by John Andrew Morrow (Islamic Movement, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 12, Jumada' al-Ula', 1440)
In 2016, the Ministry of Awqaf of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs for the Arab Republic of Egypt published a work titled Church Protection in Islam in various languages. The work, which is dedicated to “Mr. President ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi, the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt,” one of the greatest violators of human rights on the planet, features a foreword from Professor Muhammad Mukhtar Jumu‘ah, Minister of Awqaf, an introduction by Professor Shawqi ‘Allam, along with articles by Prof. Muhammad Salim Abu ‘Asi, Professor ‘Abdullah al-Najjar, Professor Muhammad al-Jibali, Professor Muhammad Nabil Ghanayim, Professor ‘Abd al-Halim and Dr. Majdi ‘Ashur. If you read one, you have read them all, as they all essentially repeat the very same thing, quote the very same Qur’anic ayat, quote the very same prophetic hadiths, and use the very same arguments.
Protecting the church is an obligation in Islam. In other words, there should be no need for Muslims to even speak about it. They should simply act. They should defend the church, protect it from all aggression, care for its members, and support them permanently. This is what the Qur’an commands. This is what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), commands. To point out that Islam asks Muslims to protect the church is as silly as pointing out that the sky is blue and that clouds are white. God, the Most Compassionate and the Most Merciful, commanded Muslims to protect and defend all believers. To stress the importance of an obligation that should be well-known to every conscientious Muslim is simply senseless unless, of course, those who do so to seek some sort of revenue. Not only should such work be met with ridicule, it should be met with indignation and outrage. The Prophet gave a clear, direct, and unambiguous order. What these establishment scholars at the service of al-Sisi have done is too little and too late.
Why is it that Church Protection in Islam only appeared toward the end of the ISIS crisis? Muslims have been suffering from the savagery of salafi jihadism for centuries. The scholars who contributed to the work were not around 200 years ago; however, they have been Muslim leaders for decades. They have lived long enough to witness the horrors inflicted by the salafi jihadists upon Muslims and non-Muslims for decades in places like Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Nigeria, the Philippines, Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Niger, Mali, Kenya, Yemen, Cameroun, India, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Chad, Turkey, Mozambique, Iran, and elsewhere. Is it because these Egyptian scholars were bred by the Muslim Brotherhood? Or is it because they are court clerics and palace scholars who would never act on their own initiative and simply responded to a request from al-Sisi to combat domestic terrorism?
The answer to these important questions comes from one of the contributors himself, Professor Muhammad Salim Abu ‘Asi, the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic and Arabic Studies for Girls, al-Azhar University, Sadat City. He provides the following apologia for the takfiri Wahhabi terrorists who have raped, tortured, mutilated, mangled, and murdered thousands of Christians on a yearly basis over the past few decades, “For me, the reasons that some ignorant people, who have no good understanding, may be involved in violation against the non-Muslim places of worship are as follows:
1. Immature understanding of legal indication and lack of juristic integration in relation to the rulings of the People of the Book in the Islamic law, especially on the part of extremist groups;
2. Absence of a standard approach and an ideal method for studying the rulings of the People of the Book, [namely, Jews and Christians], which can highlight the differences between the work of a mufti and the work of the one who just cites rulings from traditional references. In addition, it is important to know the difference between the unanimously agreed-upon legal rulings and the debatable rulings and between the missionary rulings and the rulings within the area of the Shari‘ah-oriented political system. Speakers, who are not well versed in Islamic sciences, on issues related to the People of the Book lack this knowledge; and
3. Inconsideration of changes in conditions, times, persons, circumstances, and necessities as well as new information whereas the legal rulings follow their rationales in presence and absence” (pp. 20–22).
The man sounds like an advocate — the devil’s advocate, one must add — trying to downplay the demonic deviation of the salafi, takfiri Wahhabis. They are simply “ignorant people” who “have no good understanding.” They lack a “standard approach” to jurisprudence. They also fail to contextualize their legal rulings. Lovely. With friends like this, namely, court clerics and apologists for terrorists, we, Muslims, do not need enemies. They are already the “official leaders” of our religion! To add insult to injury, these scholars for dollars employ a supposedly religious and juristic language for the single purpose of treating others as if they were imbeciles. They use so-called technical language so that people with little education will say, “Wow. I don’t understand any of this but based on the terms used, it seems like the authors know a whole lot.” Ultimately, this is how people shamelessly accept falsehood, nonsense, and unjustifiable justifications.
We, of the Covenants Initiative, have bent over backward, using all resources available, and sparing no expenses, to expose so-called “Islamic terrorists” for what they really are: infidels, heretics, criminals, and psychopaths who, in addition, are avowed enemies of God, religion, and humanity. There is no doubt about it. We do not make excuses for them. We do not consider them to be “stupid young boys” as Hamza Yusuf does equating them with juvenile delinquents who stole candies, broke windows, and spray-painted brick walls. We hold them accountable for crimes against humanity that are unforgivable. And we hold accountable those who failed to fulfill their obligations and thereby allowed salafi Wahhabi takfirism to spread without an adequate response and rebuttal.
We, of the Covenants Initiative, financed with faith and armed with good intentions, have waged a grassroots public relations campaign to protect the image of the Prophet (pbuh), Islam, and Muslims in the eyes of non-Muslims. With arguments and evidence, we convinced scores of non-Muslims that true Islam protects the People of the Book and that takfiri terrorists were outside the fold of Islam. We were confronted, from day one, with so-called “traditional” Muslim scholars who insisted that takfiri terrorists were simply ignorant or misguided Muslims: they were sinners, but they were believing Muslims. Anyone who accepts this argument might as well believe the Snake in the Garden. A rapist may claim to be chaste; however, his actions show otherwise. As Imam ‘Ali al-Rida said, “Faith is belief in the heart, a speech of the tongue, an action by the limbs” (Majlisi). The Messenger of Allah himself made it clear that any so-called Muslim who persecuted and oppressed Christians was an enemy of God, the Prophet, and Islam. Such a person cannot be a Muslim. Such is the stance of the Covenants Initiative. But such is not the stance of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs for the Arab Republic of Egypt that continues to conceal The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World.
It may well be that the rediscovery of the Covenants of the Prophet clued these Egyptian religious authorities that they had now better turn in the direction of a new wind that is blowing. To mention the Muhammadi Covenants would mean that they ignored or occulted them, placing themselves in a poor light. Acting as they did, they have a slim chance to seem as if they had always taken this position. Clearly, if liars and cowards are forced by circumstances to tell the truth and do the right thing, this is not a good sign for their souls, but it is a good sign for the situation. The state of their souls is an affair between them and Allah (swt), but if the situation improves — whether or not the Covenants Initiative had a hand in it, or whether or not the Covenants of the Prophet get the credit — then al-hamdulillah!
When the hypocrites among the Quraysh embraced Islam after the liberation of Makkah, Allah (swt) may not have conquered their hearts, but he did restrain their hands: all praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, Owner of the Day of Judgement.