All Muslims should live according to the ethics Allah revealed in the Qur'an. However fair and just Muslims are in their everyday life, their business affairs, or in their personal relationships, they must demonstrate the same values during times of war, while defending themselves, or even while being driven from their lands. They must still put themselves in Allah's hands, obey Allah's laws, and adhere strictly to His instructions.
The word "Islam" has the same meaning as the word "peace" in Arabic. The Qur'an calls people to the ethics of Islam, through which the world can be made a haven for peace and love. Allah commands us to rule justly and without discriminating among people, to preserve people's rights, oppose cruelty, and help those in need. This justice requires each Muslim to protect the rights of both parties, evaluate events objectively, and think without bias. It requires justice, honesty, love, mercy, and compassion.
As Allah reveals in the Qur'an: "O you who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just, for that is closer to heedfulness. Fear Allah. Allah is aware of what you do." (Surat al-Ma'ida, 8), true Muslims must not let their decisions or practices be tainted by such feelings as resentment, hatred, and rage. Muslims must always conduct themselves according to the Qur'an, behave with patience and restraint, and avoid exaggerated responses. As Allah reminds: "We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast." (Surat al-Baqara, 155). Thus, given that this life on Earth is merely a trial, we must never forget that Allah tests His believers with war, attack, oppression, and all manner of difficulties. The most important thing is for Muslims to respond to such trials in a manner that pleases Allah and always to behave in accord with Islamic teachings and principles.
Thus the Palestinians must remember, as they respond to Israel, that every difficulty they endure is really a test of their faith. In addition, they must strictly adhere to Allah's ethics, justice, and commands not to overstep their bounds. They must follow only those opposition methods revealed in the Qur'an. The result of such an intellectual struggle is most certainly salvation, for "Allah only did this for it to be good news for you and so that your hearts might be set at rest by it. And victory is not except from Allah, the Exalted in Might, the Wise." (Surah Al 'Imran, 126)
Attacks against Defenseless Jews Are Incompatible with the Qur’an
The verse: "Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just toward them. Allah loves those who are just." (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8) describes how the Palestinians must behave toward civilians as they oppose the Israeli government. In the Qur'an, Allah forbids killing innocent people, unarmed women, children, and the elderly. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) gave specific orders to his commanders going to war, and warned them not to harm civilians.
In the last few years, however, some Palestinians have carried out bombings against civilian settlements occupied by unarmed civilians, children, women, and the elderly. These attacks have made targets of a cafeteria, a school bus, and places where teenagers hang out, and have resulted in dozens of civilian deaths. According to Israeli reports from various news agencies, suicide bombings since September 2000 have killed 30 Israeli children and injured 272 more. Out of 177 Israelis killed, 128 were civilians; out of 1,743 Israelis injured, 1,216 were civilians. ("Palestinian Terrorism - The Israel Side," Bridges for Peace Website, http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/public ations/dispatch/signsoftimes/Article- 2.html.) These attacks provoked a strong reaction throughout the world and did more harm than good to the Palestinian cause. Even those in the West who had opposed Israel's pro-violence policy were forced to condemn the Palestinians and withdraw their support.
Obviously, such attacks cannot be excused. As explained above, such a method is absolutely inconsistent with Islam. When we examine the Qur'an and the Prophet's (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) actions, we find that Islam does not support attacks against civilians. Whether during the conquest of Mecca or during other wars, the Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) carefully protected the rights of innocent and unarmed people and prevented them from being harmed. He reminded Muslims of this on various occasions by telling them: "Set out for war in the name of Allah and for the sake of Allah. Do not lay hands on the old verging on death, on women, children and babies. Do good, for Allah loves the virtuous and the pious." (Sahih Muslim Hadiths) Another reminder is:
"Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman." (Abu Dawud Hadiths)
"Do not kill the monks in monasteries" (Musnad of Ibn Hanbal Hadiths) or "Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship." (Musnad of Ibn Hanbal Hadiths)
As shown in the hadiths, Muslims must struggle in conformity with the Qur'an. In other words, their struggle must be just, compassionate, and free of extremism. Muslims should oppose both tyranny and barbarism, and all forms of injustice. Another verse reports that they must always be on the side of peace and compromise:
If they incline to peace, you too incline to it and put your trust in Allah. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. (Surat al-Anfal, 61)
Muslim’s stand on the subject of Israel and the Jews must also be in line with these basic principles. Muslims who live in accordance with the Qur'an must have an unbiased view of the Jews.
Jews believe in Allah's Oneness and follow a religion Allah revealed through His messengers. Moreover, the Qur'an refers to them as People of the Book. They embrace many values, based on Allah's revelation, as well as the concepts of sin, haram (prohibited) and halal (allowed). In the Qur'an, one can see that there was a friendly relationship between Muslims and the People of the Book. For this reason, if one of the People of the Book cooks some food, Muslims can eat it and vice-versa, and Muslim men can marry their women. These commands show that warm neighborly and even family ties can be established among Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and that they can accept each other's invitations. Another verse calls for the two groups to unite, based upon a common word for belief (Surah Al 'Imran, 64).
For these reasons, Muslim communities historically have behaved moderately and compassionately toward the People of the Book. This situation is especially evident in the Ottoman Empire, which accepted the Jews exiled by Catholic Spain at the end of the fifteenth century and allowed them to live peacefully in the empire.
Allah does not forbid you from being good to those who have not fought you in the religion or driven you from your homes, or from being just toward them. Allah loves those who are just. Allah merely forbids you from taking as friends those who have fought you in the religion and driven you from your homes and who supported your expulsion. Any who take them as friends are wrongdoers. (Surat al-Mumtahana, 8-9)
Justice and moderation also should be shown toward followers of non-monotheistic faiths and toward those with no faith at all, both of which are far more distant to Muslims. According to the Qur'an, Muslims have an obligation to protect all, even idolaters, and to ensure they reach their destination safely when they so request.
If any of the idolaters ask you for protection, give them protection until they have heard the words of Allah. Then convey them to a place where they are safe. … (Surat at-Tawba, 6)
Muslims with a responsibility to ensure the safety of all, even idolaters, must obviously be affectionate and understanding toward the People of the Book, who believe in the One Allah, are loyal to the prophets and have the concept of lawful and forbidden. Simply put, Muslims who are sincere in their religion, obey Allah, and respect the Qur'an can neither nurture animosity toward Jews just because of their religion and beliefs, nor treat them with hostility just because they are Jews.
Islam Forbids Suicide
When discussing attacks on Israeli citizens, the Islamic view of suicide also must be examined. Some people are gravely misinformed about Islam, believing that this religion of peace permits suicide bombings; nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Islam forbids a Muslim from taking his or her life, just as it forbids taking somebody else's life. Allah explicitly condemns suicide: "do not kill yourselves" (Surat an-Nisa', 29), regardless of the reason. The Prophet (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) also told his Companions that suicide leads one to eternal damnation:
Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever. Whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire, wherein he will abide eternally forever. Whoever kills himself with an iron weapon will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire, wherein he will abide eternally forever. (Sahih Bukhari Hadiths)
As explained in the hadith, committing suicide and engaging in suicide bombings – not to mention killing innocent people thereby – violates the Qur'an's ethics. Every Muslim should condemn these incidents, which cast a pall upon the Palestinians' rights.
It must not be forgotten that those who compel Palestinian youths to engage in such unjust and irrational behavior are also pulling Israeli and Palestinian youths into an endless cycle of bloodshed and retribution. These ongoing suicide bombings destroy these young people's futures and that of the land itself. The young people who strap on explosives and detonate them among civilians are being destroyed on a road that will never lead to success. And it is essential for this method, which is incompatible with the Qur'an, to be condemned by all Muslims.
The Solution Is the Implementation of Qur'anic Ethics
Any mode of struggle outside of the Qur’anic value system – for example, the guerilla tactics envisaged by communist ideology – is not correct and cannot succeed. For this reason, the current situation must be evaluated sensibly and realistically, and a method consistent with Qur'anic values must be devised.
The Palestinians can only attain the rights and peaceful lives they demand through a campaign waged on the level of ideas and supported by a very powerful educational project. For this, the Palestinians need a strong team of educated and cultured individuals who are aware of legal, diplomatic, and international policies, and who conduct themselves according to the ethics of the Qur'an.
Of course there are a great many highly cultured, open-minded intellectuals among the Palestinian people. The important thing is the work these intellectuals will engage in to raise the consciousness of the young, turn them in the right direction and defend the Palestinian cause before the people of the world. This work could play an important role in raising the Palestinians' awareness of true Islamic ethics, raising the level of education, and helping them to explain their rights to the world.
At present a very different picture of the Palestinian people is being presented to the world, a picture totally at variance with the truth. The Palestinian cause is suffering serious damage on account of the irrational attacks, incompatible with Islamic values, being carried out by a few fanatics or subversive groups who oppose peace with violence. In the same way that this harm is expressed by many intellectuals, it is also described by commentators in various countries, including Turkey. The daily Zaman writer Kerim Balci, who lives in Palestine, drew attention to this in one of his articles:
Not only are the suicide attacks a violation of fundamental Islamic values, they also damage the Palestinian cause. Not just me, but rational thinking Palestinians say the same thing … The Palestinian cause is a problem of the whole Islamic world. Those at the head of this movement cannot act in the light of their own personal interests, out of a desire for revenge and a concern over honor and pride. The militants who kill innocent Jewish children in Palestine may well believe they are serving Islam. Yet all of their actions do is to make things much more difficult for those people who are trying to repair the damage done to the Muslim image all over the world … It is blatantly evident that attacks of this kind benefit Israel much more than Palestine. (Zaman Turkish Daily, 15 September 2002.)
There are even those Palestinians who, ignorant of the true Qur'anic morality, may participate in these provocations without realizing the nature of what they are doing.
Given this, a great education force must be mobilized and spread among all Palestinians, particularly the young ones, to stamp out this ignorance and fanaticism and to teach them the true values of the Qur'an. Schools, universities, and mass education campaigns can help to raise their awareness and will be the greatest possible contribution. We say this because when these people recognize the true Islam revealed in the Qur'an, when they learn that Islam is a religion of peace and reconciliation, when they comprehend world politics with the consciousness brought by the Qur'an, they will understand that suicide bombings and killing innocent people in cafeterias or on buses are not only wrong, but are not a solution. It is far easier to reach a solution through compassion and reconciliation, rational policies, a worldwide diplomatic initiative, and an intellectual struggle that is consistent with the Qur'an's moral values.
The many wars of the twentieth century, as well as the numerous incidents that have inaugurated the twenty-first century, clearly show that violence cannot undo violence, and that brutality cannot undo brutality. The only way to stop violence is for the virtues of the Qur'an's ethics – humility, compassion, reconciliation, and rationality – to prevail upon people's thoughts and actions, and on the entire world.