The world is talking about the killing of Washington Post’s Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul. The political side of the incident concerns the relevant experts. However, as far as I am concerned, many experts who specialize in this matter eventually bring the subject to Islam, the community of Islam, the culture of Islam, the relationship between Islam and politics, and the relationship between the power and opposition , and take the matter to a whole different platform with comments in their own way.
Is this an accurate approach? It is both a wrong one, and also an accurate one. Let me start with the wrong one. In my opinion, it is a wrong one, because in the last analysis, we are talking about a murder which has already been confirmed by the Saudi government, who also stated whoever responsible have already been laid off waiting to be punished. This is a current and actual matter. How could this be related with the religion of Islam? Does Islam order the killing of Khashoggi or the other people who have such features, whatever those features are? Which verse in Quran, which hadith, which practice of Muhammad (PBUH)? Is it possible to say that holding a religion responsible, which had been revealed 14 centuries ago, for an incident that takes place today is a product of a steady mind?
“It is a human life in question. You cannot just dogmatize it claiming it does not exist in Islam.” Alright, this is exactly what I am talking about. It should not be dogmatized. At least the results and the investigation carried out by the officials about the incident should be waited in order to shed light on the murder. This murder should not be an excuse to attack Islam.
There is a potential objection against this approach; “What do you expect to turn out from the investigations? The devil looks after his own. As a matter of fact, all of the contradictory statements, the painting of the walls, ambassador being able to return to his country freely etc. are the facts proving that there will never be any accurate results which provide the truth.
I cannot object, nor provide an answer to this point of view. Only these words occur to me: “the morals of politics”. Unfortunately, this is the morals of politics in our current world. We are living in a world where lying is considered a virtue, and where the people say “this is leadership” about the people in power after they are lied to their faces about how “we are going to serve you with the budget set thanks to the taxes you give”. What can I say? I wish I had something to say. I wish I had the opportunity to object this with very strong arguments. I wish I could be able to say that the moral people were doing politics, whether they serve for the party in power or the opposition human lives, human rights, and rightful shares were being protected, and also say that “the state always protects the oppressed with all of its powers. The mechanism of intelligence, security, and justice collaborates, and then reveals the truth without hiding anything, and the criminals are punished.” It does not work like this. Never did. And most probably including the Khashoggi murder, it will not ever be like this.
So, how is it being correlated with Islam? This is also going to constitute the answer for the “accurate one” description I have mentioned above. At the cost of falling into repetition, I would like to clearly point out once more. It is wrong to correlate Islam with the Khashoggi murder, however, it is correct to correlate it with the historical political experience of the Muslims. Islam is the name given to the binding provisions, values, and principals in accordance with the verses in Quran, and the practice of The Prophet (PBUH). And the historical experience is the actions and the discourses of the Muslims in accordance with what they had understood from Islam. When considered from this point of view, in respect of the historical experience of the Muslims, coming to power, and maintaining it to avoid any delegation of power, and doing anything necessary to silence the opposition including killing them for this cause are undeniable facts about this matter. The idiom of “the nature of politics” seems to be appropriate here.
From this point of view, the non-Muslim world also cannot provide a different prospect. You are welcome to have a look at the Christians’ historical political experience.
Especially focus on the Catholic Church when they ruled states, and how they eliminated their opposing citizens, tortured, tormented, and oppressed them even though they were following the same religion. Middle age Europe is full of these examples.
I do not want to explicitly say the Muslims have this and so do the Christians. That would be an effortlessness. On the contrary, I say it is the nature of politics. So, the people, who gain the strength, power, and the posts for ruling, do not want to get down, and start suppressing their oppressors by force, then they repress and arrest them, and eventually kill them.
Let me go back to my sentence “it is correct to correlate it with the historical political experience of the Muslims”. If you do not make a selective history reading, and do not make the historical belief zones and historical individuals objects of belief, although both of which are very crucial towards understanding history accurately, you can observe this yourself. Have a look at the early period political experience after The Prophet (PBUH). This process had started after Abu Bakr was selected as the head of state in the gardens of Saqifah Bani Sa’idah. “The caliphs are from Quraysh” is one of the example of statements which symbolizes such arguments.
Individuals such as Omar, Uthman, and Ali, who had been very helpful to the cause of Islam after they become Muslims, and who were close friends, nephews, son-in-laws, and father-in-laws to The Prophet (PBUH) had been killed. As a result of the power-opposition fights throughout the historical political experience of the Muslims, nearly 80 thousand people were killed because of the civil wars, which broke out after Ali started ruling as caliph.
What about the killings of the sons of sultans during the Ottoman era with the consent obtained from the fatwas of “Shaykh al-Islām”, and kadi-ul asker? Furthermore, what about the legalization, and then the justifying of the rescripts citing “whichever of my sons vouchsafed by the sultanate, the killing of his siblings is appropriate for the order of the universe” thanks to the “political murder” concepts?
Let’s say killing of the sons of the sultans, who disturb the public peace by starting armed struggles in order to be the next sultan, is normal according to the laws in force, but what kind of an explanation is there for the killings of the sons of the sultans who were killed in their cradles?
Shortly and precisely, if you do not make selective readings, and just like mentioned above, if you do not consecrate the history and the people, who had a great deal of contribution for us to embrace these days, you can see these realities, also face them, and eventually conclude that there is indeed suppression in the historical political experience of the Muslims, but not in Islam. I would like to repeat myself once more in order to set the record straight, political powers being backed by the strength of the state and suppressing, repressing, and also destroying of the opposition do not exist in the religion of Islam and the practice of The Prophet (PBUH), but exist in the history of the Muslims. It exists despite the religion.
Is the murder of Khashoggi related with this? You can have the answer by observing the relationship of Khashoggi with the Saudi regime. The information you will receive with this point of view will force you to answer this question as a “yes”. The most significant virtue of Khashoggi was being a dissident journalist against the regime with the libertarian articles he wrote, speeches he gave, and actions he took for the Saudi people.
Therefore, the murder of Khashoggi is justifiably being attributed to this fact. And we confirm that this exists in the historical political experience of the Muslims. Not that I underestimate or disregard, but it was not surprising for me. Another link was added to the chain of “political murder” only 14 centuries after the first presence of the concept.
That is all. Because, no willpower, nor an administration exist in this world to punish the criminals properly.
Dr. Ahmet Kurucan is an author and expert on Islamic Jurisprudence.