Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America
The transcript of my speech today at the national meeting of ACT for America.
June 24, 2011 - 12:00 am
The late Southern Sudanese leader John Garang, in 1999, posed the following dual-part existential question for our era:
Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right of those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?
As I hope to make plain, the answer to both parts of John Garang’s query is “Yes!”
Hamas cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita was interviewed July 13, 2008, on Al-Aqsa TV. After reminding listeners that the Koran’s opening prayer itself, the Fatiha, which pious Muslims repeat 17 times daily, declares that the Jews are “those who incur Allah’s wrath,” specifically in the 7th verse of the Fatiha, re-affirming the verse’s standard exegesis, or interpretation, for over 13 centuries, he declared:
The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God.
Three months earlier Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal had made these more elaborate remarks during a speech which aired on Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV April 11, 2008:
Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs [i.e., Jews, Koran 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166, and other foundational Muslim texts] in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam — this capital of theirs [Rome] will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe. I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad …
These words debunk widely accepted tropes that Hamas is merely a nationalist movement, albeit religious, desiring a “Palestinian homeland” in the territories of Gaza (which it already possesses), Judea, and Samaria. Hamas’ blatantly annihilationist rhetoric towards Jews and Israel within the 1949 armistice borders indicates that the jihadist organization wishes to replace Israel. Why then, in addition to the monotonous rhetoric of Jew-hatred (which is Islamic, and specifically Koranic, in origin), the unabashed expression of Hamas’ will to wage global jihad?
Not surprisingly, Hamas’ founding covenant issued in 1988 is redolent with similar Islamic Jew-hatred and jihadism, but also expressly integrates this jihad terror organization into the largest Sunni Muslim jihadist movement — the Muslim Brotherhood. As I will demonstrate, it is this nexus — Hamas’ connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, mainstream Islam’s most important movement, which has deep roots and extraordinary popularity amongst the global Muslim masses — that explains the closely related phenomena of Islamic Jew-hatred, and the jihad against Israel, the U.S., and indeed all outposts of Western civilization.
Koran 3:112 is featured before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant — it is literally part of the very first statement of the document. [Here is the standard Hillali-Khan translation of 3:112: “Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men; they have drawn on themselves the Wrath of Allah, and destruction is put over them. This is because they disbelieved in the revelations (Ayat proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets without right. This is because they disobeyed (Allah) and used to transgress beyond bounds (in Allah's disobedience, crimes and sins).”]
In classical and modern Koranic exegeses by seminal, authoritative Islamic theologians this central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and pigs (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “ … cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself — Islam’s founding prophet — repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (the words, deeds, and even unspoken gestures of Muhammad as ostensibly recorded by his earliest pious Muslim companions; Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘ … curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’”. And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews — as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64 — of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect thematic logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira account — the sira being the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad — maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy. Thus Hamas cleric Wael Al-Zarad explained on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28, 2008 that the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews, “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet (i.e., Muhammad) several times.” And they ultimately succeeded. Again, these allegations are part of a central antisemitic motif in the Koran — simply repeated in the Hamas Covenant, and ad nauseum by Hamas clerics — which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 2:89-91, and 3:112).
The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, as expressed by Hamas cleric al-Zarad, are further rooted in Islamic eschatology [end of times theology], and also incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Covenant. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl — the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ — or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, or Jerusalem, wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered — everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7). This hadith is cited in the Covenant as a sacralized, obligatory call for a Muslim genocide of the Jews:
…the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah’s prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)
Article 28, which is free of any eschatological references, clearly “widens the circle of hate” towards Jews, as historian David Littman first observed, targeting all contemporary Jews: “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people: ‘May the cowards never sleep.’”
Articles 22 and 32 invoke modern conspiratorial themes reminiscent of European (secular) antisemitic motifs, especially the latter (article 32), which makes explicit mention of the Czarist Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But even these articles are peppered with Koranic citations, including references in both articles 22 and 32 to Koran 5:64, mentioned previously as the Koran’s ancient antecedent to The Protocols. (Arberry translation, Koran 5:64: “The Jews have said, ‘God’s hand is fettered.’ Fettered are their hands, and they are cursed for what they have said. Nay, but His hands are outspread; He expends how He will. And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; and We have cast between them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, God will extinguish it. They hasten about the earth, to do corruption there; and God loves not the workers of corruption.”)
Jihad is the other pillar of Hamas’ foundational Jew-annihilationist ideology featured in the 1988 Covenant. Once again, this is already suggested in the opening statement before the preamble which includes the following quote by Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished that which was before it.” Hamas openly claims to be a wing of the International Muslim Brotherhood. Article 2 of the Hamas Charter states: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times.”
But the body of the Hamas Covenant includes unequivocal statements of Hamas’ irredentist commitment to the annihilation of Israel via jihad. Jihad martyrdom is lauded in article 8 “the Hamas slogan,” (in fact borrowed from the 1928 Charter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood), which states, “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its Constitution; Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” Article 13 makes plain that Hamas’ jihadism is completely incompatible with any meaningful Middle East peace settlement:
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that … there is no solution to the Palestinian question except by Jihad. All initiatives, proposals, and International Conferences are a waste of time and vain endeavors.
And article 15 (subtitled, “Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is a Personal Duty”) elucidates classical jihadist theory — including jihad martyrdom (i.e., homicide bombing) operations — as well as its practical modern application to the destruction of Israel by jihad, and the need to recruit the global Muslim community, or “umma” in this quintessential Islamic cause:
The day the enemies conquer some part of the Muslim land, jihad becomes a personal duty of every Muslim. In the face of the Jewish occupation of Palestine, it is necessary to raise the banner of jihad. This requires the propagation of Islamic consciousness among the masses, locally [in Palestine], in the Arab world and in the Islamic world. It is necessary to instill the spirit of jihad in the nation, engage the enemies and join the ranks of the jihad fighters. The indoctrination campaign must involve ulama, educators, teachers and information and media experts, as well as all intellectuals, especially the young people and the sheikhs of Islamic movements …
It is necessary to establish in the minds of all the Muslim generations that the Palestinian issue is a religious issue, and that it must be dealt with as such, for [Palestine] contains Islamic holy places, [namely] the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is inseparably connected, for as long as heaven and earth shall endure, to the holy mosque of Mecca through the Prophet’s nocturnal journey [from the mosque of Mecca to the Al-Aqsa mosque] and through his ascension to heaven thence. “Being stationed on the frontier for the sake of Allah for one day is better than this [entire] world and everything in it; and the place taken up in paradise by the [horseman’s] whip of any one of you [jihad fighters] is better than this [entire] world and everything in it. Every evening [operation] and morning [operation] performed by Muslims for the sake of Allah is better than this [entire] world and everything in it.” (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja). “By the name of Him who holds Muhammad’s soul in His hand, I wish to launch an attack for the sake of Allah and be killed and attack again and be killed and attack again and be killed.” (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim)
Unfortunately, Hamas’ views on the jihad against Israel, and Islamic Jew hatred, are entirely concordant with those of the most authoritative religious educational institution within Sunni Islam for over 1200 years, since the late 8th century — Al Azhar University, in Cairo, Egypt. Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956, by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar, and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. [English translation from State Department Telegram 1763/ Embassy (Cairo) Telegram 1256 D441214] This ruling elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine — modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza — having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory” — booty or spoils — to be governed eternally by Islamic Law. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa’s language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:
Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory.
[As] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants … Jihad … to restore the country to its people … is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.
Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.
The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such jihadist and antisemitic motifs from the Koran (or other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi — Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from 1996, till his death in March 2010.
My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first-time English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions. Tantawi wrote these words rationalizing Muslim Jew-hatred in his 700-page treatise:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people’s wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness … only a minority of the Jews keep their word … [A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.
Tantawi was apparently rewarded for this scholarly effort by being named Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, a position he held for 14 years. These were the expressed, “carefully researched” views on Jews held by the nearest Muslim equivalent to a Pope — the head of the most prestigious center of Muslim learning in Sunni Islam, which represents some 85 to 90 percent of the world’s Muslims. And Sheikh Tantawi never mollified such hatemongering beliefs after becoming the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar as his statements on “dialogue” (January 1998) with Jews, the Jews as “enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs” (April 2002), and the legitimacy of homicide bombing of Jews (April 2002) make clear.
Tantawi’s statements on dialogue, which were issued shortly after he met with the Israel’s Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, in Cairo, on December 15, 1997, provided him another opportunity to re-affirm his ongoing commitment to the views expressed about Jews in his Ph.D. thesis:
Anyone who avoids meeting with the enemies in order to counter their dubious claims and stick fingers into their eyes, is a coward. My stance stems from Allah’s book [the Koran], more than one-third of which deals with the Jews … [I] wrote a dissertation dealing with them [the Jews], all their false claims and their punishment by Allah. I still believe in everything written in that dissertation. [i.e., Jews in the Koran and the Traditions, cited above]
Consistent with Islam’s institutionalized jihadism and Jew-hatred since the 7th century advent of the Muslim creed, the 1956 Al Azhar fatwa, and the more recent pronouncements of the late Sunni Muslim Papal equivalent, Sheikh Tantawi, represent only the last 55 years. Likewise, Hamas merely reflects the triumph of modern jihadist movements that avow, unabashed, not just their annihilationist Jew-hatred, with open calls for a jihad genocide against Israel, but the over-arching desire to re-establish a Caliphate — the transnational hub of past Islamic Empires — and submit the world to Islamic rule — all in accord with living, classical jihad doctrine, and popular contemporary Muslim sentiment.
Brynjar Lia’s 1998 analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood’s formative years (1928-1942) points out how founder Hasan Al-Banna’s and the Brotherhood’s vision remained steadfastly Islamic — hence its deep resonance with the timeless aspiration of the Muslim masses to establish a transnational Muslim Caliphate via jihad.
Quoting the Qur’anic verse [2:193] “And fight them till sedition is no more, and the faith is Allah’s,” the Muslim Brothers urged their fellow Muslims to restore the bygone greatness of Islam, and to re-establish the Islamic empire … [T]hey even called for the restoration of “former Islamic colonies” in Andalus (Spain), southern Italy, Sicily, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean islands.
Two decades earlier, Charles Wendell had published a magisterial 1978 translation of five important Al-Banna treatises, highlighting the traditional, mainstream Islamic authenticity of his vision. What Charles Wendell knew and was unafraid to proclaim is that Al-Banna represented a continuum — not just from the so-called “Muslim modernists” of the late 19th and early 20th century — al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, most directly — but from foundational, mainstream Islam itself — the Islam that still appeals most to the Muslim masses wherever they reside, including sadly, here in the U.S. These are Wendell’s critical summary insights:
Hasan al-Banna’s fundamental conviction that Islam does not accept, or even tolerate, a separation of “church” and state, or of either from society, is as thoroughly Islamic as it can be. Any attempt to translate his movement into terms reducible to social, political, or religious factors exclusively simply misses the boat.
The “totality” created by the Prophet Muhammad in the Medinese state, the first Islamic state, was Hasan’s unwavering ideal, and the ideal of all Muslim thinkers before him, including the idle dreamers in the mosque. His ideology then, before it was Egyptian or Arab or whatever, was Islamic to the core. Since it embraced all aspects of human life and thought, it was at least as much religious as anything else. Practically all of his arguments are shored up by frequent quotations from the Qur’an and the Traditions, quite in the style of his medieval forbears. If one considers the public to whom his writings were addressed, it becomes instantly apparent that such arguments must still be the most compelling for the vast bulk of the Muslim populations of today. The nagging feeling that Islam must, and very quickly at that, catch up with the West, had even by his time filtered down from above to the masses after having been the watchword of the modernizing intellectual for almost a century. There was also the notion that all these Western sciences and techniques were originally adopted from Islamic culture, and were therefore merely “coming home” — a piece of self-conscious back-patting that was already a cliché of most Muslim political writing.
The immensely popular current Muslim Brotherhood “Spiritual Leader,” Yusuf al-Qaradawi — after whom the “moderate” Qatari government created the Orwellian-named “Al-Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation,” and the “moderate” Egyptian Army welcomed back to Cairo from a long exile after Mubarak was deposed — represents the apotheosis of the “Arab Spring.” Fittingly, Sheikh Qaradawi promulgates virulent Jew-hatred and champions a jihad genocide of the refuge of Middle Eastern, and world Jewry — Israel. During recent interviews published at the Muslim Brotherhood’s English website “IkhwanWeb,” Qaradawi elucidated his overarching beliefs and goals, while extolling the putative “moderate vision” of MB founder and paragon, Hassan al-Banna. And Qaradawi has publicly advocated all of the following:
- That Muslims emulate their prophet Muhammad as a model for violent, expansionist jihad, which includes the sanctioning of so-called jihad “martyrdom operations”
- The re-creation of a formal transnational United Islamic State (Islamic Caliphate)
- The jihad conquests of Europe and the Americas
- Universal application of the Sharia, Islamic Law including Islamic blasphemy law, and the Sharia-based hadd punishments (for example, notably, executing so-called “apostates” from Islam)
- Homicide “martyrdom” bombings of all Israeli Jews, including non-combatants, and subsequently, invoking Hitler and expanding the circle of hatred, a call for the frank jihad genocide of all Jews (“This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”) Qaradawi also expressed a personal longing to die in a homicidal “martyrdom” operation targeting Jews: “I’d like to say that the only thing I hope for is that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Allah’s mercy and blessings upon you.”)
Notwithstanding all this contemporary evidence — which reflects a seamless continuum of Islamic doctrine and history — the Obama administration’s lead counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, vociferously advocates an exclusive, bowdlerized definition of jihad in the public discourse as, “to purify oneself or one’s community,” lest the tender sensibilities of Muslims be offended. He further claims that, somehow, self-described jihadists, “have truly just distorted the whole concept” of jihad. But it is Brennan, irrespective of whatever flimsy, ahistorical rationale he provides, who thoroughly misrepresents jihad — a living, bellicose Islamic institution which dates from Islam’s origins almost 14 centuries ago.
The dangerous absurdity of Brennan’s jihad denial is self-evident: nearly 17,500 jihad terror attacks have been committed by Muslims worldwide since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism committed against the United States itself on September 11, 2001. These data should remind us that there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite such contemporary apologetics. The root of the word Jihad appears 40 times in the Koran, and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries — from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazzali), to ordinary people — meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.” As described by the seminal 19th century Arabic lexicographer E.W. Lane, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers.” A contemporary definition, relevant to both modern jihadism and its shock troop “mujahideen” — was provided at the Fourth International Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research at Al Azhar University, in 1968, by Muhammad al-Sobki:
the words Al Jihad, Al Mojahadah, or even “striving against enemies” are equivalents and they do not mean especially fighting with the atheists … they mean fighting in the general sense.
Muhammad himself, during the last decade of his life (622-632), waged a series of proto-jihad expeditions to subdue the Jews, Christians, and pagans of Arabia. Not surprisingly, the Jews figured prominently in these campaigns. Muhammad’s failures or incomplete successes were consistently recompensed by murderous attacks on the Jews. The Muslim prophet-warrior developed a penchant for assassinating individual Jews, and destroying Jewish communities — by expropriation and expulsion (Banu Quaynuqa and B. Nadir), or massacring their men, and enslaving their women and children (Banu Qurayza). Just before subduing the Medinan Jewish tribe Banu Qurayza and orchestrating the mass execution of their adult males, Muhammad invoked perhaps the most striking Koranic motif for the Jews debasement — he addressed these Jews, with hateful disparagement, as “You brothers of apes.” Subsequently, in the case of the Khaybar Jews, Muhammad had the male leadership killed, and plundered their riches. The terrorized Khaybar survivors — industrious Jewish farmers — became prototype subjugated dhimmis whose productivity was extracted by the Muslims as a form of permanent booty. And according to the Muslim sources, even this tenuous vassalage was arbitrarily terminated within a decade of Muhammad’s death when Caliph Umar expelled the Jews of Khaybar.
Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present. (See for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model”.)
Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, reknowned 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.
Classical Islamic jurists such as Ibn Khaldun also formulated the concepts Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for, “The House of Islam and the House of War”). As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht:
A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, “in a state of war”, “enemy alien”; his life and property are completely unprotected by law …
Yusuf Al-Qaradawi reiterated almost this exact formulation of Dar al Harb during July 2003, both in conceptual terms, and with regard to Israel, specifically. Accordingly, innocent non-combatant “harbis” can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being “harbis” during endless razzias — raids — and or full-scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of today’s jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe.
The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al-Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:
Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.
By the time of 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 Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, 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 by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphant jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.
This sanctioned, but wanton destruction resulted, specifically in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines — Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist writings which 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.
And what was the nature of the system of governance imposed upon those indigenous non-Muslims conquered by jihad? In his seminal The Laws of Islamic Governance al-Mawardi (d. 1058), a renowned jurist of Baghdad, examined the regulations pertaining to the lands and infidel populations subjugated by jihad. This is the origin of the system of dhimmitude. The native infidel “dhimmi” (which derives from both the word for “pact”, and also “guilt” — guilty of religious errors) population had to recognize Islamic ownership of their land, submit to Islamic law, and accept payment of the Koranic poll tax (jizya), based on Koran 9:29. Al- Mawardi notes that: “The enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” He then distinguishes two cases: (I) Payment is made immediately and is treated like booty, “it does, not however, prevent a jihad being carried out against them in the future.” (II). Payment is made yearly and will “constitute an ongoing tribute by which their security is established.” Reconciliation and security last as long as the payment is made. If the payment ceases, then the jihad resumes. A treaty of reconciliation may be renewable, but must not exceed 10 years. This same basic formulation was reiterated during a January 8, 1998 interview by Yusuf al-Qaradawi confirming how jihad continues to regulate the relations between Muslims and non-Muslims to this day.
The “contract of the jizya”, or “dhimma” encompassed other obligatory and recommended obligations for the conquered non-Muslim “dhimmi” peoples. Collectively, these “obligations” formed the discriminatory system of dhimmitude imposed upon non-Muslims — Jews, Christians, [as well as Zoroastrians, Hindus, and Buddhists] — subjugated by jihad. Some of the more salient features of dhimmitude include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; the refusal of dhimmi testimony by Muslim courts; a requirement that Jews, Christians, and other non-Muslims, including Zoroastrians and Hindus, wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims. It is important to note that these regulations and attitudes were institutionalized as permanent features of the sacred Islamic law, or Shari’a.
Thus, the Jewish travelogue writer J. J. Binyamin (II) recorded the following account after his 1847 sojourn in Palestine—the plight of the Jews he witnessed being consistent with their sacralized degradation under Islamic Law, and despite putative “reforms” of the Sharia imposed upon the Ottoman Muslim rulers in 1839 by the Western European powers:
Deep misery and continual oppression are the right words to describe the condition of the Children of Israel in the land of their fathers … They are entirely destitute of every legal protection and every means of safety. Instead of security afforded by law, which is unknown in these countries, they are completely under the orders of the Sheiks and Pashas, men, whose character and feelings inspire but little confidence from the beginning. It is only the European Consuls who frequently take care of the oppressed, and afford them some protection. … With unheard of rapacity tax upon tax is levied on them, and with the exception of Jerusalem, the taxes demanded are arbitrary. Whole communities have been impoverished by the exorbitant claims of the Sheiks, who, under the most trifling pretences and without being subject to any control, oppress the Jews with fresh burdens … In the strict sense of the word the Jews are not even masters of their own property. They do not even venture to complain when they are robbed and plundered … Their lives are taken into as little consideration as their property; they are exposed to the caprice of any one; even the smallest pretext, even a harmless discussion, a word dropped in conversation, is enough to cause bloody reprisals. Violence of every kind is of daily occurrence. The chief evidence of their miserable condition is the universal poverty which we remarked in Palestine, and which is here truly astounding … It even causes leprosy among the Jews of Palestine, as in former times. Robbed of their means of subsistence from the cultivation of the soil and the pursuit of trade, they exist upon the charity of their brethren in the faith in foreign parts … In a word the state of the Jews in Palestine, physically and mentally, is an unbearable one.
It is within this overall historical context that one must view contemporary Muslim pronouncements regarding the status of non-Muslims — under past, present, and future Islamic rule.
For example, Palestinian Authority (PA) Undersecretary for Religious Endowment, Sheik Yussef Salamah, representing the PA at a May 1999 “Inter-Cultural Conference,” in Tehran, praised the 7th century system of Ahl Al-Dhimma (i.e, the system of dhimmitude, which I have briefly described), as the proper paradigm for relations between Muslims and Christians today.
During a Friday sermon broadcasted live on June 6, 2001 on PA TV, from the Sheik ‘Ijlin Mosque in Gaza, Palestinian Authority employee Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi reiterated these sentiments with regard to Jews:
We welcome, as we did in the past, any Jew who wants to live in this land as a Dhimmi, just as the Jews have lived in our countries, as Dhimmis, and have earned appreciation, and some of them have even reached the positions of counselor or minister here and there. We welcome the Jews to live as Dhimmis, but the rule in this land and in all the Muslim countries must be the rule of Allah.
Tragically even the still apposite lessons from America’s own first encounter with jihadism have failed to resonate in the current era. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in 1786 in London with the Tripolitan [modern Libyan] Ambassador to Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. These future American presidents were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would spare the United States the ravages of jihad piracy — murder, enslavement (with ransoming for redemption), and expropriation of valuable commercial assets — emanating from the Barbary states (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). During their discussions, they questioned Ambassador Adja as to the source of the unprovoked animus directed at the nascent United States republic. Jefferson and Adams, in their subsequent report to the Continental Congress, recorded the Tripolitan Ambassador’s justification:
… that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.
Thus an aggressive jihad was already being waged against the United States almost 200 years prior to America becoming a dominant international power in the Middle East. Moreover, these jihad depredations targeting America antedated the earliest vestiges of the Zionist movement by a century, and the formal creation of Israel by 162 years — exploding the ahistorical canard that American support for the modern Jewish state is a prerequisite for jihadist attacks on the U.S.
Moreover, American Presidents John Quincy Adams and Theodore Roosevelt each possessed a remarkably clear, uncompromised understanding of the permanent Islamic institution of jihad war — both its doctrinal basis, and history. Regarding jihad, Quincy Adams states in an 1829-30 essay series:
… he [Muhammad] declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind … The precept of the Koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.
Adams also captured the essential condition imposed upon the non-Muslim dhimmi “tributaries” subjugated by jihad, with this laconic statement:
The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute.
And Roosevelt offered this historical perspective in 1916 on the consequences for Western civilization of succeeding, or failing to repel jihad conquerors:
The civilization of Europe, America, and Australia exists today at all only because of the victories of civilized man over the enemies of civilization … [including] those of Charles Martel in the 8th century [over Arab jihadists] and those of John Sobieski in the 17th century [over Ottoman Turkish jihadists]. During the thousand years that included the careers of the Frankish soldier [Martel] and the Polish king [Sobieski], the Christians of Asia and Africa proved unable to wage successful war with the Moslem conquerors; and in consequence Christianity practically vanished from the two continents; and today nobody can find in them any “social values” whatever, in the sense in which we use the words, so far as the sphere of Mohammedan influence [is] … concerned … There are such “social values” today in Europe, America, and Australia only because during those thousand years the Christians of Europe possessed the warlike power to do what the Christians of Asia and Africa had failed to do — that is, beat back the Moslem invader. It is of course worthwhile for sociologists to discuss the effect of this European militarism on “social values” but only if they first clearly realize and formulate the fact that if European militarism had not been able to defend itself against and to overcome the militarism of Asia and Africa, there would have been no “social values” of any kind in our world today, and no sociologists to discuss them.
Nearly a century later, the preponderance of Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia share the goal of re-establishing an Islamic Caliphate. Polling data released April 24, 2007 in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims conducted between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007 — 1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians — reveal that 65.2% of those interviewed — almost 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority” — desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate.” The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict application of Sharia law in every Islamic country.”
Publication June 7, 2011 of the landmark “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques” study provides irrefragable evidence that 81% of this nationally representative sample of U.S. mosques — consistent with mainstream Islamic doctrine, practice, and sentiment since the founding of the Muslim creed — are inculcating jihadism with the goal of implementing Sharia here in America. These mosque data represent another manifestation of institutional American Islam’s jihadism expressed clandestinely 20 years ago in a Muslim Brotherhood statement dated May 22, 1991, written by an acolyte of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Entitled “An Explanatory Memorandum On the General Strategic Goal for the Group In North America,” the document — uncovered during the Holy Land Foundation trial — is indeed self-explanatory.
The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and by the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.
Whittaker Chambers’ transcendent 1952 autobiography Witness, which chronicles his apostasy from Communism, offers these searing insights that elucidate how American Muslims could rationalize such seditious behaviors — consistent with Islamic doctrine — and why this phenomenon remains largely incomprehensible to non-Muslim Americans, despite its existential threat to them:
What went on in the minds of those Americans … that made it possible to betray their country? Did none of them suffer a crisis of conscience? The question presupposes that whoever asks it has still failed to grasp that Communists mean exactly what they have been saying for a hundred years: they regard any government that is not Communist, including their own, merely as the political machine of a class whose power they have organized expressly to overthrow by all means, including violence. Therefore the problem of espionage never presents itself to them as a problem of conscience, but a problem of operations…
The failure to understand that fact is part of the total failure of the West to grasp the nature of its enemy, what he wants, what he means to do and how he will go about doing it. It is part of the failure of the West to understand that it is at grips with an enemy having no moral viewpoint in common with itself, that two irreconcilable viewpoints and standards of judgment, two irreconcilable moralities, proceeding from two irreconcilable readings of man’s fate and future are involved, and hence their conflict is irrepressible.
Does 21st century America possess Whittaker Chambers’ moral compass and fortitude to combat the modern scourge of ancient Islamic totalitarianism?