Saturday, April 30, 2011

Foreign Intervention in Muslim Lands

In mid March, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 1973 which sanctioned a no-fly zone and the use of “all means necessary” to protect the civilians in Libya. On March 19th, America, France and Britain launched aerial attacks in Libyan territory. The move by the Western nations to intervene in Libya was based on claims that Muslims in Libya who opposed Gaddafi were calling for foreign intervention and assistance.

Intervention by Western colonial powers, such as America, Britain and France, is not a new phenomenon in the Muslim world. In the recent past we have seen these nations meddle in the affairs of Muslims under the pretext of freedom, democracy and human rights. However, time and time again we have come to realize that these excuses mask their true intentions of colonialism. These Capitalist nations seek to dominate the Muslim lands in order to subjugate the Ummah and exploit her resources:

  • Afghanistan – Under the pretext of the 9/11 attacks, America and Britain invaded Afghanistan in order to remove the Taliban and create a democratic state. Today, American Forces are still in the country (30,000 more troops were added last year) and the installed government is headed by the corrupt U.S. puppet Hamid Karzai. The country is relatively lawless and violent and the economic conditions are worse now than they were when the country was ruled by the Taliban.
  • Iraq – Under the pretext that the country was producing weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and that a democratic state needed to be established, America and Britain invaded Iraq in 2003. Throughout the occupation, the world witnessed the brutality of the occupiers through their heavy-handed tactics in dealing with the civilian population including the horrors in Abu Ghraib. Although America has officially ended the occupation in August 2010, American forces and bases still remain. Furthermore, Iraq is now economically worse off than it was prior to the invasion and over 1.4 million people have been killed.

The Real Reason for Assistance

While the Western colonial powers enter into Muslim lands under the pretext of bringing help, support and assistance to the civilian population, it is obvious that they have other interests at heart. Western colonial powers, such as America, are founded on the secular Aqeedah, which dictates that man determines what is good and what is evil. Therefore, these nations always act to fulfill only their own interests. It is inconceivable for these nations to act out of pure altruistic motives. These nations are not going to spend their wealth, and risk the lives of their citizens without expecting anything in return. And more often than not, they expect no less than subservience, especially when such subservience prevents the emergence of an alternative to the secular way of life, such as Islam.

America, for decades, sought to set a permanent foothold in the Central Asian region that included Afghanistan. In 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former national security advisor of US President Jimmy Carter, highlighted in his book, “The Grand Chessboard”, the need to acquire the “potential economic prize” within the Central Asian region. He described that an “enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold”.

The invasion of Iraq is another example of the Western colonial powers’ pursuit of their own interests. In 2004, US General Jay Garner who was in charge of managing occupied Iraq said, "look back on the Philippines around the turn of the 20th century: they were a coaling station for the navy, and that allowed us to keep a great presence in the Pacific. That's what Iraq is for the next few decades: our coaling station that gives us great presence in the Middle East."

Today Libya, with its large oil reserves, is in the same situation. It is guaranteed that following this intervention the Western colonial powers will expect an enormous return.

The Hukm Sharai’ of Seeking Assistance

As mentioned earlier, there have been claims that the Muslims in Libya who oppose Gaddafi requested foreign assistance. Allah (swt) has clearly forbidden Muslims from seeking military assistance or support from non-Muslims:

“Oh you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as Auliya’ (friends, protectors, helpers), they are but Auliya’ of each other. And if any amongst you takes them (as Auliya’), then surely he is one of them. Verily, Allah guides not those people who are the Zalimun.” [TMQ 5:51]

“Oh you who believe! Take not as Auliya' those who take your religion as a mockery and fun from among those who received the Scripture (Jews and Christians) before you, nor from among the disbelievers; and fear Allah if you indeed are true believers.” [TMQ 5:57]

Furthermore we see in the life of RasulAllah (saw) that he refused non-Muslims to participate in the battles against the Quraysh. Ahmad and Nasa’ee recorded that prior to the battle of Uhud, they saw a good looking battalion. The Prophet (saw) inquired about it and was told that it is a battalion of Jews who were willing to help the Muslims in their battle. The Prophet's (saw) reply was:
“We don't seek help from kuffar."
Interpreting this hadith, Imam Sarakhsi said, “its interpretation [the hadith above] is that they were forming an independent battalion and were not fighting under the flag of Muslims. For us we can only accept their help if they fight under the flag of Muslims (i.e. receiving commands from the Muslim general). If, however, they wanted to fight independently then we don't accept their help. This is the interpretation of the hadith "do not be enlightened by the fire of Mushrikeen" and the hadith "I am not responsible of any Muslim who has fought with a mushrik.

Allah (swt) has also forbidden non-Muslims to have authority over the Muslims:

“Allah will not allow the disbelievers to have an authority (sultan) over the believers.” [TMQ 4:141]

It is not allowed for the disbelievers to have authority over the believers, because giving them authority not only means that the security of Muslims is in the hands of Kufr, and not in the hands of Islam, but also that implementing the rules of Islam will not be possible. The examples of Afghanistan and Iraq clearly illustrate this case.

What Should the Ummah Do?

If the above ayat and ahadith indicate that we cannot seek military help from the non-Muslims then naturally we need to first and foremost have tawakul in Allah (swt) and then ask our fellow Muslims for help. In the case of Libya, when the forces loyal to Gaddafi fled Benghazi, the Muslims in the area should have invited the Egyptian and Algerian armies for protection.

It may be argued that it is useless to ask them as Egypt or Algeria will not respond; they will remain inactive as they did when the Muslims in their own area protested. In answer to this we should be reminded that the victory lies with Allah (swt):

“If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.”
[TMQ 3:160]

The ultimate and true success and achievement is attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt) and Jannah as Allah (swt) revealed:

“Oh You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of 'Adn - Eternity ['Adn (Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success.”
[TMQ 61:11-13]

As a result, our perspective on any trial or issue facing us should be to implement the hukm sharai’ regardless of the consequences. We should view this world as a series of tests and passing the test means abiding by the ahkam shariah and Insha-Allah attaining the pleasure of Allah (swt). This mindset should be deeply-rooted in us so that when we are confronted with the immense trials we will continue following only what Allah (swt) has commanded. Allah (swt) has revealed to us many examples that show this behavior amongst the believers, including:

  • Those who were forced into the ditch: In Surah Al-Buruj Allah (swt) reveals the story of the believers who were given the option of either apostatizing or being thrown in a ditch of fire. As the believers refused to denounce their belief in Allah (swt) they were thrown in the fire. While it might appear that there was no success in refusing to disbelieve and be burned to death, they were indeed successful because they stuck to the truth and did not sway from the hukm sharai’.
  • Talut: In Surah Al-Baqarah Allah (swt) reveals to us the story of Talut and the army who went to fight Jalut. After testing the army by commanding them not to drink from a river only a small number of soldiers remained. They did not abandon their original objective, but rather put their trust in Allah (swt) and continued to meet Jalut and his army and they were victorious.
  • The Archers who remained: In the Seerah we learn about the details of the battle of Uhud. We are familiar with, the Prophet (saw) positioning 50 archers and commanded them to remain in that position no matter what happens (i.e. whether they see the Muslim army winning or losing). When the battle ensued it appeared that the Muslims were winning and many of the archers left their position in order to secure some of the spoils of war. However, the remaining 10 archers stood their ground as they were commanded to, fought the Quraysh army - led by Khalid ibn Walid who was known to never lose a battle - and died. Irrespective of whose Seerah we examine, it is clear that those archers who disobeyed RasulAllah (saw) were wrong to leave their post whereas those who stood their ground, abided by the hukm sharai’ and were in the right even though it meant their death.

May Allah (swt) allow us to be steadfast and patient in times of adversity and also at times of ease. May Allah (swt) allow us to abide by His commandments irrespective of the situation and the pressures facing us. Ameen.

“Verily, your Wali (Protector or Helper) is none other than Allah, His Messenger, and the believers, - those who perform As-Salat, and give Zakat, and they are Rakiun (those who bow down or submit themselves with obedience to Allah in prayer). And whosoever takes Allah, His Messenger, and those who have believed, as Protectors, then the party of Allah will be the victorious.” [TMQ 5:55-56]


Abu Hisham said...

Assalaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah, in light of the above article and comments made elsewhere related to the uprisings in the Muslim world I recently saw a video where those who fought to remove Gadhafi and had come from inside and outside the country were praised for their actions and what they achieved by removing Gadhafi by force and those who died were Shuhadaa. Is this not a statement of legitimacy to this method of change under certain circumstances or in certain situations?

Islamic Revival said...

Salam, this topic is addressed in the following in some detail:

Abu Hisham said...

Salaam, its a very useful post Al-Hamdu Lillah but it did not explain why the Hizb was congratulating them for their actions and calling them Shuhadaa. Wouldn't that mean that in Syria they should do the same and we should forget about the method due to the severity of the oppression? Maybe it was just politics

Anonymous said...

Salams, a few points:
- As the leaflet about changing munkar mentions this is dependent upon having the capability to physically do so. In Libya when people gained capability to physically remove the ruler in effect they become the people of power and thus possess the ability to give the nussrah. The people of power everywhere are obliged to remove the rulers and establish Islam. If they do one good deed like removing a tyrant then they can be congratulated, however if they don't establish Islam then it is a sin and they should be pushed to do so.
- Muslims who die in pursuit of removing a munkar whilst part of a force who has capability to do so die as shaheed (martyrs). The Sahaba who fought Yazid bin Muawiya died as Shaheed.
- Even the methodology of removing the authority by force and establishing Islam in its place although may be a weak ijtihad, is still an ijtihad which is based upon daleel (evidence). Even if we disagree with it, those who die in that struggle whilst following it die as shaheed.

Abu Hisham said...

Assalaamu Alaikum,
Is this also the case when the capability of achieving the change was linked to the fire power and support of the colonial enemy western states? Did the people have the capability or did the western forces provide the capability? The reality of what is going on in the Arab world is not based on any deep Islamic understanding or Ijtihad but rather emotions and the Hukm Shar'i is not being studied as it should be by people who are willing to adopt any method they believe will lead to change without even realising that Islam has legislated a specific method for this change.

Anonymous said...

Salam, there must be a separation of masa'il (issues) here. For them to have gained fire-power from the colonial states or cooperate with them is haram. However once someone has capability regardless of how he got it the shar'a rules related to capability apply upon them. Thus when they discharge that duty we can commend that action. For example, the people of power today in the Muslim world such as the Generals in the armies may have got to their positions through illegitimate means however if they undertook their obligation of removing a tyrant ruler then we can commend them on doing that. Another example, the Saudi Arabian regime is illegitimate but they are in authority in that land, if they implement the hudood correctly we cannot condemn that - we must say implementing the hudood is good and the duty of anyone in power, however we can condemn them for not implementing the rest of Islam. The same applies here, we can congratulate the people in removing the tyrant but if they do not replace him with an Islamic system then we should condemn them for that.