Although Al-Qaeda has declared war against the West, most of the people now dying from suicide bombers, most of the victims of Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadees, most of the orphaned children, and most of the childless mothers are Muslims. The fact that more and more Muslims are dying at the hands of those claiming to be their defenders has compelled many respected Islamic scholars to reject today's jihadees as apostates who are destroying Islam.
And now, as witnessed by demonstrations in Amman following the bombings, more average Muslims, are rejecting the jihadees, too. After the bombings, which left more than 50 dead and hundreds injured, hundreds of Jordanians, Palestinians, and Iraqis took to the streets to protest the killing of innocent Muslims.
Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda's "suicide martyr unit" claimed responsibility for the three bombs that struck Western-owned hotels in Amman. This time, instead of seeing Muslims dancing in the streets to celebrate a suicide bombing, the world saw Muslims enraged at the indiscriminate killing of fellow believers.
"I lost my father and my father-in-law on my wedding night," cried one man who should have been celebrating his wedding, as bodies of his family members were carried away from the rubble of the Radisson SAS hotel, according to AFP on 10 November. "The world has to know this has nothing to do with Islam."
The victims in Amman were mostly Arabs and overwhelmingly Muslim: a bride and a groom and their families; a 4-year-old boy killed by shrapnel in his head; and one of the Muslim world's greatest artists -- Syrian filmmaker Mustafa Akkad -- whose film "The Message: The Story of Islam" explained Islamic history to millions of people around the world. The attack even killed people who could be described as fellow jihadees, two Palestinian officials, including one responsible for security in the West Bank. And it targeted a kingdom led by a family widely believed to be descendant from the Prophet Muhammad. That purported lineage once provided a degree of protection for King Hussein, but his son, Abdullah, now seems as much a potential target as any other Arab leader.
Straying From The Prophet
By even the most militant interpretation of Islam, such people should not be the victims of jihadees. These are the people they claim to be protecting. It is becoming starkly clear to many Muslims that many followers of Al-Qaeda have abandoned the rules of just war laid out by the Prophet Muhammad. Increasingly, many are convinced that they have abandoned Islam altogether.
Islamic scholars know that Islam sets strict rules for warfare, and many argue that militants acting in the name of Islam are flouting those rules. The jihadees have turned from strict adherence to the precepts laid out by the Prophet Muhammad to following men such as Osama bin Laden, whose teachings directly contradict widely accepted Islamic law.
In 1998, bin Laden issued a decree in which he declared war against the United States and its allies, calling on the "faithful" to strike anywhere they can and indiscriminately, against both civilians and military. "The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it," the decree states.
'The Innocent Get Hurt'
But Islamic scholars and historians argue that Islam teaches just the opposite, that Muslims must be careful whom they attack and where. Islamic scholar Abu Dawud quoted Muhammad as telling his followers: "Do not kill any old person, any child, or any woman.'
Another respected Islamic historian and researcher, Musnad Ibn Hanbal, who founded one of the schools of Islamic law, quoted Muhammad as saying: "Do not kill the monks in monasteries" and "Do not kill people who are sitting in places of worship."
And Abu Bakr, Muhammad's successor and the first caliph, gave even more specific guidance: "Stop, O people, that I may give you 10 rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those that are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy's flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone"
Despite these clear teachings that compel Muslims to act with extreme caution and avoid hurting innocents in battle, today's militants have become increasingly less selective in where they strike and whom they kill. In Beslan, in Russia's North Caucasus, Chechen fighters attacked children in a school. In Pakistan, militants attacked Christians praying in church, and in Iraq they've attacked fellow believers in mosques.
In a 1997 interview, Islamic thinker Rachid al Ghannouchi was asked why he had not sanctioned the use of violence in his campaign against the rulers of Tunisia. "Because," he answered, "it's inevitably the innocent who get hurt."
HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE EL HASSAN BIN TALAL
of Jordan spoke to RFE/RL on 10 October, sharing his thoughts on the potential of Iraqi violence to destabilize other countries in the Middle East, including Jordan. For the complete interview, click here.