The killing fields of Ramadan in Iraq

The Quran is explicit that it is forbidden for one Muslim to kill another; and the punishment for such a crime is damnation.

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Disgusted. This is the immediate impression upon receiving the news of this past Wednesday's bombing spree in Iraq. One day after official American combat operations ended in Iraq we receive news that co-ordinated bombing attacks in 10 locations throughout the country claimed the lives of more than 50 people in a matter of hours. Really? In Ramadan? Each and every target was a Muslim, including the women and children caught in the crossfire. The wounded and maimed were twice that number; each and every one of them Muslim.

These are not foreign combat troops who have invaded a sovereign nation in violation of international law to exploit its natural resources. Each and every one of these people was fasting. Each and every one of these people had plans for iftar that evening with their families. Where is this taking us? What type of logic is this? To anyone that may still be impressed with such actions, I say: You are an embarrassment.

The Quran is explicit that it is forbidden for one Muslim to kill another; and the punishment for such a crime is damnation. Islamic scholars have been under pressure to excommunicate any Muslim guilty of taking an innocent life in an act of terrorism. To this point, they have resisted such efforts out of deference to scholarly integrity. You see, to take an innocent life is a heinous crime and major sin that must be atoned for in the hellfire and its perpetrator subjected to capital punishment in this life - and their family to humiliation as an unintended by-product. But you see, none of this entails that the criminal has forsaken belief in God.

However, this is different. There exists a clause in Islamic law that anyone who rejects something necessarily known of the religion becomes a kafir (disbeliever). Anyone who would suppose it permissible to kill another Muslim would, by means of such a belief, put themselves beyond the pale. This is the reality behind the Prophet's statement that when two Muslims face off in conflict, one of them killing the other, both of them will be in the hellfire.

When will these ignorant people realise that in Islam, it's not about winning? It's about living one's life in harmony with the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad. It's about making the right choices in the circumstances that have been thrown to you. Part of that is knowing when to stop. Part of that is knowing how to accept defeat gracefully; without every principle of my faith also becoming a casualty. Truth may be the first casualty of war for a non-Muslim, but not a Muslim. No such war is worth fighting. If I win the battle having sacrificed and desecrated every principle given to me by my Creator (for whom I claim to fight), then I have failed, and I become a victorious loser.

Really? In Ramadan? Is this not enough to demonstrate that in no uncertain terms, terrorism can never be termed "Islamic"? Jihad Hashim Brown is director of research of the Tabah Foundation. He delivers the Friday sermon at the Maryam bint Sultan Mosque in Abu Dhabi.