Dr James White is keen to get his recent debates in South Africa circulated as widely as possible. If you are a Muslim visiting this page please listen and watch the debate.
James White and Yusuf Ismail debate the Christology of the Gospel of John, and then the Christology of the Qur’an, in an historic debate in the famous Grey Street Mosque in Durban, South Africa, the home mosque of the late Ahmed Deedat.
I’m almost at the end of ‘God’s Battalions‘ by Rodney Stark and it’s a really good read. The following quotation, I think, sums up the difficulty that faces the West. As said before, thankfully, most Muslims live in contradiction to their violent founder. Here’s the quote:
The Crusader Kingdoms were never at peace, nor could they have been. As Jonathan Riley-Smith explained, “for ideological reasons, peace with the Muslim world was unattainable.” Temporary treaties were possible, but, given the doctrine of jihad (holy war), no lasting peace could be achieved except by surrender. p.184.
Western governments ought to ponder this ideology very carefully because this is still the aim of Islam – surrender.
A comment on a previous post suggested what our Government ought to be doing – acting swiftly. If I may take the liberty of expanding the comment.
I should have replied straight away but without reading any news I could have written the progress of the response as follows:
Not necessarily in this order, but kind of like this….
1. Outright condemnation of this terrible act – and it is.
2. The news will investigate / report on possible links to Terror organisations.
3. Interviews with as many ‘experts’ as possible.
4. Interview friends / neighbours / family / teachers etc of the killers.
5. Members of the Government will be invited to appear on TV / Radio.
6. Muslim organisations will be invited to condemn it.
7. Government will deny links to Islam.
8. Government will condemn these ‘un-Islamic’ attacks.
8. Radicalisation took place through extremist fundamentalist ‘un-Islamic’ terror groups.
Something like that anyway. And it started in earnest last night on BBC Question Time.
Islam is a religion of peace.
Just to be clear, I am in no way suggesting all Muslims are Terrorists or would even want to be. Thankfully, most Muslims are inconsistent with their own Prophet. The point is this, the propensity for violence (violent Jihad) is inherent in Islam. This is what really needs to be discussed. But it won’t be, because the Government has already made the commitment to Islam.
An unbelievably brutal attack on a soldier took place in Woolwich yesterday. The soldier (so it’s believed) was killed and the killers actually stayed to talk to passers-by and invited people to take video as they talked to the cameras. All this while the victim lays dead in the street.
Over the last few years the concept of Jihad has regularly been the subject of discussion – especially since the terrible events of 9/11. Today, we do remember those events. To be honest I can’t really remember the word being used before 9/11 but that’s my ignorance and not a reflection of the facts. Islamic apologists are doing a good job. Or at least I get the sense they are, because anything anti-Islamic has pretty much been successfully labelled as ‘Islamophobia’. And we know that anything with a phobia on the end must be really bad. Basically what this means in terms of practicalities is this: any criticism of Islam will bring a resounding boo hiss from the audience – especially from a BBC Question Time audience.
But the point of this post is to bring to your attention an article I came across via a link in a comment over at Jihad Watch. It’ a lengthy piece – including footnotes – for a blog post but is worth reading because it puts to bed the idea that attacks on the West are primarily due to our foreign policy. It’s just not true but as in many things it’s much easier to believe the lie. What you need to note especially is the date it was written. The article is copied from HERE. Any comments are of course are welcome.
Here’s the complete article:
FROM “COLD WAR” TO GUERRA FRIA?by Patrick L. Moore
Despite the much celebrated Israeli/Palestinian settlement, Yasser Arafat recently made some curious statements during a trip to South Africa, especially for a man supposedly promoting authentic peace in the Middle East. First, he called for “a jihad [i.e. an Islamic Holy War] to liberate Jerusalem.” After vehement protests by the Israelis and Americans, he “clarified” that comment by saying he meant a “peaceful” jihad. Second, he described the PLO/Israeli agreement as of no more significance than the Pact of Hudaibiya (a treaty signed between the Prophet Muhammad and the Quraish tribe of Mecca in 628 A.D.). That agreement was supposed to last ten years, but it soon proved to be a Carthaginian peace for the Quraish and it was abrogated the next year by the Muslims at the first opportunity, leading to the fall of Mecca and the victory of Islamic forces in Arabia. “Hudaibiya” is especially noteworthy because “[i]n later times, the agreement … served as the prophetic precedent, to determine the Shari`a [Divine Law] rules governing the interruption of the jihadfor negotiation and truce.” The lesson of Hudaibiya referred to by Arafat, then, was that no “peace” with non-Muslims could be final.
What must be realized about Arafat’s statements is that they are specifically relevant and meaningful on an important, objective level and are not mere hyperbole or fundamentalist cant. The references to jihad and the Pact of Hudaibiya are compass headings to the heart of traditional Islam. They are not decipherable as such, however, without adopting an attitude of respect for Islam itself as a proclaimed world faith and candidate guide to ultimate truth, which also involves a similar respect for the factual history of Islam, its internal development and its interactions with the world of the West. If American policymakers are to properly understand Islam they must strive to overcome the dominant Western prejudice of “modernism” which sees all religions as mere irrational, personalist and primitive superstition, functionally irrelevant to public affairs (except, perhaps, as psychologically symptomatic). Functional and philosophical modernism is an attitude of intellectual immaturity or carelessness which has blinded American policy decisions in the Middle East and elsewhere in this century. To deal effectively with Muslims and Islam, Americans must first respect Islam and come to know it as it really is – especially the history and meaning of jihad.
There are five especially critical aspects about Islam’s doctrine of jihad which must be brought out to properly understand the significance of Islam as it relates to the United States and the West. In summary, the meaning of jihad in its primary sense is military and coercive; it is central to the universalist doctrine of the Islamic belief system; its operational aim is political domination of non-Islamic territories (i.e. rather than forced conversion); it is offensive or aggressive in nature in the first instance (and not merely “defensive”); and, finally, jihad is continuous in character (i.e. pending the ultimate victory of the forces of Islam).
jihad is primarily “military” in character. The term jihad has both a common and a legal meaning – but its legal meaning has become the primary definition. In its common (rather than technical) meaning it describes a state of effort or striving, in the sense of “exerting oneself as much as one can.” However, jihad in its legal sense (as adopted by Islam in application to the formal relations between Muslim and non-Muslim peoples) is defined (according to historically attested Islamic authorities) as, e.g. “fighting the unbelievers by striking them, taking their property, demolishing their places of worship, smashing their idols and the like.” Whenever the term jihad is used without qualification (as when Arafat first used it in his un-“clarified” comments in South Africa) it always means the “jihad of the Sword,” i.e. “fighting the unbelievers for religion’s sake.” Some modern Islamic apologists (as with the waffling Arafat), try to deflect or redirect attention from the traditional Islamic, military meaning of the duty of jihad by equivocating, ignoring or minimizing its legal meaning in favor of its common or informal meaning of “spiritual striving.” The effort simply does not square with the historical evidence and juridical teachings over the centuries. Although the term originally contained a non-military significance, it has historically been defined by the Islamic authorities of note in its doctrinally military and combative sense. (Additionally, jihad is not the same as “just war,” as defined in the Western tradition of that name, although some try to say so or imply it. Not every just war is a Christian holy war or Crusade. Just War, in the first and Western sense, has always meant a morally “permissible” rather than a holy, laudatory or mandatory war. Just Wars may be fought while Holy Wars or Crusades should be fought. On the other hand, all jihad is “holy war” by inherent meaning as a term in religious law or fiqh. In Islam, it is only religious war which is licit—i.e. jihad.)
Furthermore, jihad is not a peripheral or subsidiary doctrine of Islam (as is the “Just War” theory of Christendom). jihad is actually at the active center, the core, the ratio and raison d’etre of Islam. It has sometimes been called the “sixth” pillar of Islam, the unnamed key-stone resting on the explicitly named “five pillars” or essentials, i.e.: profession of the faith (Shahada), ritual prayer (Salat), fasting in Ramadan (Sawm), pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) and almsgiving (Zakat). Above all, jihad is the enabling mechanism, the method of choice, for the announced goal of Islamic universalism. It is the “name” for the duty of a striving Islamic universalism itself. jihad, in its primary military/ideological sense, is the mandated vehicle of Islamic “universalism” (i.e. the religious claim that Islam is the true faith to whose temporal as well as spiritual authority the whole world must submit).
Islam itself means “submission” while “Muslim” means one who has submitted” to the will of Allah. The initial operational goal of Islamic universalism, its missionary extension into the lands of unbelief, is the political subjugation of the non-Islamic world. Islam requires Muslims to strive to impose Muslim rule on the non-Muslim world in order to, in effect, make the world safe for Islam—i.e. the enforcement of Shari`a or divine law. jihad should not mistakenly be confused with forced conversion— which is not allowed under Islam. Forced conversion is not the purpose of jihad, but rather its aim is political conquest and control. “The warriors of Islam had as their immediate concern the subjugation, rather than conversion, of the unbelievers.”
Historical Islam sees jihad as an affirmative duty which is operationally offensive or aggressive (in the traditional military sense) and not merely “defensive.” Modern Islamic apologists sometimes assert that jihad is now only “defensive,” but their definition of that concept is highly questionable. As one commentator noted: “[J]ustifications for launching an Islamic ‘defensive’ war may include “justifications for war that are not recognized in public international law” and “assertions that Islam allows wars only in self-defense must be subjected to scrutiny to ascertain whether the Islamic concepts of self-defense being used do in fact correspond to the concepts of international law.” For instance, cited Islamic causes for initiating war include showing hostility, opposition to the mission of Islam or contempt for it (which are all religious reasons in the nature of refusing a call to convert or submit to the forces of Islam or failing to treat Islamic missionaries with respect) and, therefore, resistance to Islamic universalism or lack of respect for the Islamic faith or its mission is classically considered a casus belli or aggression against Islam.
The Islamic “modernist” interpretation of so-called defensive restrictions on jihad actually arose within Islam after the failure of the Great Mutiny in India in 1857 which left the Indian Muslims (reputed to have strongly supported the rebellion) socially, politically and militarily isolated and exposed to British retribution. Some Indian Muslim intellectuals endeavored to redefine the classical doctrine of Islam so as to avoid a direct, religious/ideological confrontation with the superior colonial might of the British Empire. A similar effort was involved in Egypt, but there the Islamic revisionists insisted that “defense” included opposition to colonial administrations as well. Both positions were not in accord with the fundamentalist or orthodox opinion of the majority of Muslims who saw the duty of jihad in the primary, classical sense of expansionary geopolitical struggle to dominate non-Muslim territories whenever feasible.
The bedrock doctrine of Islam which impels the duty of jihadic universalism is that one must “command the good and forbid evil.” Compare this to the critical (and less geopolitically compelling) foundation of Christianity which says that one should strive to do good, and avoid that which is evil. Similarly, Islam commands the faithful to “slay them [i.e. the unbelievers] wherever ye find them” while Christianity merely enjoins “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations … .” The difference is not just academic. Under the belief system of classical, orthodox Islam, a Muslim cannot be genuinely free or exercise “freedom of religion” unless he is in command of society. Therefore, the duty of the Muslim is to strive in all ways to expand Islam and to subjugate the non-Islamic world to Islamic power. “Until that happens, the world is divided into two: the House of Islam (dar al-Islam), where Muslims rule and the law of Islam prevails; and the House of War (dar al-Harb), comprising the rest of the world. Between the two there is a morally necessary, legally and religiously obligatory state of war, until the final and inevitable triumph of Islam over unbelief.” Offensive (expansionary) military jihad is the constant duty of the community as a whole while strictly defensive jihad becomes a personal and particular obligation as well. Even when it is defensive, however, it is not always so in the sense we have come to define that word.
Finally, jihad is and must be permanent. jihad is “a permanent obligation upon the entire Muslim community.” It may pass into periods of dormancy, but the obligation of jihad can never end short of the complete subjugation of the non- Muslim world. This is the principle implied in the precedent of Hudaibiya as alluded to by Yasser Arafat (a principle which is the operational expression of strict Islamic universalism). Treaties can never be more than truces. Always and at some level, Islam is at war with the non-Islamic world. While there may be an interruption of open hostilities between the West (or any other non-muslim territory) and Islam in specific cases, or even a “peace” with Muslims who choose not to adhere to traditional Islamic teaching in this regard, there can never be peace between unbelievers and Islam, i.e. orthodox, historical Islam. In fact, under the orthodox Islamic doctrine of jihad, relations between the House of Islam (Islamic territory) and the House of War (territories of unsubjugated unbelievers) can never ameliorate past the level of low- intensity conflict or Islamic “insurgency” against the infidels.
To so describe the authentic Islamic doctrine of jihad is not to in anyway malign Islam or Muslims, no more so than describing the orthodox Catholic teachings on an all male clergy, divorce and artificial birth control would be to insult Roman Catholics. All it says is that those teachings and doctrines are, in fact, what they are. The orthodox doctrine of jihad has been historically announced and defined. Those who would argue that it has changed (contrary to the historical record of thirteen centuries) bear a serious and heavy burden of proof to establish that proposition, especially to the satisfaction of Islam’s rank and file. There is great pressure on modern Islam to “get with it” and dispense with its less “modern” or fashionable doctrines. As one traditional Islamist put it: “In order to be strong, we are told, we must reject ‘traditional’ interpretations of the Quran and read it ‘rationally’ in the light of modern life.” However, as the encyclopedist D. B. Macdonald said: “Islam must be completely made over before the doctrine of djihad [sic] can be eliminated.”
Individual Muslims will, of course, make their own decisions in the world of everyday life, but it is no small thing to remember that, while they are free to ascribe to something other than the orthodox, classical doctrine of jihad, what they espouse will not be genuine, mainstream Islam. A Catholic who supports a right to procure an abortion is not promoting a Roman Catholic doctrine. A Muslim denying the duty of jihad would be in a similar situation. They may so profess, but they are no longer professing historical, orthodox Islam.
Islam is a strong and robust religion driving a rich family of cultures which, for good or ill, are not the same as ours in the West. Islamic values and beliefs are often different from Western values and beliefs which are based on a competing Judaeo/Christian and Classical heritage, despite certain common origins and roots. To gloss over those differences is irrational and potentially dangerous. For American policy makers to ignore the unique character of Islam and its tenets could be catastrophic. Someone once said, apparently in a hurried fit of summary, that “Communists” were, after all, only “Democrats in a hurry.” How tragically wrong he was. It would be foolishness on a similar scale to assume that Muslims are merely ethnic or colorful “Unitarians” whose core beliefs may be blithely disregarded for reasons of ignorance, political correctness or Modernist insensitivity to the power of religious conviction. Failure to properly understand the historically-based meaning of jihad in orthodox Islam would also de-emphasize or derail investigation into the valid avenues of possible change in Islamic doctrine, thus foregoing the real chance of engaging in honest dialogue with the Muslim world to encourage an authentic development of doctrine (when and if feasible) so as to soften or defuse the import of jihad in Western-Islamic relations. To do so, however, would again require an appreciation or sensitivity for religious issues and beliefs, and a long-term commitment or consistency in expressing Western values and interests, which traits have not been demonstrated qualities in recent American foreign policy.
Few chroniclers of recent history have noted that Spanish Christians had a distinctive name for the continuing low-intensity warfare separating the periods of active, full-scale operations which punctuated the eight hundred year Reconquista, or reconquest of the Iberian peninsula. They called their continuing struggle to push back Islam the Guerra Fria—or as we would say it, the “Cold War.” Only intelligent respect for religion in general and Islam in particular will afford us the chance to realistically confront and assess the practical role of the historically-derived, anti-Western concept of jihad in Muslim thought and policy and thus avoid potential default in, or exacerbation (through ignorance) of, another ideological “cold war.”
1. Charles Krauthammer, “Israel is taken in by Arafat’s deadly zero-sum game,” THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, May 20, 1994.
2.”Arafat’s Parable,” THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, May 27, 1994.
3. H. U. Rahman, A CHRONOLOGY OF ISLAMIC HISTORY: 570-1000 C.E. (Boston, 1989), p. 15-17.
4. Bernard Lewis, THE ARABS IN HISTORY (9th ed. Oxford, 1993), p. 43.
5. “Muslim jurists conclude that treaties of friendship should not be concluded with non-Muslims in perpetuity. Generally the jurists agree that ten years should be the maximum period.” Muhammad Hamidullah, THE MUSLIM CONDUCT OF STATE, 7th rev’d. ed. (Lahore, 1977), p. 266.
6. See e.g., Angelo Codevilla, INFORMING STATECRAFT: INTELLIGENCE FOR A NEW CENTURY (New York, 1992), p. 7; and Adda B. Bozeman, “U.S. Conceptions of Democracy and Security in a World Environment of Culturally Alien Political Thought: Linkages and Contradictions” in U.S. DOMESTIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY AGENDAS: INTO THE 21ST CENTURY, ed. Sam C. Sarkesian and John Mead Flanagin (Westport, CT 1994) p. 54.
7. For a more detailed description of the strategic ideology of jihad, see Patrick L. Moore, “Jihad” and Conflict in the World of Islam, CJ INTERNATIONAL, Office of International Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago, (January- February, 1994).
8. Rudolph Peters, ISLAM AND COLONIALISM: THE DOCTRINE OF JIHAD IN MODERN HISTORY (The Hague, 1979), p. 10.
9. E.g., Suzanne Haneef, WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS (Lahore, 1985), p. 118-19.
10. Bernard Lewis, THE POLITICAL LANGUAGE OF ISLAM (Chicago, 1988), p. 72.
11. E.g., “the jihad – holy war, or bellum justum as later European jurists would have called it … .” Philip C. Jessup, Judge, International Court of Justice in his forward to Majid Khadduri, THE ISLAMIC LAW OF NATIONS: SHAYBANI’S SIYAR (Baltimore, 1966), p. ix. “Thus in Islam, as in Western Christendom, the jihad is the bellum justum.” Majid Khadduri, id. at 59.
12. William V. O’Brien, LAW AND MORALITY IN ISRAEL’S WAR WITH THE PLO (New York, 1991), pp. 285 and 311.
13. “Islam prohibited war in every form save in the fulfillment of a religious purpose, the jihad.” Majid Khadduri, THE ISLAMIC LAW OF NATIONS: SHAYBANI’S SIYAR (Baltimore, 1966), p. 16.
14. Cyril Glasse’, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (San Francisco, 1991), p. 132; and Ian Richard Netton, A Popular Dictionary of Islam (London, 1992), p. 39.
15. Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York, 1993), pp. 46-47; Majid Khadduri, WAR AND PEACE IN THE LAW OF ISLAM (Baltimore, 1955), p. 64.
16. Ian Richard Netton, A Popular Dictionary of Islam (London, 1992), pp. 126 and 182.
17. Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York, 1993), p. 47.
18. Speaking of the falsely ascribed tenet of “forced conversion” Edward Gibbon said it was a “charge of ignorance and bigotry” but he also noted the well-known Islamic drive for universal political domination in that “it cannot be denied that … in peace and war, they assert a divine and indefeasible claim of universal empire; and that, in their orthodox creed, the unbelieving nations are continually threatened with the loss of religion or liberty.” Edward Gibbon, DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, vol. 7, ch. LVIII, J.B. Bury ed. (1912), p. 277.
19. Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, translated by Andras and Ruth Hamori (Princeton, N.J. 1981), p. 27.
20. A popular source for the “defensive”-only theory of jihad is the work of the 13th century jurist/theologian Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyah (1263-1328). He reportedly “reinterpreted” the doctrine of jihad so as to restrict war against non-believers so that “[r]esort to force is allowed only as a defensive or self-protective measure.” Qamaruddin Khan, THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF IBN TAYMIYAH (Islamabad, Pakistan 1985), p. 157. Reliance on Ibn Taymiyah’s opinions as an authoritative revision of Islamic jihad doctrine, however, is highly dubious. He was definitely and directly at odds with the majority Sunni religious authorities, receiving “colossal opposition” from them. Id. at p. Ibn Taymiyah was supposedly convinced of the need to redefine jihad as solely defensive by a realistic assessment of the decline of Islamic power, especially in the wake of the Mongol invasions. But mainstream Islam clearly did not agree with him. “[T]he Muslim jurists were not prepared to be convinced by these facts. They continued to preach the theory of undiluted jihad.” Id. at 158. Ibn Taymiyah’s attempt to reinterpret jihad was thus a failure. “Unfortunately Ibn Taymiyya’s approach was not accepted.” Tamara Sonn, Irregular Warfare and Terrorism in Islam: Asking the Right Questions in CROSS, CRESCENT, AND SWORD: THE JUSTIFICATION AND LIMITATION OF WAR IN WESTERN AND ISLAMIC TRADITION, ed. by James Turner Johnson and John Kelsay (Westport, Ct. 1990), p. 135. His signal lack of success bolsters the durability of the historical, orthodox teaching of permanent, unremitting jihad which may descend into low-intensity conflict (or “dormancy”) but which may never end until the universal triumph of Islam over unbelief. Then again, Ibn Taymiya’s theory of jihad might also be seen, as a practical matter, as more on a par with Stalin’s tactical retreat from “world revolution” in his concept of “socialism in one country,” i.e. concentrating on internal development and buildup pending remergence of world-contesting power. E.g., “Ibn Taymiya legitimated what has been called ‘jihad within the commnity’ … .” Gilles Kepel, MUSLIM EXTREMISM IN EGYPT: THE PROPHET AND PHAROAH (Berkeley, 1993), p. 199. In any event, Ibn Taymiya’s ideologically iconoclastic ideas eventually became the intellectual and religious basis for the significantly unorthodox, puritanical and “steadfastly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam” in the Wahabi sect which holds sway in Saudi Arabia. Cyril Glasse’, THE CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ISLAM (San Francisco, 1991), p. 414. At best, Ibn Taymiyah’s view was a distinctly minority, non-mainstream theory of jihad.
21. Ann Elizabeth Mayer, “War and Peace in the Islamic Tradition and International Law” in JUST WAR AND JIHAD: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON WAR AND PEACE IN WESTERN AND ISLAMIC TRADITIONS, ed. by James Turner Johnson and John Kelsay (Westport, Ct., 1991), pp. 203-05.
22. E.g., Opposition to or placing obstacles in the way of the “call” to Islam could give rise to a “defensive” jihad. Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari, Jihad in the Quran in Jihad and Shahadat: Struggle and Martyrdom in Islam, Essays and Addresses by Ayatullah Mahmud Taleqani, AYATULLAH MURTADA MUTAHHARI AND DR. ALI SHARI’ATI, ed. by Mehdi Abedi and Garry Lagenhausen (Houston, Texas 1986), pp. 109-113. “When a Muslim State is free from internal commotion and strife, and has sufficient power …, then it is its duty to invite the neighboring non-Muslim sovereigns to accept the unity of God … in short to embrace Islam. If they do, they will retain their power … . If the invitation is rejected, the non-Muslim chief [outside Arabia, may, in the alternative] pay yearly jizyah or protection tax … . If both these alternatives are rejected and all peaceful persuasion and reasoning fail, then it is the duty of the Muslim State to declare war in the name of God until it conquers or receives the jizyah … .” Muhammad Hamidullah, THE MUSLIM CONDUCT OF STATE, 7th rev’d. ed. (Lahore, 1977), p. 171-172.
23. See generally, Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (The Hague, 1979), especially pp. 151-165. As Peters describes it, the Modernist gloss is “A new interpretation of the jihad-doctrine” which is put forth in writings of a “highly apologetic character” wherein “[t]he classical doctrine of jihad has been stripped of its militancy … .” Id. at p. 150.
24. E.g., Koran, 3:104, 110, 114; and 9:71.
25. E.g., KJV, Psalms 34:14; Luke 6:35; Romans 13:4 and 1 Peter 3:11.
26. Koran II:191; and see James J. Busuttil, “Slay Them Wherever You Find Them”: Humanitarian Law in Islam, Military Law & Law of War Review (1991), p. 112.
27. KJV, Matthew 28:19. While proper provision of armed force is not forbidden by Christ, it is strictly limited (e.g. Luke 22:36-38, where “they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.”).
28. “[R]eforms which Islam wants to bring about cannot be carried out by sermons alone. Political power is also essential to achieve them.” Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, The Islamic Law and Constitution (Lahore, 1990), p. 5. “Similarly [quoting Ibn Taymiya], all the obligations of religion, like jihad, justice, arrangement for hajj and Id and Friday congregations, extending help to the oppressed and the enforcement of the penal provisions of the Quran, cannot be fulfilled without power and authority.” Qamaruddin Khan, THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF IBN TAYMIYAH (Islamabad, Pakistan 1985), p. 3 Also, Bernard Lewis, ISLAM AND THE WEST (New York, 1993), pp. 52-53.
29. “Islamic rule is to be established by all means.” Muhammad Hamidullah, The Muslim Conduct of State, 7th rev’d. ed. (Lahore, 1977), p. 170.
30. Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago, 1988), p. 73.
31. Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago, 1988), p. 73.
32. It should also be noted by way of comparison that the “Crusades”—one of the isolated instances of Western “Holy War” – have long been recognized as being in the nature of a counter-offensive while, without doubt, the successive Islamic waves of conquest were entirely aggressive in character. E.g., Bernard Lewis, Islam: from the Prophet Muhammed to the Capture of Constantinople, Vol. 1: Politics and War, ed. and translated by Bernard Lewis (Oxford, 1977), p. xiv; J. J. Saunders, A HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL ISLAM (London, 1965), ch. X, “The Christian Counter-attack.”
33. Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam (Baltimore, 1955), p. 64.
34. Majid Khadduri, The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani’s Siyar (Baltimore, 1966), pp. 17 and 15.
35. “The basis of the Islamic attitude towards unbelievers is the law of war; they must be either converted or subjugated or killed (excepting women, children, and slaves); the third alternative, in general, occurs only if the first two are refused.” Joseph Schacht, AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC LAW (Oxford 1964) pp. 130.
36. There is at least “uncertainty” about “the binding force of some treaties, such as ones that would permanently fetter Muslims’ ability to conduct a jihad.” Ann Elizabeth Mayer, “War and Peace in the Islamic Tradition and International Law” in Just War and Jihad: Historical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions, ed. by James Turner Johnson and John Kelsay (Westport, Ct., 1991), p. 201.
37. Compare the Marxist-Leninist concept of “peaceful coexistence” which ultimately aims at neither peace nor mutuality, but rather is a reduction of tensions until the “correlation of forces” once again favors the Socialist Camp. See e.g., John P. Roche, THE HISTORY AND IMPACT OF MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANIZATIONAL THEORY (Cambridge, Mass., 1984); Roberta Goren, THE SOVIET UNION AND TERRORISM (ed. by Jillian Becker), introduction by Robert Conquest (Boston, 1984); SOVIET PERCEPTIONS OF WAR AND PEACE, ed. by Graham D. Vernon (Washington, D.C. 1981); John Norton Moore and Robert F. Turner, INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE BREZHNEV DOCTRINE (Lanham, Md. 1987); J. A. Emmerson and Hans Bax, The Soviet Concept of “Peace,” STRATEGIC REVIEW (Fall, 1983); and Patrick L. Moore, A Dictionary of Soviet Double-Talk and Gulag Glossary Reveals Some Unusual Etymologies, NEW YORK CITY TRIBUNE, June 18 and 19, 1986.
38. “Consequently, one may view a Muslim’s entire life as ‘a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political, if not strictly military,’ [quoting Majid Khadduri] and conclude that Islamic precepts advance a doctrine of permanent war regardless of whether or not believers are actually engaged in military activities. And, in fact, as the power of the Arabized and Islamized states declined, this doctrine became largely dormant, leaving Muslims in a condition roughly comparable to what is known in international law as a “state of insurgency [emphasis added].” Adda B. Bozeman, “War and the Clash of Ideas,” in CONFLICT, CULTURE, AND HISTORY: REGIONAL DIMENSIONS (Air University Press, Maxwell Air Force Base, Al., 1993) pp. XLIV-XLV.
39. It is the historical record which must demonstrate what such religious doctrines are. See e.g., Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York, 1993), p. 194, ch. 8, n. 1.
40. See, e.g. Bassam Tibi, Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change, trans. by Clare Krojzl (Boulder, Co. 1990) and Milton Viorst, Sandcastles: The ARABS IN SEARCH OF THE MODERN WORLD (New York, 1994).
41. Maryam Jameelah, Islam and Modernism (Lahore, 1988), p. 48.
42. D. B. MacDonald, “djihad” in Shorter Encyclopedia of ISLAM, ed. by H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers (Leiden, 1991), p. 89.
43. “The largest group of Muslims are the Sunnis, often known as ‘the orthodox’, who recognize the first four Caliphs, attribute no religious or political functions to the descendants of the Prophet’s son-in-law `Ali, and adhere to one of the four Sunni Schools of Law.” Cyril Glasse’, The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (San Francisco, 1991), p. 382. The Sunnis comprise about ninety percent of all Muslims. Id., at 449. It is the Sunni or orthodox doctrine of jihad which is treated here.
44. “[T]he intellectual and religious background of the world of Islam is very different from that of the West and as such it becomes difficult for the Western and the West- oriented observers to grasp and appreciate the situation. It is, therefore, necessary that the Islamic concept of religion and the Muslim outlook on politics should be clearly understood at the very outset.” Sayyid Abul A’La Maududi, THE ISLAMIC LAW AND CONSTITUTION (Lahore, 1990), p. 2.
45. See e.g., Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law, translated by Andras and Ruth Hamori (Princeton, N.J. 1981), especially chapters II and III, The Development of Law and The Growth and Development of Dogmatic Theology; Joseph Schacht, AN INTRODUCTION TO ISLAMIC LAW (Oxford 1964), chapters 6 through 15, especially chapter 10, The ‘Closing of the Gate of Independent Reasoning’ and the Further Development of Doctrine; and articles or entries on such as Fiqh, Hadith, Ijma, Ijtihad, Koran, Qiyas, Sunnah, Usul in, e.g., Cyril Glasse’, THE CONCISE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ISLAM (San Francisco, 1991), SHORTER ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ISLAM, ed. by H. A. R. Gibb and J. H. Kramers (Leiden, 1991), and Ian Richard Netton, A POPULAR DICTIONARY OF ISLAM (London, 1992). A genuine development of doctrine of such magnitude would be a long and difficult process at best and largely conducted, of course, by Muslims themselves within Islam.
46. Adda B. Bozeman, “U.S. Conceptions of Democracy and Security in a World Environment of Culturally Alien Political Thought: Linkages and Contradictions” in U.S. DOMESTIC AND NATIONAL SECURITY AGENDAS: INTO THE 21ST CENTURY, ed. Sam C. Sarkesian and John Mead Flanagin (Westport, Ct. 1994) p. 53.
I seem to have posted rather a lot on Islam of late. This wasn’t really intentional it’s just that circumstances – admittedly an existing interest – seemed to dictate. This was partly due to the programs aired by the BBC and I still have to post on aspects of these. The programs were a little while ago now but their huge significance remains.
It seemed appropriate to find out more from a source other than the TV or Christian apologetic comments and lectures on the subject. I wanted to read what a Muslim has to say. Ken Samples some time ago delivered a series of Academy lectures at Christ Reformed Church, Anaheim, California on the subject of Islam. He used two books as particular reference sources – his own book on Worldviews, A World of Difference and the book I am going to comment on.
I’m not really sure how far it’s possible to get concerning a review. But for now, any comments will be restricted to the Introduction (p, xi – xxv) and the first chapter ‘Islam and the Islamic World’ (p, 1 – 24). Nasr, the author, originates from Iran but now resides (AFAIK) in the US and is a distinguished Islamic scholar with a definite bias towards Sufism.
The Introduction – Comments
The very first thing that struck me was the seeming amount of angst because there are just so many negatives in the text. There is not one single reference to these negatives and I can only take it he means Christian apologists – or is that being overly sensitive. Presumably he’s reading these critics so is it too much to ask where his information is from! I began to underline and mark the negative words and phrases but there were so many of them that I had to stop underlining as it was getting silly. See what you think, but here’s a list of words from the first few pages and I think you’ll get my drift:
‘so-called experts’ ‘prejudices and ideological biases’ ‘distorted and tainted’ ‘errors and deviations’ (p xii) ‘perpetuated religious opposition to Islam’ ‘disdain’ ‘inferior’ ‘distorted’ ‘hubris’ (p. xiii) and one more ‘disdain’ over the page (xiv). There was much more of the same till about page xviii but by page xiv it was enough!
It’s not till nearly the end of The Introduction that we are told where he is coming from. So on p. xxiii we read ‘The present work …. is written from within the Islamic perspective and from the traditional point of view, from the perspective of the sacred and universal teachings of Islam as they were revealed and later transmitted over the ages.’
Another aspect is the amount of claims made. I’ll confess some of them may be true, but he really does over egg his case by claiming more for Islam than is reasonable (I realised later that he’s able to make these claims based on his understanding of perennial truth – more on this in another post). But he hasn’t claimed any objectivity (yet) so I guess it’s more very biased claims for Islam. One example is a philosophy of music. But Augustine had already written on this in a work entitled On Music, ‘De Musica’ in Latin. It caused me to wonder how many people reading Nasr would know this and uncritically accept his claims. It made me suspicious of his other claims, especially because there are so few footnotes (10 notes for the whole book – I’m one of those people who actually reads the footnotes) and a biased recommended reading list at the end of the book.
He claims to be writing from a Traditional Islamic perspective, but it’s not quite clear what this is. To be fair more may be made clearer as I move further through the book (he does in Ch 1). Also, to be fair, I am reading this book with my Christian Worldview glasses on. But I will try to be fair and give him as much as I can.
Chapter 1 – Comments
The reason why Nasr and indeed Islam are able to make some extraordinary claims is made clear when you understand how it sees itself. It considers Adam (the first man Adam) as the first prophet of Islam and from this perspective reckons itself to be older even than Judaism and Christianity. I thought it was quite a clever bit of misdirection that enabled around 1.4 Billion people to have swallowed this story hook, line and sinker. And that’s tragic!
It’s revealing when Nasr claims Islam makes more of Adam & Abraham than Christianity (p.5). It’s not clear where he gets his Christian references from but it is definitely not a view I recognise in Christianity at all! Adam is vital to an understanding of the work of Christ, of the fall, of special creation and many other Christian doctrines. It’s this sort of deliberate misrepresentation of the Christian faith that is so difficult to counter. People love to believe a lie – and Islam has them in bucket-loads! It’s also a reminder that we (Christians) do not use the weapons of this world;
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
His traditional perspective covers – if I have understood correctly – the following several points that binds the Islamic community (Ummah). Here listed from p.8 without comment:
There is no god but God.
Muhammed is the messenger of God.
The Quran is the verbatim revelation of God.
The main rituals – prayers, fasting etc.
The grace (barakah) of the prophet and his deeds (Sunnah).
I should also add Jihad to this list – both spiritual and militaristic.
To conclude this brief review it must be said that despite the previous shortcomings the book is very readable and I’m enjoying reading it. It is revealing and instructive and I’m learning a lot about Islam which was the purpose of reading and one must also assume the aim of the author. One qualification however, is that I have no idea how Nasr is received in the Islamic world and is just one book probably among thousands. I think he has tried to fairly represent his own faith and from what I’ve read so far does a good job. Obviously as a Christian I have profound disagreements with Islam and I’ll try to cover some of these in other posts.
I’m learning more and more about Islam. I would like Islam to be a religion of peace – but is it, really?
Today we had an Iranian couple with us for lunch – both Christians. They both came to the UK a few years ago and after arriving in the UK became Christians. Theirs was a fascinating and thrilling story of how they both found Christ to be the true Saviour.
I asked what the situation would be for the husband to go back to Iran. His reply was that it would be very dangerous for him. If the authorities were to find out he was a Christian upon entering the country he would be arrested on the spot and taken away at the very least and could possibly be killed. If he were to enter Iran and by some means the authorities found out he had converted from Islam to Christianity he could expect a knock on the door at any time (The Midnight Knock as we sometimes call it) and be arrested and possibly killed. These fears are founded purely on the basis of the authorities finding out about his conversion.
My question is therefore this: If Islam really is a ‘religion of peace’ as we are continually being told by the likes of Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, David Cameron, George Bush, The BBC and of course Muslims – why would they want to kill someone who chooses to leave Islam? What are they frightened of? When will our politicians realise they are playing with fire. I’m bound to say that not all Muslims behave like this – but as far as I can tell these peaceful moderate Muslims are inconsistent (thankfully) with the teachings of their own prophet and the Qur’an.
This couple, and particularly the husband really had to count the cost when he became a follower of The Lord Jesus Christ. He would love to go home and see his family but can’t because it’s too dangerous. Most of us Christians in the West do not have these choices to make. Let’s continue to pray for the Muslim world that many more would find Christ to be The Way, The Truth and The Life.
If a Muslim would care to comment on this situation I would be grateful.
My last ‘review’ was very badly done. Let’s hope this is a bit better.
Part 2 of the series deals with several hugely significant events. I don’t say I understand them but it is what Muslims believe. Rageh is unashamedly open about the fact he is a Muslim and I respect that. He is seen at prayer and he’s obviously wide-eyed at where he finds himself and from his perspective probably feels a great sense of privilege.
This program has Robert Spencer on a bit more than Part 1 so the program is trying to address the difficulties and differences found within Islam. It’s not a complete whitewash. But again it is – I think – a charm offensive. For your info Robert Spencer has a blog called Jihad watch.
The first significant event I’ll consider is where Mohammed flees to Medina (originally named Yathrib). So significant an event that it’s from this date that Muslims begin their calendar. His native tribe is after him for preaching one God, the Quraysh relying on trade resulting from the worship of many Gods at the Kaaba in Mecca. His journey (Hijra)to Medina broke the ties of customary loyalty to tribalism and therefore the new religion of Islam, to put it in 21st century language, became global. It was no longer tied to a local community but was open to all. The people at Medina – not without some problems – pretty much all converted to Islam with Mohammed as their prophet.
Significance of Hijra
I may have missed it but the significance of this event for today and for non-Muslims was not discussed. Here’s why. Sam Solomon (converted ex-Muslim Jurist) & E Al Maqdisi have written a book (2008) called ‘Al-Hijra: The Islamic Doctrine of Immigration’. This doctrine has a terrible relevance given the massacre in Norway. But it is an Islamic doctrine nonetheless. Mohammed’s original migration is used as a model today for how – to put no finer point on it – to take over non-Muslim societies. A couple of quotations from their book sets the context.
The Hijra was enshrined by Muhammed from the outset within Islam as the ‘Doctrine of Immigration’, or the ‘peaceful’ means of extending the Islamic political state garbed and girded in religious terminology. Hijra and military conquest are two components of Islamic expansion.
So today as we see staggering numbers of immigrants from Muslim countries in Europe and in the Americas, with developing Muslim communities that are self-segregating and asking for more and more rights and privileges to the point of the recent adoption of Shariah Family Law in the United Kingdom – we have to ask questions as in the title of this book, “Are these communities wanting to join the free societies? Or, are they extending the ‘Abode of Islam’ as per the ‘Doctrine of Immigration’ which was modelled by Muhammad in the initial Hijra?”
I think we can see why the Al-Hijra doctrine was not mentioned. In the program Karen Armstrong said Mohammed was not just a ‘spiritual genius’ but also a political genius of the ‘highest order’.
The Night-time Journey
The second significant event to consider is Mohammed’s ‘night-time journey’. This event involved an apparent – and here there is disagreement within Islam – instantaneous journey to Jerusalem. Some Muslims believe it was spiritual and physical, others that it was purely spiritual (theological), that is Mohammed never actually went to Jerusalem. Whether physical or not it’s significance is massive. Mohammed arrives at Jerusalem and is taken up into heaven and spoken to by of Allah where he meets all the previous prophets Abraham, Moses etc including Jesus and leads them all in prayer. This is, so Muslims believe, confirmation and acceptance that Mohammed is the last of the prophets. And, that Islam is linked to both Judaism and Christianity. I need to just point out here that the Bible very clearly says in the book of Hebrews Chapter 1 (New Testament):
Heb 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Heb 1:4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
The significance of this journey to Jerusalem is seen regularly on the TV news channels. What’s all the trouble about in the Middle East. Here it is. Jerusalem as far as Muslims are concerned belongs to them. So there can never ever be peace, until Jerusalem and I’m assuming all Israel is either wiped off the face of the earth or becomes an Islamic State in practice not just in theory. I hope I have understood this correctly – please tell me if this is not so. This is heady stuff.
I intended on looking at the various massacres. I’ll leave it at this and deal with it in a separate post – Part 2A.