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14 September 2011

An Islamic peacekeeping force

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By Ali Bula

The Muslim world is increasingly exposed to military interventions by Western powers. Western countries resort to these military interventions using non-existent weapons of mass destruction or repressive regimes as their pretext, then exploit the natural resources of the Muslim world once again. To avert this, we must create an Islamic peacekeeping force to help us handle our own problems without external interference. This is a mandatory command of the Quran:

"If two parties of believers fall to fighting, make peace between them [and act promptly]. But if one of them aggressively encroaches the rights of the other, then fight you all against the aggressive side until they comply with God's decree. If they comply, then make peace between them with justice and be scrupulously equitable. Surely, God loves the scrupulously equitable." (49:9)

While disputes may arise among Muslims, Islam forbids them from evolving into violent conflict. However, in practice, many conflicts have occurred and continue to occur between various Muslim groups. The above-mentioned verse from Surah al-Hujurat assumes that conflicts will occur however unfavorable they may be.

Conflicting Muslim groups act in breach of God's intention. Nevertheless, large Muslim groups and even Muslim states may fight each other, as in the Iran-Iraq War. These conflicts are not endorsed in any way by God. Therefore, Islam urges Muslims to establish an organization to settle and prevent such conflicts.

This organization should act as a third party in case of conflict, issuing necessary warnings, providing advice to the relevant parties and showing the aggressive party how it is wrong. People will backpedal from error when they realize they are wrong, and this is what suits Muslims. If the erroneous party does not do this and persists in its aggression even after realizing it is wrong, then it will exceed its limits and deserve physical intervention. In such a case, war would be conducted to eliminate the unjust action from the aggressor. Unfortunately, this does not work in practice, and many Muslims violate the rights of their sisters and brothers under the influence of various group feelings.

War is permissible against an aggressor until it agrees to make peace. Muslims should be fair and equitable in their actions against the aggressor and should impose only the assigned penalty for the crime. If justice is not administered, then conflicts may flare up again. In the above verse, the operative word "qist" (justice) is used, as it refers to fair decisions and practices that eliminate tyranny and injustice and ensure that justice is administered.

In conflicts, both sides may be wrong or one may be wrong while the other is right. In either case, an Islamic peacekeeping force should intervene.

Another key term in the Quranic verse is "baghy," which implies that conflicts arise mainly due to jealousy, emotional rivalry – competition among families, communities, sects, races, nations or states – and a breach of rights in connection with such competitions. Etymologically, it means "jealousy and transgression." Thus, if one tries to rise up higher than or dominate his sisters or brothers, he is in the grip of "baghy." Therefore, a force that is supposed to establish peace and justice must distinguish between the aggressor and the victim and stand against the aggressor. This is to "comply with God's decree."

Such a force could be established within the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The force would be able to negotiate disputes and distinguish between the aggressor and the victim and issue binding decisions about the dispute at hand, using force to implement those decisions.

It must be noted that such a force is needed not only for conflicts among Muslim countries or states, but also for disputes between regimes and peoples as well as for social uprisings. As with the cases of Iraq and Libya, the West is invading Muslim countries under the pretext of eliminating repressive regimes in order to confiscate their natural resources and make them dependent by destroying their infrastructure.

You may believe this proposal is a dream, but it is not. Rather, it is imagination etched into history. One day capable Muslim generations will come and implement it.

(Courtesy: Today’s Zaman)

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