Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hacking In The Name of Islam - Part 2

Islam Online, a famous site for Muslims conducts live fatwa sessions from time to time. During the live fatwa session, the online users could voice out their curiosity and questions towards the invited guest scholar. An online fatwa on this subject was produced during a live fatwa session with Sheikh Faisal Mawlawy, vice president of the Islamic European Fatwa Council. A portion of his fatwa is depicted below:
Launching any attacks on anti-Islamic and Zionist websites is strongly prohibited unless they start attacking Islamic ones…

When asked about Zionist sites that libel and slander Islamic symbols, Mawlawy said that Muslims could answer back only if attacks on Islamic sites had been offensive and had disrupted the site’s online status. When asked about Christian and secular sites which spread corrupted beliefs and wicked ideas, Mawlawy said that Muslims had a mission to make things clear peacefully.(Bunt, p 46)

Another online fatwa through Islam Online is by Dr. Sano Koutoub Moustapha who is the Professor of Jurisprudence & Its Principles at the International Islamic University, Malaysia. The question raised is as follows:
“Respect scholar, I’d like to know the Islamic ruling on hacking web sites that serve the American and Israeli interests on the Internet?”

The answer given:
“Your question seems to be too general. However, Islam does stand for better cooperation and communications with nations who are not destroying and fighting us. This is clearly stated in Almighty Allah’s saying: “Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo ! Allah loveth the just dealers. Allah forbiddeth you only those who warred against you on account of religion and have driven you out from your homes and helped to drive you out, that ye make friends of them. Whosoever maketh friends of them (All) such are wrong doers.” (Al-Mumtahanah: 8-9). This means that one should differentiate between those enemies who are killing our innocent and helpless Muslims around the world and those enemies who help or assist them in doing so. In addition to that, one has to do his best to tackle and hack those sites which are meant to murder and kill Muslims. Furthermore, Muslims should be able to discover the plans and strategies of our enemies in order for them to come up with strategies that will protect us against the attacks of the enemies. In this regard, I shall say there is no harm or prohibition to hack any site meant to destroy Muslims or occupy our lands. It is a legitimate right to defend ourselves by using all possible means and tools including hacking and destroying those evil sites. (Islam Online)

With regard to fatwas given by both scholars, we could decide that it is allowed for Hizbullah the pro-Palestinian Lebanese group to retaliate on attack on their sites’ Internet Service Provider ITX in January 2001. The pro-Israeli group ‘mOsad’ claimed responsibility for the attack as part of their activity which commenced in November 2002. ‘mOsad’ activities include attacks on commercial Arabic sites, Qatar’s Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Mohammed Khatami’s official site and various other sites in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.(Bunt, p 49)

In drawing the ethical conclusion for the case of Islamic hacking, definitely we have to refer to the sources of Islamic ethics: Quran and Sunnah or Tradition. First and foremost, Allah prohibits us from attacking a nation (in the case of war) unless we are being attacked. Back to the case of hacking, the action of defacing or attacking any website without being attacked first is utterly not permissible. Even if the owner of a site realizes that his or her site has been attacked, the owner needs to trace the right attacker; not merely launching attack without full knowledge of the attacker.

Allah said: “Fight in the Way of Allah against those who fight you, but do not go beyond the limits. Allah does not love those who go beyond the limits.(2:190)

From Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 86:
Narrated Salim Abu-An-Nadr:
'Abdullah bin Abi Aufa wrote and I read what he wrote that Allah's Apostle said, "When you face them ( i.e. your enemy) then be patient."

All the same, one would argue that we as Muslims should utilize any means available to defend our country and religion. Just take the current situation in Muslim countries, since most times the Muslims do not have the military facilities or they are deprived from using it, we might argue that the Muslims could make use of the computing skills to weaken the enemies. Similar reasons have been given by the UNITY hackers group to justify the attack on Israeli’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) depicted previously.

Undeniably, this argument is still very much an open discussion. But for this assignment we wrap up the discussion by stating that hacking the sites that have been identified as the real culprits is permissible.

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