July 30 2004

The 9/11 Commission and Jihad
By Andrew G. Bostom | July 30, 2004

While I see some limited evidence of progress in the 9/11
Commissioner's understanding of the global jihad we are facing,
ultimately their report resorted to the same tired and ahistorical
canards that distort the mainstream tradition - indeed which are
central to Islam - of jihad war. The report mentions the ad
nauseatingly referenced Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328), who
despite his Muslim orthodoxy, now serves as a convenient prop for
those who contend, either deceitfully or in blissful ignorance, that
jihad war is not a main tenet of traditional Islam. Once again a
distorted historical nexus is made between Ibn Taymiyya, but not
countless other seminal jurists and theologians who expressed
identical opinions, throughout the history of Islamic civilization,
and 20th century ideologues like Sayyid Qutb, and the Muslim
Brotherhood movement. This flimsy construct, reiterated in the 9/11
Commission Report, is completely untenable.

Jihad wars have been waged continuously for well over a millennium,
through the present, because jihad, which means `to strive in the
path of Allah,' embodies an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were
formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the
8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of
Qur'anic verses (for e.g., 9:5,6; 9:29; 4:76-79; 2: 214-15; 8:39-42),
and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., `hadith,' acts and sayings
of the Prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al-Bukhari [d.
869] and Muslim [d. 874]). The consensus on the nature of jihad from
all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (i.e., Maliki,
Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i) is clear:

Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996), Maliki jurist 1

Jihad is a precept of Divine institution. Its performance by certain
individuals may dispense others from it. We Malikis [one of the four
schools of Muslim jurisprudence] maintain that it is preferable not
to begin hostilities with the enemy before having invited the latter
to embrace the religion of Allah except where the enemy attacks
first. They have the alternative of either converting to Islam or
paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared
against them.

Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Hanbali jurist 2

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. As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight,
such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped
and their likes, they shall not be killed unless they actually fight
with words (e.g. by propaganda) and acts (e.g. by spying or otherwise
assisting in the warfare).

>From (primarily) the Hanafi school (as given in the Hidayah) 3

It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before
been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to
embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders,
directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because
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... If the infidels, upon receiving
the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, 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-Mawardi (d. 1058 ), Shafi'i jurist 4

The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al-Harb (the arena of battle) are of
two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they
have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir of the army has the
option of fighting accordance with what he judges to be in
the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun...
Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although
such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call
of his Messenger...[I]t is forbidden to...begin an attack before
explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the
miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to
encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept
after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those
whom the call has reached....

In Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist (Maliki), renowned philosopher,
historian, and sociologist, summarized these consensus opinions from
five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the
uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:

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...The
other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy
war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of
defense...Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.5

By the time of the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari's death in
923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the
Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia,
as well as on Christian eastern European lands. The Christian
kingdoms of Armenia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia,
Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania - in addition to parts of Poland
and Hungary - were also conquered and Islamized. When the Muslim
armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium
of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned
a triumphalist jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail
the number of infidels slain or enslaved, the cities and villages
which were pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods
seized. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as
well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Hindu and Buddhist
writings that survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests,
independently validate this narrative and complement the Muslim
perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the
non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.

But surely the much-lionized Sufi tradition offers a healthy
corrective to the so-called `narrow strain' of Islam epitomized by
Ibn Taymiyya, and the consensus opinions (cardinal examples cited
above) of many other classical scholars representing all four main
schools of Sunni Islamic Law. Indeed, the scholar and theologian
W.M. Watt wrote that al-Ghazali (d. 1111), the famous theologian,
philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism, had been:

acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after
Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity...He brought
orthodoxy and mysticism into closer contact...the theologians became
more ready to accept the mystics as respectable, while the mystics
were more careful to remain within the bounds of orthodoxy. 6

The 9/11 Commissioners, and those who accept the views stated in
their report, should read the lauded al-Ghazali's writings on jihad
war to understand that they differ not one whit from the opinions
expressed by the demonized Ibn Taymiyya. Below is what al-Ghazali
actually wrote about jihad war, and the treatment of the vanquished
non-Muslim [dhimmi] peoples (from the Wagjiz, written in 1101 C.E.): must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once
a may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they
are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One
may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the Ahl
al-Kitab [People of The Book - Jews and Christians, typically] is
enslaved, his marriage is [automatically] revoked. A woman and her
child taken into slavery should not be separated...One may cut down
their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may
take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as
they need.... 7

The Commissioners might also find particularly edifying the writings
of two contemporary Muslim scholars of jihad, the late Majid
Khadduri, and Bassam Tibi. Majid Khadurri wrote the following in

Thus the jihad may be regarded as Islam's instrument for carrying out
its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers, if not
in the prophethood of Muhammad (as in the case of the dhimmis), at
least in the belief of God. The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have
declared `some of my people will continue to fight victoriously for
the sake of the truth until the last one of them will combat the
anti-Christ.' Until that moment is reached the jihad, in one form or
another will remain as a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim
community. It follows that the existence of a dar al-harb is
ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar
al-Islam permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is
reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain
disabilities- must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar
al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The
universality of Islam, in its all embracing creed, is imposed on the
believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and
political if not strictly military. 8

And in 1996, Bassam Tibi wrote this:

At its core, Islam is a religious mission to all humanity. Muslims
are religiously obliged to disseminate the Islamic faith throughout
the world. `We have sent you forth to all mankind' (Q. 34:28). If
non-Muslims submit to conversion or subjugation, this call (da'wa)
can be pursued peacefully. If they do not, Muslims are obliged to
wage war against them. In Islam, peace requires that non-Muslims
submit to the call of Islam, either by converting or by accepting the
status of a religious minority (dhimmi) and paying the imposed poll
tax, jizya. World peace, the final stage of the da'wa, is reached
only with the conversion or submission of all mankind to
Islam...Muslims believe that expansion through war is not aggression
but a fulfillment of the Qur'anic command to spread Islam as a way to
peace. The resort to force to disseminate Islam is not war (harb), a
word that is used only to describe the use of force by non-Muslims.
Islamic wars are not hurub (the plural of harb) but rather futuhat,
acts of `opening' the world to Islam and expressing Islamic jihad.
Relations between dar al-Islam, the home of peace, and dar al-harb,
the world of unbelievers, nevertheless take place in a state of war,
according to the Qur'an and to the authoritative commentaries of
Islamic jurists. Unbelievers who stand in the way, creating obstacles
for the da'wa, are blamed for this state of war, for the da'wa can be
pursued peacefully if others submit to it. In other words, those who
resist Islam cause wars and are responsible for them. Only when
Muslim power is weak is `temporary truce' (hudna) allowed (Islamic
jurists differ on the definition of `temporary'). 9

In 1916, the great Dutch scholar of Islam, C. Snouck Hurgronje
underscored how the jihad doctrine of world conquest remained a
potent force among the Muslim masses 13 centuries later,

[I]t would be a gross mistake to imagine that the idea of universal
conquest may be considered as obliterated...the canonists and the
vulgar still live in the illusion of the days of Islam's greatness.
The legists continue to ground their appreciation of every actual
political condition on the law of the holy war, which war ought never
be allowed to cease entirely until all mankind is reduced to the
authority of Islam- the heathen by conversion, the adherents of
acknowledged Scripture by submission. Even if they admit the
improbability of this at present, they are comforted an encouraged by
the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the
Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his
arms; and they fervently join with the Friday preacher, when he
announces the prayer taken from the Qur'an: `And lay not upon us, our
Lord, that for which we have not strength, but blot out our sins and
forgive us and have pity upon us. Thou art our Master; grant us then
to conquer the unbelievers.' And the common people are willingly
taught by the canonists and feed their hope of better days upon the
innumerable legends of the olden time and the equally innumerable
apocalyptic prophecies about the future. The political blows that
fall upon Islam make less impression...than the senseless stories about
the power of the Sultan of Stambul, that would instantly be revealed
if he were not surrounded by treacherous servants, and the fantastic
tidings of the miracles that Allah works in the Holy Cities of Arabia
which are inaccessible to the unfaithful. The conception of the
Khalifate still exercises a fascinating influence, regarded in the
light of a central point of union against the unfaithful.' 10

Writing a quarter century after Hurgronje in 1942, Professor Arthur
Jeffery stressed why detailed consideration of the institution of
jihad remained essential, `not merely academic,' for understanding
the contemporary Islamic world

for the theory of the world which it enshrines is still fundamental
to the thinking of great masses of Muslim people to the present day.
The troubles in India which lead up to the great Patna conspiracy
trials of 1864 were due to the fact that Syed Ahmad of Oudh had
preached against the Sikh cities of the Panjab a Jihad which later
turned to one against all non-Muslim groups. The bloody episode of
the Padri rebellion in Malaysia was due to the preaching of Jihad
against the pagan Battak tribes. The Fula wars in the Hausa country
[Western Sudan] in the early nineteenth century, which lead to Osman
Dan Fodio's setting up the ephemeral sultanate of Sokoto, began as a
jihad preached against the pagan king of Gobir. The Moplah rebellion
in South India in 1921, with its massacres, forcible conversions,
desecration of temples, and outrages on the hapless Hindu villagers,
could be heard openly proclaimed as a Jihad in the streets of Madras. 11

With the resurgence of jihad military campaigns and major acts of
jihad terrorism literally across the globe in the last decades of the
20th century through the present, Jeffery's additional insights from
62 years ago, resonate prophetically:

It is of course, easy to raise the objection that a Jihad in the old
sense is impossible of realization in the modern world, for Islam is
far too badly divided for anything like a general Jihad to be
contemplated and far too weak in technical equipment for a Jihad to
be successful even if started. This does not dispose of the fact,
however, that the earlier conception of Jihad has left a deposit in
Muslim thinking that is still to be reckoned with in the political
relations of the Western world with Islam. 12

Although time grows dangerously short, it is not too late for the
9/11 Commissioners and, more importantly, those who share their
assessment to broaden their understanding of the depth of the
ideological threat posed by jihad and consider more concrete,
expansive actions to be taken, such as the creation of the Alliance
of Western and Democratic Societies recently proposed by Dr. Raphael


1 Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani, La Risala (Epitre sur les elements du
dogme et de la loi de l'Islam selon le rite malikite.) Translated
from Arabic by Leon Bercher. 5th ed. Algiers, 1960, p. 165. [English
translation, in Bat Ye'or, The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under
Islam, Cranston, NJ, 1996, p. 295]

2 Ibn Taymiyyah, in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern
Islam, (Princeton, NJ. : Markus Wiener, 1996, p. 49)

3 From the Hidayah, vol. Ii. P. 140, in Thomas P. Hughes, `A
Dictionary of Islam,' `Jihad' Pp. 243-248. (London, United Kingdom.:
W.H. Allem, 1895).

4 Al- Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance [al-Ahkam
as-Sultaniyyah, (London, United Kingdom.: Ta-Ha, 1996, p. 60).

5 Ibn Khaldun, `The Muqudimmah. An Introduction to History,'
Translated by Franz Rosenthal. (New York, NY.: Pantheon, 1958, vol.
1, p. 473).

6 Watt, W.M. [Translator]. The Faith and Practice of Al-Ghazali,
Oxford, England, 1953, p. 13.

7. Al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam
al-Safi'i, Beirut, 1979, pp. 186, 190-91. [English translation by Dr.
Michael Schub]

8 Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam, 1955, Richmond,
VA and London, England, pp. 63-64.

9 Tibi, Bassam. `War and Peace in Islam,' in The Ethics of War and
Peace: Religious and Secular Perspectives, edited by Terry Nardin,
1996, Princeton, N.J., pp. 129-131.

10 Hurgronje, Snouck. Mohammedanism. New York, 1916, p. 59.

11 Jeffery, Arthur. `The Political Importance of Islam,' Journal of
Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 1, 1942, p. 388.

12 Jeffery, A. `The Political Importance of Islam,' pp. 388-389.

Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Medicine at
Brown University Medical School, and occasional contributor to
Frontpage Magazine. He is the editor of a forthcoming essay
collection entitled, "The Legacy of Jihad".

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress