Why the Peshawar & Nairobi attacks are un-Islamic

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Civilians fleeing the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya Photo: PTI

In just the last couple of days, there have been two deadly attacks orchestrated by self-styled Muslims, killing many people—the attack on a church in Peshawar and a shopping mall in Nairobi. Attacks on, and persecution of, non-Muslim minorities have escalated in recent years in many Muslim-majority countries.

These attacks are nothing but an expression of frustration. The fact is that in the first half of the twentieth century, some Muslims started a struggle against their so-called enemies. But they completely failed in this endeavour. They then tried to destabilise their supposed enemies. What happened on 9/11 was an act of this kind. However, they failed in achieving anything there as well. Now, they have chosen soft targets, like churches and malls. Such acts only show the extent of their frustration. The only cause for these attacks can be found in these Muslims’ deep frustration due to their total failure. The time has now come for Muslims to take a U-turn. Taking a U-turn means accepting one’s own mistakes, but many Muslim leaders do not have the courage to openly accept their mistakes.

According to Islam, these attacks are clearly haram or forbidden. There is no justification for suicide-bombing in Islam. With regard to the bombing of the church in Peshawar, the attackers said that they were taking revenge for US drone strikes. But taking revenge itself is an un-Islamic act. According to Islam, the argument that these attacks are a legitimate answer to the oppression of others is completely baseless. Islam does not allow taking revenge by attacking innocent people – the concept of revenge itself is un-Islamic. But for the sake of argument, suppose that Islam does allow revenge. Then the act of revenge must be directed against those who are responsible for the killings for which revenge is sought. But those who were present in the church in Peshawar and in the mall in Nairobi were innocent. They were not involved in any kind of attack and did not kill people, so they cannot be subjected to revenge.

Attacks of this kind do not in any way solve the problems they claim to be a response to. Rather, they only exacerbate them. The claims of people involved in such attacks of representing and championing Islam are completely false. Islam does not give permission for such attacks at all. The blame lies not only on the attackers, but also their intellectual mentors. The real culprits are those leaders who have given a political interpretation to Islam. I think political Islam is the greatest evil in the present age. Such an interpretation has made the violence that Peshawar and Nairobi witnessed seem justified to those who carried it out.

Some Muslims quote, among others, the following Quranic verse to justify their hatred of non-Muslims: “O you who believe, do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (5:51). On the basis of their erroneous interpretation of this verse, they seek to stir hatred against people of other faiths. Once that happens, then it becomes easy for them to seek legitimacy for violence against non-Muslims. However, the fact of the matter is that their argument is completely wrong. The Quranic verse quoted above is neither about all Jews or Christians, nor can it be taken out of context. It was applicable to those contemporaries of the Prophet who were at war with him and must be read in that context.

It is a well-known fact that non-Muslims in every country think that Islam is a religion of violence. These kinds of negative opinions about Islam are absolutely wrong. However, it is Muslim leaders who are to blame for this and not non-Muslims. Attacks such as the ones Peshawar and Nairobi recently witnessed are bound to show Islam in an even more negative light. The image of Islam is already under threat, and such acts will only worsen it in the eyes of the world.

(Views expressed are the author’s own)


  1. The time has now come for Muslims to take a U-turn. Taking a U-turn means accepting one’s own mistakes, but many Muslim leaders do not have the courage to openly accept their mistakes and criticize openly and publicly such dastardly acts that only cowards can perform. That may be out of fear of reaction from these terrorists on their life. Actually, unless and until all the leaders of Muslim world together along with the clergy do not condemn and help each other to hang these terrorists with one voice and one action, these terrorists will continue to show their coward acts.


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