Monday, 6 April 2009

Is Jihad just an interior struggle or is it inherently violent?

Let’s give a look to the Islamic orthodoxy

Violence in the name of Islam has caused mass death, misery and suffering in every century. As the scholar Bill Warner has documented, the Holocaust that Islam has waged against non-Muslims for 1400 years has cost the lives of 270 million kafirs. The key point is that when Muslims do not have power, their ability to pursue jihad is limited. When they have power, it becomes easier (i.e. the mullahs in Iran, the Taliban in Afghanistan, etc.) So if Islamists capture power in many nations in this century, as they hope to do, the victims that will fall to Islam may very easily surpass the victims that fell to communism and Fascism.

Is it incorrect to say that all schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that it is part of the responsibility of the umma to subjugate the non-Muslims world through Jihad? Armed Jihad is just one part of the many kinds of Jihad that exist in Islam. Armed jihad can only be carried out in a legitimate battlefield and must be commanded by a hakim or Muslim leader. Armed jihad is only one of many kinds of jihad. But to assert this does nothing whatsoever to refute the assertion that all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach that the infidels must be subjugated through jihad. That subjugation need not be accomplished by force of arms. If it can be affected through stealthy, non-violent means, as is being attempted on a large scale in the West today, so much the better.

all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence do teach this subjugation:

Shafi'i school: A Shafi'i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians...until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh ‘Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)...while remaining in their ancestral religions.” ('Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).

Of course,
there is no caliph today, and upon this fact hinges the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes "obligatory for everyone" ('Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: 'Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until "the final descent of Jesus." After that, "nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus' descent" (o9.8).

Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.” However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II. 140)

Maliki school: Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”

Of course, these are all
extremely old authorities -- such that one might reasonably assume that whatever they say couldn’t possibly still be the consensus of the Islamic mainstream. The laws of the United States have evolved considerably since the adoption of the Constitution, which itself has been amended. So why shouldn’t this be true of Islamic law as well? Many observers assume that it must be, and that contemporary jihadists' departure from mainstream Islam must be located in its preference for the writings of ancient jurists rather than modern ones. But in this, unfortunately, they fail to reckon with the implications of the closing of the gate of ijtihad.

Ijtihad is the process of arriving at a decision on a point of Islamic law through study of the Qur’an and Sunnah. From the beginning of Islam, the authoritative study of such sources was reserved to a select number of scholars who fulfilled certain qualifications, including a comprehensive knowledge of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as knowledge of the principle of analogical reasoning (qiyas) by which legal decisions are made; knowledge of the consensus (ijma) on any given question of Muhammad, his closest companions, and the scholars of the past; and more, including living a blameless life. The founders of the schools of Islamic jurisprudence are among the small number of scholars -- mujtahedin -- thus qualified to perform ijithad. But they all lived very long ago; for many centuries, independent study of the Qur’an and Sunnah has been discouraged among Muslims, who are instead expected to adhere to the rulings of one of those established schools. Since the death of Ahmed ibn Hanbal, from whom the Hanbali school takes its name, in 855 A.D., no one has been recognized by the Sunni Muslim community as a mujtahid of the first class -- that is, someone who is qualified to originate legislation of his own, based on the Qur’an and Sunnah but not upon the findings of earlier mujtahedin.

Islamic scholar Cyril Glasse notes that “
the door of ijtihad is closed as of some nine hundred years, and since then the tendency of jurisprudence (fiqh) has been to produce only commentaries upon commentaries and marginalia.”

Meanwhile, in saying that “armed jihad can only be carried out in a legitimate battlefield and must be commanded by a hakim or Muslim leader,” and that “Islam does command jihad unless for a defensive cause, not in offence to kill or cause destruction,” means to confuse the distinctions that are made in the Islamic theology of jihad.
It is true that offensive jihad – which he denies even exists – can only be called by the caliph as leader of the Muslims, but defensive jihad, as we have seen, becomes fard ayn, or personally incumbent upon every individual Muslim to participate in somehow, when a Muslim land is attacked.

About the claim that jihad can only be defensive, it is contradicted by numerous Islamic authorities. As already explained above, in his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, the earliest such biography, Ibn Ishaq explains that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya – the tax specified in Qur'an 9:29 for Jews, Christians, and other “People of the Book.” Mainstream Islamic commentators on the Qur’an including Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that the teachings on offensive jihad abrogate every peace treaty in the Qur'an.

All eminent scholars of Islam like Al-Jalalain, At-Tabari and Ibn Kathir did teach about using violence and terror against the non-Muslims and Muslims in their interpretations of the Qur’an.”

Tafsir al-Jalalayn, a highly influential commentary on the Qur’an, says in its exposition of Qur’an 9:29 that Muslims must fight against those who “follow not the Religion of Truth,” for Islam “is firm and abrogates other deens [religions].”

Ibn Kathir explains about the same verse: “This honourable Ayah [verse] was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book…Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination.” As the Romans had not attacked the Muslims, apparently Muhammad himself did not believe that jihad was solely defensive.

Tabari? He quotes an early Muslim: “We fight people until they believe in Allah. He who believes in Allah and His Messenger has protected his life and possessions from us. As for one who disbelieves, we will fight him forever in the Cause of Allah. Killing him is a small matter to us.” He registers no disapproval of these ideas.

As for the claim that the majority of the Muslims in the west, or even in the world are moderate….Being a
moderate Muslim does mean that he reject the religion's teaching that Islam must subjugate the world under the rule of Islam. While it is obvious that there are millions of Muslims who are not fighting jihad in any way today, there is no evidence that they actually reject the supremacist teachings of Islam.

Did Muhammad promote the concept of interfaith dialogue and did he show good examples by building a good relationship with the Jews and Christians in Medina during his period there? In reality, according to the earliest Islamic sources he exiled two of the three Jewish tribes of Medina and massacred the third. There is no evidence at all for the claim that the Qur’an emphasizes that there is no compulsion in the religion (Q 2:256) as if this lone Qur’anic phrase itself abrogated the book’s many exhortations of hatred for and warfare against unbelievers. Unfortunately, that has never been the position of any school of Islamic jurisprudence. (on Q 2:256. please see one of our next posts)

We incur now the danger that we will ignore or downplay the jihad threat out of wishful thinking and ignorance, and deceiving ourselves into believing that we are facing a tiny minority that has twisted and hijacked Islam while the broad majority of Muslims support Western pluralism and the idea of peaceful coexistence with unbelievers as equals on an indefinite basis. While all Muslims are indeed not involved with the jihad, the problem is much more deeply rooted and broader in scope than apparently realized; We hope that everyone will study these matters closely in order to provide a more realistic and comprehensive picture of what is popularly known as the terror threat.

Last but not least, it is
unfortunate that many invoke the Crusades and Inquisitions, as if the existence of these historical facts somehow mitigates the reality of Islamic jihad activity today, or frees us from the responsibility of confronting its religious aspects. The reality is that the jihadists are recruiting and justifying their actions by reference to core tenets of Islamic theology and law (the blood spilled over by Christians is not anchored at all in the original teaching of the Gospel). The longer we ignore this or pretend that it is not happening or is unimportant, the longer this recruitment will continue without any kind of response being mounted against it at all.

For more on that:


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