Islamic Studies

An Answer to an Important Question Surrounding Butto’s Death

By Ust. Hossam Al-Jabri

In reference to the article written by Br Ibrahim Ramey on the terrible news of the Killing of Benazir Bhutto

A dear young brother posed the question below

salam alikom bro hussam
how is butto’s murder a
terrible day for islam
akhi she is a liberal
secularist that called for wester style democracy and
could not even speak urdu and did not practice islam
and u can ask pakistany brothers if u dont believe me
hope all is well with u
salam alikom

Salamu aliukum akhi al habib:
Jazakah allah khairan for your question. This is a legitimate question that should be asked, and can indeed be confusing to the youth. I would like to share with you some thoughts about this.

The killing of B.B. is a terrible tragedy that should be treated as such for multiple reasons. I will mention the following :

– Islam flourishes and prospers much more in a democracy as compared to an oppressive regime. The “democracy” that is mentioned in your email is a system where Islam may be able to flourish much more than compared to a oppressive dictatorial military regime. I do not want to get into Pakistani politics, nor is this my intention. But at some basic level, the prophet PBUH asked the Meccans to “khalou bayni wa bayna al-nas” : that is “leave me to take my message to the people”. In a democracy, Muslims would be more capable of conveying the message of Islam to the people, and then the people would decide whether or not to accept the message, and maybe even live their lives in accordance to its guidelines. In an oppressive military regime the people have no voice, and Islam will have no voice. The prophet PBUH went to Madina after he was invited and people asked for the prophet to come. Life is not all black or all white. The system in Ethiopia was much better than the system in Mecca, and therefore the prophet asked the people to migrate to Ethiopia. Remember, in the absence of the “ideal” we have to work with what we have.

– More importantly, Islam is wholly against such acts as killing innocent people, without any right, irrespective of their religion, or Islamic practice. It is mandatory to make this fact known because of two reasons:

– Internally it is a shame that some Muslims believe that they can take the law into their own hands and kill others because they differ with them. There are books that can be written about this, but suffice to say the following : the community of the prophet had KNOWN hypocrites. It had individuals who spread rumors about the honor of the wife of the prophet; it had people who accused the prophet of blasphemous things. Allah told the prophet about these hypocrites. How many hypocrites did the prophet kill? None.

– Externally, the situation is as dangerous because of the following: Islam is being accused (wrongly) of causing these killings or other terror around the world. The people who are spreading this perception hate Islam and Muslims, and use the ignorance of some Muslims, and the media machines in order to promote that Islam is a hateful religion. This is serious since it greatly restricts out ability to take the message of Allah to many people. We have to ensure that people realize the truth about Islam as a peaceful religion. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Islam is a passive religion, you know me better. But what I am saying is that the killing of BB and other similar murders are far far away from any thing Islamic. Islam is a peaceful religion, and uses military Jihad only as a last resort to repel oppression. Even then, there is ample guidance on how and when and who engages in Jihad in order to be within the boundaries of Allah.

– Furthermore, the fact that BB was “did not practice Islam” does not mean that it is wrong to be sad for her death. I may oppose her positions on many things vehemently, but, because of the points mentioned above, would still be sad and angry for her killing. This has roots in Islam. The simplistic understanding of Islam that tries to capture all actions in simple black and white may be appropriate for elementary school, but not for real life, within the fold of Islam. I will mention something to you. Would you ever imagine that a pious person would be truly sad for the death of an unbelieving Muskrik who worships the pagan idols? What if I told you that one of the saddest time in the life of our prophet was the death of such a person, who, in addition to his pagan beliefs, had supported Islam and Muslims. This is the uncle of the prophet Abou Taleb. Now, who do you think may fare better in the Day of Judgment: Abou Taleb or BB. Please do not answer this question, because it is neither for me nor you, but for Allah SWT to answer. But at least BB prayed a couple of Rakas at some point in her life. The serious point that I am making is that our youth must understand Islam as a package, and not be tempted by the simplistic all black or all white answers. There are many variables that need to be understood before a position is taken.

Discussion and dialog about these points is something that is useful, and we should engage in them. I appreciate that you posed the question, and indeed posed it in a most appropriate manner.

Do not hesitate to write me back or talk to me
Your brother who loves you

About the author

Guest Authors

Guest Authors

As a virtual mosque, we strive to provide a safe space for learning and discussion. We would like to invite our readers to join this process. Everyone has a reflection to share, expertise on a specific topic, or a new idea. We hope, by opening up submissions from guest authors, that we can highlight the work of new, talented writers in our virtual community.

Add Comment

  • I agree that whoever kills innocent soul or takes the laws in his hand is wrong.

    But, let muslims know that this so called “democracy” that is brought to the muslims by westerns is false. The real essence is to take the believers of Allah to becoming secularist. Dont get confused when they say next time democracy to the muslims it equals secularism. My nasiha to muslims is to safe guard your tongue and not speak ill to person who had died. But we disagree the bringing of secularism instead of kitab and sunna as ruling which governs people. This is the haqq of Allah that his ruling should govern his university over man made laws.
    Wa billahi taufiq

  • asalaamu alaykum,
    please excuse me, i once read on here that if you have a question it is ok to post it somewhere and insha-allah the moderators will decide if it is ok or not.

    well the thing is i came across this, for want of a better term movement, by accident today.
    i have never seen or heard of them before, but it appears they are quite well known, including in some muslim countries. in short, they are both from what i can gather pastors, and they have put together a “religious bill of rights,” and they want to give all religious followers the opportunaty to studdy each others religions should they wish too. i was just wondering what imam suhaib webb, or indeed anyone else knows, thinks or feels about what this organisation am4peace is preposing. i think muslims might be some what divided which is why i decided to enquire here, as i said i have never heard a shaykh refer to this before, i think some will see it as posertive, whilst others may perceive it as some intimidating christian movement.

    allahu alim.
    anyhow the website is:


  • Salaam ‘alaikum abu ubaida,

    From my reading, Ustadh Hossam was not promoting democracy so much as marking the advantages that democracy has over the dominant political paradigm found in Muslim countries, an observation that I find irrefutable.

  • Asalamualaikum wrt,

    The problem many Muslims don’t realize is that suicide bombing is not a legitimate means to achieve an end. In fact, it makes Muslim lives appear worthless (since they are willing to take their own for political ends) and hardens the hearts of the opponents of Islam. It also gives the opponents of Islam an opportunity to harm the Muslim community vis-a-vis the moral “upper-hand” that we’ve given them.

    We know that Islam forbids suicide, and the most conservative Muslim scholars, including ibn Baz, Albaani, Uthaymeen, and others all ruled against the use of these attacks, and attacking civilians in general.

    However, it has not gone unnoticed that certain scholars justify them, in certain circumstances. This has hurt the Dawah immensely, and given Muslims the image of being pathetic, anarchistic, uncivilized, and irrational.

    I believe it is time for the Ulema to review their position on this issue, and take a unified stance against all forms of immoral violence, since we can now see that we Muslims have become the greatest victims of these acts.

    As the last community sent to uphold of the religion of Allah, we have to lead by example, not words alone, that belie our actions.

    And Allah knows best.

  • Assalamualaikum,

    I agree with your article however I disagree with any notion that B.B. supported democracy. She supported democracy whenever it was convenient and meant a possibility of regaining power. I disagree with any assertion by the main stream media that she was an “angel of democracy.” Corruption was rampant throughout her tenure.

    Only Allah swt knows the state of her heart when she died.
    May Allah have mercy on her.

  • dear ustadh Hossam,

    I think most of us would agree that a secular democracy is better than a secular dictatorship. Islam would obviously flourish more in the former.

    The fact remains, as was pointed out by abu ubaida, that when choosing between western democracy, which is by nature secular, and real shari’ee government (which could have some aspects in common with democracy), it should be an easy choice. I mean real, merciful, govt. according to Quran and Sunnah modeled after the sahaba, not the kind we’ve seen with some opium-smoking bandits in certain countries.

    Democracy by definition is rule by the people. Islam by definition is being ruled by Allah. We all know this. Why should we try to mold the definition of one to appear similar to the other?

  • Being born to Pakistani (muhajir) parents, I’d like to say the following about the death of Benazir.

    It WAS a tragedy. Not because I liked her or her policies (actually I hated her and thought she was a great fitnah, even ‘adhaab, for that country), but because ANY event like this will almost inevitably result in the further death and destruction of muslims in Pakistan. This is evident already.

    And of course we all as muslims must condemn terrorism, bombings, etc., and we should continue to do so. But unfortunately, in Pakistan this type of evil is nothing new. It even happens in times of peace, subhanAllah. Obviously it’s completely motivated by politics, and no reasonable person would try to use Islam to justify that kind of killing. (no REASONABLE person, that is.) People in that country are willing to kill and be killed for political parties. Corruption is rampant, and always has been. There is no unity whatsoever. People in the street have no respect for each other; If I were to give salaams, they would almost be caught off-guard. (There are, alhamdulillah, tens of millions of good people too, who actually fear Allah) But I don’t want to turn this into a rant about what’s wrong with Pakistan…

    But all that being said, in no way whatsoever am I happy that she died. I experienced the exact same cycle of emotions when Saddam was hanged. I knew he was a bad guy, I knew he hurt people, and I even wished he was dead. But when it actually happened…I wasn’t happy at all. I just felt sad. The death of a muslim should not make other muslims happy, it SHOULD make them sad.

    Almost the exact same thing happened when Benazir died. I knew she was a horrible, corrupt (that’s a whole ‘nother discussion – the evidence is out there), power-hungry person, who was intent on destroying Islam in that country and replacing it with western-approved-pseudo-islam. (Many people would call her a kafir outright, and although they do have some evidence for that, I’m not going to get involved in that) If she called herself a muslim, and died while calling herself a muslim, no matter how screwed-up she was, I have to at least give her the benifit of the doubt. Maybe she was just extreeemely ignorant about Islam. Allahu A’lam. But my point being, after knowing all this, when I heard the news of her death…I wasn’t happy or glad at all. I just felt sorry for her and her kids.

    May Allah Guide this Ummah back to practicing Islam, and Protect us from kufr and destruction, ameen.

  • ……….and the lady next her in the car, at the time of shooting,said that the only word i heard BB say was ‘hai Allah’ and then she died. Ma Allah forgive her and have mercy on her soul!

    Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt. Call her what you like, but she was one courageous lady. men should be ashamed of themselves when you look at her himma and dedication for her work………and by the way i wasn’t a fan of hers during her life.

    she definately made problematic comments during her life, perhaps the shooting was her purification on thie earth! Lets all go back and try hard to iprove ourselves and the communities around us. ameen

    leave her alone man!

  • It’s not mentioned very often (I only found out recently), but yeah I think she was a shi’a. (Not sure which sect) But it probably doesn’t even matter; I don’t think she was known to practice it.

    I found out when she returned to Pakistan in October. When she got off the plane, she had all these bands tied around her arms (the footage has been shown widely). My mom said they’re called “Imam Zamay”, a type of talisman with name of their imams or something.

    (As I alluded to earlier, the takfir crowd could have a field day with her)

  • As-salaam ‘alaykum. I wrote the following for a local blog concerning a radio show regarding Bhutto’s passing. Maybe it’ll start some interesting discussion.

    Best wishes and salaams. Omar


    I was listening to Haseeb’s Islam in Focus yesterday (Sundays, 4:30 at Near 90 FM) and was struck by a comment his guest made.

    In this century of mass politics, it is wiser to view our politics in terms of Democracy/Dictatorship rather than Islam/Secularism. The latter is often sloganized (din wa dawla! God’s law not Man’s law!) to delegitimate governments. The former brushed aside. Here’s why I think it’s a mistake.

    We live in the era of centralized governments, where a lot of power is invested in a minority of people. In their hands is the military, the judiciary, the media, and the rest of the nation’s resources. The potential to commit mass injustice and oppression is possible at a scale premodern people would’ve found unimaginable. World War I and II, fascism, and genocides are the reality of our last century. The wars and dictatorships of premodern times simply doesn’t match up in comparison.

    In fact, much of the tolerance exhibited today (where there is tolerance) is due to the lessons accrued from all the senseless blood spilled last century. Liberals side with Muslims in the face of Islamophobia since its sister, Anti-Semitism, ended up in the Holocaust. The U.N. was established as an international security organization after the reality of international warfare reared its ugly head.

    Yet, the tipping balance from justice to mass injustice, from freedom to oppression, is still delicate, and will probably perpetually be so. Hitler, it shouldn’t be forgotten, worked within the Weimer Republic (a liberal democracy) and transformed it into a Nazi dictatorship. Subsequently, World War II began and millions perished.

    Compare with the centuries of empires. Governments back then simply lacked the resources to enforce its will on the people. Often, empires were comprised of multiple communities which self-regulated themselves. Usually, only a tariff was owed to the ruler, as a symbolic gesture of allegiance.

    There are a number of examples to choose from, but Malaysia is a classic example. Life was simple when it was composed of multiple Sultanates. In comes modernity — with the formation of political identities and the Nation State — and now it’s really complex.

    The Islam/Secularism is a real dichotomy, but not in the area of government; Islam offers no complete political system. And the entire political history of Islam, and its relationship with religion, is one too complex to write down in this blog much less a slogan.

    In the modern threat of fascism and mass injustice, the Islam/Secularism dichotomy doesn’t create the needed vigilance against it. The democracy/dictatorship dichotomy, however, is defined by it. (Case-in-point, if an “Islamic Dictatorship” was ever established, the Islam/Secularism paradigm would end up legitimating it.)

    We, as global citizens, need to be vigilant of the misuse and abuse of power. Modern governance yields new problems. And with new problems is needed pragmatic solutions. We need to be pragmatic and sensible. Or else disasters may occur from which recovery will be difficult.

  • Assalamu alaykum.

    May Allah have mercy upon her, for she has reached the consequences of her actions.

    And May He let us die in a state that is pleasing to Him ameen.

    Wa billahi tawfiq

  • ameen…may Allah forgive US who can still reap the good and evil of our deeds for saying bad things about those who have already passed if they bring no benefit to us at all.

    and only Allah knows the state of all of us when we die! so who are we to question the hearts of the people?

Leave a Comment