Entries for August, 2009

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.”
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Did Daniel Patrick Boyd Have A Religious Obligation To Fight Israeli Soldiers And Settlers?

The arrest of Daniel Patrick Boyd – on charges that he plotted to support Palestinians by attacking Israel – has renewed a debate among some American Muslims: If Muslims overseas are oppressed by people of other faiths, what religious responsibility do American Muslims have to assist those Muslims?

The Recitation (or Qur’an) instructs Muslims to protect other Muslims who are oppressed. “And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!’” (4:75)

Some American Muslims believe that this verse is applicable to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians (and to other situations in various parts of the world). Boyd’s apparent willingness to fight the Israelis has won him quiet sympathy from some American Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »