Earlier this month, the Senate of the United States released to the world the CIA torture report.
Throughout the western world there has long been great respect for the USA, a longtime defender of democratic governance. That is not quite the position in many Muslim majority countries, where there is considerable suspicion of much of US policy, which has supported many dictatorial regimes.
Some prominent Americans have warned that the release of the torture report could have terrible repercussions around the Muslim world. As Robert Fisk writes in The Independent 10 December 2014:
“ All nonsense. The CIA’s depravities are not going to infuriate the Muslim world – because the Muslim world has been enraged about these crimes for years. They were the victims, for heaven’s sake. They were the witnesses. They knew the truth long before our masters admitted the truth to us. These poor men – and women, if we include the female victims of rape at Abu Ghraib, whose pictures we were never allowed to see – came home, most of them, years ago, and told their families and friends all about the iniquities we inflicted upon them. Theirs was the only testament that counted. It was true.”
He points out that what they are afraid of is the American people, who have been lied to by those who are supposed to keep them secure.
The issue of torture is one which has long been settled in Islamic teaching, if not in what is practiced in Muslim majority countries.
In a statement issued by all major US Islamic organisations in 2009, the position of Islam was clearly stated, in response to earlier revelations of American use of torture:
“Our religious history is replete with stories demanding that we condemn abuse and torture. The Prophet Moses (AS) sacrificed his royal position to stop an act of torture. The Prophet Jesus (AS) was tortured in an exercise of the brutality of power. The Prophet Muhammad (SAS) forbade the mistreatment of prisoners. Husayn (AS), the Prophet’s grandson, was denied food and water, an act of torture, the abhorrence of which is now part of Muslim cultural memory.
We are compelled to speak out against torture—just as we condemn acts of terrorism because of their immoral nature. We challenge our co-religionists to live to a higher standard and we challenge our fellow Americans to live to a higher standard.
The torture of human beings at the behest of the American government must be condemned. Extraordinary rendition must be stopped. Simply because another country allows torture does not mean we should encourage and utilize the moral weakness of others. When we ratified the Convention Against Torture President Ronald Reagan said, “[We] clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.” The violence of torture is the result of power without a moral compass; it is not a model that we as Americans and Muslims believe is one that should be emulated.”
Indeed even the torture of animals is forbidden.
”The Prophet (s) said, “Allah has cursed the one who inflicts pain upon animals.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim] This infliction of pain may include:
Killing of the animal for no reason or amputate an organ while the animal is still alive.
Torturing the animal by exposing it to loud noises and fearful images.
Tying the animal and shooting it dead or slaughter other animals as it watches.
Many images of animal torture exist today like spearing a live bull, cutting the tails of dogs, killing animals in front of other animals, snipping ears or branding and burning the backs of cattle, tying the legs of horses permanently making them run according to racing regulation and locking up fierce animals from the wild into cages for humans to view as an amusement.