Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Some more thoughts on Jihad...

9:5; the verse of the sword (ayat al-sayf)...; of Greater and lesser jihad...what Khomeini meant about jihad and Islam

More about Jihad

The term Jihad derives from the verb “jahida= “has fought”. This is the 3rd variation of the verb. Except in four cases (6:109 16:40 24:53 e 35:42), this is the regular meaning in the Qur’an. Only the first form “Jahada” means “to make some effort”. We have another often employed verb, “to kill”, that takes the root: qtl, employed 187 times in the Qur’an, o/w 25 times as absolute imperative. Take for example the Old Testament: there, you can find this verb 4 times, and NOT to kill 46 times. In Bukhari, 97% of the verses talking about jihad mean war and only 3% talk about “inner struggle”. 75% of the Sirah is about jihad and war, 67% of the Meccan Qura’nic verses talk about infidels and policy, In the Medinan ones: 51%. So, actually, religion is the minor part of the revelation

'Jihad' can mean self-improvement as well as holy war, but the problem is that the Qur’an leaves room for both interpretations. In no other holy book, do you find a concept which is anywhere near the concept of Jihad. Reading the Bible, it certainly does not leave any room for such ambiguity. There is a difference between the linguistic and the Shari’ah meaning of Jihad: the linguistic one means: “to strife, struggle” (31:15, 29:6, 29:8, 29:9) (all Meccan Surahs, that are actually abrogated by the Medinan ones). The shari’ah one: “to fight and kill kuffars (4:95 9:41 61:11). Classical jihadi verses are for example: 9:29 (that allows dhimmitude (submission) and jiziha) 8:12; 33:61; 4:74; 5:51; 9:30; 3:110 and

: “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do” Yusuf Ali.

2:216: “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But God knoweth, and ye know not“ Yusuf Ali).

Prescribed=fard. It is thus ok to persecute the kaafir in their land and to call them to Islam, to fight them if they don’t submit. So jihad becomes “
kifaayah (obligation for all),And now let’s take a look to the famous verse of the sword (9:5) (ayat al-sayf): it abrogates 124 other Surah’s, especially all “nice ones”, because it was almost (if not) one of the last revealed, during the farewell speech of Muhammad (held by Ali) after the pilgrimage in Mecca, one year after its conquest and one year before Muhammad’s death

: “Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. Hilali-Khan):

In this discourse, the Muslims have been told clearly and explicitly that they will inherit the rewards promised by Allah only if they take active part in the conflict with kufr, for that is the criterion which distinguishes true Muslims from hypocrites. Therefore true Muslims should take active part in Jihad, without minding dangers, obstacles, difficulties, temptations and the like.  It has been revealed when Muhammad had already conquered
Mecca. There were as well pilgrims in the pilgrimage, so Muhammad said: Allah has freed me from the treaties with the pagans. They were given four months for converting, otherwise, with Q 9.5 it was ok to kill them in order there not to be any more fitnah (perdition).

What says the renamed Ibn Kathir (1301-72) in his Tafsir on that? “The verse of the sword abrogates all peace treaties between Muhammad and the idolaters. 9:5 is defensive and offensive. It is against pagans that are near and far. (Surah 9 has the last verses pronounced by Muhammad. (This Surah is known by two names -- AT-TAUBAH and AL-BARA'AT, The second name BARA' AT (Release) , because Allah gives the order to breach the oath taken till now). (ayat al-sayf).

You can read a thorough analysis of this verse, including its context and application here

A glimpse:
CHRONOLOGICAL AND TEXTUAL BACKGROUND: Yusuf Ali’s Q commentary, pg 435: verses 1 – 29 were revealed during the 10th month (Shawwal), of the year A.H. 9 (630/631 A.D. Muhammad died 632 A.D.). It was proclaimed by Muhammad’s cousin, Ali, to the various Muslim and non-Muslim pilgrims in Mecca to give Muhammad’s new policy a wide hearing. He also states that the rest of the Surah (30 – 129) was spoken by Muhammad months earlier (sic! Addition mine), prior to the first 29 verses, and they sum up the lessons of Muhammad’s earlier expedition to Tabuk. This means that the chapter’s first passage (1-29) is chronologically the last passage spoken by Muhammad. All Islamic scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, agree that the first 29 verses or so were some of the last Qur’an verses spoken by Muhammad. The introduction to chapter 9 in Mawdudi’s Commentary states that by the time chapter 9 was spoken 1/3 of the entire Arabian Peninsula had bent the knee to Islam: The chapter’s tone is martial: there are many verses related to violence

All this brings us to the
Mukawama: this is the Islamic doctrine about the perpetual war: it is ok to sign treaties and ceasefires, but when conditions are right, you can go to war and all pacts are nil. Treaties must not be longer than 10 years old. This comes from Muhammad’s experience with the treaty of Hudabiyah, 628, broken by Muhammad two years later. From this event on, this is he classical Islamic tactic

For Islamic apologists: how can we explain the defensive conception of Jihad with the phenomenal expansion of Islam? There are 300 millions of Christians in 60 Muslim countries, and in most of these cases, they are persecuted. So let’s ask,
where are the Christian terrorists? And if the Muslims have conquered land, so why should it be forbidden for Christians to take back what once belonged to them? Muhammad fought 78 battles, o/w only one was defensive (battle of the Trench, but even in that case, this was due to the constant harassment of the Meccan caravans). There are so many ahadiths that have as subject “jihad”.

We often hear as well about the
Greater and lesser jihad (striving against inward desires vs. fighting in battles) is a distinction based on a weak hadith; this is a sufi, late tradition (11th century). This is a non exclusive concept, but complementary. Moreover it is based on a “weak” hadith. Please give a look herehere; herehere; and here.

Some Muslims cite the pacific entry of Muhammad in
Mecca 630 A.D. and the large conversion of people to Islam. There, it should not be forgotten that there was the memory of what had happened to the Jews of Medina (all 7-900 beheaded)! So, it is normal to ask ourselves, why didn’t they choose the religion of “peace” two year earlier, during the firs pilgrimage of Muhammad?

Let’s take an example of an hadit:

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said: "I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives an property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah." (Bukhari 1.2.24 and Sahih Muslim 1.0030)

Another one: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah, … If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them) Muslim 4294)

And what about the freedom of religion in Islam (we will debate that later on, in another post) Bukhari cites Abu Musa, another accepted transmitter, who related how "a man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism: Ibn al-Mu'azz, one of the Hadith story tellers, said: ‘I will not sit down unless you kill him, as the verdict of Allah and his messenger.' (Bukhari Vol 4, p. 107)

Let’s give a new look at what was Khomeini about Islam as religion of peace:

“Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world....But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world.” The goal of this conquest would be to establish the hegemony of Islamic law. As Khomeini put it: “What is the good of us [i.e., the mullahs] asking for the hand of a thief to be severed or an adulteress to be stoned to death when all we can do is recommend such punishments, having no power to implement them?” Khomeini accordingly delivered notorious rebuke to the Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace crowd: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those [who say this] are witless. Islam says: Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by [the unbelievers]? Islam says: Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter [their armies]…. Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! There are hundreds of other [Qur’anic] psalms and Hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim

And what are the religious fundamentals of suicide bombing? Please give a look at this article (here). This is not just a modern phenomenon: suicide attacks were already blamed for example around 1800 (John Paul Jones: 1788 with the Turks). In fact, the US Marine and US Navy because of Arab belligerency and has influenced the US Constitution 1787: 127 Americans were taken as prisoners from North African pirates.

Now, let’s ask to our dear Muslim brothers : how can you put out of context these jihadi verses? Or are you thinking that they are only valuable during Muhammad’s time?

- 9:5
(Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. Hilali-Khan)
- 8:1; 8:12; 48:16; 8:39 (
And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily God doth see all that they do.)
9:29 (
war against infidels and institution of submission (dhimmitude) if they don’t pay the tax
- 8:65; 22:39; 47:4 [
So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them (Hilali-Khan), (Tafsir ibn Kathir: behead completely their neck with a spade)
 22:16; 5:33; 9:111 (guaranty of paradise for who dies and is killed for Allah’s cause.
- 4:89: “
kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them” (Pickthall)

- 9:36: fight against the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) collectively as they fight against you collectively. But know that Allah is with those who are Al-Muttaqun (Pious) (Hilali-Khan),

All this Ayat: 8:39; 9:51; 9:36; 9:41; Bukhari 9.84.59 (
will not sit down till he has been killed) show that in the Sunnah, jihad is obligatory for Muslims when they are confronted with kuffar, and that it is ok to take the initiative.

1) It is very interesting to note the translation of 9:30: the correct translation would be “
that God could attack/smite/destroy them” (qaatalahumu llahu anna yu’fakoona”. But in the different translation you find (might be the verse is too embarrassing to be translated correctly) fight (Picktall, Palmer) God's curse be on them (Issue Ali, Hilali-Khan, Sher Ali, Sale). GOD condemns (Khalifa) God assail them (Arberry) God do battle (Rodwell). Destroy (Shakir): the only one that correctly translates the verse.
2) It is interesting to note that in
Tunisia only the Meccan Surah’s are teached (for example Q 62


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