Friday, February 13, 2009

Does the end justify the means?

From the Islamic point of view, that is, rather than the Machiavellian one.

It's a worthwhile question--can you do something that is haraam in order to achieve an admirable goal? I just recently heard a rather strange hadith (which has not been authenticated, so I won't relate it) that caused at least one person to draw the conclusion that it is okay to adopt a reprehensible method of obtaining a noble objective. Hearing it for myself, I didn't see at all how the person came to that conclusion.

But the more the discussion progressed, and it seemed that this was precisely the case (i.e., haram means for a good end), I remembered how my shaykh had recently mentioned more than once in recent classes that the end does not justify the means.

We were talking specifically about the seerah--the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). For years the Muslims were being persecuted in Mecca, and the Prophet (pbuh) was offered by his enemies leadership in the city, but he refused. It seems like a very strange decision, doesn't it? As it was, only the poor and weak were accepting his message, but maybe if he were in a position of authority more people would be guided to Islam. Right?

But he didn't accept it. I guess you could say that Allah had a plan, and it wasn't for the Muslims to become dominant by a deal with the mushrikeen. The Muslims were able to establish a state (i.e., in Medina) only through da'wah, because of people accepting Islam and accepting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as their ruler.

Nowadays we don't have the Islamic state, so our position is analogous to that of the Muslims in Mecca, before the migration to Medina. And yet, we (at least, most of us do, right? or some of us?) want an Islamic state, a khalifah, a way to implement Islam fully at all levels of society. That is the "end." And the "means" obviously are the different routes by which some people might attempt to establish such an Islamic state: democracy, perhaps, or a military coup, perhaps invasion, or some might even say jihad.

But when we look at the life of Muhammad, do we see any of those routes to establishing the Islamic state? Nope. What do we see? Da'wah--only da'wah. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not use any sort of military or violent jihad to establish an Islamic state--so how is it anyone can argue that we should do it today? We shouldn't, it's pretty simple.

The end does not justify the means.

And I've yet to see any evidence suggesting otherwise in any other part of life, in any other aspect of Islam. So I imagine the prudent path here is to ask Allah for forgiveness for our sins and mistakes in the past, and to make it easy for us to remain firm on the Straight Path.


The Queen said...

What was the goal of his violent military jihads then?

Amy said...

Jihad is a struggle, and force may be used against aggression and in order to protect the religion--i.e., to ensure everyone's freedom of religion, and to protect the spread of Islam.

The Queen said...

So then he DID use violent jihad for the sake of establishing an Islamic state? But it was justified and very necessary?

Amy said...

No. The Islamic state was established by da'wah, and only by da'wah--not at all by jihad. When Muhammad (saws) found a people willing to accept him, he migrated to that city. It was called Yathrib, and then became known as Medina. That was the establishment of the Islamic state.

No jihad. Jihad using force was not even permissible for the Muslims at that time.

The Queen said...

Oh right, they weren't allowed to use violence until their numbers were big enough not out of any moral aversion to violence but rather common sense that they would have been anhialated had they used violence at that time but as soon as their numbers were big enough they DID use violence and a LOT of it. There is no sugar coating the Islamic history, Muslims take too much pride in their battles to allow it to be ignored.

They are certainly using violence as a means to achieve their Islamic state these days don't they? See Pakistani news.

Amy said...

It seems you have a lot of anger at Muslims for some reason--maybe you would like to deal with that, instead of trying to find something sinister in Islamic history.

Violence is not allowed to be used to establish an Islamic state. That much is quite plain--anyone who argues otherwise is simply mistaken. Violence never was used to establish an Islamic state, and it can't be used now.

More to the point, if you're taking Pakistan to be the exemplar of Islamic behavior, then you have pretty much shot yourself in the foot as any sort of credible argument against Islam.

Sandy said...

My dear friend, I thought that there are cases where Lying is permitted. See Sahih Muslim, Hadith 63030-05
Humaid b. 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Auf reported that his mother Umm Kulthum daughter of 'Uqba b. Abu Mu'ait, and she was one amongst the first emigrants who pledged allegiance to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him), as saying that she heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A liar is not one who tries to bring reconciliation amongst people and speaks good (in order to avert dispute), or he conveys good. Ibn Shihab said he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them).

Amy said...


that particular hadith isn't specifically relevant to my discussion here. There are casing when what we might consider to be "lying" is actually permitted, but those cases are limited. We can't draw from that the conclusion that for a good end, any bad deed is possible.

For instance, choosing to be a music performer to lead people to Islam. A woman meeting privately with a man to give him da'wah. An unmarried man and woman riding a bicycle together in order to give da'wah. It's not acceptable to delve into the realm of haraam activities in order to achieve a noble aim, and in fact doing so only corrupts the end result.