crime or defame. Therefore the notion that there is such a thing as complete freedom of expression or speech is a myth. There are limits that should be placed on speech and expression. If a form of speech is designed solely to hurt and infringe upon the emotional well-being of a community of people then it ought to be deemed reprehensible and unlawful. How does one determine whether a form of speech or expression is indeed solely designed to hurt and cause injury to the feelings of others rather than as a fair treatment or analysis of a subject matter? We believe that any sensible person can determine whether a piece of writing for example is designed specifically to arouse hate from misinformation as opposed to one that seeks to examine an issue which may or may not as a result cause hurt to some people’s feelings. It is clear that the recent ‘Innocence of Muslims’ low-budget film is nothing but the product of a hateful mind with the purposeful intention of hurting the Muslims and causing strife in an already strife-driven and unstable global situation. The movie is an excellent example of religious bigotry whose purpose is to instill hate in people who are unfamiliar with Islam and spew misinformation on a global religion whose adherents number more than 1.5 billion. If one is truly grounded in correct Islamic knowledge then one would easily conclude that the content of the film is one hundred percent defamation. The position of Islam on religious defamation or perpetuating material that is specifically designed to make a mockery of a particular religious figure(e.g. Prophets) or deity is very clear and that it is a resounding prohibition:
وَلاَ تَسُبُّواْ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدْعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ فَيَسُبُّواْ ٱللَّهَ عَدْواً بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ كَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَّا لِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ عَمَلَهُمْ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّهِمْ مَّرْجِعُهُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُونَ
“But do not revile those [beings] whom they invoke instead of God, lest they revile God out of spite, and in ignorance: for goodly indeed have We made their own doings appear unto every community. In time, [however,] unto their Sustainer they must return: and then He will make them [truly] understand all that they were doing.”
Having said all of that Unveiling Christianity makes its stance absolutely clear without any reservation concerning the inviolability of every civilian life in the world. We strongly hold that all life in general is sacred and that no harm should be perpetrated on civilians. This is the only position which is in complete harmony with the spirit of Islam as sealed in the Qur’an and ahadith(narrations) of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.:
مِنْ أَجْلِ ذٰلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَىٰ بَنِيۤ إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْساً بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي ٱلأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ ٱلنَّاسَ جَمِيعاً وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعاً وَلَقَدْ جَآءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِٱلّبَيِّنَٰتِ ثُمَّ إِنَّ كَثِيراً مِّنْهُمْ بَعْدَ ذٰلِكَ فِي ٱلأَرْضِ لَمُسْرِفُونَ
“Because of this did We ordain unto the children of Israel that if anyone slays a human being – unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind.
And, indeed, there came unto them Our apostles with all evidence of the truth: yet, behold, notwithstanding all this, many of them go on committing all manner of excesses on earth.” (5:32)
Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi who is the Imam of the Ahl Sunnah Wal Jama’ah (Sunni Islam) in matters of aqeedah(belief) in his interpretation of the above verse writes:
من استحل قتل نفس حرم الله قتلها بغير حق، فكأنما استحل قتل الناس جميعا، لأنه يكفر باستحلاله قتل نفس محرم قتلها، فكان كاستحلال قتل الناس جميعا، لأن من كفر بآية من كتاب الله يصير كافرا بالكل
Whoever makes it permissible to take the life of a person whose life is forbidden from being killed by Allah, it is as if he makes it lawful to kill all of humanity. This is because he commits disbelief by making it lawful the killing of a person whose killing is forbidden, which is like declaring it permissible to kill the whole of humanity as the one who disbelieves in one verse from book of Allah disbelieves in it altogether. 
There is no question regarding the authority of Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi in the ahl Sunnah wal Jama’ah as Imam Ibn Hajar al-Haythami writes:
“An innovator is the person who does not have he belief conveyed unanimously by the Sunnis. This unanimity was transmitted by the two great imams Abu al-Hasan al-Ashari and Abu Mansur al-Maturidi. An innovator is the one whose beliefs are different from the Sunni faith. And the Sunni faith is the faith of Abu al-Hasan al-Ashari, Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and those who followed them.” 
The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
أول ما يقضى بين الناس يوم القيامة في الدماء
“The first thing that will be judged between humanity on the Day of Reckoning is that of blood (murder/killing).” 
The act of killing a non-Muslim who is living in Muslim lands peacefully (which automatically means he is under a peace treaty with the Muslim authorities) is an act which will forfeit entrance to paradise for the one who does so as the Prophet s.a.w. said:
من قتل معاهدا في غير كنهه، حرمىالله عليه الجنة
“Anyone who kills unjustly a non-Muslim citizen (or one with whom there is a peace treaty), Allah will forbid paradise for him.” 
Similary in Sahih Bukhari it is reported from Ibn Umar r.a. that the Prophet s.a.w. said:
من قتل معاهدا لم يرح رائحة الجنة، وإن ريحها توجد من مسيرة أربعين عاما
“Whoever kills a non-Muslim citizen (or one with whom there is a peace treaty) will not smell the fragrance of Paradise, even though its fragrance can be smelt from a distance of forty years.” 
We are in unison with all those who have gone to the streets in their public outcry insofar that the demonstrations stem from their love for the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and not simply as a pretext to vent their anger and frustrations due to economic or political hardships. To demonstrate against something that goes against one’s own grain is a natural display of emotion. However, it should be made clear that the production of the’ Innocence of Muslims’ film does not give Muslims the ticket to commit unruly behaviour that causes disruption to public life and peace. Riling against the film is one thing, but accompanying that with carnage and destruction is something else altogether. The latter is completely antithesis to the teachings of Islam. The demonstrations have often turned into street riots causing the wreckage of public facilities and amenities. What is worse is that killings have also taken place. Reports suggest that over fifty people have thus far died as a result of the riots. These unfortunate developments are unconscionable and completely unacceptable. The basic rule of engagement in warfare according to Islamic jurisprudence is that there must be a legitimate khalifah, imam(ruler) or sultan to wage a war without which there can be no legitimate taking of life in any sense. Sheikh Dr. Abdul Hakim Murad and John A. Williams in their book rightly state:
“A Muslim can only go to war with the consent of the head of the state in which he or she is a citizen. This consent may be given when the country is threatened with invasion.” 
Likewise the Shafi’i jurist Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti in his scholarly treatment on the subject produced as a fatwa or legal verdict writes:
The proposition: “so it is acceptable for them to attack the non-Muslims in the west whether in retaliation for constant bombing and murder taking place all over the Muslim world at the hands of the non-Muslims,” where it implies that a state of war exist with this particular non-Muslim state on account of its being perceived as the aggressor.
This opinion violates the most basic rules of engagement from our Law:
أمر الجحاد موكول إلى الإمام واجتهاده ويلزم الرعاية طاعته فيما يراه من ذلك
[The question of declaring war (or not) is entrusted to the executive authority and to its decision: compliance with that decision is the subject's duty with respect to what the authority has deemed appropriate in that matter.]
والإمام أو أمير خيار بين الكف والقتال
[The executive or its subordinate authority has the option of whether or not
to declare war ].
Decisions of this kind for each Muslim state, such as those questions dealing with ceasefire ['aqd al-hudna], peace settlement ['aqd al-amân] and the judgment on prisoners of war [al-ikhtâr fi asîr] can only be dealt with by the executive or political authority [imâm] or by a subordinate authority appointed by the former authority [amîr mansûbin min jihati l-imâm]. This is something Muslims take for granted from the authority of our naql [scriptures] such that none will reject it except those who betray their ‘aql [intellect]. The most basic legal reason ['illa aslîyya] is that this matter is one that involves the public interest, and thus consideration of it belongs solely to the authority:
لأن هذا الامر من المصالح العمة التي يختص الإمام بالنظر فيها
All of this is based on the well-known legal principle [qâ'ida]:
تصرف الإمام على الرعية منوط باالمصلحة
[The decisions of the authority on behalf of the subjects
are dependent upon the public good].
فيفعل الإمام وجوبا الأحظ للمسلمين لا جتهاده
[So the authority must act for the greatest advantage
of (all of) the Muslims in making its judgement].
Nasîha: Uppermost in the minds of the authority during their deliberation over whether or not to wage war should be the awareness that war is only a means and not the end. Hence, if there are other ways of achieving the aim, and the highest aim is the right to practice our religion openly (as is indeed the case in modern day Spain, for example, unlike in medieval Reconquista Spain), then it is better [awlâ] not to go to war. This has been expressed in a few words by Imam al-Zarkashî ( may Allâh be pleased with him!):
وجوبه وجوب الوسئل لا المقاصد
[Its necessity is the necessity of means, not ends.]
The upshot is, whether one likes it or not, the decision and discretion and right to declare war or jihâd for Muslims lie solely with the various authorities as represented today by the respective Muslim states – and not with any individual, even if he is a scholar or a soldier (and not just anyone is a soldier or a scholar) – in the same way that an authority (such as the qâdî in a court of law: mahkamah) is the only one with the right to excommunicate or declare someone an apostate [murtad]. Otherwise, the killing would be extra-judicial and unauthorized.
Even during the period of the Ottoman caliphate, for example, another Muslim authority elsewhere, such as in the Indian subcontinent, could have been engaged in a war when at the same time the Khalifa’s army was at peace with the same enemy. This is how it has been throughout our long history, and this is how it will always be, and this is the reality on the ground. 
In fact, according to the vast majority of the jurists of the ahl sunnah wal jama’ah the status of the off-duty soldier is similar to that of other unarmed non-combatant civilians:
If it is said: “When a bomber blows himself up he is not directing the attack towards civilians. On the contrary, the attack is designed to target off-duty soldiers (which I was told did not mean reservists, since most Israelis are technically reservists). The innocent civilians are unfortunate collateral damage in the targeting of soldiers.”
We say: There are two details here.
Tafsîl A: Off-duty soldiers are treated as civilians.
Our jurists agree that during a valid war when there is no ceasefire, and when an attack is not aimed at a valid military target, a hostile soldier (whether male or female, whether conscripted or not) who is not on operational duty or not wearing a military uniform and when there is nothing in the soldier’s outward appearance to suggest that the soldier is in combat, then the soldier is considered a non-combatant [man lâ yuqâtilu] (and in this case must therefore be treated as a normal civilian).
A valid military target is limited to either a battlefield [mahall al-ma'raka or sahat al-qitâl] or a military base [mu'askar; medieval examples are citadel or forts; modern examples are barracks, military depots, etc.]; and certainly never can anything else such as a restaurant, a hotel, a public bus, the area around a traffic light, or any other public place be considered a valid military target, since firstly, these are not places and bases from which an attack would normally originate [mahall al-ra'y]; secondly, because there is certain knowledge [yaqîn] that there is intermingling [ikhtilât] with non-combatants; and thirdly, the non-combatants have not been given the option to leave the place.
As for when the soldiers are on the battlefield, the normal rules of engagement apply.
As for when the soldiers are in a barracks or the like, there is further discussion on whether the soldiers become a legitimate target, and the Qawl Asahh [the More Correct Position] according to our jurists is that they do, albeit to attack them there is makrûh.
Tafsîl B: Non-combatants cannot at all be considered collateral damage except at a valid military target, for which they may be so deemed, depending on certain extenuating circumstances.
There is no khilâf that non-combatants or civilians cannot at all be considered collateral damage at a non-military target in a war zone, and that their deaths are not excusable by our Law, and that the one who ends up killing one of them will be sinful as in the case of murder, even though the soldier who is found guilty of it would be excused from the ordinary capital punishment [hadd], unless the killing was found to be premeditated and deliberate:
أو أتى بمعصية توجب الحد
If not, the murderer’s punishment in this case would instead be subject to the authority’s discretion [ta'zîr] and he would in any case be liable to pay the relevant compensation [diya].
As for a valid military target in a war zone, the Shâfi’î School have historically considered the possibility of collateral damage, unlike the position held by others that it is unqualifiedly outlawed. The following are the conditions stipulated for allowing this controversial exception (in addition to meeting the most important condition of them all: that this takes place during a valid war when there is no ceasefire:)
(1) The target is a valid military target.
(2) The attack is as a last resort [min darura] (such as when the civilians have been warned to leave the place and after a period of siege has elapsed).
وجوب الإنذار قبل البدء بالقتل لأنه لا يجوز أن يقتل إلا من يقاتل
(3) There are no Muslim civilians or prisoners.
(4) The decision to attack the target is based on a considered judgement of the executive or military leader that by doing so, there is a good chance that the battle would be won.
(Furthermore, this position is subject to khilâf among our jurists with regard to whether the military target can be a Jewish or Christian [Ahl l-Kitâb] one, since the sole primary text that is invoked to allow this exception concerns an incident restricted to the same “mushrikin” as in the Verse of Sura al-Tawba in Question II above.)
To neglect intentionally any of these strict conditions is analogous to not fulfilling the conditions [shurût] for a prayer [salât] with the outcome that it becomes invalidated [bâtil] and useless [fasâd].
This is why the means of an act ['amal] must be correct and validated according to the rule of Law in order for its outcome to be sound and accepted, as expressed succinctly in the following wisdom of Imam Ibn ‘Ata’illah (may Allâh sanctify his soul!):
ومن أشرقت بدايته أشرقت نهايته
[He who makes good his beginning will make good his ending.]
In our Law, the ends can never justify the means except when the means are in themselves permissible, or mubâh (and not harâm), as is made clear in the following famous legal principle:
وسيلة الطاعة طاعة ووسيلة المعصية معصية
[the means to a reward is itself a reward and the means to a sin is itself a sin.]
Hence, even a simple act such as opening a window, which on its own is only mubâh or halâl, religiously entailing no reward nor being a sin, when a son does it with the intention of his mother’s comfort on a hot summer’s day before she asks for it to be opened, the originally non-consequent act itself becomes mandûb [recommended] and the son is rewarded in his ‘amal-account for the Next World and acquires the pleasure of Allâh. 
What about the U.S. ambassador to Libya who was killed by rioting Libyans at his embassy? Was he not a legitimate target, a casualty of war? First of all, we have already explained that without a legitimate war declared by a legitimate head of state of a Muslim territory the life of every non-Muslim is inviolable. Secondly, the notion that it is allowed to kill a foreign delegate or ambassador to a Muslim territory is in direct violation of a clear prohibition as narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ud r.a.:
فجرت سنة أن لا يقتل الرسول
“It is an established tradition that ambassadors are not to be killed.” 
Likewise the narration of Abdullah ibn Mas’ud regarding Musaylama (the false prophet in the Prophet Muhammad’s time who opposed him) and the ambassadors he dispatched to the Prophet s.a.w. who were spared without any harm is further proof that ambassadors must not be harmed. This narration is found in the Sunah of al-Darimi, the Musnad of Ibn Hanbal, the Sunan of al-Nasa’I, the Musnad of Abu Ya’la etc.
It cannot be exhaustively said that according to the consensus of the jurists the life of every woman, child, elderly person, monk, priest and the pious, the handicapped and anyone engaged in worship in their places of worship is sacrosanct and cannot be harmed in any way. 
Demonstrations that morph into riots that entail the destruction of public facilities and cause the lives of civilians or bodily harm to Muslims and non-Muslims are in clear contradiction to the instructions of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
المسلم من سلم الناس من لسانه ويده
“The Muslim is the one that humanity is safe from his tongue(speech) and hand.” 
Similarly when the Prophet s.a.w. was asked who practices and believes in Islam the best he answered:
من سلم الناس من لسانه ويده
“Whoever that humanity is safe from his tongue(speech) and his hand.” 
True believers are to remain steadfast on their faith and not to be easily goaded into the snares of the haters of the faith. One should not ever think that doing wrong and committing injustice is allowed so long as the goal is praiseworthy. The Qur’an says:
يَا أَيُّهَآ ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ للَّهِ شُهَدَآءَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىۤ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ ٱعْدِلُواْ هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللَّهَ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“O those who believe! Stand out firmly for God as witnesses to fair dealing and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah for Allah is well acquainted with all that you do.” (5:8)
وَعِبَادُ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلَّذِينَ يَمْشُونَ عَلَىٰ ٱلأَرْضِ هَوْناً وَإِذَا خَاطَبَهُمُ الجَاهِلُونَ قَالُواْ سَلاَماً
“For, [true] servants of the Most Gracious are [only] they who walk gently on earth, and who, whenever the foolish address them, reply with [words of] peace;”
In fact, as Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti reminds us there are over 100 such verses in the Qur’an as opposed to a few verses that allow armed resistance:
If it is said: “I have heard that Islam says the killing of civilians is allowed if they are non-Muslims.”
We say: On a joking note (but ponder over this so your hearts may be opened!): the authority is not with what Islam says but with what Allâh (Exalted is He!) and His Messenger ( may His blessings and peace be upon him!) have said!
But seriously: the answer is absolutely no; for even a novice student of fiqh would be able to see that the first dâbit above concerns already a non-Muslim opponent in the case of a state of war having been validly declared by a Muslim authority against a particular non-Muslim enemy, even when that civilian is a subject or in the care [dhimma] of the hostile non-Muslim state [Dâr al-Harb]. If this is the extent of the limitation to be observed with regards to non-Muslim civilians associated with a declared enemy force, what higher standard will it be in cases if it is not a valid war or when the status of war becomes ambiguous? Keep in mind that there are more than 100 Verses in the Qur’ân commanding us at all times to be patient in the face of humiliation and to turn away from violence [al-i'râd 'ani l-mushrikîn wa l-sabr 'alâ adhâ l-a'dâ'], while there is only one famous Verse in which war (which does not last forever) becomes an option (in our modern context: for a particular Muslim authority and not an individual), when a particular non-Muslim force has drawn first blood. 
But the people insulted the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Do they not deserve death? Let us learn from the example of the Prophet s.a.w. when he had the power and the means to punish whoever within his jurisdiction in Medinah. The wife of the Prophet s.a.w. Aishah r.a. narrated:
“The Jews used to greet the Prophet by saying, “Al-Samu ‘Alaika (i.e., death be upon you), so I understood what they said, and I said to them, “Al-Samu ‘alaikum wal-la’na (Death and Curse be upon you).” The Prophet said, “Be gentle and calm, O ‘Aisha, as Allah likes gentleness in all affairs.” I said, “O Allah’s Prophet! Didn’t you hear what they said?” He said, “Didn’t you hear me answering them back by saying, ‘Alaikum (i.e., the same be upon you)?” 
In a similar narration involving other companions of the Prophet s.a.w. Anas ibn Malik narrated:
A Jew passed by Allah’s Apostle and said, “As-Samu ‘Alaika.” Allah’s Apostle said in reply, “We ‘Alaika.” Allah’s Apostle then said to his companions, “Do you know what he (the Jew) has said? He said, ‘As-Samu ‘Alaika.’” They said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Shall we kill him?” The Prophet, said, “No. When the people of the Book greet you, say: ‘Wa ‘Alaikum.’” 
Those are clear examples of the Prophet’s s.a.w. haters who insulted him right in his face when he was for all intents and purposes the supreme ruler of Medinah. If the Prophet s.a.w. instructed Aishah r.a. not to reply insult with insult, but rather to be gentle and calm what does that say about the behaviour of Muslim rioters who are clearly not gentle or calm? What does it say of those who demand retribution in blood when the Prophet s.a.w. forbade it for the companions? Patience is the highest virtue in Islam as all educated Muslims who claim to have pledged allegiance to the Prophet s.a.w. would do weel to remember that he said, “الصبر من الإيمان” meaning “‘patience is part of faith.”
*Unveiling-Christianity.org tends to avoid getting embroiled in contemporary controversial political issues. The only reason why the above article was written is because the author received several requests to write about current developments regarding the said events. May the above be of some help in one way or the other, Insha’Allah.
 Abu Mansur Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Mahmud Maturidi (2004). Al-Ta’wilat Ahl al-Sunnah, Vol. 3. Beirut, Lebanon: Mu’assasa al-Risala. p. 501
 Ibn Hajar al-Haythami as cited in Muhammad Hisham Kabbani (1998). Encyclopedia of Islamic Doctrine: Beliefs, Vol. 1. Mountain View, California: As-Sunna Foundation of America. p. 45
 Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin Mughira al-Bukhari (1987). Al-Jami’ al-Sahih, Vol. 6. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Ibn Kathir. p. 2517
 Ahmad bin Shu’aib al-Nasa’I (1995). Al-Sunan, Vol. 8. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al ‘Ilmiyyah. p. 24; it is also narrated by Abi Dawud, Ibn Hanbal, al-Darimi, al-Hakim and others.
 al-Bukhari Op. Cit. Vol. 3. p. 1155; it is also narrated by Ibn Majah and others.
 Winter, T.J., & Williams, J. A. (2002). Understanding Islam and the Muslims: The Muslim Family Islam and World Peace. Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae. p. 78
 Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti (2005). Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless Against the Killing of Civilians. United Kingdom: Aqsa Press. pp. 21-23
 Ibid. pp. 33-36
 Ahmad bin Hanbal (1986). Al-Musnad, Vol. 1. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah. p. 390
 Mukhtasar al-Ikhtilaf al-Fuqaha as cited in Ergun Capan (2005). Suicide Attacks and Islam. In Ergun Capan (ed.), An Islamic Perspective: Terror and Suicide Attacks. pp. 123-124
 al-Nasa’I Op. Cit. Vol. 8. p. 104
 Ibn Hanbal Op. Cit. Vol. 2. p. 187
 Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti Op. Cit. p. 30
 Sahih Bukhari as cited in Ibn Anwar (2011). Demystifying Misconceptions About Islam. International Islamic University of Malaysia. p. 12
 Ibid. p. 13
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