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The 9/11 Commission and Jihad

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  • The 9/11 Commission and Jihad
    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