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HomeExpertsAnalyses of professor Ahmet Akgunduz’s death warrant for Gulen Movement participants

Analyses of professor Ahmet Akgunduz’s death warrant for Gulen Movement participants

Professor Ahmet Akgunduz, rector of The Islamic University of Rotterdam has said it is allowed to slaughter members of the Gulen movement due to “their revolt against the Turkish government” on during the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.

Speaking to the Islamist Akit TV channel in Turkey in late Nov 29, 2018, Akgunduz said it is permissible, according to Islamic rules:

‘My dear brother, even if they are saints…check this out. It is important because people across the count have been asking me about this. They say: ‘Sir, there are some people within FETO who are more pious than us.’ And I tell them it doesn’t matter at all. According to Quran, it is even allowed to slaughter them if they rise against the government,” the rector said.

‘Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people’ says Eleanor Roosevelt. Now I am not pretending to have a great mind, but I am going to participate in the discussion through the ideas of Akgunduz and try to contribute with my opposite ideas.

The reason I felt responsible to write this article was because of the following terrifying accusations made by Akgunduz on his Facebook page besides his statements at Akit TV: “They are falsifying Quran by showing Allah’s words as if they were told by Akgunduz”. He finished his statement with the following line: “Did they expect me to provide a different answer as an expert on Islamic law?” which basically means that he supports his idea, which also reflects his scientific sufficiency. An expert of Islamic law can easily go live on Akit TV, and state the following exact words based on the apparent meaning of the verse of Quran: “According to the clear verse in Surah Al-Hujurat of Quran, if there are individuals revolting against the state, Islam and Quran warrant for the slaughter of such individuals.” I ask myself which part should I correct with regards to Islamic law? When I have a look at it from a positive law perspective, the sentence I see has only the following meanings; hate crime and hate speech.

ahmet akgunduz
Ahmet Akgunduz

Here is the part which became the discussion point of aforesaid speech of Akgunduz: “Even if they are waliyullahs( Saints of Allah) – this word is very important – because I was asked in Anaotolia “There are some people inside FETO…, they are even more devoted than us”, and I reply they could be, they can be more devoted or even be waliyullahs, in case they revolt against the state, Islam and Quran warrants even for their slaughter according to the clear verse in Surah Al Hujurat of Quran. Therefore, whatever services FETO… and their members provided in the past, let it be in favor of the Turkish or another community, they are known for their actions towards unrest on July 15th and revolting against the state, which is against Islam.”

Anybody reading this statement or listening to the speech, when they see “Quran warrants for their slaughter” sentence, they will of course deduce a “death warrant”. Just like Akgunduz stated in his statement, they will deduce “Kill the group of Gulen”. Further statements like “No, I did not want to say that, I wanted to say this, I meant something else” will not change this reality. Therefore, it is quite natural for the Dutch offices to start investigating this matter after the statement was made public. Right at this point, a proper action to be taken by a scientist, who calls himself an expert on Islamic law, is to come forward and state “in the excitement of the extemporaneous speech, I made a sentence which has potential to be misunderstood. What I actually meant was…”

However, Akgunduz did just the opposite. He stated that he stands behind his words, proving the justification of all of the inferring, provided further meaning of the Surah Al Hujurat which he quoted, made a case for his adjudicating and related it with the verse in the surah, only to end up saying he did not actually said what he said sentences after sentences, and furthermore, he blamed the people, who deduced what is said above, for altering Quran and stated that the Dutch judiciary will punish these people accordingly while he referred them to Allah’s punishment.

Let’s read his statement again, which I summarized briefly: ‘Following was my answer about Islam’s adjudgment for the people who revolt against the state with fighter aircrafts, tanks and every different kind of weapons, and kill 250 innocent people: These people revolted against the state, they are called “bagi” (insubordinate). Quran commands the following for such people: “Suraj Al Hujurat, verse 9 – “And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah. And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” Perish the thought, they took the verse “fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah” and showed it as if it was my words and added “Kill the group of Gulen” throughout the media in the Netherlands. While I refer them to Allah’s punishment for the fact that they alter Quran, and I leave their punishment they deserve in this world to Dutch judiciary. Did they expect me to provide a different answer as an expert on Islamic law?”
I have located three points which we need to focus on in this sentence full with spelling errors, and appears to have been written in rush and carelessly.’

1. July 15th cursed coup attempt
2. Revolt against the state, “bagi”
3. Surah Al Hujurat verse 9 and the alteration of Quran

1- It is noteworthy to remember that the German government has refused to answer a parliamentary inquiry about the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation’s (MİT) role in a coup attempt in 2016, citing “confidentiality” and “state interests”, German state broadcaster Deutsche Welle Turkish reported. Both the MIT Director Hakan Fidan and then-commander-in-chief of Turkish Military, General Hulusi Akar refused to answer the questions of the Turkish Parliament Investigation Commission. On the other hand, there is only one thing which is real in the statement of Akgunduz; and that is that 250 of our citizens were martyred. But the real question is; who killed these people? Why there were no autopsies performed on the martyrs? Why the commission for coup does not work as required to enlighten the coup? Why the parliamentary questions are being rejected? Why the then Chief of General Staff and the Head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization do not bear testimony to the commission? Hundreds and thousands of questions are left unanswered. I am leaving them here.

If the person, who claims to be an expert on Islamic law, has not been thinking about such and similar hundreds of thousands of questions, if he has not been reading the articles and watching the videos about these matters written both in the country and abroad, means that he actually announces he does not have any concerns about searching for the truth, learning what actually happened, and facing the reality. For my perspective, such individual is somebody who is crushed under the devastating propaganda made by the Erdogan regime by having the support of the merciless power of the state. However, being identified as a scientist, furthermore, being part of a discipline, which puts Allah’s will in the center, requires the people involved to act just the opposite way. It requires to get rid of any dominating discourses and listening to the accused, and viewing the events from their perspective. Akdunguz, who states that he is an expert on Islamic law, probably knows the following two universal pedestals: “Everybody is innocent until proven guilty”. This pedestal, which is also called the presumption of innocence, means that nobody can be pointed as the guilty one until their guilt is proven. And “Evidence requires a claimant, and oath requires a denier”, meaning that the evidence is required by the counsel for the prosecution, while the oath is required by the person who denies any accusation. Because nonexistence cannot be proven. The one who says something exists is obliged to prove it.

2- Revolt against the state. In Arabic, and according to the Islamic law literature, the word is called “bagy”. In Islamic law, “bagy” bears the meaning to oppose the head of state with arms and revolt against him. The individual who makes “bagy” is called “bagi”. Bagy is a political crime in Islamic law and many conditions are brought forward in order to punish the individuals, who gets into such action, with several punishments including the death penalty. It is possible that Akgunduz might have missed it, or simply does not want to state it, that before foreseeing the punishment of the rebels, the experts on Islamic law focused on the events and reasons which persuaded the rebels to revolt, and checked if the head of state is actually legitimate and if he does his duty fairly or not. These two topics are important towards finding the reasons for the crime of revolt, and they are used to come up with a proper punishment or not according to the rightness or wrongness of the action, and to designate the level of the punishment, if there will be one. In other words, the wisdom, which states “there is revolting, kill the rebels, the verses of Quran warrants this”, without checking the reasons, nature, limits, and extent of the revolt, actually denies law, and insults all of the experts on Islamic law, and the imams to begin with, who reach to a verdict according to the designated reasons we have listed. Besides, except Abu Hanifa, there is no expert which says rebels must have death penalty.

With the continuous conditions, the rebels using force, the head of state having intentions against the legitimate orders, the limitation of the opposing forces until the conclusion of the revolt, provisions in the law of war not being applied under no circumstances towards the enemies due to the Muslim identities of the rebels, meaning the goods cannot be looted, and the family members cannot be taken for captives are amongst the provisions the experts concur. Taking this into account, these provisions listed with in a single sentence, the diversity of views of the madhhaps, and their resources can be attributed to the verses of Quran and hadiths.

However, while doing this on one side, we cannot forget the following on the other side; what are the information we read about the crime of revolting against the state? Let’s make it clear without making it long; the information concerns the history of law. There is no application area. If the provisions would have been put into practice today, I would tell you that the first individual who would oppose them would be Akgunduz. Because, as the name implies, they are the judicial provisions, and these provisions carry the cultural, social, political, and economic backgrounds of the related period.

In the light of the facts mentioned above, I would expect Akgunduz to answer the following question; whereas you brought the provision about the bagy/revolting against the state for the July 15th cursed coup attempt, and you believe that it is applicable, then why is the provision stated in Quran which warrants the cutting of the hands of the thieves is not being applied? Let me ask more clearly; why the Islamist AKP government, which has been in power for the last 16 years, is not practicing this punishment? Why does Mr. Akgunduz, just like he does about the matter of bagy, leave the judicial opinions of Islamic law and not state that the hands of the people who commit a theft are not being cut according to Suraj Al Ma’idah, and not writing an inculcating tweet to the government about this matter?

I can take another step and ask this; you spent your life researching on the Legal Codes of the Ottoman. So, during the 6-century-reign of the Ottomans, how many thieves had their hands cut because of this verse? What is the reason for them not to exceed ten, and the punishments being only limited to prison, exile, and money, despite the open warrant of the verse? Let me ask by borrowing your logic from you; did the sultans of Ottoman, their bureaucracy and judges alter the verse?

I was keeping this as a closing argument, but let me do it at this juncture; do you know what it means, Mr. Islamic law expert Akgunduz, to bring the information forward which belongs to the history of law, and showing a verse as evidence to it by stating “they can be more devoted or even be waliyullahs, in case they revolt against the state, Islam and Quran warrants even for their slaughter according to the clear verse in Surah Al Hujurat of Quran”? It means altering the verse of Quran, law, and the history altogether.

3- Verse 9 of Surah al-Hujurat and the alteration of Quran

As Akgunduz is aware, Surah Al-Hujurat consists of the pedestals, which we can call etiquette, and the principles and basics which aim to be a foundation for them. Also, Surah al-Hujurat is describe as “if the topic is a thought of an Islamic Civilization, it is capable of being one of the main reference points” by Ali Bulac.

The 9th verse of the surah reads: “And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two. But if one of them oppresses the other, then fight against the one that oppresses until it returns to the ordinance of Allah . And if it returns, then make settlement between them in justice and act justly. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”

There are many rumors about the revelation reason of this verse. There are some statements about some events like two people fighting with each other, the discussion between the husband and wife, and after that the incidents gets bigger after relatives and tribes get involved in the discussion, the conflict between the Hazrat and Avs etc. When we view two verses by adding the 10th verse which reads: “The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy”, we can summarize the unique meaning and the open message to the community, which the verses were revealed to, that they should gather under the Islamic ummah despite their differences, keep the brotherhood between the Muslims, and not to cause conflicts and wars by bidding differences and richness.

As a matter of fact, this verse was used by their own supporters of the parties in order to legitimize their own positions in the battles of Camel, Siffin and Karbala, which had happened during the early periods and basically had many casualties just like a civil war, and in the latter years, while the ulama was explaining the hadiths, they used this verse through the provision of “whatever the revelation reason is, the provision is general.”

Now, in the final analysis, while the verses command peace after taking fighting into account when necessary for wars, conflicts, struggles, and quarrels between the Muslims in personal, social, and other forms, drawing a death warrant as a conclusion is a farcical comparison in every aspect. Because there is no apparent essential, or luster. There is also no similitude, or common reason, or proper qualification. However, if you accept the secondary provision emanating from comparison as a principal one, then that is another story. Then I would like to remind you of this pedestal: “A matter which has been proved contrary to legal analogy cannot be cited by way of analogy in respect to any other matter.” (Al Majalle, article 15)

Let’s leave aside deducing over the ways of pedestals and focus on the following provision; just like we mentioned above, pinning the coup attempt on The Movement, which includes thousands of questions and thousands of stains inside, which was left unanswered or has been closed for answers sensitively and carefully, by getting under the influence of the propaganda, then issuing death warrants by seeing this as a revolt against the state and the head of state does not mean anything but to disassociate the verses of Quran from their actual meanings, and speak on behalf of Allah. Let me explain the way himself would understand with terms, this is called “making the text talk out of the context”. This is exactly how altering of the verses occur.

Besides, the main goal of “fighting until they obey the command of Allah” is achievement of peace. To enable this, the guilty must be separated from the innocent, as well the righteous must be separated from the unjust, and nitpicky mechanisms must be built for this purpose. Furthermore in this direction, adopting a particular attitude against the hostile ones results in bringing them on the grounds of the principles of justice and equity. However, the situation is exactly the opposite in our country. Yes, the state and the disproportionate power used by the state are on one side, and on the other side, there is a social group which is antagonized and demonized against each other by virtually following the genocide steps exactly taken by Hitler against the Jews. More importantly, there is an imaginary sack which is being filled with opposing people by this furious device, which does not want to transfer the power to anybody else. At this point, the expectations from the people like Akgunduz, who claim to be an expert on Islamic law, is not using the speeches of terrorist organization implied by the government, or to secure themselves not to be included in that sack by using the same words and concepts in order to play into the hands of the government, but their main duty is to close that sack, and state that there is no such terrorist organization exists, and be right next to the persecuted and support them, instead of the tyrants. But alas!

The terrifying arguments of Professor Ahmet Akgunduz seem to aim the justification of the genocide against the Gulen Movement and potential assassinations against the Hizmet Movement participants. It is noteworthy remember that many have been found dead in prisons as well as have gone missing.

Let me finish my article with a hadith and a prayer: When Our Prophet (PBUH) said “Help your brothers whether they are oppressors or oppressed”, a man said, “O Messenger of Allah! I can help him if he is oppressed, but if he is an oppressor, how can I help him?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others, for that is how to help him.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, al-Mazalim, 4)

And here is my prayer: “Oh Allah! Show us the right as the right one and make us its follower! Show us the superstitious as the superstitious and make us escape from it!” Amin.

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Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is a an author and scholar focusing on Islamic Studies and Law.

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