Modern-day terrorism in the name of Islam is based entirely on the misinterpretation of Islamic texts. An example of this misinterpretation derives from this Quranic verse, “All power belongs to God alone.” (12:40) Here, hukm is used in the sense of the supernatural power of God. However, Muslim extremist thinkers have misinterpreted it to mean political power. Furthermore, it is said that Muslims, as representatives of God, should establish God’s rule on earth. This assumption is wrong because it is based on a Quranic verse that has been taken out of context. Another verse in the Quran says ʿIdilu. It means, ‘Follow the principle of justice [in your life].’ (5:8) But a misinterpretation of this verse has taken it in the transitive sense instead of the original intransitive sense in which it was used in the Quran. The verse means that justice should be imposed on people by force. As a result of this misinterpretation, the concept of justice has been politicized. This political interpretation of Islam has no basis in Islam.

The terrorist phenomenon is, therefore, based on the misinterpretation of the scriptures. It can be countered only by presenting the correct interpretation of the exact text used to radicalize people. This is given in the literature and talks of Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. This material acts as a counter ideology. It will make people understand that the present militancy, based on the political interpretation of Islam, has no sanction in Islam. Then, we must present the Islamic position of the same scriptures. And then it must be universally publicized worldwide. Realising that their actions are un-Islamic, people with an extremist bent of mind will give up violent activism on their own and turn to peaceful activism. To counter the political interpretation of Islam, we shall have to re-engineer the minds of extremists along peaceful lines.



Some Muslims perpetrated acts of violence in France and Denmark. As usual, these acts were performed in the name of Islam. After these incidents, the US administration organized a three-day conference in Washington during February 17-19, 2015. The theme of the meeting was: Countering Violent Extremism. Sixty nations participated in the conference. A number of Muslim organizations were also among the participants.

Speaking on this occasion President Barack Obama said that Islam as a religion was not responsible for the recent violence. It was rather an external ideology—not based on Islamic teachings—that was behind these acts. Those who commit violence draw inspiration from this external ideology.

The political interpretation of Islam has become an ideology that promotes violence.

What is this ideology? President Obama did not mention this. It is the political interpretation of Islam, devised in the twentieth century. There were two champions of this ideology: Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) in the Arab world and Syed Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979) in the Indian subcontinent. For various reasons, this ideology spread widely amongst Muslims.

It is important to understand why the political interpretation of Islam foisted an ideology that promoted violence. It made Islam a subject of imposition, whereas earlier Islam was regarded as a subject of adherence or following. If Islam is subject to be followed, then the goal is to focus on oneself—one must discover God, lead a God-oriented life, and try to spiritually elevate oneself. With such a goal, there can be no question of violence. But when Islam is considered a subject of imposition, the goal then becomes the external political system. The aim now is to dethrone the political rulers so that the political system of choice may be imposed on all. Here lies the root of violence.

The political ideology is inherently violent. It is imperative to come up with a counter-ideology to eradicate violence—one that is sound and robust. The wrong notion that Islam is a political system must be dispelled and instead clearly establish it as non-political. The objective of Islam is Islamization of the individual and not Islamization of the state.

In 1917 the Communist government was formed in Russia and the USSR was established in its wake. This situation was perceived as a threat by the United States of America. America countered the problem not with violence but through a sound counter ideology. Anti-communist literature was published on a wide scale and the entire world was flooded with it. One example of this is mentioned below: “Yugoslavia’s Communist politician, Milovan Djilas (1911-1995) wrote a powerful book New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (1957) criticizing the Communist system. It was introduced in Reader’s Digest under the heading, Milovan Djilas and the Book that is Shaking the Communist World.” (Eugene Lyon, October 1957)

The political interpretation of Islam is inherently a violent ideology that has no basis in Islam’s original sources—Quran and Sunnah. Therefore, a counter-ideology is required to face this violent ideology. Given these historic precedents, the need to publish strong and powerful literature against the terrorist ideology is imperative—powerful enough to shake the terrorists at their very roots. So that a commentator may be able to remark: ‘This is the book that is shaking the terrorist world.’ This is the only solution to rid violence in the name of Islam that plagues the world today. No other solution will work in this regard.

I have prepared literature based on Islamic sources that is acting as a counter-ideology in the form of books like The Age of Peace, The Prophet of Peace, and The Political Interpretation of Islam.

Source: Spirit of Islam June 2015

The Quran says: 'Do great jihad with the help of the Quran.' (25: 52) ‘Jihad’ refers to the peaceful mission of spreading the ideology of the Quran. The message of the Quran is given in Chapter Jonah in these words: “Wallahu yadu ila dar as-salam.” (10: 25) That is, ‘And God calls to the home of peace.’

Peace is the central theme of the Quran. Where there is peace there is a peaceful mind, and where there is a peaceful mind there is positive thinking. Positive thinking helps in the building of a positive personality. A peaceful society is composed of members who are positive-thinking individuals.

Islam has nothing to do with violence. The Islamic target is peace, and peace can be established only by peaceful methods. The Islamic mission referred to in the Quran as dawah ilallah is the peaceful dissemination of the divine message. Jihad refers to the peaceful spirit of this mission, that is, to exert one's utmost effort to spread this peaceful message.

Modern Muslim militancy in the name of jihad is a total distortion of Islam. This phenomenon is a twentieth-century concept. Muslim writers such as Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi (1903-1979) of Pakistan and Syed Qutb (1906-1966) of Egypt, provided a political interpretation of Islam. Those influenced by this interpretation tried to establish an Islamic state in Muslim countries. This being the age of communication it spread rapidly throughout the Muslim world.

The aim of establishing such a state began as a literary campaign. Its proponents sought to overthrow existing regimes led by secular Muslims and establish in its place what they called Khilafah or Hukumat-e Ilahiyyah (Divine Rule). They totally failed in this endeavour. They assumed the Muslim masses were on their side and oblivious that the secular Muslim rulers were supported by the West. They developed negative thinking against the West. De-stabilizing the Western world seemed to be the only way to achieve their target. 9/11 was a result of this thinking. Suicide bombings by Muslims throughout the world are also an example of this thinking. The genesis of current Muslim militancy lies squarely in this political interpretation of Islam.

It is imperative to dispel this interpretation and completely eradicate this political thinking from the Muslim mind. We have to provide them with the peaceful literature of Islam. Only this can root out the menace of Muslim militancy.

UNESCO says, ‘Violence begins from the mind.’ The present Muslim militancy begins from the wrong interpretation of Islam. This militancy can be countered by spreading literature that represents the true ideology of Islam based on peace and put to end Muslim militancy.

Using rational argument, it has to be shown how the political interpretation of Islam is wrong and has no ideological base. This would be the cure to end the scourge of Muslim violence.

Source: Spirit of Islam July 2015

The root cause of violence perpetrated in the name of Islam is the erroneous political interpretation of Islam that has been developed by some Muslim scholars. According to this interpretation, a central place was bestowed on politics in the religion. For those scholars who gave such an interpretation, the religion or deen was tantamount to establishing its political domination. They saw this as the very purpose or goal that God wants His servants to strive towards. Naturally then, in this understanding of Islam, the rest of deen came to be subordinated to politics. Politics assumed the central place, through which every aspect of deen could be understood and its importance ascertained. In this way, in their understanding of Islam, every aspect of it acquired a political hue. This naturally resulted in a major deviation.

The political interpretation of the religion of Islam led to a new view about life and the universe in which politics had a pre-eminent place. While accepting that God has given free will to mankind, and the world is a testing ground on one hand, the proposers of the political interpretation contradict themselves by saying that people must establish the divinely revealed Shariah which was conveyed through God’s messengers. This law covers a wide gamut of issues, including beliefs, morals, society, civilization, and politics. In addition, the political theory finds it necessary to accept God as the Emperor, Ruler, and Lawmaker. They further go on to say that, if someone simply accepts God and believes Him to have no partners, but at the same time, claims to be fully independent in the sphere in which humans have free will, he actually revolts against God.

According to them, such people should be set right through guidance, instruction, exhortation, and preaching, but if these methods fail to get them the desired result of establishing Divine Government, then a believer is compelled to take to war so that he can remove the hurdles in the path of this task.

The above interpretation of deen presents God’s sending of the prophets to the world in a particular political light. Assuming that the prophets’ concern was to acquire power and that they had acquired it, is absolutely wrong, for the very mission of the prophets was to guide people to goodness and what is right.

When Islam is made out to be a political ideology, then quite naturally, the Islamic community is made out to be a political party. Amongst such a party, worship is reduced to a preface to politics. Piety and spiritual excellence come to be shaped in a distinctly political mould. Witnessing to the truth becomes a political act. In other words, in this political interpretation of Islam the whole of the religion of Islam wrongly comes to be seen as a collection of parts whose individual and collective significance cannot be understood without linking them with politics.

The above-mentioned two reasons of historical exigency and the political interpretation develop the mindset of militancy in its followers. The solution to this is to present Islam as it is from the original sources, the Quran, and the life and teachings of the Prophet. I have written many articles and books that show that this political interpretation of Islam has no basis in Islamic sources—the Quran and Sunnah.

Source: Spirit of Islam March 2018


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