Anwar al-Awlaki is often cited by those who argue in favour of deliberately targeting and killing civilians – i.e with bombs, shootings etc. His statements are also used in AQ’s official publications as justifications for their attacks. However, one need only examine his “evidence” to see that it is riddled with contradictions as well as distortions of clear Islamic principles (which may be considered innovations). I want to refer to his own teachings and quotes here, although I do not want to cite them directly (which would of course be preferable) because of the risk to me as a result of spreading his literature (especially due to the climate in the wake of the Paris attacks). The articles can be found however by searching for the quotes which I will share.
I am glad that a brother of mine has gathered courage to talk about an issue that is essential, even critical, yet we Muslims do not talk about such things. Of if they talked then they were so irresponsible that they ended up harming themselves as well as others. I suppose there will be people who will look at this exercise as pandering to Islamophobic society but that will miss the target by the yards. It is amply clear today that non-Muslim society is confound about the dynamics of the Muslim society today. If we do not clarify the matters ourselves then this will be dereliction of duty on our part. If we look at the Makkan phase of Islam that is solely focused on clarifying the principles, beliefs, aims, objectives and intentions of Islam. That phase is longer by three years as compared to the ten years long Madina phase - the physical implementation of Islam.
Indeed even Muslims will not know what is true, what is false, what is allowed, what is forbidden if we do not talk about these issues.
Targetting civilians is against common sense and Islam ultimately is against violating common sense.
So thanks for taking up the clarification of these issues.
Because of the western tightening of screw on these imbecile elements who will talk all bravado it has so happened that even sensible people can not talk about these critical matters.
Clearly utmost responsibility is needed in discussin these points yet we can not ignore them. Far too many Muslim lives are being wasted in the armed aggression of the western military muscles and the fringe elements from within Ummah only supply fuel to fire by their irresponsible activities.
Firstly, in the early days of Islam there was a principle called bayat which involved launching attacks at night. Since visibility was difficult, civilians were sometimes killed unintentionally since it was unavoidable, although they were NOT the target. We refer to this now as “collateral damage”. In this case, the civilians are NOT the intended target but were killed unintentionally. Awlaki contradicts himself with the two following sentences. Firstly:
"The attackers would ambush the enemy in their tents and houses and engage them in fighting. This would lead to the deaths of men, women and children who were in the tents or homes because of the difficulty distinguishing between man, woman and child.
He then concludes from this that:
"There is no difference in ruling between bayat and detonating a bomb in a populated center in a nation that is at war with the Muslims."
It is obvious that there is a BIG difference between bayat and leaving a bomb in a populated civilian area (i.e sports stadium, bus, tourist attraction or suchlike). In bayat, civilians die not because they are the primary target, whereas in the bomb attack, civilians ARE the target. This has thus been taken out of context and twisted/distorted to permit something that has been conclusively proven to be HARAAM.
I agree with this analysis but one crucial point must not be left out of sight.
Awlaki might have adopted above attitude yet he can not be the one who began it or even invented it as an ideological principle. The western military training is the source of all this evil. CIA for long has been using the sabotage and false flag attacks. Even terrorism is rooted in western ideologies. Once someone starts civilian targetting in a region then after some time it takes a life of its own. after that no external fuelling is needed. The Sunni-Shia mutual bombing context in Muslim lands is all a US creation.
People have put the US on the back foot citing the US support and training of ISIS. Someone has to do some work on US role in the early phase of civilian bombing and assign the due responsibility. Anwar Awlaki is a single point issue and he is no more. Let us say that we do not approve his arguments and then we must come back to the role of US in false flag attacks in Muslim lands. Of course after taking that into account we have to talk to them about their encroachment on our life space.
[quote]Similarly, he does the same thing with the concept of collateral damage as a result of the use of mangonals. Mongonals were a type catapult used to destroy fortifications and walls in cities. Naturally these types of weapons were indiscriminate and inaccurate – even today “precision bombing” is notoriously deadly to civilians. It was permissible to use these weapons even if civilians were sometimes caught up as a result, although once again – this is an example of collateral damage, since it was not the civilians who were the express target of the attack. Awlaki used precedent of mangonals to claim that it is permissible to leave a bomb in a civilian area to deliberately targets civilians - which is COMPLETELY different from the mangonal precedent.
Awlaki resorts to making up rulings based on his own ideas, for example:
“Therefore, if you ask me as a tactic, is targeting the civilian population of the West a good thing to do? I would say yes, because it is much more potent and powerful. Soldiers are expected to die anyway. That's why they sign up for the army, to fight and kill or be killed. So a soldier is at risk anyway and that risk is factored into his job. But a civilian is not. So when you hit the civilian you hit them where it hurts most and that is what our tactics are about”
This opinion is NOT based on sharia. He then basically refutes HIMSELF with the following quote:
“On the other hand, we know of the hadīth that prohibits the killing of women and children, so how can we combine what was mentioned below with such hadīth. The answer is that women and children should not be singled out, should not be specifically targeted and if they fall as prisoners of war it is not allowed to execute them. Throughout our history whenever women and children would fall captives there lives were spared unlike with the crusaders for example who slaughtered thousands of Muslim prisoners or the Moguls who wiped out the entire populations of numerous Muslims cities.”
Then he contradicts himself again:
“However when men, women and children are mixed and integrated such as in a city or village there is no doubt that it is allowed to target them while carrying the intentions of not specifically targeting the women and children. Therefore, an attack on a population center such as a US, British, French or German city with a bomb or a firearm attack is definitely allowed.”
All cities have men, women and children mixed. So then he makes the very bizarre conclusion that even though it’s not permissible to target women and children - a bomb or gun attack on a population centre is permissible. At best here he is contradicting himself and worst he is scraping the barrel and trying to find loopholes to try to circumvent the Sharia of Allah (this is a sin btw).