Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, born in 1925, in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, is an Islamic spiritual scholar who is well-versed in both classical Islamic learning and modern disciplines. The mission of his life has been the establishment of worldwide peace. He has received the Padma Bhushan, the Demiurgus Peace International Award and Sayyidina Imam Al Hassan Peace award for promoting peace in Muslim societies. He has been called ’Islam’s spiritual ambassador to the world’ and is recognized as one of its most influential Muslims . His books have been translated into sixteen languages and are part of university curricula in six countries. He is the founder of the Centre for Peace and Spirituality based in New Delhi.


LAST month, there were two deadly attacks orchestrated by selfstyled Muslims, killing huge numbers of people — I am referring here to the suicide bomb attack at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan and the attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Attacks on, and persecution of, non-Muslim minorities have escalated in recent years in many Muslim-majority countries. These attacks are nothing but an expression of frustration. The fact is that in the first of half the twentieth century, some Muslims started a struggle against their so-called enemies. But they completely failed. They then tried to destabilize these supposed enemies. What happened on 9/11 was an act of this kind.

However, they failed in achieving anything here as well. Now, they have chosen soft targets, like churches and malls. Such acts only show the extent of their frustration. The only cause for these attacks can be found in these Muslims’ deep frustration due to their total failure. The time has now come for Muslims to take a U-turn. Taking a U-turn means accepting one’s own mistakes, but many Muslim leaders have no courage to openly accept their mistakes.

According to Islam, these attacks are clearly haram or forbidden. Suicide-bombing has no justification in Islam. With regard to the bombing of the church in Peshawar, the attackers said that they were taking revenge for US drone strikes. But, taking revenge itself is an un-Islamic act. The argument that these attacks are a legitimate answer to the oppression of others is completely baseless.

Islam does not allow taking of such revenge by attacking innocent people. The concept of revenge is in itself an un-Islamic one; but, for the sake of argument, supposing that Islam does allow taking of revenge, then that revenge must be directed against those who are responsible for the killings for which revenge is sought. In these attacks, those who were present in the church in Peshawar and in the mall in Nairobi were innocent. They were not involved in any kind of attack nor did they carry out any killing, and so they cannot be subjected to revenge.

Attacks of this kind do not in any way solve the problems they claim to be a response to. Rather, they only exacerbate them. The claims of people involved in such attacks of representing and championing Islam are completely false. Islam does not give permission for such attacks at all. However, the real blame goes less to the attackers themselves than to their intellectual mentors. The real culprits are those leaders who have given a political interpretation to Islam.

I think political Islam is the greatest evil in the present age. Such an interpretation has made the violence that Peshawar and Nairobi have just witnessed seem justified to those who carried it out. Some Muslims quote, among others, the following Quranic verse to justify their hatred of non-Muslims:

O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.
(5: 51)

On the basis of their erroneous interpretation of this verse, they seek to stir hatred against people of other faiths. Once that happens, then it becomes easy for them to seek legitimacy for violence against them. However, the fact of the matter is that their argument is completely wrong. The Quranic verse quoted above is neither about all the Jews or Christians, nor is it a permanent teaching. It is a temporary instruction and was applicable only to those who were contemporaries of the Prophet and were at war with him.

It is a well-known fact that non-Muslims in every country have formed an opinion of Islam being a religion of violence. This kind of negative image regarding Islam is absolutely wrong. The real blame, however, goes to Muslim leaders and not to non-Muslims. Attacks such as what Peshawar and Nairobi have recently witnessed are bound to show Islam in an even more negative light. The image of Islam is already under fire, and such acts will only degrade its image in the eyes of the world.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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Strong Character
Strong is the one who has few needs; whose desires are limited;
who does not seek fame and luxury; who finds pleasure in
being humble, rather than in pretending to be big.

Such a person is free of mental complexes,
so nothing prevents him
from taking the right decision.

He is never obstructed by self-interest.
He is ready to undergo any sacrifice
in order to achieve his goal.