All this is quire natural. But at the same time Muslims must also understand that these verses were meant for those wars in the7th century CE and cannot be applicable to us today in the 21st century, 14 centuries after the wars that gave the Prophet and his companions victory, establishing Islam on the face of earth.
Now our job is simply to see that God’s universal and eternal messages in Quran are available to all the people in their own languages, so they can comprehend it and learn from it. The contextual verses are a part of our glorious history and should be left there, so that we learn from them how near-insurmountable obstacles the Prophet (saw) faced in establishing Islam and leaving us his magnificent legacy. Violent extremists among us have and will continue to use and misuse these contextual verses for their own ends. Let us Muslims not fall in the trap. — Editor
The Pakistan-based terror outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad was formed in January 2000 by the jihadist cleric and now the UN-designated terrorist Maulana Muhammad Mas‘udAzhar after he was released in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 1999, following the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814. With his release, the insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir saw a paradigm shift. Instead of Kalashnikov-wielding men, the Jaish started fidayeen squads rattling the Indian state and its military installations in the valley.
To the jihadists in this subcontinent, Mas‘udAzhar is not only the founder and leader of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) but is rather glorified with the great epithet of Fazilat al-Shaikh which means “anhonourable Islamic cleric”. Therefore, they suffix “Hafizahu Allah” (“May Allah keep him safe”) with his name as is seen in this jihadist poster of an extremist lecture delivered by Mas‘udAzhar:
The topic of the lecture which took place in Karachi is advertised as “Introduction to the Jaish-e-Muhammad.” On the top right, the poster captures the group’s slogan which is a partial quote from the Quranic verse 2:261: “kutiba ‘alaykum al-qital” (fighting is ordained for you).
The white banner in this image, with three black stripes and the word “jihad” in a black circle, is the logo of Jaish-e-Muhammad. The sword below the globe suggests a desire to go back to the earliest Islamic history. In the jihadist imagery, swords embody the religious purity, nobility and righteousness. In fact, swords also depict the current jihadi activities as modern extensions of those campaigns and lend them an aura of legitimacy.
There is no denying the fact that the brutal attack on over 40 CRPF jawans in South Kashmir’s Pulwama was orchestrated by the Jaish-e-Muhammad masterminded byMas‘udAzhar. But while the Jaish has claimed the responsibility so openly, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan rejects India’s accusation of Pak base in the Pulwama terror attack and seeks ‘actionable intelligence’. Thus, one wonders why Khan needs some actionable or remote intelligence for counter-terrorism in this case, while the handlers have admitted to the offence. In fact, the evidence is in their home, so clear and self-evident that no one can overlook it.
In the first week of February 2019, JeM’s weekly online Urdu magazine Al-Qalam published its regular column titled, Hafta-e-Kashmir (The week in Kashmir) with provocative and aggressive news reports such as these:
• 30 January, occupied Kashmir, severe protest against the Indian army on the martyrdom of an Indian Muslim officer as result of the collision with an Indian military vehicle.
• January 31, strike in Pulwama on the third day too, no life normalcy.
• February 1, the so-called search operation before Modi’s visit to Kashmir, fear among the people of Kashmir.
• February 2, two more people became martyrs (shaheed) during the operation in Darbagam, one girl killed in Kulgam.
• February 3, strike and demonstrations on the arrival of [PM] Modi, fear among the people due to search operation in their homes.
February 4, Pakistani women married to Kashmiris demand for their return.
• February 5, 10 Kashmiris arrested on the day of unity in Jammu and Kashmir (yaum-e-yakjahti-e-Kashmir) in Pulwama, Barhamulla and other districts.
٭30 جنوری مقبوضہ کشمیر ،بھارتی فوجی گاڑی کی ٹکر سےمسلمان افسر کی شہادت پر شدید احتجاج٭31 جنوری پلوامہمیں تیسرے روز بھی ہڑتال،معمولات زندگی مکمل ٹھپ٭یکمفروری مودی کے دورہ کشمیر سے قبل نام نہاد سرچآپریشن،رستے سیل،گھر گھر تلاشی سے کشمیریوں میں خوفوہراس٭2 فروری دربگام میں سرچ آپریشن کے دوران مزید 2شہید،کولگام میں لڑکی قتل٭3 فروری مودی کی آمد پرہڑتال،مظاہرے،وادی جنگ زدہ علاقے کا منظر پیش کرتیرہی٭4 فروری کشمیریوں سے شادی کرنیوالی پاکستانیخواتین کاواپسی کیلئے اقدامات کامطالبہ٭5 فروری یومیکجہتی کشمیر پر پلوامہ،بارہمولہ سمیت دیگر اضلاع میں 10کشمیری گرفتار.
This news bulletin in the main mouthpiece of the Jaish, with their particular coverage of Pulwama, makes it patently clear that the terror outfit was gearing up for the strike on the Indian security forces in Jammu & Kashmir. This was an obvious indication by the Jaish, though this may have come in form of muscle-flexing.
But while the origin of Pulwama terror attack is evidently seen and confessed, Imran Khan’s demand from India to ‘provide actionable intelligence’ is rather more ruthless. A man of even a shallow logic can fathom Khan’s willful oblivion to the Pulwama attackers. This is precisely why there is not even a pretext of outright condemnation of the terror attack. Let alone sympathy for the bereaved families, not even lip sympathy for them. This is the audacity of a state which provides more lethality and boldness to the violent jihadist outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad.
In March 2018, Jaish-e-Mohammad recruited Adil Ahmad Dar, the 18-year student who turned into a suicide bomber in the Pulwama attack which killed at least 43 Indian soldiers. According to one of his friends, who didn’t wish to be named, Adil was an ‘introvert’ and shy student who remained aloof in the classroom and dropped out after Class 12. But before he rammed the SUV vehicle laden with over 300 kg explosives into the CRPF convoy, he had recorded a chilling video in which hecastigated the worldly pleasures and glorified the religious battles. The content in the video symbolises the brutality with which JeM operates and how it can turn a shy village boy into a human bomb. It goes like this:
“Salute to my people who have not surrendered before the Indian might and have not let down the flag of honour, dignity, valour and Islam,” Dar, 18, said in a pre-recorded video that went viral on social media after the attack. “We are not begging you to stop your oppression but we will break those arms which have come to suppress us. This action is revenge against the killing of Masu’d Azhar’s nephew.”
The reason why the Pulwama attack was planned and executed is also crystal clear in the pictorial message given in an article titled “Afzal Guru, AssalamAlaikum!” written by Talha As-Saif, a regular columnist for al-Qalam.
The first paragraph in this piece reads: “We recall Afzal Guru every time when we launch an attack with rifles or grenades, every time when we spill the blood of a Hindu soldier”. While Jaish-e-Muhammad gave a clear indication of the recent attack in this article, oblivion to this merely as usual propaganda was the biggest security lapse on part of Indian security agencies, as the J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik also admitted.
Another article authored by some QariNavedMasu’d Hashmi in the JeM’s mouthpiece al-Qalam, refers to Afzal Guru’s book in Urdu “Tahrik-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir”. The article cites the book as a roadmap for the jihadists in Kashmir which should be part of the educational curriculum for the youth. In the end of 2013 when Jaish-e-Mohammad made a comeback, its chief Maulana Masu’d Azhar released Afzal Guru’s auto-biography titled “Aina”. In this 240-page book, the JeMchief bated for Guru and guns on New Delhi for presenting him as an “unemployed, chain-smoking young man whose loyalties can be bought for peanuts”.
In fact, Pulwama was the biggest terror attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Afzal Guru Squad in terms of security forces’ casualties. After the incident, security forces launched a massive crackdown and carried out the door to door search operations in many villages of south Kashmir. But the damage was already done. The second such suicide attack carried out by the outfit in the last three decades of insurgency has turned out to be the deadliest.
According to the media reports, Indian army has eliminated the top leadership of Jaish-e-Muhammad in Kashmir in less than 100 hours of the Pulwama terror attack. The commander of the 15th Corps, Lt General K S Dhillon who briefed media in Srinagar, said that the top commander of the JeM which carried out the attack on the CRPF convoy in Lethpora area of Pulwama on the 14th of this month has been eliminated. He also warned those picking up arms in Kashmir of elimination unless they surrender.
Having said all this, we must also study the very foundation on which JeM erects its edifice of what it considers Jihad, the verse 2: 261. Let us examine in some detail how misleading the use of this verse is in the eyes of classical jurists and exegetes too. The full verse is:
كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ وَعَسَىٰ أَن تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَّكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ(Q. 2:261)
Kutiba ʿAlaykumul Qitālu Wahuwa Kurhun Lakum Wa ʿAsāʾ Antakrahū ShayʾAn Wahuwa Kḫayrun Lakum WaʿAsā ʾAntuḥibbū ŠhayʾAn Wahuwa Šharrun Lakum W-Allāhu YaʿLamu WāʾAntum LātaʿLāmūn
Taken in isolation, the verse 2:261(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ) appears to suggest that qital or fighting is ordained for every Muslim for eternity as an obligation to attain salvation. Every person who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment aims at attaining the salvation through all forms of worship. But the correct message of this verse is not what the Jaish ideologues attempt to preach.
The detailed discussion on this verse in the books of tafseer (Qur’anic exegesis) has reviewed a few points and some guidelines about understanding the message of this verse. Tafseer al-Tabri, the popular Sunni tafsir by Imam ibn Jarir al-Tabari who is held in high esteem by all Islamic schools, quotes Ata’a ibn Abi Rabah, a prominent Muhaddith (transmitter of hadith) and Tabi’i who lived during the caliphate of Hazrat Uthman, and who was the first Mufti of Mecca. Tabri has quoted him as saying this in his commentary on the verse 2:216:
واختلف أهل العلم في الذين عُنوا بفرض القتال ، فقالبعضهم: عني بذلك أصحابُ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلمخاصةً دون غيرهم
حدثنا القاسم، قال: حدثنا الحسين، قال: حدثني حجاج، عنابن جريج، قال: سألت عطاء قلت له: ” كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَكُرْهٌ لَكُمْ” ، أواجبٌ الغزوُ على الناس من أجلها ؟ قال: لا! كُتبعلى أولئك حينئذ
“Scholars have differing opinions on the obligation of fighting. Some of them state that it was only ordained for the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and not for others. When Imam Ata’a was asked whether Ghazwa (battle) was Wajib (obligatory) for every individual because of this verse, he replied: No, it was only for the people of those times”.
This should give us an understanding of the Quranic verses like this in terms of their applicability to Muslims today. Another commentator on the Quran of universal recognition, Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi wrote these words on the verse 2:261: “wahuwamakrūhunlakum bit-tabī’ah” (Human beings don’t favour war by their instincts).
(Source: Tafsīr al-bahr al-muhīth volume 2, page 152, publisher Dār al-Kutub al- ‘Ilmiyah, Beirut, 1993)