Jenny was holding her head and trying to find somewhere to put it to find refuge. But that wasn’t an option and after a testing 3 and half hours, she announced she couldn’t take the incessant psychological assault and left before the final speaker.

This was an IREA event (Islamic Research & Educational Academy) and approximately 1,000 people came out to hear visiting Islamic scholar Brother Imran address the topic Jihad & Terrorism – are they the same?’ Brother Imran was introduced as having 2 wives and 8 children and his wives peaceful coexistence was credited to him as a result of living according to the Sunnah.  (That is, the way in which their prophet practiced Islam). This achievement brought a ripple of congratulatory admiration with utterances of mashallah from the audience.

Advertised as a 6pm sharp start, the delay in starting until 7:15 for no apparent or given reason probably didn’t leave some in the right headspace to begin with. We were told that Brother Imran was in the tradition of the late Ahmed Deedat who was engaged fulltime in spreading Islam and a spontaneous three rounds of Allah Akbar (Allah is greatest) was generated from the audience.

All were made aware up front about the obligation to promote and invite others to Islam and perhaps for the benefit of the non-Muslims present, a 19 year old woman from an Orthodox Christian home made her public declaration of faith in Islam. The predominately Muslim audience were reminded that as the Quran says ‘they are the best of people’ and their job is to invite others to what is good and forbid what is evil. Of course in an Australian context, this becomes a little problematic when we don’t necessarily agree on what is ‘good and evil’.

Brother Imran introduced the topic of Jihad and Terrorism by noting that non-Muslims may disagree with keeping women veiled, polygamy, women’s rights and jihad but despite this, non-Muslims did actually agree with many concepts in Islam. It’s true that conceptually many people may be concerned about violence, suffering and injustice which were all mentioned, however, the root causes though debatable, were not up for debate.

The concept of ‘forcing peace’ was likened to a UN Peace keeping force, holy war was said to be an incorrect definition of jihad, although Brother Imran conceded ‘it can involve war’, and in an Australian context the Federal Police were likened to ‘jihadists’ because they strive to stop crime. Striving is the primary definition of the word jihad and it was clearly stated that striving against unbelievers was ‘to invite them to follow the message of Islam’.

The verse was quoted that instructs waging war against the enemies of Islam but brother Imran clarified that not all non-Muslims were necessarily enemies. Comforting. What was less comforting for non-Muslims was the revelation that Muslims cannot attack non-Muslims unless the invitation to Islam has first been given. And the whole evening was dedicated to giving that invitation.

The character of Australians were under the usual assault and Saudi Arabia was hailed as having ‘the least crime on the planet’. Brother Imran posed the question ‘what is better, to have a second wife or cheat the first wife?’ Once again, these comments drew supportive responses from the audience.

Unfortunately trying to process the information presented and collect your own rational thoughts was extremely difficult because of the pace at which comment, chapter and verse of endless source material was thrown out. There were more numbers floated than appear on the New York Stock Exchange. However the speed and recall of Brother Imran, which could be likened to a seasoned racecourse reporter, suitably impressed the audience who overlooked the discrepancies and the question of legitimate or illegitimate violence at the heart of the issue.

Brother Imran told us that Islam forbade burning of bodies and attacking old people, but when it was pointed out the founder of Islam lit a fire on the chest of an elderly Jewish tribal leader to try and gain information, it was explained this was because the Jews broke treaty with the Muslims. Oh – I see. And when the Quran was quoted to tell us killing is forbidden because ‘to kill one innocent soul is like killing all humanity’, Brother Imran omitted the exception in this verse for those who ‘create mischief in the land’. Obviously they’re not innocent and the penalty for mischief in the next verse includes crucifixion, cutting off hands and feet from opposite sides, execution and exile. But Brother Imran skillfully turned attention away from these points as well.

It’s understandable that Jenny left frustrated and bewildered about definitions, numbers, and what this was all about. All that was abundantly clear is that jihad, the struggle all must engage in, was primarily about the invitation to Islam. The ideological assault must precede the physical one.



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