Translated by Editorial Staff
The interviewer: welcome again in our show “The word of God”, we are going to talk here with Swami Lakshami Shankaracharya. Shankaracharya ji! I welcome you again in our show; you have talked in our show on many subjects. Today we have an important topic that has a lot of conversations and disputes, an issue that creates continuous debates in our society and all over the world, that is Jihad. Now people attribute terrorism to Islam that has no relation with any religion. There are efforts to relate it to Islam directly. That has many reactions and there are many misunderstandings about this issue. It led to many wars and hundreds of thousands people were killed. We would like to benefit from your study on Islam and from your knowledge about other religions that have instructions and causes for fighting similar to Jihad. If there are words, Shlokas or something of this kind then please, explain to us so that we can clear in a comprehensive manner the misconceptions of the people abut this issue. You can explain for us in full detail.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: We should bear in our mind that the concept of Jihad is nothing new in this country (India). Before the advent of Islam, this country (India) had fought wars, I can give you an example for this that is the story of Mahabharat. Jihad means religious war, if we are eager to understand it in detail we should refer to the history of Mahabharat. When Korus oppressed Pandus, there was discussion between both parties in order to end the injustice. At last they concluded that five villages must be given to the five Pandus as well as Kirishn Ji also suggested that. The Pandus were five so they deserved five villages. Thus, the dispute will come to its end, but Yudhishtra the leader of the korus refused the suggestion and said: giving five villages is an impossible matter; rather, if you want to take even a little piece of the land as small as the threading hole then you have to fight a war or a face a battle. Therefore, if all possible means of talks and conversation fail, and when the injustice and untruth become on the peak war becomes a need. Moreover, when war becomes necessary to defend the truth, then war is a religious duty because it is used for defending the truth and justice and not for any personal gain. Likewise, when the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Makkah spread the message of truth that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is a Messenger of Allah. However, people could not understand the message of truth and equality. In fact, the people of Quraysh were in power and authority, so they felt pride and arrogance. They were in arrogance of power and money and due to their arrogance, their power of perception was damaged and they began opposing him. Nevertheless, the message of truth was a universal reality not a personal one, although he was opposed, and all types of injustice were exercised, assaults on him and his followers continued for a long time about thirteen years, until he and his followers were compelled to migrate from Makkah to Al-Madinah. Even after their migration, they were harassed with many kinds of harassments, some talks took place, and a treaty was signed that is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah that was breached by them. When all methods failed, there was only one method to confront the terrorism of Quraysh. In fact, the terrorism that is attributed to Islam now Islam came to fight it.
The interviewer: Yes, this is an important point.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fought terrorism his entire life. The order of Allah came to confront the terrorism, it never was to oppose any person or religion. This was only to fight the terrorism; the intention was to fight the terrorists. No one fought terrorism as strongly as Islam fought it. The command of Allah came to fight the terrorism. Surah no. 22 and Verse no. 39 says:
Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.
Those who are fought without reason have been permitted to face them because they are oppressed, religious war is based on some strict regulations. It is not permitted to fight as one wishes.
The interviewer: You mean not like what happens these days, bombs are thrown from sky randomly, and a lot of innocents; children, women, old man and women are killed, and hundreds of thousands of people are murdered. This is the method of fighting terrorism nowadays. But what was the method (of war) those days according to your study?
Lakshami Shankaracharya: The method has been explained in the Glorious Qur’an, Surah no.2 and Verse no. 190 says: “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.”
So, old people, women and children would not be harmed, rather they must be protected. The war used to be fought in a regulated and disciplined manner. According to my study there were irregular wars over five or six years and there was more than one war but those who were killed or murdered during all those wars from both sides were less than one thousand. The total numbers who were killed in wars all over the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was less than one thousand. The war was very regulated and disciplined, because it was fought to protect the religion, the truth, the equality and self-defense. Therefore, according to my approach, the definition of Jihad includes every kind of effort and endeavor that is done to protect the truth, justice and to confront the terrorism and for self-defense, war is the last option in this effort.
The interviewer: When all options fail (the option of war comes).
Lakshami Shankaracharya: That is true. Please, let me complete. Nevertheless, why is Jihad mixed with the terrorism? As I have explained before, some Muslim rulers and others for their personal gains and benefits misused Jihad. You cannot use Jihad for your personal gain, but some used it for their personal use.
The interviewer: Yes, Jihad should not be used for land, power, expansion of the authority or for wealth. Jihad is only for the protection of the instructions or words of Allah, or when there are obstacles to practicing the religion then only the option of Jihad would be applied.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: Yes, of course. I have studied in history that Rana Sanga invited Babar to attack on Ibrahim Lodhi who was on the throne of Delhi. However, both Babar and Ibrahim Lodhi claimed Jihad. This was for personal gains. Such people defamed the name of Jihad for their personal benefits. This gave the historians and opponents of Islam a chance to present Islam in a bad manner.
The interviewer: What do you think about the incidents that happen in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Middle East and America? Many things happen in the name of terrorism and Muslims are often labeled with terrorism. Those people may be purchased persons or under pressure of some party who do not have any knowledge abut Islam and who have abandoned Islam. It is also possible that they commit such crimes in order to defame Islam for their business after they were purchased. What is your opinion about this issue?
Lakshami Shankaracharya: Of course, undoubtedly, I agree.
The interviewer: They are originally not Muslims, their dress and appearance may be like Muslims, such as beard, cap, long jubbah, but when they open fire it is not under the instructions of Islam, rather, they shoot in order to defame Islam.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: Of course, undoubtedly, indeed, it is true.
The interviewer: And they are very few people.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: It is unimaginable; I cannot imagine how can a Muslim open fires or commit suicidal attack on the people who are in mosque, in prayer, in prostration? No Muslim can do that and if a person commits it cannot be a Muslim. These incidents are carried out in order to spread hatred and detestation to defame particular religion. It is well planned but it is a foolish step; it will not lead the world to its wellbeing. If we want to spread peace in the world we must stop such incidents, we should endeavor to stop it.
The interviewer: What kind of efforts should be spent? What should be done with those people? The terrorism as we talked is the crime of some radical elements of any religion, but the steps that are taken to fight (the terrorism) such as wars again the innocents are killed. So the good does not win in both cases, rather, the sin is the winner and sins are increasing; the innocents are murdered. This is not something strange in the world.
Lakshami Shankaracharya: You are telling the truth, but I believe that evil can’t defeat the good. It may appear for us for a while, or it may continue for a short time, after that it will end by itself or the time will wipe it out.
The interviewer: Swami Ji! Please, explain for us in brief in the end; the people who try to label Muslims with terrorism, how can we convince them, or who try to attribute any religion to terrorism, how can we refute their misconceptions?
Lakshami Shankaracharya: We would like to mention here what I am doing, I explain Islamic issues, but I receive threats from some Hindus, there were attempts to murder me, it was in Maharashtra, and the attempt was made in the morning and in the evening. But why they do that? The reason is the present situation as you mentioned that some people try to accuse Islam of terrorism, and I also understand that some try to defame Islam or some Muslim brothers do that who do not know about Islam any thing, and do in foolishness, due to that Hindu community that watches the attacks think that we are talking lies. So they are angry with us, their anger is natural, we do not censure them, their anger is a result of the situations that they see. So I appeal them not to see Muslims in order to understand Islam rather, they should look at Islam itself. As they are angry with me now the same I was angry with those who would try to reconcile but when I realized the reality I became satisfied that they are foolish and do not understand anything.
The interviewer: You are right, Swami Ji! We will end our talk here. Thank you very much; you gave us your time. Our audience! We end our talk here, see you again. May Allah protect you.