Too many of us are fixated to our TV screens lately, sitting in confusion, anger and bewilderment at those masked men beheading their fellow citizens, whether they the Yazidis, Shias, or Christians in Iraq and beyond, the Ahmadis in Pakistan or the countless others unknown, unrecognised and unrepresented. Regardless of whether we know about all those being butchered in these times, enough of us recognise that these systematic killings are done so in the name of Puritist Islam. But enough of us are still failing to identify the essence of the violence itself.
Jihad is the fundamental principle behind this utter carnage. And yes I dared to say principle. Many people could never comprehend how the very lexical choice of ‘principle’ could ever be applied to the actions of ISIS and any other fanatic Sunni-militant organisation. If these organisations held any principles then surely the kidnappings, raping, selling into slavery, beheading, maiming and decimation of livelihood and property that we see and hear of would never have come into being.
Jihad is the holy war waged by Muslims in the principle of defending and/or spreading Islam. A sacred duty if you will. The relentless pouring of blood flowing through the streets of Iraq and parts of Syria that many eyes have witnessed around the world is the result of the very Jihad, that is specifically embedded in the Qu’ran and Hadiths of the Islamic faith and of which the strictest adherents of Islam carry out. Most non-Muslims are aware what the Qu’ran means to the Muslim but may not know the significance of their Hadith. The Hadith is a record of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad himself, according to his wives and family members – a sacred collection of scripture separate from the Qu’ran but second to it in terms of reverence.
I will be referring to the nine-volume translation of the Hadith by Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan*, a well known Islamic scholar. His works have been recommended and approved by all Muslim authorities, including the spiritual leadership in Mecca and Medina. In this volume, the Muslim scholar Dr Muhammad Hamidullah writes a forward, explaining that Jihad is considered the second most sacred deed in Islam. Volume 1, No 25 states: ‘Allah’s apostle was asked ”what is the best deed?” He replied ”to believe in Allah and his apostle”. The questioner then asked ”what is the next?” He replied ”to participate in Jihad in Allah’s cause”. Therefore, since this principle of Jihad is secondary only to belief in Allah Himself we should not be surprised by the constant warring, particularly in the Muslim world between the ‘believer’ and the ‘infidel’.
There are numerous elements to this principle of Jihad, of which the main ones will be factually laid out prior to explaining how they are still being implemented today.
1) Jihad of Sword
This sees people either converting to Islam or being subdued through the violence of military force.
Volume 1, No 27 refers to those who ‘convert to Islam by compulsion or for fear of being killed’ but more specifically Volume 1, No 24 states: ‘I [Muhammad] have been ordered to fight against the pagans and people of the book [Jews & Christians] until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Prophet and offer prayers and give obligatory charity, so if they perform all that, then they save their lives and property’.
2) Jihad of Jizya
This ‘Jizya’ refers to the special taxation enforced onto those who refuse to convert to Islam, a financial burden that suppresses many non-Muslims. It works to drain the non-Muslim of their resources but also to humiliate them as they clearly become lesser citizens having to pay their taxes to the adherents of the one true religion.
Volume 4, No 386: ‘Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord has ordered us to fight you until you worship Allah alone or give Jizya’.
3) Jihad of the Courts
Non-Muslims are denied equal access to and equal protection before the law in many Islamic country, particularly where Sharia law is enforced. Volume 3 of Dr Khan’s translated Hadith focuses on how the non-Muslim’s testimony in court is invalid against Muslim and this applies even in cases of murder. Volume 4, No 283 and Volume 9, No 50 states: ‘no Muslim should be killed for killing an infidel’.
4) Jihad after Death & Jihad of Paradise
Volume 1, No 43 instructs a Muslim to ‘fight on behalf of Muhammad in his lifetime and after his death’ and Volume 1, No 35 states: ‘any Muslim killed while fighting in a Jihad will go straight to the sexual pleasures of Paradise’.
Having gone through all these quotations from the Hadith regarding Jihad, we can now clearly see just how principled and committed Muslims should be to this sacred waging of war against the non-believer. To examine every example of implemented Jihadism globally is a laborious, if not impossible task – Jihad is carried out daily in Islamic countries but only known to the West every few years, through every 9/11, ISIS, or controversial radical preacher.
The most obvious principle of Jihad we see is via the Sword, in the execution of non-Muslim and even minority Muslim sects -from Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and through the actions of Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab in Nigeria and Somalia respectively. Hundreds of thousands of Pagans and Christians are butchered in the Sudan, Anti-Shia semitism is on the rise – spurred on and financed by the Saudi Arabian Wahhbi-sect of Sunni Islam. The use of the death penalty for apostasy in many Islamic nation, for example in Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia is another example of this Jihad. If the threat of death isn’t enough to coerce/intimidate non-Muslims into accepting Islam, then what is?
The Jizya element to Jihad has most recently been used against the Iraqi Christians, persecuted at the hands of ISIS. The arabic letter ‘noun’ (meaning ‘Nazarene’/followers of Christ) was marked on Christian property so that these Sunni militants could properly identify them. The Christians in Iraq were warned to convert to Islam. If they refused then they could either pay the Jizya tax or expect to be murdered, hence the rapid evacuation of Mosul and numerous other cities. Christians are currently non-existent in much of Iraq: if they have not been killed then they have been or in the process of fleeing for their lives.
Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia and numerous other nations maintain religious courts for all aspects of jurisprudence. This Jihad of the Court lies in Sharia Islamic law and this heavily discriminates against non-Muslims in these very countries. For example, under the blasphemy law which forbids any insult to Muhammad, the Q’uran and in turn Islam, many Christians find themselves in court, un-represented and given unfair long-term prison sentences, if not already executed. Handery Masih, a Christian Member of Parliament for Balochistan, Pakistan was shot and killed by his own bodyguard in June 2014 and there has been no calls for his bodyguard’s arrest. Similarly, in 2011 Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was also shot dead by his bodyguard for criticising Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law. Instead of arresting this bodyguard, Pakistanis took to the streets to throw rose petals at Taseer’s killer. A killer regarded as national hero.
A prime example of the Jihad after Death or Jihad of Paradise is in the one of 9/11 that saw the end of 3,000 people. I have seen countless documentaries and Youtube videos of men training to be Jihadists – not ‘terrorists’ as political correctness would have us say. Videos that see scores of men sat in circles or stood in lines listening to how Allah will reward their efforts to blow themselves up in cars, market-places, hotels and aeroplanes. The promise of Heaven’s finest virgins has been enough to waste young, manipulated lives, as well as countless, innocent others who were never given the opportunity to turn such an ‘offer’ down.
Yet despite such an abundance of Jihad history, being implemented increasingly against the West, they have not learned this bitter and painful lesson but instead serve only to perpetuate and grant opportunities for Jihad against them to continue. Their praising of the removal of Egypt’s Mubarak, their commitment to see Alawite-Muslim and Syrian President Al Assad to step down and the irrevocable removal of Iraq’s Saddam all caters for perpetual and pernicious Jihad. Under these three men, Christians and some other non-Sunni groups were safe. They are not anymore. Under the past Middle Eastern leadership, there were no power vacuums and therefore no opportunity for barbarics such as ISIS to thrive. Under current leadership – or lack of it – there are plenty of vacuums and many more militant groups will emerge.
Never underestimate the potentially undying nature of Jihad, it has managed to exist for the past 1,400 years and in this current political climate has no reason to not do so for another 1,400. Simply put: Jihad is not correctly understood, correctly portrayed and not correctly reduced/prevented.
Prevented by the West by claiming back what is essentially ours. To start, by examining the very book of Jihad, the Qu’ran, the Hadiths. By studying the very nature of these militant Muslims. By developing a spirit of discernment in knowing where to look for and expect Jihad: Islamic TV, numerous mosques, numerous Islamic literature and texts. By allowing these Western Jihadis to fight the ISIS fight but deny them entry back onto our soil. By scrutinisng and placing restrictions on immigration policies. By not being intimidated through accusations of racism and Islamophobia. By not giving them an inch and watch them run circles around us in miles. By refusing the publication and permeation of inciteful literature, teachings and preachings that rally the radical Islamist troops, in our schools, streets and prisons. By actively banning extremist and harmful groups.
A huge task definitely but not impossible. But all this must be actively done and not passively. In practise and not in theory.
Using our principles.
*Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan, The Translation of the Meaning of Sahih Al-Bukhari (Kazi Publications, Lahore, Pakistan, 1979)