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Op-Ed: Islam Mandates Abiding by the Peace Agreements

The writer, a Muslim, claims that Islam is not at war with the Jews. She does not assign blame to one side for the situation, but seeks to stop the bloodshed. A courageous stand by a woman of principle.
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 4:05 AM


As a Muslim, I do not want there to be war, and I want no military operations against Palestinian Arabs. However, I also do not want Israeli citizens living under the threat of rockets or suicide bombers, and I do not want rockets falling onto their homes and school gardens either.

For me there is nothing justifiable about bloodshed. I stand opposed to the warmongers who see war as a game, to those who "benefit" from war and I stand opposed to anyone who sheds blood. I don't discriminate among those who spill blood for what reason; I find it all wrong, I oppose whoever seeks solutions through violence.

I am not going to entertain the ceaseless debate of which side is right or wrong because for me both sides have their own reasons, excuses, wrongs and rights. But what is important is to stop this needless spilling of blood right away and permanently. Rather than taking one side and blindly blaming the other side, we must approach the matter with justice and work to overcome prejudice and educate people about their false beliefs and ideas so that we may stem the cycle of violence at its beginning.

This is such a sensitive issue that anyone personally hurt or otherwise effected might react to, but I feel the pain of both sides and since I am a Muslim, I have to clarify about some false ideas that have been taken for granted as "Islamic". What goes between Israel and 'Palestine' is an artificial conflict and what is more it is against Islam from several points. Let me put a few of them forth very briefly:

Relations with Jews- Muslims are not at war with Jews. According to the Qur'an, Jews have a special status as 'People of the Book' and Muslims can establish good relations with them through marriage and the sharing of food. Kosher food is also lawful for Muslims to eat and permission has been given for Muslim men to marry Jewish women. So from an Islamic perspective, this shows that there can be no obstacle to living together and in harmony, and this is clear evidence that enable the formation of warm human relationships and tranquil togetherness between Jews and Muslims.

War only for self-defense- From an Islamic point of view, there can be only defensive war and war is only an unwanted obligation when one's life, security and honor is under attack. Muslims do not attack, they can only defend themselves. War has to be inevitable at the point that one has to defend itself. Even if it is considered obligatory for self-defense, it has to be carried out with strict observance of humane and moral values. To put it in another way, God granted permission for war only for defensive purposes, and Muslims are warned against the use of unnecessary violence; "Fight in the Way of God against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. God does not love those who go beyond the limits." (Qur'an, 2:190)

In another verse, God commands justice and warns Muslims against feeling rage toward enemies so that their judgments are not impaired: "You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of God, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to heedfulness..." (Qur'an, 5:8) I don't accept any kind of hatred between people but even at those times when they are not strong enough to overcome their anger, they still are responsible to be just.

Protecting peace- When there is a peace treaty, both sides should adhere to the peace agreement meticulously, and commit not to attack to each other. Especially for Muslims, after making a peace agreement, according to the Qur'an one has to watch out to protect it and abide by it. This the way according to the Qu'ran. God says; "If they incline to peace, you too incline to it..." (Qur'an, 8:61) In the case of the Palestine-Israel conflict, when one side fires rockets at the other side, the other side is fully entitled (and obligated) to protect its citizens. If there is a peace agreement, in times of peace launching rockets from Gaza is a violation of the Qur'an. When Hamas fires rockets, it's not firing rockets only at Israel, but at its own people as well; Israel retaliates and it becomes inevitable that civilians, innocent children are severely effected by this. The same goes for Israel.

Protection of civilians- There is no justification in the Qur'an for killing innocent people. God says that this is like killing all mankind. (Qur'an, 5:32) It is a sin to target civilians or be reckless of their security during an attack. When Hamas launches rockets over Israel, there is no aim, no precise target, and thus these rockets fall sometimes on empty land but sometimes onto the homes of innocent Israeli civilians. It is a sin to take an innocent life, and it is also a sin to cause disorder, to panic people. Another important matter is that Islam absolutely forbids suicide attacks. God says; "Do not kill yourselves." (Qur'an, 4:29) Consequently, killing oneself and killing other people are both prohibited in Islam.

The right to live in the Holy Land- It is against any conscience and above all against the Qur'an to tell Jews to go somewhere else. Jews have been expelled from Spain, they have been slaughtered in Europe and there has been enormous intimidation against them in many places all over the world. So where do they have to go? These lands are places that their forefathers lived. The graves of their grandfathers are on these lands. And it is confirmed by the Qur'an that Bnei Israel will be living in the Holy Land till the end of the world. God says; "And thereafter We said to the Children of Israel: 'Dwell securely in the Promised Land.'" (Qur'an, 17:104) and the Prophet Moses (pbuh) says "O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously…" (Qur'an 5: 21) Thus, it is against the Qur'an to tell Jews to leave these lands; any Muslim who does so is in contradiction to the very Word of God Himself.

Let us not forget the sons of Ishmael and the sons of Jacob, the descendants of the prophets, are fighting one another. Both sides are Abraham's children and surely the land is spacious enough for all. There is no real reason that we can't coexist together. Let's live together as brothers; dine together, have conversations together; let us pray side by side, Jews in synagogues, and Muslims in mosques. Let us adopt a language of peace, a language of love. This is easy! And there is no other way.

More about the author, in her own words:

Sinem Tezyapar is a political and religious commentator, peace activist and an Executive Producer at A9 TV, broadcasting from Istanbul. She is also the spokesperson of a prominent international interfaith organization, as well as its coordinator for international relations with political and religious leaders. She is working with interparlimentary and non governmental organizations for the establishment of the United Nations Permanent Forum for a Culture of Peace and Global Ethics.

As a devout Muslim, she denounces terrorism, anti-Semitism, and all kinds of violence. She is against radicalism, fanaticism, racism, bigotry and all atheistic and bloodthirsty ideologies. She defends the unity of all under belief in One God. She wants there to be faith, love, brotherhood and peace prevailing throughout the world, and stands ready to cooperate with like-minded people in accomplishing such goals.

She frequently talks about concepts like democracy, laity, freedom in Islam, global security, how to combat terrorism, radicalism, anti-Semitism and bigotry, Turkey’s role in the region, the problems of Jews and Christians in the Middle East, current relations between Israel and Turkey, the Iran-Israel conflict, the latest situation in the Middle East, the concerns of the Western world about Islam and Muslims in general.

She has been influential in setting up many meetings and conferences between religious and political leaders of Turkey and Israel including Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Deputy Minister Yitzhak Cohen, Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara, Knesset Member Nissim Zeev, Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and others. She is a personal friend of many Israelis such as advisors, experts, academicians, religious leaders and politicians.