Why is ‘division’ or Fitna such a serious crime in Islam?
CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Aug. 18, 2016:
In the West, some tend to dismiss the threat of Sharia law, claiming incorrectly that it applies only to Muslims.
However, this is far from the truth. Let’s take a look at a recent example from the ‘moderate’ country of Jordan. Nahed Hattar, a Jordanian writer, turned himself into authorities after Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki called for an investigation of an ‘offensive’ cartoon that surfaced on Facebook.
This cartoon which allegedly shows the “God of Daesh” serving a jihadi in paradise is translated by Anwar el-Iraqi, an Arabic Affairs analyst for the Clarion Project:
In Green: In paradise…
Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”
Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”
Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”
Hattar– who is a non-Muslim— said he posted the drawing to ridicule terrorists and their perspective on God and heaven and did not intend for it to be an insult to God.
Another article by Al Jazeera reveals that, in addition to mocking ISIS, Hattar was also exposing the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (which has demonstrated support for Hamas) is a major Islamist force within Jordanian society and has been known to stir up social unrest and exploit the anger of Palestinian Jordanians for the Brotherhood’s political gain.
Khaled Qudah, a media expert, explains to The Jordan Times that, “Hattar can be detained pending further investigation for violating article 150 of the Penal Code that bans contempt of religions and also for violating the Electronic Crimes Law[.]” Qudah continues,
What Hattar did incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division… Preserving national security and social harmony and the public interest comes before freedom of expression even in international law. [Emphasis added]
Outside the context of Islamic law, we might be incredulous about be how a cartoon aimed at exposing radical Islam could be considered a threat to a Muslim nation’s national security.
To understand what he meant in the Islamic context, though, requires a closer look at the words used to describe the offense. The mocking cartoon, Qudah said, “incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division.”
The incitement of division is a primary concern in Islam, as it relates to the stability of the Islamic regime. This concept is called “Fitna.” In the Historical Dictionary of Islamic Fundamentalism, Mathieu Guider defines it this way:
The Arabic term fitna refers to a division within a Muslim nation (umma) that includes a test of faith that can even lead to rebellion, chaos, or sedition. Historically, it is derived from the first Islamic civil war that occurred following the assassination of CaHph Uthman in 656. This war, which lasted from 656 to 661, was called the fitna. The term has since been used to describe a period when a Muslim community becomes unbalanced and then fragmented.
Moreover, it can mean that a person or group intentionally causes upheaval between people to create a situation to test the peoples’ faith. Fitna is also often used to illustrate a group that has undergone extreme moral and emotional grievances that then may compromise their faith and lead to a greater focus on material or worldly gains rather than spiritual ones.
For example, the Arab Spring has been qualified in Saudi Arabia as a fitna because it can weaken the community from within. The duality that occur s when being affected by a rebellion or a revolution is what can tempt Muslims to shy away from or even deny the authority of the Muslim leaders who are ruling in the name of Allah. Also, the temptations brought on by Western societies are another example of how division can occur.
The fear of fitna by the fundamentalists is a major reason why secular or pluralist governments are forbidden by sharia (Islamic law). The elements of such forms of government are seen to give too much temptation and lead to an inevitable division among the umma. For Islamic fundamentalists, there is only one true party: the Party of Allah (Hizbullah). This is so important because the Islamic state is based on the rhetoric of solidarity and unification. [Emphasis added.]
Especially when we see the seriousness with which this offense is taken in Islam, it’s clear that fitna is a concept that has a lot more in common with what we would consider the “political” rather than the religious.
Another major reason for such laws is essentially to protect Islam – which is why we aren’t seeing Muslims being thrown in jail for blaspheming the name of Christ, for example. Or when a member of Jordan’s Parliament, Khalil Attieh, displayed his hatred of Jews on television in 2014 by stating, “By Allah, it is an honor to incite against the Jews…”
We have seen before how Jordan’s King Abdullah has declared,
I am a Muslim and we are all Muslims, and extremists do not represent Islam. Our duty is to protect the reputation of Islam and Muslims.
Abdullah sees ISIS as on the periphery of Islam and seeks to delegitimize them; however, his government is going after an image that mocks ISIS’s alleged view of God and heaven.
Apparently, ISIS’s views on these matters aren’t as twisted as Jordan claims them to be in regards to Islamic beliefs.
If Jordan is seriously attempting to represent a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, why won’t they make this an opportunity to show how jihadists– who murder people so they can enjoy fleshly desires in paradise while being catered to (as portrayed in the cartoon)– have no place in their version of Islam?
Jordan is essentially upholding blasphemy laws that legitimize ISIS’s radical Islamic ideology. Just how disgusting is this ideology? It justifies the boiling of six men in containers of tar for being “accused of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces[,]” and the killing of twenty-five people by forcing them in a tub of nitric acid for supposedly “spying and collaborating with Iraqi security forces[.]” Shouldn’t these be the guys Jordan seeks to prosecute?
According to Al Bawaba, public outcry over the cartoon ensued on social media and not only were some Twitter users insulted, but also seemed concerned about “civil order[.]” Of course, being in a Muslim majority country they seem well aware of the hyper-sensitivity of mocking Islam, which is ultimately found in Islamic texts:
Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. –Quran 33:57
Narrated ‘Ali: The Prophet said, “Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the Hell-fire.” –Sahih Bukhari 1.3.106
Jordanian officials like King Abdullah help further advance this sentiment by denouncing insults to Islam like cartoons mocking Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and intimidating those who think about doing such things.
So, we have a supposed ‘moderate’ country in Jordan that punishes Muslims as well as non-Muslims for matters like blasphemy at fitna.
Even in places in Europe Sharia might not be the law of the land but because of fear of Muslim outrage the governing authorities may discourage or even punish those who make offensive or insensitive remarks about Islam – creating de facto blasphemy laws.