By Muhammad Mahmud 

My fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, I think you will not support the US government’s atrocities meted on the Afghans over the years. However, I know that some of you see nothing wrong with anything western and nothing good with anything the West abhors. Therefore, let me address certain misconceptions and, at the same time, point out what some of YOU seem not to take into consideration. 

Of course, people rely on the West to define who a terrorist is. There is no doubt about that. Before the West labelled the Taliban, a terrorist who, in the whole world, regarded them as one? The western media dictates who is to blame and who is to be sympathised with. The Palestinian struggle with the Zionists’ forces of occupation is a prominent example. The Muslim Brotherhood is also labelled a terrorist group even as they chose to follow the democratic way to pursue Islamic sharia. The same happened to Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front. 

But let’s use some reasons others deploy regarding the Taliban as a terrorist organisation to prove why people rely on the west to define who a terrorist is. Your argument is often that “many of us see them as terrorists because they are deliberately and indiscriminately killing Muslims and other innocent civilian population.” Now the question is, which of these atrocities hadn’t the US army meted to the “Muslims and other innocent civilian population”? So why do you think that the Taliban fighters are terrorists while you regard the US army as liberators? 

On the other hand, why would America’s violation of the practice of Prophet Muhammad’s rule of engagements not bother you people but the Taliban’s violation bother you to the extent of opposing them and (impliedly) supporting America? You are supposed to oppose both sides if that is the case. I think you are probably, struggling with some misconceptions here, and you are not alone. 

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1- That Taliban, having declared that they are following the footpath of the Prophet, shouldn’t deviate from his teachings. This is entirely true. But are we only to oppose Muslims who violated Islamic teachings on the sanctity of lives, or is that also applicable to everyone?

2- Having violated the Prophet’s teachings on the rules of engagements by killing the innocents, the Taliban are to be opposed against the Americans who did not claim to be Muslims. Because the Taliban are portraying Islam in a bad image, this is a big misconception. 

First, it should be clearly noted that even if a Muslim group violated Islamic teachings on the rules of engagements, that does not entirely disrobe them of their status as Muslims. On the contrary, we condemn that act and disassociate ourselves and our religion from that very act and continue to consider them as Muslims. A few examples will suffice here. 

During the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), Khalid Bn Walid (RA) violated the rules of engagements in one of the wars. It was so grave to the extent that when the report reached the Prophet, he openly condemned and disassociated himself from that act and even supplicated that “O Allah, I disassociate myself from what Khalid did.” But the Prophet did not declare him a terrorist or even ostracised him. 

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In another incident, some Muslims killed someone during a war after declaring that he was now a Muslim. When the report reached the Prophet, he became outraged and rebuked them. However, he did not declare them as opponents for violating the rules of engagements; instead, he criticised that very act and chastised them for doing that. 

There were many reports of violations of Islamic rules of engagements even during the wars fought by the Ummah’s most pious generations, yet that is put into context, and a larger picture is considered.

During the Jihad of Dan Fodio, Sheikh Muhammad Bello narrated how some people violated the rules of engagements and how Sheikh Dan Fodio chastised them and disassociated himself from that act. Yet, they continued to be part of his army.

Therefore, from the Islamic perspective, we can condemn and accuse the Taliban of violating Islamic rules of engagement, but that doesn’t mean that we should support non-Muslim armies who perpetrated the same or worst atrocities on fellow Muslims. There is a stark difference between the two factions Islamically.

It is almost a consensus among the Muslim scholars that whenever non-Muslim armies invade any Muslim country, it is a wajib [compulsory] for all to fight and chase them out. 

Now a non-Muslim army invaded a Muslim country, some people jubilated, and the Muslim troops chased them out, we jubilated. Then those who jubilated the invasion started accusing us of supporting “terrorism”, how do you think we would respond?

Malam Muhammad writes from Kano. He can be reached via

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