Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.
Lady Macbeth could have been describing the cynical new ad campaign sponsored by the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which attempts to make Americans believe that “jihad” is all about taking the kids to school and smiling at surly checkout clerks, rather than flying planes into office buildings and blowing up pizza parlors full of infidels.
Like all Big Lies, it has a grain of truth to it. Jihad in Arabic means “struggle,” and the Arabic word carries as many connotations as does the English one. One may struggle to lose weight or to exercise regularly, and the same word is used for great struggles, such as those against Nazism and Communism. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a Department of Agricultural Jihad, which has nothing to do with blowing up farm implements, but merely concerns itself with the struggle to increase crop yields.
And so Ahmed Rehab of Hamas-linked CAIR asserted to one of a seemingly endless stream of eagerly credulous reporters:
Jihad in Islam simply means the struggle to a better place. Whatever barrier or burdens that you have in your life, you are asked, you are tasked to muster in the inner courage, the inner resolve, the inner determination to overcome those personal barriers, personal issues.
Rehab retailed a half-truth. A manual of Islamic law certified by the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community” explained: “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad. As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs).” After thus acknowledging the spiritual, “greater jihad,” the manual never mentions it again, but goes on for many paragraphs about the “lesser jihad,” that “war against non-Muslims,” giving rules for the taking of prisoners, the legal status of captive women, the subjugation of the infidels, and more.
This legal manual stipulates that Muslims must make war “upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them.”
Another manual of Islamic law, from the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must receive the call to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], 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.”
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering Muslim historian and philosopher, wrote that “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.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328), directed that “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.”
Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:
The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state.
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee is the assistant professor on the faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he explains that there is “no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad.”
All this and more indicates that the primary meaning of jihad in Islamic theology and law is warfare against unbelievers in order to secure their subjugation as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law. That is what a new ad campaign that Pamela Geller has developed, with some input from me, showing how Islamic jihadists use the word “jihad” in an unmistakeably violent way. The campaign (details and photos here) illuminates how Islamic jihad groups around the world are committing acts of violence regularly in the name of jihad. It is noteworthy that CAIR’s campaign is not directed at them, but at unbelievers. But it is foredoomed to failure: the fact that some Muslims don’t think of jihad in a martial sense doesn’t do anything to mitigate the fact that many do. Until non-Muslim government and law enforcement authorities recognize that simple truth, and take effective action against it, jihad violence worldwide will continue.