Editor’s Note: Today is the UN’s Human Rights Day and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meanwhile, over the weekend, US-authored resolution condemning the terror group Hamas was blocked. Although the resolution won 87 to 57 (with 33 abstentions), it did not meet a 2/3 majority requirement that was put in place with the support of the Arab countries just before the vote.
Bahrain was one of the countries that voted against the resolution. Yet, the same day, Bahrain tweeted that Hezbollah was a terrorist organization and that Israel should not be blamed for “getting rid” of the threat from their terror tunnels. Are we to conclude that Bahrain thinks that when terror groups are Sunni, they are not to be condemned but when they are Shiite, they are??
What should one say to Islamists who believes that the pursuit of jihad is their right, their “freedom of religion?”
A human right is a right that is believed to belong to every person regardless of race, sex, nationality or religion. They are rights which include, but are not limited to, the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of opinion, expression and religion.
They are rights which we, as free people, often take for granted. However, what if something you believed to be a basic liberty interfered with another’s freedoms? Would that qualify as a human right?
Like any religion, Islam is comprised of several schools of thought. However, among Muslims, there seems to be a fundamental principle that all believers heed: jihad.
The word jihad literally means “struggle” and is said to compliment Islam’s five pillars, or foundations, serving as an honorary sixth. While some Muslims understand jihad as a struggle within, modern jihadi ideology and politicized Islam interpret this struggle as a military one.
In the West, jihad has taken on a very specific connotation: terrorism.
Islamic doctrine cites several reasons that would justify military jihad: strengthening Islam, protecting Muslims against oppression, protecting the freedom of Muslims to practice their faith, righting a wrong and punishing an enemy who breaks an oath. In short, this makes jihad sound like a defensive right.
Is this what jihad really is? The right of Muslims to defend themselves against anything that encroaches on their belief system?
Take a Muslim nation. At first glance, it seems only natural for a country to have a “retaliation policy,” or simply put, a law code.
The United States has laws protecting its citizens from dangers to their liberties. In fact, the lack of such, one could argue, would promote anarchy. Furthermore, the First Amendment explicitly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Is it not hypocritical for the government to suddenly restrict precisely that?!
So why is jihad different? In doctrine, jihad may not sound incredibly threatening, but in reality (judging by today’s standards), it is.
Salafi jihadists believe that they can use violence and terrorism to service their political objectives. They do not believe that jihad is a passive and defensive struggle, but rather one that can and should be approached offensively. The crux of the problem stems from their willingness to harm others. This means to an end is simply unjustifiable.
Human rights are meant to protect an individual’s liberties, not harm them. Thus, if someone’s “freedom of religion” interferes with another’s physical well being, it cannot be upheld.
Jihad, in its Salafi interpretation, should have a zero tolerance policy. There is no room to defend it as a personal liberty, nor as a “right.” It is a perversion of religion and justice and has no place among civilized people.