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Taking Stock
Un-Islamic acts of Muslim states
By Rizwan Ullah

Rizwan UllahRecently two Muslim countries, Iran and Iraq, have been exchanging thousands of bodies of prisoners they had been holding over a long period of time. They were the prisoners of the war the two Muslim states had fought through 1980 - 88 over a narrow channel. While the war ended in a draw, the two Muslim states between them had killed over a million Muslims and held an undisclosed number of them as prisoners. Some of them were exchanged over the period of more than a decade. No one can say for certain how many of them are still rotting on both sides. The bodies being exchanged are said to be mere skeletons which cannot be recognised except through whatever is mentioned in the papers about each of them. No one knows whether those unfortunate soldiers were killed during the war or had been held prisoners and died during their incarceration. It can not be ascertained whether they died as a result of brutal torture they were subjected to by their Muslim captors. It is a shame for humanity, and more so for those who claim to be Muslims.

One may rightly ask which Islam allows to hold prisoners until they are dead and retain their bodies until they are decomposed beyond recognition? If they committed crimes during the war, and it had been proved, then they should have been punished according to the Islamic law or under the international conventions regarding prisoners of war. In case they were dead, their bodies should have been returned at the earliest. If they had completed the term of imprisonment they should have been immediately sent to their countries. 

In any case the bodies should not have been retained till they were reduced to mere dust and the marks of probable torture wiped off. This is the case between Iran and Iraq. No wonder, if other neighbours, all Muslims, and mostly at loggerheads, have been similarly holding prisoners or their bodies. 

Thanks to media, extreme cases of torture and inhuman activities have come to light in various parts of the world, including our own country in recent days and months. This indicates that as civilisation is taking strides in all directions of development man is becoming more and more dehumanised. 

More so the Islamic man. But my question is why Iran and Iraq did what they did, still claiming to be the followers of Islam, claiming to stick to the tenets of a faith which says that bodies should be treated with respect and disposed of at the earliest, so that they are not decomposed. How can such people expect others to listen when they talk about high principles? 

This leads to other questions. Had these countries possessed weapons of mass destruction, would they have spared their neighbours? Would their neighbours ever feel safe while they would be in possession of such weapons? Does not Islam enjoin upon Muslims that their neighbours should never be threatened by them? Today every neighbour of a Muslim state feels threatened. Is it Islamic behavior? Many countries are guilty of cruel acts. The more powerful, the more cruel. Here the only question is, should Muslim countries indulge in what Islam has forbidden?

We know that an irrational attitude is growing worldwide against Islam. If an individual or a group of people commit an unlawful act they will be blamed or held responsible for it, but if he happens to be a Muslim the whole world of Islam will be made a subject of criticism and condemnation. One would not mind what Iranians and Iraqis did to each other, but for the fact that Muslims in general are chided and taunted for their unholy acts. We have suffered indescribable cruelties in what are erroneously called communal riots, but in fact are acts of state terrorism. But we have never attributed it to Hinduism as such. We condemned them as acts of vandalism overlooked by state authorities (or sometimes indulged in by them) rather than the acts of whole Hindu society having sanction from the faith itself.

The saying goes that people get what they deserve. Muslim countries despite their riches and manifestations of worldly power, could not attain a position where they could influence important world developments. In many matters where their interests are at stake, their voice is not heard. Does it mean that they do not deserve the possession of that power and position which the world must take seriously? If that is the case, then it should be made plain to all Muslims

Let me digress a little some misconceptions should be thoroughly clarified and publicised by all available means. The most important one is the confusion over concept of jihad. In fact, in present day parlance, it is close to the Western concept of an aggressive movement. By calling political movements jihad, an element of faith is in most cases unnecessarily injected into it. Than ends up maligning Islam. 

The next thing which should be thoroughly discussed is whether suicide, strictly forbidden by Islam, is permissible under any circumstances? As we know, suicidal attacks are becoming a day-to-day affair. Muslim ulama should come forward with their frank opinions on this issue. 

We know that in Afghanistan ulama gave their sane and well-considered advice to the Taliban to save them from the decimation they finally met with. I believe that ulama should not hesitate in giving their opinion clearly on the issue of suicide attacks as it is directly related to peace in the Muslim world and the survival of many, who could otherwise serve their people and the world better.

Unfortunately, Muslims as individuals, and as people and country, find themselves face to face with a hostile world. This is not a sudden development. It is the out- come of a long and well-planned campaign against a particular concept of criminalised life presented by Islam, which forbids all forms of exploitation. In such circumstances deviations of Muslims from Islamic principles are also attributed to Islam. It is perfectly rational to desist from un-Islamic acts and defend Islamic principles through adopting a middle course and avoiding extremism while dealing with others on controversial issues. Charity should begin at home.
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