Should American Mosques Be Watched By The Government?

Some Americans worry that American mosques may be teaching hostility to America and encouraging terrorist attacks on the U.S. They want mosques to be watched by the government.

Since 2002, FBI undercover agents have been authorized to visit mosques to gather information about what’s going on in the Muslim community, even when there’s no evidence of illegal activity. However, electronic wiretaps can only be used when there is evidence of illegal activity.

In 2003, the FBI decided to count the number of mosques in various regions of the country, in order to help determine how many terrorism investigations and wiretaps were needed in each region.
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Are Western Civilians Legitimate Targets in War?

Osama Bin Ladin’s February 23, 1998 fatwa says, “The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim.”

Some American Muslims have responded to Osama Bin Ladin’s call. For example, in October 2004, an American Muslim from New York, James Elshafay, pled guilty to conspiring to blow up a New York subway station. In November 2007, an American Muslim from Illinois, Derrick Shareef, pled guilty to plotting to attack a shopping mall with hand grenades. In January 2009, an American Muslim from New York, Bryant Neal Vinas, pled guilty to providing Al Qaeda with information that could have been used to attack the Long Island Rail Road. In April 2010, an American Muslim from New York, Zarein Ahmedzay, pled guilty to plotting to bomb the New York City subway system. Ahmedzay told the judge that he planned to bomb the subway to pressure the U.S. military to withdraw from Afghanistan. In June 2010, an American Muslim from Connecticut, Faisal Shahzad, pled guilty to attempting to set off a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square. When the judge asked Shahzad whether he had realized that his car bomb could have killed children in Times Square, Shahzad said, “It’s a war. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. On behalf of that, I’m revenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.” The judge said that civilians in Times Square did not have anything to do with American foreign policy, and Shahzad replied, “The people select the government. We consider them all the same.” Shahzad told the judge he was a “Muslim soldier.” Shahzad said he chose a warm Saturday night in May 2010 for the bombing, because he knew that Times Square would be more crowded on a warm weekend night, so more people would be injured or killed. Several other American Muslims (and Muslims of other nationalities) have been convicted of plotting attacks against targets inside the U.S.

Many American and European Muslim scholars and organizations have repeatedly condemned attacks on civilians since the 9/11 attacks. Following the London bombings, the Fiqh Council of North America issued a fatwa stating, “Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram — or forbidden.” Read the rest of this entry »

According To The Qur’an, When Are Muslims Required to Fight, And Against Whom?

There are verses in the Qur’an instructing Muslims to use force in some circumstances. Along with being a religious and political leader, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a military leader. So when does Islam require Muslims to use force?

Are Muslims required to use force if they are attacked, or if other Muslims are attacked? Are Muslims required to use force to spread Islamic rule? Did the Prophet initiate violence, or did he only respond to it?

Muslims have answered these questions in various ways throughout Islamic history. Some Muslims have argued that Islam requires fighting when Muslims are physically attacked, or when Muslims are prevented from practicing Islam, or when Muslims are prevented from teaching others about Islam. Other Muslims have argued that Islam requires Muslims to fight until the world has come under Islamic rule. (This is different from forcing people to convert to Islam.)

The Prophet himself fought in various circumstances after migrating to Medina. Early on, based on commands from God, the Prophet fought the Meccan pagans who had forced Muslims to leave Mecca. Later on, based on commands from God, the Prophet fought some other pagans and some People of the Book. Some Muslims argue that God’s commands to fight applied only to the holy land of the Arabian Peninsula at a time when it was necessary to solidify the foundation of the new Islamic state, and that these commands cannot be used to justify fighting today. Other Muslims argue that these commands to fight apply everywhere for all time.

The following is a sampling of Qur’anic verses, translated by Yusuf Ali, relating to when Muslims should fight. (All of these verses were revealed after the Prophet left Mecca; Muslims were not permitted to use force before they left Mecca, despite the physical and economic oppression they faced while they lived in Mecca.) Read the rest of this entry »