Being in military or security services is a noble act’
(Imam Morufu Onike Abdul-Azeez, Deputy Chief Missionary, NASFAT, Headquarters, Lagos)
AS a religion, Islam cannot be divorced from any other areas of human endeavour, be it social, economic and political among others. This means that Islam is not just a spiritual entity, but also a political one. Therefore, military expedition, as a socio-political concept, is treated in Islam. Looking at the objectives of shariah, nay Islam, according to Imam Ghazali, they are for the protection of life, property, religion, family and intellect. These objectives have been summarised as: “Promotion of benefit and removal of harm, which was based on the Allah’s statement that says the Holy Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the entire mankind, Qur’an 21:107.
Therefore, if people’s lives are threatened, conscious and legal means should be used to protect them, but such means have to be initiated and coordinated by the constituted authority, as there is no jungle justice in Islam. In as much as Islam supports the use of military, it strongly abhors unnecessary aggression, Surah Mumtahana 60:8-9, “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”
There are justifications for military expedition in Islam. While it would seem that there are verses encouraging waging of wars in Islam, they should not be quoted out of context. Those seemingly “violent verses” were revealed, when wars were going on. It should be noted that the holy Prophet did not fight any war throughout his stay in Makkah. It was when he migrated to Madinah and the hostilities from the enemies of Islam continued that he was ordered to defend the Islamic community. All the war verses are contextualised into three: those revealed before the war or in peaceful situation like Q60: 8-9 quoted above, those revealed when wars were ongoing for instance in Quran 8: 60 and the one revealed when wars had ended. In Islam, wars are recommended for the following reasons:
• When all forms of peaceful reconciliation have been exhausted.
• To fight tyrannical rulers,
• To counter oppression and aggression.
• In self-defence.
Having thus established the fact that Islam supports justified expedition, i.e. the ones not influenced by aggression, it is needless to say that Muslims can join the military.
Concerning how Muslims can help to avert violence and wars, it has to be emphasised that violence is not peculiar to a particular faith group. However, all Nigerians and the government can help in the following ways:
• By cooperating with anyone with similar interests of safety and security for the community and nation. Better social justice and dealing with people’s grievances. Better neighbourliness and community cohesion. Support better systems of justice and Rule of Law. Support better transparency and accountability of leaders, especially in areas of corruptions, abuse of power and especially ethnic and religious discrimination. Better education, job creation and poverty alleviation. Better values-oriented religious instruction and effective countering of the arguments of all forms of extremists. Better interfaith relationship-building activities and peace-building. There should also be sincere forgiveness and initiatives for greater peace and conflict resolution. Legal controls and prosecution of “hate speech” and activities that are known culturally to incite violence. More ethically-conscious religious clergy that should be more concerned about the values taught by religion than pleasing their angry or bigoted followership.