Why Did Prophet Muhammad Go To War?

Since 9/11, there has been a lot of discussion about whether Islam requires Muslims to use military force to spread Islamic rule, and whether Islam therefore poses a threat to America and the West.

Many people point to the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a military leader who was involved in several wars, and that Islamic rule spread throughout the Arabian peninsula during the Prophet’s lifetime. They also note that later Muslim rulers, claiming to follow the example of the Prophet, engaged in wars to spread Islamic rule in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and Europe.

There’s no doubt that later Muslim rulers used force to spread Islamic rule. But Muslims today are divided about the Prophet’s personal legacy regarding justifications for the use of military force. Some Muslims argue that the Prophet used military force to spread Islamic rule, so that is the example that Muslims must follow today. However, other Muslims argue that the Prophet used military force only for self-defense of the small Muslim community, so that is the example that Muslims must follow today. Read the rest of this entry »

Would Being Neutral, Between Palestinians & Israelis, Make America Safer?

For decades, the U.S. government has sided with Israel over the Palestinians. The U.S. has given Israel over $140 billion in money and weapons (which Israel has used against Palestinians and other Muslims). The U.S. has provided public and diplomatic support for Israel’s military actions (against Palestinians and other Muslims), prevented Security Council criticism of Israel, prevented international scrutiny of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, and blamed the Palestinians for provoking all conflict with Israel. Furthermore, the U.S. has tried to pressure the Palestinians to accept Israeli demands on Jerusalem, borders between Palestine and Israel, settlements in the West Bank, and Palestinian refugees; and the U.S. has blamed Palestinians for the failure of the parties to successfully negotiate a peaceful resolution. American leaders have said that America’s “special relationship” with Israel makes America safer.

As a result of American support, Israel has become the regional superpower, and the Palestinians are weak in comparison. But desperate and angry Palestinians continue to resist, Israel has not been able to beat the Palestinians into submission, and the region remains tense. Every few years, a major battle breaks out, followed by a ceasefire. After decades of American support for Israel, neither Israelis nor Palestinians have peace or security.

Is it in America’s best interests to continue to throw America’s full support behind Israel?

Or is it in America’s best interests for America to take an even-handed approach between the Israelis and Palestinians? For example, should America equally fund the Israelis and Palestinians? Should America criticize and withhold aid from whichever side is at fault when there is violence? Should America offer independent proposals, and use American aid as an incentive, to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable compromise in their difficult disputes? Read the rest of this entry »

American Muslims And The 9/11 “Truth Movements”

There are two major viewpoints among American Muslims regarding 9/11:

1. Many American Muslims believe that no Muslims were involved in the 9/11 attacks, and that the U.S. government and/or the Israeli government actually organized the 9/11 attacks. These American Muslims believe the U.S. government and/or the Israeli government acted in this way in order to justify the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and to justify a crackdown on civil liberties in America.

2. Many American Muslims take a completely different view. They believe that a group of Muslims carried out the 9/11 attacks, because that group of Muslims opposed American foreign policy towards the Muslim world.

American Muslims are not alone. There are two American “truth movements” actively promoting views like those described above, but neither of these “truth movements” has received enough support to really make an impact. Ironically, very few American Muslims actively support either of these “truth movements.” Read the rest of this entry »

Do American Muslims Think The Afghan War Is Worth Fighting?

How do American Muslims feel about the war in Afghanistan? Do American Muslims want to see a strong U.S. force in Afghanistan that can decisively defeat the Taliban? Or do American Muslims want U.S. troops out of Afghanistan now? Read the rest of this entry »

Did Kobie Williams Have A Religious Obligation To Fight American Troops In Afghanistan?

In August 2009, an African-American Muslim from Texas, Kobie Williams, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison after pleading guilty to getting paramilitary training in Houston so he could prepare to join the Taliban and fight against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and donating $350 to the Taliban. (Several American Muslims have been convicted on similar charges.)

Williams’ case has renewed a debate among some American Muslims: If the U.S. invades a Muslim country, whose side are American Muslims supposed to be on? What religious responsibility do American Muslims have to assist Muslims whose country is invaded by the U.S.?

John Floyd, William’s lawyer, said Williams was angered by the killing of Muslim civilians in Afghanistan. At the time of Williams’ arrest in 2006, Floyd said, “There is a certain segment of the Muslim population, especially among younger men, who are very upset about affairs in the Middle East and the [Bush] administration’s handling of those affairs. They truly believe that defending those Muslim countries invaded by outsiders is not only justified under Islamic law but is obligatory. I can’t tell you whether Kobie reached that level, but I know from researching these issues that it’s not a widespread or commonly held belief among Muslims in this country, but does exist among a certain small segment of the youth.”
Read the rest of this entry »