FRIDAY SERMON : The ISIS’s Attack In Niger And How Islam Condemn Extremism And Terrorism! By Imam Murtadha Gusau

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In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.

Dear brothers and sisters, according to CNN, BBC and CBS news reports, ISIS has claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks on Niger’s military, which left 71 soldiers dead, 12 wounded and several many others missing.

The attack happened on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, when several hundred heavily armed militants ambushed soldiers at an outpost in Inates, in the west of the country near the Mali border.

Terrorist group, ISIS claimed on social media that it managed to seize the military base for several hours, and that it stole weapons and ammunition, including several tanks. But the terrorist group did not provide any evidence to support its claim.

According to the presidency’s official Twitter handle, President Mahamadou Issoufou who was in Egypt at the time the “tragedy” took place had to cut off his trip to return home.

Niger is a member of the G5 Sahel force of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad set up in 2014 to tackle insecurity.

Military investigation finds series of failures led to deadly Niger ambush.

The US and France have deployed soldiers to Niger to assist local troops with intelligence gathering and operations as it battles Boko Haram and al-Qaeda militants in the region. Niger also shares a border with Mali, where an al-Qaeda affiliate and other terrorist groups thrive in the vast desert.

The region has been beset by violence from suspected terrorist militant groups over in recent months. Thirteen French soldiers were killed in a crash involving two helicopters during an operation against terrorist fighters in Mali last month.

At least 53 soldiers died in a terror attack on a military camp in the country’s north-east in November.

Now respected brothers and sisters, please, what comes to your mind when you think of Muslims, what is the meaning of Islam and who is a true Muslim?

My beloved people, Islam is the religion which was revealed to all of the Prophets of Allah. And to be a Muslim, a person is required tosubmit to Allah by worshipping Him alone without partners,to obey His commandments and to keep away from all forms of evil and idolatry. Muslims refer to their Creator as Allah, the Onewho alone deserves to be worshipped.

Now who are the Prophets of Islam?

Muslims believe in the same Prophets as the Jews and the Christians. However, they also believe in the final Prophet who was born in Makkah in 570 CE. His name was Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Just like the Prophets before him, he invited the people to worship Allah alone. So Muslims believe in all of the Prophets of Allah such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon them).

Now how should Muslimsbehave around non-Muslims?

Allah and His Prophet (Peace be upon him) have instructed the believers to treat people with kindness, justice, mercy and good manners. The Qur’an states:

“Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who did not fight against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allahloves those who deal with equity.” [Qur’an, 60:8]

Dear servants of Allah, we often see Islam and terrorism mentioned together by some ignoramuses. So what does Islam say about terrorism?

Islam forbids all forms of terrorism. There are however some extreme groups who, in the name of Islam, terrorise both Muslims and non-Muslims. The most well-known of these militant groups are Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Taliban, Al-Shabab etc. These terrorist groups are called Khawarij in Islamic terminology. The title refers to those who rebel against Islam and the Muslim leaders. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) foretold their appearance and instructed the Muslims to stay away from them and to defend themselves if they attack them. They first rebelled against the Prophet’s Companions.

Why do terrorists (or Khawarij) groups look upon the rest of humanity and view them and their lives as worthless?

That’s because they believe they are the only ones left with any true faith in Allah, and everyone else besides them is an infidel, or an apostate whose life has no value. They see themselves as Allah’s chosen people who must punish all the “enemies of Allah” and cleanse the earth by the mass killing of Muslims andnon-Muslims alike in order to establish the Law of Allah as they see it. But what they do has nothing to do with the Law of Allah or the Qur’an and Prophetic way (Sunnah). These Khawarij are justmerciless killers who have no compassion andno true religion. They kill innocent, unarmedcivilians without any regard for life or faith. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“Whoeverdoes not show mercy to people, Allah will not show mercy to him.” [Muslim]

What are the signs of an extremist that I can identify?

1. He will constantly focus on the political situation in the Muslim lands,advocatinguprising and revolution.

2. He will vehemently criticise the Muslim leadersand ignorantly declare them to be apostateswho do notfollow ShariahLaw.

3. He will praisethe founders ofthe modern-dayextremepoliticalideologies suchas Osama Bin Laden, Sayyid Qutb,Hasan Al-Banna, Al-Maududi, Anwar Al-Awlaki, etc.

4. He will declare Muslims who contradict his extremist political viewsto beunbelievers (thisis calledtakfir).

5. He will glorify the acts of violence perpetrated byterrorists and insurgents, such as suicide bombings, beheading of hostages, killing of non-Muslims, kidnappings, etc. You will not hear condemnation of violent extremism or it’s figureheads from him.

If I see Muslim women in Hijab ormen with beards praying andbowing, should I be worried? Willthey try and hurt me?

You should not be worried at all. Muslims are commanded to dress modestly and pray five times a day, spend in charity, fast in Ramadan and do righteous deeds. So when you see Muslimwomen in Hijab, men wearing long shirts and growing beards, donot take these as signs of extremism. You should never confuse orthodox Islam with extremism. Many learned practising Muslims are the most vocal in opposing terrorism. Eating halal meat, praying five times a day, growing a beard and wearing a Hijab are not signs of extremism!

What should Muslims do if someone invites them to join an extremist group or is planning a terrorist attack?

They must tell someone in authority, tell a parent, a teacher, the police or any security agent. It is a duty in Islam to stamp out terrorism from our societies.

A sincere Muslim cannot stand by and let a criminal act take place. Allah and His Prophet have instructed Muslims to help stop oppression and the killing of innocent people.

The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

“There is not a people amongst whom sins are committed and they are stronger than those who commit them yet they do not prevent them except that Allah will punish all of them.”

True Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah are seriously against extremism!

Imam Ibn Taimiyyah said:

“The Khawarij (terrorists) are more evil to the Muslims Ummahthan others – and there is none more wicked to the Muslims than them, not the Jews nor the Christians. They strived to kill every Muslim who did not agree with them. They made permissible the spilling of Muslim blood, and the taking of their wealth and property, and the killing of their children, declaring them to be unbelievers. The Khawarij (terrorists) took this path as their religion due to their extreme ignorance and their misguided innovation…” [See Minhaj As-Sunnah, vol.5, page 248]

What does Islam say about Jihad?

Jihad in Islam is of various types. It is to strive in Allah’s cause; and this begins with striving against one’s soul in obedience to Allah; to learn Islam correctly from the right sources; to act upon what you have learned; and to teach that to others with patience, even if you suffer hardship in that path. So this is Jihad as the great scholar of the middle-ages Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim stated.

And from the types of Jihad is war upon the battlefield in a conventional and strictly legitimate war. An example of a legitimate declaration of war was the first Gulf War in 1990-91 after Kuwait was invaded by the Iraqi army under the leadership of Saddam Hussain. So Saudi Arabia defended its borders by the use of its recruited army in an alliance with other countries. The following are some of the important principles and guidelines of Jihad as agreed upon by the Muslim scholars:

1. War is declared by leaders who have legitimate governments and not by individual citizens, organisations, or terrorists, or insurgents, or preachers, or through social media!

2. This war must be for a just cause, in obedience to Allah, and for His worship.

3. Civilians cannot be killed or harmed in conflict and war. This includes securing the safety of all civilians: women, children, monks, emissaries, teachers, nurses, doctors, aid workers and so on. The claim of terrorists that all non-Muslims [and even Muslims who disagree with them] are legitimate targets goes against Islamic teachings.

4. One does not fight for personal gain, or tribalism, or to steal wealth, or for political partisanship, or to rape and pillage, or for repute, fame and adventure. The terrorists obligate what they call jihad in any situation and have thus hijacked the term. They fight without a legitimate leadership, they kill those whom it is not permitted to kill, Muslims and non-Muslims alike; they plant bombs in civilian areas; they kill themselves in suicide bombings, which is forbidden. They murder those whom the leaders have invited into countries under the guarantee of security and safety. So what they partake in cannot be considered as Jihad in any sense of the word.

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rabi’ul Thani 23, 1441 A. H. (December 20, 2019).

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