Thoughts on the Fort Hood Tragedy


Asalamu `alaykum,

Over the last few days I received a number of emails and messages expressing great disillusion with what has happened at Fort Hood. This is your chance to vent, offer your thoughts and share in the healing process. One of the positive, out of many, things I’ve noticed is the idea of taking responsibility as a community and addressing the sources and wells for which unhealthy thoughts and illegal ideas come from. This is your chance to share and offer your message to many who will be reading this post. I will start by saying that my prayers are with the families of the victims.

Suhaib

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Here are some nice points from normative Islamic texts which may answer a good number of your questions and refute a lot of evil that’s being spread:

Al Mughirah ibn Shu’ba used to be mushrik and had friends that were kuffar in the past before he embraced Islam, he killed them and took their money and then went to the Prophet (s) to embrace Islam (also expecting to have his sins forgiven), he said: “I have killed my close friends, and I want to embrace Islam.” The Prophet (s) said: “Islam, we accept from you, as far as the wealth, if it is the wealth of the ghaddar (betrayal) we do not need it from you.”

Imam Sirkhasi said: “It is not allowed for someone, who is under covenant to betray… (if he does betray) he will be on the day of judgement with a banner showing his betrayal, if he betrays and takes money from kuffar and then comes to embrace Islam, his wealth will never be accepted because it was earned in a khabith way.”

Imam Shafi’i said: “If the enemy captures a Muslim and imprisons him, and after that they release him and give him security, and they allow him to live among them, the covenant they give to him is a covenant from him to them (i.e. it is binding on him), it is not allowed for him to assassinate them or betray them, and we do not know any scholar that has mentioned otherwise.” [Kitab ul Umm vol. 4, pg. 292]

On this Imam Al Maqdisi said: “Whenever there is a covenant given to a Muslim in Dar ul-Harb, it is forbidden to harm them or to kill them or take their wealth.” [vol. 10, pg. 555]

Ibn Hamman (Hanbali) said: “If a Muslim enters Dar ul-Harb, as a businessman, or student, it is not allowed for him to touch their life or wealth, because by the covenant he is guarantor that he will never touch them, if he does that, it becomes ghadr, and ghadr is haram by ijma`.” [Al Tahrir, vol. 6, pg. 17]

Furthermore ibn Abideen said, “If a Muslim enters Dar ul-Harb, it becomes forbidden on him to harm their life or wealth or honour, because a Muslim adheres to the covenant… if the money he earns, he earns it in haram, it is not allowed to benefit from it, he should donate it, but if he stole it, he must return it.” [vol. 4, pg. 166]

Imam Sirkhasee said, “If a Muslim enters Dar ul-Harb, and he says to them “I am going to look for a wife” or “to study” or “for trading” or just to pass through the land to go somewhere else, it is agreed that it is a form of customary covenant.” [Al Maqsud]

Note: I don’t consider my home country Dar al-Harb. I left the words there to honor the translation. Thanks to Br. J for hooking me up with this.

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14 Comments

  1. J says:

    As-Salam Alaykum, Imam Suhaib.

    I have a few comments, insha-Allah:

    1) I think we need to be moderate in our reply and views, veering to neither extreme. On the one extreme, we have some Muslims rejoicing over what happened and praising Major Nidal Hasan. On the other hand (which is also an extreme), we have Muslims who are talking about how there are thousands of Muslim Americans serving “bravely and honorably” in the U.S. military.

    Although Muslim Americans should be ready to defend the United States if it were ever attacked–just as the Jewish minority of Medina was expected to defend the city if it were attacked by invaders–this does not mean that Muslim Americans should partake in illegal and unjust wars that involve occupying and terrorizing foreign countries, especially those that belong to our brothers in faith!

    Truly the brave and honorable ones are those who work towards peace. And this is not unpatriotic or un-American: What is more American than draft dodging, protesting unjust wars, and even civil disobedience to oppose injustice? Study the history of America and see who are remembered as the heroes…it is always those who struggled for such noble causes.

    From a purely religious angle, surely it is forbidden to fight alongside the war-mongers who terrorize the Muslim majority nations.

    2) It should be stated without any doubt that what Major Nidal Hasan did was truly despicable. As you have included in your post, it is a violation of Sharia to do what he did. Imam Abu Hanifa’s pupil Muhammad al-Shaybani said:

    “If it happens that a company of Muslims pass through the enemy’s front lines by deceptively pretended to be messengers of the Muslim’s ruler carrying official documents–or if they were just allowed to pass through the enemy lines–they are not allowed to engage in any hostilities with the enemy troops. Neither are they entitled to seize any of their money or properties as long as they are in their area of authority.” (Quote from IslamToday.com)

    So this was a form of treachery and betrayal which Major Nidal Hasan did, and this is opposed to the Prophet’s commands when it comes to Jihad: “Do not be treacherous.” The Prophet [s] told us that the one who betrays will be raised with the banner of betrayal in hell-fire. Major Nidal Hasan gained the trust of his fellow soldiers and then betrayed that by killing them when they were caught unaware. Completely unacceptable.

    3) In addition to his action being one of treachery and betrayal, he is also guilty of “hiraba,” the sin of spreading fear in the streets, such that people are fearful of their safety when they are out and about. When people are on the battlefield, they expect to be shot at, but when they are in their homes far away from the battlefield they expect to be safe. If everyone started shooting people randomly in the streets, then there would be panic, mayhem, and anarchy. So what he did attacks the very fabric of society.

    4) What did he think to accomplish by this act? Will he have weakened the U.S. force by killing only 13 soldiers? If anything, it will result in a greater sense of ultra-patriotism and hatred towards Muslims, which will cause their numbers to swell.

    5) Allah [swt] says in the Quran: “Do not throw yourselves into destruction.” That is exactly what he did. He could have resorted to non-violent civil disobedience and refused to serve, then gone to jail. And there are many U.S. soldiers who have refused to serve due to the illegality of the war. But instead, he chose to destroy his life, betray and kill those who trusted him, destroy the life of his family, and create hardship for the Muslims of America.

    6) Lastly, I think we Muslim Americans should keep our response simple to non-Muslims who ask about this incident: Look, we can’t control every single Muslim in the world. There are going to be crazy nuts who do things, and there is no way we can control them all. Just because one guy shoots up a bunch of people–or just because a nutty taxi cab driver and a couple of his buddies shouts idiotic slogans in front of a mosque (“just four morons on a street corner” as Anderson Cooper said)–it doesn’t mean that *all* Muslims are like that.

    7) If they ask why there are so many extremists amongst our ranks and not the ranks of other religions, then we say: because the American foreign policy for decades now has been to steal the resources of the Middle East, intervene in that region, etc. So it’s no surprise then that a surge of radicalism would come from the Muslims, just as it did with the Irish when the British tried to occupy them.

    8) I think we should keep our “outrage” at a minimum when it comes to the anti-Muslim slogans in the army. This is not the time to comment on it, due to the fact that it seems to justify what he did. I actually think the media–other than Fox News–is handling this attack pretty well. People like Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, and even Oprah Winfrey are doing a great job to make sure this doesn’t result in Islamophobia. Speaking of which, we should email them “thank you’s.”

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

    • JYB says:

      Brother J, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I completely agree with your points, especially the first one about not taking either of the two extremes- applauding the despicable act on the one hand and stating that Muslim Americans serve in illegal wars such as Iraq on the other. They are both wrong.

      Thanks for articulating your views!

  2. Nihal Khan says:

    Imam Suhaib, this is the reason I love you so much! Inni Uhibbuku Fillah!

  3. Afghani Muslim says:

    Why is the war in Afghanistan/Iraq illegal? Natives of both countries have been fighting the war against both previous oppressors in both lands before the US helped them establish justice in thier nations. Why can’t muslims fight in the US army? I have relatives in the US army who served in Iraq, and honestly the US army is doing more good in Afghanistan than the afghans/iraqis who are too busy slaughtering each other on ethnic and sectarian lines. I have relatives over seas (back home) working with the US military building schools keeping the Taliban from covering the land with darkness and ending thier opium production. They are providing security for the people and getting rid of terrible un-Islamic mass murderers of fellow Muslims like Sadaam and the Taliban. Muslims love quoting a few ayahs w/o proper understanding of Arabic language and examples from the prophet’s life, have you heard of ‘hilf ul-fudool’??? especially when they are all emotional and illogical at the same time.

    Don’t be apologetic either way!!, either you are saying what this man did was good or bad. Since it seems (although you don’t want to admit it) that you are against the US military -> He killed military personel!! (so do you applaud his actions or not) – you can’t pull the civilian card anymore, were they legitimate targets? For me no! and I think what this man did was bad, AND i support the US military in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and talk with those muslims on the ground who work with the US army and go read up on the seerah and how the prophet took alliances with non-mulims several times and even took non-muslims as guides in battles. And you say muslims can’t fight in the US Army?!?!?!? Muslims CAN fight in the US Army…

  4. Muslimah86 says:

    I dont think the point of this post was to ask folks to join the U.S Army, but I believe its calling for common sense, dont kill the people who have accepted you into their land and have give you security and education. Something most of us cant find in our homelands.

    If you have a problem with this country and their foreign policies DONT JOIN THEIR MILITARY and leave if you have any issues with them.

    No one is saying we live in a perfect non Muslims society, their isnt even a Muslim one. Condemn the actions of your country by the ways they outlined for us such as freedom of assembly and speech and press.

    May Allah allow us to think straight, I dont think the brother was mentally all there, so therefore (even if he was sane) may Allah forgive his sins and the actions that have made many lose their family members.

  5. Um Hana says:

    This was a horrible act, and clearly against Islam.

    What I’m going to say isn’t intended to detract from that.

    This action has to also be analyzed in the context of mass murders in this country. Around that same day, a man who was fired from his job shot and killed 5 of his co-workers.

    How about the rapist with the 11 or so bodies stashed away in his house.

    How about the 15 year old in California who was gang raped outside the high school dance by about 10 teens/young men for two and half hours, with up to 20 onlookers who did nothing.

    There have been so many family murder-suicides (e.g. middle class dad in the suburbs comes home, kills wife and kids, then himself) this year it is unreal.

    How many times have we heard “he was a loner” – for people who had nothing to do with being muslim.

    There is a larger context at work here, and part of our reflection as american muslims has to be a reflection on our american culture itself, and the displays of murderous and raping rage by unhinged individuals of all backgrounds that we have seen in communities around the country.

  6. YusufX says:

    The Muslim community has a problem that we aren’t even starting to address, and it leads to episodes like the one in Ft. Hood.

    We teach our children that part of the world is “Darul Harb”, and that terrorism is bad “except when we kill Israelis”, and that “Muslims are weak and oppressed by infidels because we’re not religious enough, but when we are truly devoted to Islam (and its leaders), then we will be Strong!”. Some people extrapolate this line of thought to justify murder, and that’s why we make the news in Mumbai, and Madrid and Ft. Hood., and so on.

    That’s why for example the Iraqis have been killing each other for, well, forever. In the current political situation, the factions in the north are Kurd vs Arab vs Turk, no one cares about Sunni/Shia even though they have both. In Baghdad, it’s Sunni/Shia, no one cares about ethnicities, even though they have lots. In the south where they’re all Arab Shia, factions still kill each other, over what I have no idea.

    We need to have a consistent message in our communities: “murder is bad, no exceptions, no justifications.”

  7. Ibrahim says:

    Jazakallahu Khayran Imam Webb – what a wonderful article you wrote – leading to an awesome honest discussion between the brothers and sisters. More power to us!

  8. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    Afghani Muslim:

    I certainly empathize with your concerns, but would encourage you to take it easy as the last post was more of a rant/diatribe that started to make very little sense.

    Emotions are high, hearts ache and questions are being asked. I agreed wholeheartedly with Yusuf X words , agree with you that killing the innocent is strictly forbidden in Islam [anyplace] and that nothing can justify the murders that took place.

    Muslims are facing an ethical crisis and need to take a stand against those amongst us who are ethically malnourished. I certainly agree that on my part I could do much better and thank you for your sincere advice. I know it, inshallah, is coming from your heart so I trust that it is coupled with noble intentions.

    Remember that this is a forum to discuss this and gain some direction, simply pointing fingers at each other, while a good start, is just that.

    SDW

  9. Mujib says:

    >>On the other hand the Taliban, Sadaam, the Isreali army who slaughter innocene are legitimate. Is the US army in palestine? no, altough they fund Isreal (is irrelevant you can even do buisness with the same people who try to kill you, look at the prophet pbuh’s seerah), the soldiers are not killing innocent people there.<<

    With all due respect, this exposes the falsehood of your entire argument about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What business exactly is the US conducting with Israel? It is the business of funding their occupation of Palestine. Billions of dollars in aid go to Israel every year, aid which kills and oppresses Palestinians. When the US stands with Israel and opposes every UN resolution against Israel, is that also business?

  10. Afghani Muslim says:

    Mujib, even if we muslims were dealing with the Isreali directly then it would not be a problem, again look at the seerah.

    Suhaib Webb, I look for you to address the taboo issues in our American Muslim Society, and whether or not killing military uniforms is haram is one of them. And whether or not Muslims can join the military is one of them.

    Fort Hood addresses these, it is too bad we don’t have religous “leaders” tackling these issues head-on, and instead put up the apologetic smoke screen without actually saying anyting that will benefit the negative sentiment in our communities. too bad… cuz in reality i dont have the pulpit, but you do Suhaib, you got the pulpit and every single American Muslim under 30 is ready to listen to what you have to say. I’m disappointed that you arent saying what needs to be said, cuz honestly I personally think you are the only one that pushes the envelope when it comes to addressing key issues that deal with Muslims in America.

    too bad ppl go ahead and delete my posts, what are they afraid of again? oh yea ppl calling out terrorists as they are… with this fort hood guy being one of them, our ummah to aftraid to call them out as they are again!!! I guess you take them as heroes? No they aren’t, they are criminals along with the taliban and sadaam!!!

    • Suhaib Webb says:

      Asalamu alaykum,
      Afghani Muslim:

      I put those translations up, note I’m not the translator, to show that even with one’s enemies, one is forced to abide by a certain code of ethics. Since our fellow American don’t fall under such a definition, meaning they are not our enemies, then they have a greater right upon us that we be law abiding respectful citizens. As for the killing of those soldiers the other day, then I clearly denounce this as an illegal act, murder,far from Islam and I encourage, not only those under 30 to stay law abiding dutiful citizens, but all Muslims. I would appreciate it if you would stop accusing people of things and attributing to them ideals which they don’t hold. You started your posts with some very legitimate concerns, but have taking the conversation into throwing accusations at people and making very little sense.

      I would like to thank you and those who commented. This man is a criminal, his actions were evil and our community needs to look at the causes and remedies for such thoughts and ideas.

      SDW

  11. Shiraz says:

    Here is an interesting possibility being put forward on the web:
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Fort-Hood-s-Killer-Shrink-by-Ward-Harkavy-091108-338.html

    This person is suggesting that perhaps the shooter was one of those who had been coerced to make serious PTSD cases look less serious through deliberate mis-diagnosis. Since they were his patients, he would have been sympathetic to their cases, and if this surmise is valid, perhaps he was so disgusted by his colleagues being willing to put all these returning soldiers so much of suffering just so the military could save money, that he turned the guns on his coworkers?

    Here is the link that shows this happening:
    http://www.salon.com/news/special/coming_home/2009/04/08/tape/index.html
    [QUOTE]Last June, during a medical appointment, a patient named “Sgt. X” recorded an Army psychologist at Fort Carson, Colo., saying that he was under pressure not to diagnose combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Listen to a segment of the tape here.[/QUOTE]

  12. realist says:

    Salam

    Sheikh Suhaib, I really appreciate your showing us why this action was wrong Islamically, and I admire your patience with all the crazy things going around on all sides. It’s clear to me that a big part of being a scholar, one who is truly an heir of the Prophets, is being able to have the patience and adab of them. May Allah guide us all to have your adab, Ameen.

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