Imam Zaid Shakir: Marine Barracks Bombing Not Terrorism

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The comment was made in an undated lecture posted on YouTube titled, "Jihad: A Just Struggle or Unjust Violence?" It is not known when the lecture was given but clips from it first appeared in 2009.

Shakir defined terrorism as “random violence directed against a civilian population to affect a political outcome.” He cited the Israeli bombing of Beirut in 1982 as acts of terrorism and Hezbollah’s bombing of the Marine barracks as a military operation.

“Hezbollah’s bombing of the Marine barracks in 1984 is viewed as one of the greatest acts of terrorism directed against Americans until the Oklahoma City [bombing] in history, but if we step back, who was targeted? Civilians? No, military personnel in a military installation in a war zone,” Shakir is seen saying at about 17 minutes into the video.

“It’s interesting go ask a question, if Hezbollah owned a bomber, which they don’t, and flew overhead and bombed the barracks, would it be described as an act of terrorism?” he asks.

Shakir said that jihad can mean a general struggle to do something good for Islam or a just war to protect Muslims.

“As Muslims, we are not pacifists, we are not people who believe there are not people who believe there are no circumstances which justify fighting…to achieve an honorable and noble objective. We believe in the idea of a just war,” he says.

Jihad does not justify a “perpetual revolution” of a violent nature, he explains. Jihad can be carried out when Muslims are oppressed or people, Muslim or non-Muslim, are too weak to defend themselves from oppressors.

Shakir says that “Muslims are the most terrorized people on earth,” giving Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Kashmir and the Philippines as examples, implying that jihad is approved in these areas.

Islam does not condone the killing of non-combatants and attacks inside the U.S. are not permissible because Muslims have been given a “covenant of protection,” according to Shakir.

In his view, Muslims are sometimes treated unfairly, like the “Blind Sheikh” who is in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but these cases are the exception, notthe rule. Until this treatment becomes the rule, Muslims are to advance Islam through preaching the faith.

He criticizes the belief that all non-Muslims are enemies, blaming it on the influence on non-Islamic ideologies like Marxism.

Shakir teaches that terrorism is a method used by those who are too weak to fight their adversaries through other means, making them sound like misguided freedom fighters who feel like they have no other options.

On September 28, 2012, Zaytuna College posted video of a lecture by Shakir and his two Zaytuna co-founders, Hamza Yusuf and Hatem Bazian, the latter of which is the chairman of American Muslims for Palestine. Shakir opened up his remarks by expressing his condolences for the family of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was killed by Al-Qaeda in Libya. He immediately followed that by expressing his sorrow for the families of eight women who, in his words, were “brutally murdered by NATO bombs in Afghanistan.”

Bazian spoke before Shakir and claimed that the “military-industrial complex” is behind the “Islamophobic production industry.”

“Those who are working on Islamophobia, they believe that the more hatred we have of Muslims in here, the more that we have reflexive hatred of Muslims abroad, thus authorizing or making the need for military action and the death and destruction more palatable to us without having to think we are actually killing humans,” Shakir’s colleague said.

Hamza Yusuf, who spoke third and is another Zaytuna co-founder, argued in favor of laws prohibiting speech that “mocks” religion.

"I want to argue that when the First Amendment, which is such a beautiful testimony to the ideals of this country, was enacted, there were dueling laws in the United States of America and the dueling laws were actually a caveat to make sure you didn’t use freedom of speech to abuse other people," Yusuf said.

He reiterated this belief during the question-and-answer session afterwards, citing incidents where artwork mocking Christianity were banned in the United Kingdom and Sweden and said anti-Muslim speech is a “present and imminent danger.”

Shakir’s website says he is “amongst the most respected and influential Islamic scholars in the West.” There is a quote on Zaytuna College’s website from Dr. Omid Safi of the University of North Carolina where he calls it “far and away the single most influential institution that’s shaping American Muslim thought.”

For more information about Imam Zaid Shakir, read ClarionProject.org’s previous reports about him:

What an Islamic Icon is Teaching American Youth

What's Being Taught in California at Zaytuna College

U.S. Muslim College Founder Against "Vilifying" Radical Islamic Group


Shakir's lecture at Northwestern University


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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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