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Posted on Jun 07, 2007 at 04:38 PM

Vigilante killing in Islam Jihad Watch reader A. M. frequently writes to me to tell me how wrong, wrong, wrong I am about Islam, which, he maintains, has within it none of the features that I keep asking Muslims like him to confront and reform. If they don't exist at all, considerably less work needs to be done -- although it remains to be explained how those pesky jihadists keep getting Islam so wrong, wrong, wrong themselves, and what stout fellows like A. M. plan to do about it. But anyway, A. M. took exception to the post below, writing this: ...this "Montreal man killed by his brother for being a bad Muslim" (and all other similar posts) is another example of how you try to make Islam look bad for bad acts done by Muslims. Just blame Islam for every bad act done by a Muslim, just why don't you?! Well, thanks for the offer, my good man, but no thanks. In reality we do not do that at Jihad Watch, and never have. Practically every day people send me stories of crimes involving Muslims that I do not put up, because there is no discernable jihad angle. These days lots of people keep sending me the story about the Muslim in Florida who dragged a woman four miles with his car. I will not put it up unless he says something like "I did it because she was a filthy kuffar." Otherwise, well, people of all races, colors and creeds commit heinous crimes every day, but they have nothing to do with our work here in defense of human rights unless they were committed by people who are out to destroy those rights and subjugate us if they can. And that's why I put up the story to which A. M. objected -- because Najib Bellari killed his brother because he was a "bad Muslim." However, A. M. also sent me a link to this, a Sunni anti-Shia polemic site of which A. M. is fond, where it is argued that "extra-judicial vigiliante justice was not permitted in Islam." A. M. argues on that basis that Najib Bellari's murder has nothing to do with Islam, and is an example of my egregious anti-Muslim bias. In reality, however, as with so many issues in Islam, it all depends on the meaning of words. What's a vigilante? The Shafi'i Sharia manual 'Umdat al-Salik says that "an expiation is due to Allah Most High from anyone who kills someone unlawful to kill..." (o5.1). However, "there is no expiation for killing someone who has left Islam" (o5.4). In other words, someone who kills is liable to punishment, but he isn't liable to punishment if he kills an apostate. And nothing at all is said about state authority. Now, Al-Azhar in Cairo, which has been praised for its moderation, endorses 'Umdat al-Salik as conforming to the "practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community." And it, among many other authorities (which I will produce upon request) asserts that there is no penalty for killing an apostate -- which seems to be something close to what Najib Bellari thinks he did. Here it is again, the same old story: instead of acknowledging the elements of Islam that are at variance with universally accepted norms of human rights, we get denial and obfuscation. So I post this as it may be instructive, and to call upon all self-proclaimed moderates like A. M. to stop their denial and to work for positive change within Islam, first by acknowledging that change is needed. For the culture that produced Najib Bellari will produce many more like him, unless the assumptions that led to his act are confronted and combatted within the Islamic community.

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