The Islamic Stance on Ghandi’s Nonviolent Resistance Movement

A deceiver (dajjal) from the idolaters arose in India who the advocates of composite nationalism from the members of the Congress take as their leader and guide, by his judgement they come and go, and his instruction in politics they carry out. The accursed claims that resistance against the oppressive rulers by tolerating the persecution is preferable to war, so whoever wishes to throw the noose of the authority of the [oppressive] rulers from his neck, he must oppose the state laws and he must endure what he suffers from the ruler and his oppressive supporters of physical torture and imprisonment; they should do so for a period of time, and by this the pillars of the government will crumble, and its terror and its awe will be removed from the hearts by lengthening the tongues [against them].

We do not deny this being a scheme from the schemes of war and a tactic from its tactics which may occur during a time when its people are too weak to resist the enemy by force, courage, striking and wounding. However, it is very strange that a group of Muslims and their scholars in India have claimed this to be a Sunnah from the examples of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and that he would use it when residing in Makkah before the migration to Madinah, so he commanded those with him of the Muslims to declare the oneness [of Allah] and insult the gods of the idolaters and make mockery of their way of life and criticise their religion and insult their forefathers, and when they suffered persecution from the idolaters, they should not repay them with its like, rather they should pardon and overlook, and endure what they suffer, and this [equates to] resisting the enemy by perseverance and nonviolence.

We say: If that was a Sunnah from the traditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) you would have been the first to call to it and the foremost of those who bowed to it, and you would not have been beaten to it by this accursed, and he would have been following you in this, and you would not be following him; for, has the Sunnah of your Prophet been hidden to you until this accursed explained it or did you not reflect on the Qur’an, neither you nor your forefathers, and that pitiful one understood it?

And if tolerating persecution was always better than war as this leader of yours claims, why did the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) migrate to Madinah and did not eliminate the strength of the people of Makkah by forgiveness and pardon and nonviolence his entire life? And why did Allah permit him to fight the enemy and commanded him to prepare whatever he could of power, of trained horses, by which the enemy of Allah and his enemy and others besides them would be terrified (Qur‟an 8:60)?

If you say that was only after attaining power in Madinah and when it is so, fighting is preferable, but before attaining it, nonviolent resistance is superior, we say: This conflicts with the opinion of your accursed leader, for he claims nonviolent resistance is always better which is in conflict with what the Qur‟an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (upon him blessing and peace) has come with so it is not permissible for you to support his view at all, nor adduce proof for it from the Qur‟an and Sunnah foolishly and ignorantly.

From the catastrophes [of this time] is that the accursed has arranged a syllabus for children’s education and included in this [syllabus] his view that nonviolence is always better than violence and conquering lands with gentleness and softness is better than shedding the blood of people, and his likeness in this is not but as the likeness of the learned men of the Christians who, when they emerge from their lands to spread Christianity, they command the arms factories to prepare weapons of war of heavy artilleries and other [weapons] every day, and when they come to the land of India and other [lands] they announce the saying of the Messiah, “Verily the land of God and His Kingdom belong to the weak and the downtrodden.”

Similar [to them] is this accursed who has ordered the elders of his people to build a college of war, so the children of the idolaters learn therein the sciences of war and its arts, while he says to people that nonviolence is always superior to violence. It is strange from the common Muslims and a group of their scholars that they were deluded by his speech and they find no fault in teaching these myths, and they don‟t know that when their children learn this and study Brahman history whose religion was nonviolence, the Brahmans will become great in their hearts, and the greatness of ‘Umar the Distinguisher, and ‘Ali and Khalid (Allah be pleased with them) will be removed from their hearts.

The Satan beautified in their hearts the superiority of the religion of the Brahmans over the religion of Islam due to their belief that the first is premised on softness, leniency and mercy, while Islam is premised on jihad and shedding the bloods of the idolaters, while they are heedless of mercy to the mischief makers being a great injustice to all the worlds, especially the weak.

The truth is that gentleness, leniency, forgiveness, pardoning and nonviolence are wonderful and beautiful in its right place; however, when a man is a mischief maker possessing great evil and baseness, with no deterrent preventing him from his evil, he will only grow in pride and rebellion by gentleness and leniency, and [will only grow] in arrogance and violence by forgiveness and pardon. Hence, gentleness with [someone] like him is like showing compassion to snakes and scorpions, which a sane person will never approve, and a possessor of intelligence will never be satisfied with it. Hence, Islam is the religion of beauty (jamal) and majesty (jalal), and [the religion of] those who are harsh to the disbelievers and merciful amongst themselves (Qur‟an 48:29).

After this, know that the order of Allah to His Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) to forgive, pardon and turn away from the idolaters before the migration was not because this was from the means of resisting the enemy, nor was it because it was something that will eliminate its power and destroy its structure, and if that were so, He would never have ordered them to fight and He would not have said: “We sent down iron in which there is strong power, and benefits for the people” (57:25). Rather, this was only because – and Allah knows best – they were weak in Makkah, having no power to fight, for fear that the people will snatch them. Then when He gave them shelter in Madinah and supported them with His help so the people of Madinah became their supporters and helpers, and He sustained them with wholesome [provisions], He commanded them to resist the enemy by war and fighting.

In sum, in Islam there is only fighting with weapons, or not fighting with it.

As for war without weapons, i.e. by patience and enduring persecution, there is no trace of this in the example of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the conduct of his companions. Thus, his conduct in Makkah was to avoid fighting and warring altogether, not warring by means of patience as they claim. And his conduct in Madinah was to fight and combat with swords.

This does not entail that resistance by means of patience is not permissible in the Shari’ah. It means only that it is not a Sunnah and is not established from the predecessors, so its ruling is the ruling of newly-invented modern weapons – there is no harm in their use when free from something forbidden in the Shari’ah. For if we were to know that the authorities of the time are frightened by merely shouting at them and the foundations of their kingdom will tremble by the peoples demonstrating against them by mere raids and clamouring without fighting and conflict, what need is there for us to throw ourselves into destruction and fight with weapons?

For indeed he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “Do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allah for safety. And when you meet [them], stay firm.” (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim) However, the permissibility does not entail superiority, nor [does it entail] fighting with weapons is always blameworthy as the accursed claims. Abu al-Zubayr narrated from Jabir that “the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) remained for ten years following people into their homes in the season [of Hajj] and [the festivals of] Majannah and ‘Ukaz, [saying]: ‘Who will believe me and who will shelter me and who will help me until I convey the messages of my Lord, and for him is Paradise?‟ And he did not find anyone to help him and shelter him, and he walked amongst their men inviting them to Allah while they pointed to him with the fingers, until Allah sent us [the Ansar] to him from Yathrib, so a man from us would come to him and believe in him and read to him the Qur’an, and then he would return to his family and they would accept Islam, until there did not remain a house from the houses of the Ansar except there was a group of Muslims therein openly declaring Islam. Allah sent us to him so we conferred and convened and we said: ‘Until when will the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) be driven to the mountains of Makkah and feared for?‟ So we travelled until we arrived to [meet] him in the season [of Hajj] and we pledged the pledge of ‘Aqabah…” (Zad al-Ma„ad, 1:306)

Whoever contemplates the conduct of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his companions during their stay in Makkah, he will not doubt that the weak from them would endure and forgive and pardon those who oppressed them. As for the strong from them, they would defend and fight. Ibn Ishaq said: “The companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would, when they prayed, go to the mountain paths and shorten their prayer [for fear] of their people. When Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas was amongst a group of the companions of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) in a mountain path from the mountain paths of Makkah, suddenly a group of idolaters emerged while they prayed and they abused them for what they were upon and [what they were] doing, until they fought them. So Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas on that day struck a man with the jawbone of a camel and he wounded him. That was the first blood to be spilt for Islam.” (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:148)

It is authentic that ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, when he became a Muslim, he fought Quraysh and they fought him until he prayed openly near the Ka’bah and the Muslims prayed with him. Ibn Mas’ud said: “When ‘Umar became Muslim, the Muslims became dignified in themselves, together with Hamza’s acceptance of Islam before him. And they knew that they would protect the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and they will take revenge by means of them from their enemy.” (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:188)

So if endurance of persecution and forgiveness and pardoning was from the means of resistance, Sa’d would not have fought any of the idolaters, nor ‘Umar, nor Hamzah. And those who were tortured from the Muslims like Bilal, ‘Ammar ibn Yasir, his mother and his father and their likes from the slaves, were only tortured because they were weak and unable to protect themselves, and their endurance of persecution was not a scheme or a war tactic, and nor was it a means of resisting the enemy, rather it was because of the lack of means and strength.

And when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) saw what had afflicted his companions of suffering and [saw] the safety he was in from Allah and from his uncle Abu Talib, and that he was unable to protect them from what they suffered, he said to them: “If only you would leave for the land of Abyssinia, for there is a king there under whose [authority] none are oppressed and it is a land of integrity, until Allah makes an opening for you in [the plight] that you are in,”; thereupon, Muslims from his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) companions went to Abyssinia (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:172).

Thus, if the endurance of the Muslims, their forgiveness and pardoning of the idolaters was a scheme from the schemes of war, there would be no meaning to their migration to Abyssinia. When Abu Talib died and Quraysh began to persecute the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) more than ever before in the life of his uncle, he went to Ta’if and he exposed himself to the tribes, so Allah sent to him the people of Madinah as was previously mentioned, and Allah permitted His Messenger to fight and defend and take revenge from those who oppressed them and transgressed against them; thus, the first verse that was revealed on this is His statement: “Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom fighting is launched, because they have been wronged, and Allah is powerful to give them victory.” (22:39)

Ibn Ishaq said: “When Allah Almighty permitted him to fight, and this group of the Ansar followed him to help him and [to help] those following him and those Muslims who sought refuge with them, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ordered his companions from the emigrants of his people and those with him in Makkah to leave for Madinah and migrate there and join their brothers of the Ansar and he said: ‘Verily Allah has made for you brothers and an abode you will be safe in,’ so they left gradually. And the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) stayed in Makkah waiting for permission from his Lord to leave from Makkah and migrate to Madinah.” (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:257)

Hence, if his endurance of persecution and forgiveness and pardon of the enemy was due to it being a form of resistance, a scheme from the schemes of war, none of this would have meaning as is not hidden. And if his endurance and the endurance of those with him of the Muslims was to seek kingdom and authority, as these fools from the Congress claim, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would not have rejected ‘Utbah ibn Rabiah’s offer when he said to him: “O my nephew, you are one of us as you know, of the noblest of the tribe and hold a worthy position in ancestry. You have come to your people with an important matter, dividing the community thereby and ridiculing their customs, and you have insulted their gods and their religion, and declared that their forefathers were unbelievers, so listen to me and I will make some suggestions, and perhaps you will be able to accept one of them.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) agreed, and he went on, “If what you want is money, we will gather for you out of our property so that you may be the richest of us; if you want honour, we will make you our chief so that no one can decide anything apart from you; if you want sovereignty, we will make you king, and if this ghost which comes to you, which you see, is such that you cannot get rid of him, we will find a physician for you, and exhaust our means in getting you cured of it,” or words to that effect.

The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) listened patiently, and then said: “Now listen to me, ‘In the Name of Allah, the compassionate and merciful, ha mim, a revelation from the Compassionate, the Merciful, a book whose verses are expounded as an Arabic Quran for a people who understand, as an announcement and warning, though most of them turn aside not listening and say, Our hearts are veiled from that to which you invite us.‟ (Qur‟an 41:1-5).” Then the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) continued to recite it to him. When ‘Utbah heard it from him, he listened attentively, putting his hands behind his back and leaning on them as he listened. Then the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) ended at the prostration and prostrated himself, and said, “You have heard what you have heard, Abu al-Walid; the rest remains with you.” (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:155) [Translation extracted from Alfred Guillaume‟s The life of Muhammad, pp. 132-3]

Thus, can anyone with a grasp of intellect say the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would endure the persecution of Quraysh and forgive them and pardon in order to seek leadership and to eliminate their supremacy or he would do that to resist the enemy by endurance and nonviolence, whereas they would offer to him leadership willingly with his authority over them if he were to abandon dividing their community and ridiculing their customs and insulting their gods and their religion, and they never requested from him to leave his religion for their religion, nor to leave calling people to his religion, and they only asked from him to abandon dividing the community by insulting their religion and ridiculing their customs and attributing error to their forefathers?

Ibn Ishaq said: “Then when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) openly declared Islam to his people and proclaimed it as Allah commanded him to (15:94), his people did not disown him and they did not reject him according to what has reached me, until he mentioned their gods and criticised them; and when he did this they deemed him a great [threat] and denounced him and resolved to oppose him and show hostility to him, except those that Allah protected by [making them] accept Islam, and they were few.” (Sirah Ibn Hisham, 1:138)

You may [even rightly] say that the people were offering him obedience and were satisfied with him being a ruler over them had they made an agreement of composite nationalism between him and them whereby no one interferes with another in the matter of his religion, he does not insult him, accuse him of error, insult his religion, and all people are equal in the freedom of consciousness and belief, so the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) rejected this and refused but to complete his light even if the disbelievers disliked it (Qur‟an 61:8).

In all of this is the greatest proof of the invalidity of composite nationalism which the fools of our times claim is established by the Qur‟an and Sunnah, and is the clearest proof that the endurance of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) of the persecution of his people and his forgiveness and pardoning them was not in order to seek leadership, nor to break the supremacy of the enemy thereby, rather to accomplish the proof and to spread the message and prove that he does not desire the gains of the world but only wants rectification [of people] as much as is possible (Qur‟an 11:88).

Such was the pattern of Allah with His Prophets that they were tried with the persecution of their peoples firstly, then they were patient, then Allah decided between them and their peoples and He is the best of deciders.

Do you not see Musa (upon him blessing and peace) and his people, how Pharaoh and his people persecuted them? They afflicted them with a horrible torment, killing their sons and sparing their women (Qur’an 2:49) so they endured this for a while, and their endurance was not a resistance of the enemy, rather in obedience to the command of Allah that He may try them, and until the trial was complete and the tribulation was widespread, Allah caused Pharaoh and his people to drown, and His “sublime word was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they stood patient” (7:137) “and We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people used to build and what they used to raise high.” (7:137)

Thus, whoever claims that the endurance of Musa and his people was a part of nonviolent resistance, he has caught himself in ignorance. If that were so, Allah would not have drowned Pharaoh and his people; rather, He would have commanded the Children of Israel to endure and always forgive until their patience destroyed the kingdom of Pharaoh and shook its foundations and destroyed its structure.

Since it was not so, analogise this to the endurance of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his companions; for al-Bukhari narrated from Khabbab ibn al-Arat, he said: We complained to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) while he was reclining on a garment in the shade of the Ka„bah and we faced harshness from the idolaters, saying: “Will you not pray to Allah?” So he sat up with his face having turned red, and he said:“There was a man from those before you, for whom a [ditch] was dug in the earth, and he would be placed therein, and a saw would be brought and placed above his head and he was split in two, and that did not deter him from his religion; and [another] was raked with iron combs that removed his flesh from his bones and sinews, and that did not deter him from his religion. By Allah! Verily, this matter [of Islam] will be fulfilled, until a rider travels from San’a to Hadramawt not fearing [any] besides Allah, or a wolf [devouring] his sheep, but you haste.” (Mishkat al-Masabih, pp. 447)

Do you, then, believe that this endurance and tolerance of suffering was a desire for leadership? Never! Rather, it was so Allah exposes the patient (Qur’an 3:142), and distinguishes between the truthful and the liars (Qur’an 69:3), and then permits them to fight (Qur’an 22:39), suppressing thereby the disbelievers (Qur’an 3:141). So understand. Allah has authority over your guidance and He is the protector of the righteous.

Let this be the last sentence on the issues circulating on the tongues of the commoners in these days. To Allah is the complaint of what those affiliated with knowledge are perpetrating, of the distortion of texts and laws.

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