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Khan is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan. He
is on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Center for Balanced
Development and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
For a comprehensive resume
click here: Resume
Justice and Change
Dr. Muqtedar Khan
And Allah summons to the abode of peace, and leads whom He wills to the straight path.-- (Al-Quran 10:25)
That change is
necessary in the Muslim World, both political and socio-cultural, is an eminently
uncontested feeling. The issue that public intellectuals and policy makers must
contemplate is whether this change can be engineered peacefully or will it have to be
violent. Before we can reflect on any substantive issues regarding the impulse for change
and the form this change will take, we must examine the idea of peace and nonviolence
itself. What is the intrinsic value of peace and nonviolence? Are they to be valued in
themselves to such an extent that the fear of violence and instability in the process of
change compel us to indefinitely defer change?
And slay them wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places from where they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter.
The presence of
this verse in the Quran clearly precludes a complete prohibition of violence. The verse is
important because inspite of the enormous significance that the Quran attaches to peace
and harmony, it is categorical in its assertion that persecution is worse than killing.
There is nothing allegorical in this verse it is clear:
persecution is worse than killing (Al-Quran; 2:217). Else where
the Quran states: And fight them until persecution is no more (8:39). The Quranic
preference for struggle against persecution and its promise to reward those who struggle
in the path of Allah (4:74) means that the only way violence can be eliminated from the
Muslim World is by eliminating injustices and persecution. At the risk of sounding
tautological one is back at square one, in order that there be peace, there must be
change, can this change be peaceful? Perhaps we can minimize areas where violence can be
The Quran says: And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.
But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers (2:193). This
verse is very interesting for it limits retaliation against all except those who are
directly responsible for wrong-doing and also suggests that persecution could mean
religious persecution. Meaning that when the practice of Islam is prohibited it is a
condition that can be deemed as persecution and therefore fighting this persecution is
desired. This could have implications for conflicts among Muslim states and between Muslim
states and Islamic groups. Where citizens are allowed to practice their faith freely
violence is not an option.