The following essay by Henrik Ræder Clausen was originally published at Europe News, and is republished here with his permission.
We need a break from the Jihad
by Henrik Ræder Clausen
Colleen LaRose, commonly known as “Jihad Jane” for her plans to kill Lars Vilks, is just another example of the worldwide Jihad movement, which seeks to impose Islam on our free societies.
Now, the idea of having some arcane Arabic religion imposed on us is somewhat far-fetched, also in light of the fact that the Western world provides freedom and living conditions rarely found in the Islamic world. In order that we may pause from fear of random killing of our cartoonists, and that we can have a free debate on the merits of Islam in the West, we really need a pause from the Jihad.
A temporary truce of 10 years, a so-called ‘Hudna’ in Islamic parlance, should do. After we have spent that time considering the relevance — or the lack thereof — in the West, we can resume fighting just fine. Violent Islamists would resume vilifying Jews, assaulting cartoonists and hijacking ships, non-violent Islamists would keep using anti-discrimination and libel laws to suffocate our freedoms — but we in the West would have a much clearer idea of what we are facing and how to counter it.
What is the Jihad?
Jihad is the Arabic word for effort, struggle, undertaking hardships for some end. In the context of Islam, it means the effort to make Islam reign superior, as set out by the example of the religion’s founder Muhammad, who made it very clear that those who believed in him had an obligation to fight for his religion. Some examples, courtesy of TheNobleQuran.com. Note also the translators’ comments in brackets, clarifying the supposedly clear prose of Allah:
|Qu’ran 8:39:||And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allâh) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allâh Alone [in the whole of the world].|
|Qu’ran 8:60:||And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allâh and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allâh does know. And whatever you shall spend in the Cause of Allâh shall be repaid unto you, and you shall not be treated unjustly.|
|Qur’an 9:5:||Then when the Sacred Months (the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islâmic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikûn (see V.2:105) wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush.|
|Qur’an 9:29:||Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allâh, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allâh and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islâm) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.|
|Qur’an 9:88:||But the Messenger and those who believed with him strove hard and fought with their wealth and their lives. Such are they for whom are the good things, and it is they who will be successful.|
|Ibn Ishaq p. 325:||Muslims, fight in Allah’s Cause. Stand firm and you will prosper. Help the Prophet, obey him, give him your allegiance, and your religion will be victorious.|
|Ibn Ishaq p. 324:||He said, ‘Fight them so that there is no more rebellion, and religion, all of it, is for Allah only. Allah must have no rivals.’|
|Quran 2:216:||Jihâd (holy fighting in Allâh’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.|
|Quran 2:190:||And fight in the Way of Allâh those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors.|
A footnote rich in meaning
Jihad is holy fighting in Allah’s Cause with full force of numbers and weaponry. It is given the utmost importance in Islam and is one of its pillars. By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior (which means only Allah has the right to be worshiped), and Islam is propagated. By abandoning Jihad Islam is destroyed and Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish. Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim. He who tries to escape from this duty, or does not fulfill this duty, dies as a hypocrite.
Here we have the holy war at its finest, without a hint of remorse. It is even elevated to a pillar of Islam, a status later revoked in the final edition of the religion. The question is, should not Jihad have remained an official pillar, like the Egyptian Islamic Jihad thinks? It is, after all, the most important novelty that Muhammad introduced to the Arab religion, which had most the core elements of Islam (tax, prayer, pilgrimage, Allah worship) centuries before Muhammad (see Al-Tabari Vol. VI, pp. 19-26). Fasting was inspired by the Jews of Medina. In any case, although Jihad is not officially a pillar of Islam, it is exactly the modern-day Jihad movement that causes us much suffering as well as significant security expenses.
Next, this sentence:
By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s Word is made superior (which means only Allah has the right to be worshiped), and Islam is propagated.
A more open admission of guilt would be hard to find. The purpose of Jihad is to establish Islamic rule, period.
By abandoning Jihad Islam is destroyed and Muslims fall into an inferior position; their honor is lost, their lands are stolen, their rule and authority vanish.
This would seem innocent, but reveals a disturbing attitude: Without the constant pressure of Jihad, Islam would have no authority, and its rule would vanish. This is radically different from other religions, say Christianity or Buddhism, where personal conviction is what upholds the creed and the religious practice.
Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam on every Muslim.
This does not mean that every Muslim must be a warrior or a terrorist, but it does mean that every Muslim has an obligation to act in ways that further the “Cause of Allah”, i.e. Islamic rule.
He who tries to escape from this duty, or does not fulfill this duty, dies as a hypocrite.
Nothing like a quick threat at the end to make sure the preceding statements are taken seriously. ‘Hypocrites’ in this context would mean persons who declare themselves Muslims, but refuse to join the battle when called to do so. The Quran systematically condemns ‘hypocrites’. This is rather natural, for Muhammad needed soldiers for his campaigns out of Medina, and Muslims staying home to take care of their land and their families instead of fighting would damage morale severely.
This is not only a historical consideration, this is used just as well today. In a recent fatwa, the hypocrites, not the unbelievers, are destined for the lowest levels of hell (presumably those with the worst suffering):
The Hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire; and you will not be able to find for them a helper. (Qur’an 4:145)
Most people may have assumed that the disbelievers would occupy that spot. As has been illustrated, hypocrites, by far, are the most harmful of the two. They not only deceive themselves, but they fuel the flames of discord in this world among believers and non-believers both.
Jihad and sacrifice
If one reads the core scriptures of Islam, the Quran and the sirat, the meaning of ‘Jihad’ is clear enough: Fighting and sacrifice. This may be all jolly good and merry for the winners, but the victims (the infidels) probably do not like it as well.
The emphasis on sacrifice is uncanny. Sure, Islam and other religions have historically used animal sacrifice as part of their worship, but killing a few animals to satisfy some god would hardly represent a major problem, especially if the meat, the sinews etc. of the dead animals were put to good use. Sacrificing one goat (pig, whatever) at some annual ritual constitutes limited bloodshed. Bad for the sacrificial animal, messy where it gets killed, but no open-ended problem in society.
This is different, for the sacrifice in Jihad is open-ended, and it encompasses material goods as well as human life. There are promises of reward in return for this magnificent sacrifice, but by the very nature of death, the veracity of these promises could not and cannot be verified. Believers would have to take Muhammad on faith for this.
A distinct kind of sacrifice called for here is the abandonment of personal judgement, as seen in 2:216:
It may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.
This flies in the face of every Western, Christian and Enlightenment concept of individual rights and responsibility. For a mature society to emerge, we need citizens to be individually mature and responsible, that they largely restrain from harmful actions and choose constructive ones. Requesting believers to act from the (supposedly) will of Allah rather than their own sense of Right and Wrong is not conductive to civilized behaviour.
The call for ‘martyrdom’ (becoming a Shahid)
The sacrifice of ones’ one life is of course the ultimate human sacrifice, as well as the ultimate abandonment of ones’ own good. Here one sacrifices not other persons, like slaves or prisoners of war, but the very body that enables one to act in this world. Sacrificing oneself in the battle for Allah means that one becomes a ‘Shahid’ (also spelled ‘Shaheed’, Wikipedia article here. The original meaning is ‘witness’.), the Islamic mirror of the Christian martyrs. This concept was spelled out in detail during the life of Muhammad, for instance in context of the battle of Mutah, where the Muslims were defeated by the Byzantines.
The reaction of Muhammad to the news of the defeat and that several of his commanders had fallen in battle, is telling (Al-Tabari Vol. VIII p. 158):
“A gate to good fortune! A gate to good fortune! A gate to good fortune! I bring you news of your campaigning army. They have set out and have met the enemy. Zayd has died a martyr’s death” — he prayed for forgiveness for him. “Then Ja’far took up the banner and attacked the enemy until he died a martyr’s death.” — he testified that he attained martyrdom and prayed for forgiveness for him.” Then ‘Abdallah b. Rawahah took up the banner and planted his legs firmly until he died a martyr’s death” — he prayed for forgiveness for him.
“Hasten to reinforce your brothers! Let none of you hang bank.” So they went forth to fight both on foot and mounted. It was a time of extreme heat.
It is not known for what purpose the Muslims decided to attack the Byzantines, but the encounter with a superior army gave them a solid licking. That does not deter Muhammad from sending the Muslims right back into battle, without a hint of sorrow for the dead, whom he obviously had known personally. Deep faith can move people to the most astonishing acts, and getting away from the desert heat into the promised lush paradise would sound like a good trade for the dusty warriors.
What about the ‘Greater Jihad’?
There is no indication that Muhammad or the early Muslims had any concept of Jihad as an inner struggle.
Jihad, as related in the early Islamic sources, is about making Islam superior on earth, making Allah the only god worshipped, and implementing Islamic law (Sharia) in the land.
Impact in the West
The most visible expression of Islamic Jihad in the West in recent years was the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. This surprise attack killed some 3000 non-combatants, led to the war in Afghanistan, later Iraq, as well as extensive changes to legislation and security measures throughout the world. Had it not been for this and similar Islamic attacks, airline check-in would be a breeze, terrorism an obscure tactic applied only by fringe mafia groups.
But the physical Jihad is only the tip of the iceberg. Visible, violent and scary, making the presence of Islam all over the world a factor to be reckoned with, challenging the existing world order and showing Muslims that their creed could potentially rule the world. Yet, this does not suffice to achieve Islamic world domination. Violence does give Islam a bad name, and does tend to provoke powerful reactions, as well as intense debate of the motivations and the goals of the terrorists.
The primary tools of stealth Jihad are the very laws and institutions of our Western societies, being exploited or subverted to implement Islamic rules of life, Islamic law into our societies, while simultaneously silencing any criticism hereof by means of our well-intended laws against ‘hate speech’, libel, racial discrimination and more.
Violent Jihad meets stealth Jihad
This strategy is, unfortunately, only all too effective. By creating an intricate web of possible excuses to confuse investigators and the public alike, alarming incidents like the Fort Hood shooting not only become possible, reactions to them also become muddle and ineffective.
Taking Fort Hood as an example, not only were the shooting perfectly preventable, the artificial doubts about the motivations also displayed a worrisome lack of national resolve to openly address the root causes of such events.
There were plenty of advance indicators that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was a potentially dangerous person and that action was well warranted, but political correctness — or cowardice, simply — prevented the relevant authorities from taking action.
After the tragedy, which left 13 dead and 30 wounded, one should expect that the ideology so openly touted by Maj. Hasan would be subjected to extensive scrutiny, questioning and systematic profiling, in order to protect our security personnel as well as other citizens against more random violence.
This did not take place. Rather than our security, the ‘fear of an anti-Muslim backlash’ made the headlines, and carefully crafted government and media reactions dominated. CAIR led the dodging of the obvious: That rarely before had an anti-Islamic backlash against this open act of Jihad, right in the heart of the US army, been more warranted! For exactly a strong public outcry would finally trigger the richly deserved scrutiny of Islamic organisations.
Which brings us back to Jihad Jane. She is, by all accounts, a small-time criminal who personally decided to embrace Islam and the doctrine of Jihad, and set out to demonstrate the strength of her religious conviction by assassinating the Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks.
The ‘crime’ of Vilks is obviously that he has not shown sufficient ‘respect’ for her newfound religion, and that by making an example of him, other cartoonists and authors would be cowed into submission and refrain from ridiculing Mohammad or anything Islamic in the future. Quite predictably, the assassination plans has caused Islamic leaders to condemn — Lars Vilks.
By all accounts, assassinating Vilks would be a classical effort to demonstrate the strength of Islam, and very much in line with the example of Muhammad towards artists critical of his activities. Fortunately for Lars Vilks and freedom at large, her homegrown Jihad efforts fell apart before any actual attempt on Vilks had been made. But our reliance on technical measures to counter what is essentially an ideological problem is obviously flawed. The key problem is not terrorism, it is Jihad.
Now, after almost 1400 years of Jihad, has Jihad made the earth a better place to live?
If one looks at the lists at Freedom House, it is striking that countries where Islam rule supreme flock at the bottom of the list. Islam does not seem to go well with freedom of press, rule of law, women’s rights or other civil liberties.
Similar arguments can be made with respect to living conditions, though this is compensated upwards in those Islamic countries with rich oil reserves.
The trend repeats when looking at ongoing wars and armed conflicts in the world, the majority of which involve Muslims. ‘Peace’ is not an objective of Islamists, ‘Submission’ is. But that does not improve the life for actual human beings, anywhere.
We need a break from the Jihad
What we really need is a break from the Jihad, from all this “Striving in the Cause of Allah”. Jihad has existed for almost 1400 years, and taking a 10-year break could hardly cause any significant harm to Islam, yet would be a major relief for the rest of us, who treasure ham sandwiches, beer and women not dressing up like tents. Islamists worldwide, violent as well as stealthy, have shown sufficient religious zeal that they deserve a rest, and we deserve a break.
One may wonder here: “Why exactly 10 years”? This is not chosen at random, it is the longest time span permitted for Islamic leaders to enter a truce with non-Muslims, a so-called Hudna. It is clear from the outset that the truce is temporary, and unless a new agreement is entered into, fighting will resume after this time span has elapsed. The historical precedent for this arrangement is the Treaty of al-Hudaybiyya, where Muhammad signed an agreement with the non-Muslims in Mecca that peace would prevail for the following ten years. Unfortunately, the historical precedent also implies a right for the Muslim side to break the treaty at their own discretion, a problem we would need to be aware of.
That goes inside the Islamic community as well. It is well known that Islamic practices are also enforced internally through various kinds of threats and intimidation, like forcing children to fast during Ramadan. It would be a relief for Muslim children and women to be free of any form of coercion (like dress codes) for a decade, after which they can be free to decide if their religious laws really bring them a better life, or if freedom of the individual to choose freely what seems appropriate and useful is the better option.
But the most important area in which to stop the Jihad is that of Lawfare. Turning our own laws against democracy and freedom seems like the utmost in impossible irony, for aren’t our laws just and basically fine?
As mentioned previously, they are not. Determined Islamists with money and crafty lawyers find broken laws, like the English/Welsh libel laws, well-meaning but overly broad laws against discrimination, noise regulation directives, anti-discrimination laws etcetera.
Suspending the violent Jihad is easy, in principle: It would require that Islamic leaders agree that any use of violence in the name of Islam is against fundamental tenets of the religion, and thus constitutes abandonment of Islam. This has historically been done by means of a Takfir Declaration, and would be very effective towards eliminating the religious justification of terrorism. It would certainly destroy the motivation of recent converts like “Jihad Jane”, who seek to prove themselves good Muslims, as the result of any terrorist acts would not be religious admiration, but rather excommunication.
Suspending the non-violent Jihad is much harder, for it is difficult to identify, and in many situation Muslims would need to compromise on the strictness of their religious rules and traditions, for instance concerning halal slaughter or the habit of forcing others to obey these quite extensive regulations on living. Some proposals for this:
- Suspend the enforcement of any defamation, blasphemy and anti-discrimination laws — but uphold punishment on actual crimes, such as threats, violence and damage to property. If any of these crimes would constitute treats to a wider group of people, seek a conviction for these threats as well. Otherwise, leave the ‘problem’ of discrimination to the common sense of common people, who for centuries have had the right to individually discriminate between good and bad, and to act accordingly.
- Criminalize the use of threats to enforce religious habits. Religious bullying, inside or outside the family, constitutes a coercion that should not be needed if religion is truly a personal, individual choice. Threats or violence intended to force the behaviour of others constitute infringements on individual freedom, and should not be needed if a religion is constructive and attractive in itself.
- Protect Christians in Islamic countries (and Jews, too). It is estimated that upwards of 250 million Christians face severe discrimination, restrictions as well as physical assaults on their churches and property, all based on their faith. If Islam, as frequently claimed, respects Christianity, it should respect the rights of Christians as well, including the right of Christians to freely say that they do not believe in the Quran or the status of Muhammad as a holy person.
After ten years of abstaining from enforcing religious ritualism and protecting individual rights, we can then assess the situation. If violence is down, individual freedoms are up, and the misuse of religion to gain political power has abated, the West should unilaterally continue this policy, even in face of renewed violent Jihad.