"In glory is perdition" (interview with Azamat Dzhendubayev)

"In glory is perdition" (interview with Azamat Dzhendubayev)

Azamat Dzhendubayev is an ethnic Circassian philosopher and an instructor at Moscow State University

Prague Watchdog: How likely is it that suicide bombing will become widespread in the North Caucasus? To what extent do you believe that this phenomenon is supported by the teachings of Islam?

Azamat Dzhendubayev: Let us start by defining the phenomenon that we call Shahidism. In the North Caucasus and the Caucasus as a whole a distinction needs to made between the different motivations of people who become involved in it. These motivations often bear no relation to Islam. There are really two types of law in the North Caucasus: the adats, which are the laws of natural justice which prevail in a certain mountain tradition, and Sharia law, which is based on the demands of Islam. In my view, most of the actions that are carried out by young people in the North Caucasus are motivated less by Islamic values and Sharia than by a desire to follow the laws and ethics of the mountains. Most of these missions are undertaken by people who are intent on seeking revenge rather than finding ways to improve their souls.

With regard to the discussion of Shahidism within the context of Islamic doctrine, one central tenet of Islam must be understood and constantly borne in mind: it is that, according to Islamic faith, all that happens on this earth is of no account, and that Allah does not need human actions in order to increase or diminish his stature, as he is self-sufficient. Man, on the other hand, lives his life in order to save his own soul. If we evaluate the actions of the suicide bombers from this point of view, we realize that far from helping them to save their souls and attain the qualities required by Islam, their choice leads them to destroy themselves and the people whom they deprive of the chance of acquiring those qualities.

In Islam, righteousness is defined by the rules that are formulated in the Koran. And for people who have not yet reached the age of forty, no independent decisions are allowed in this regard. The Prophet says that after forty a man reaches the age of maturity, and only then can he afford to assume full responsibility for those decisions. Often. the young men who embark on suicide bombing do not even realize what they are doing, because their actions bear no relation to possible ways of improving their own souls.

The Koran tells us that no man can take up arms and attack others unless his fundamental right to worship Allah and perform Islamic ritual has been violated. In the Caucasus today, no situation of this kind exists. People there are not persecuted for their religious faith or for the spiritual path that they have chosen for themselves.

Moreover, in the Koran armed struggle is hedged round by a large number of conditions. It can only be justified by aggression, the violation of a person’s life, the seizure of his home, the death of his relatives, and so on. Only then does a devout Muslim have the right to take up arms and act against his enemies. And the question of his departing this life is of an even higher order. Because even when the Prophet took soldiers into his ranks, he always made efforts to determine what family the man came from and whether that family could support itself if the soldier died. He did not take men into his ranks indiscriminately.

Today, when young people commit acts that involve their own destruction and the death of others, they violate the sacred right of all human beings to stand before Allah at the end of their life, having acquired certain qualities.

PW: Salafist preachers and ideologists argue that what leads people to die in jihad is not the lowly human passion for vengeance but the lofty aspiration of surrendering their lives in order to establish the true faith. You say that Allah is self-sufficient. In that case, all human efforts to establish the true law lose their meaning.

AD: This is simply the interpretation of people who read the holy texts in that way. Also, the Salafists are no doubt familiar with the tenets of Islam which say that Allah’s might and omnipotence are such that, if it pleased Him, all the people on this earth would become true believers, and would take one single path . But Allah does not do this because it is written: "And we have divided into you into different nations and given you different faiths." Any doubt about what takes place on this earth in connection with Allah is, to put it mildly, a sin, because such arguments call His omnipotence into question.

Allah is self-sufficient, He does not need any of us. But by His mercy each of us is granted the possibility of acquiring the quality that will let us participate in a future life, where Allah’s intentions and actions will apply to other worlds, and not to what is happening on the earth. The paradise that is promised to the righteous and the martyrs is not Allah’s highest blessing. His highest blessing is His affection for those who have managed to save their souls and endow them with the qualities that enjoy His favour. The martyr has the right and the opportunity to accept death. And so does any person. But do not confuse the death of the body with the death of the soul. Only Allah can take the life of the soul.

There is a saying of the Prophet which explains why asceticism and monasticism are forbidden in Islam. The Prophet said that in asceticism is glory, and in glory is perdition. He meant that even on the path of asceticism, certain attributes of righteousness and virtue do not bring benefit to the soul. Because ultimately the way of life and worship chosen by the monks or the martyrs is not humility, but the highest form of arrogance. And only Allah can judge what has guided a man in his life. 


(Translation by DM)





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