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War is eternal

The fact that Islam legitimizes deceit during war cannot be all that surprising; as the saying goes, all’s fair in love and war. Moreover, non-Muslim thinkers and philosophers, such as Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Hobbes, all justified deceit in war. The crucial difference, however, is that, according to all four recognized schools of Sunni jurisprudence, war against the infidel goes on in perpetuity — until “all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39). In its entry on jihad, the definitive Encyclopaedia of Islam simply states:

The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorized. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict.

Moreover, going back to the doctrine of abrogation, the vast majority of the ulema agree that Koran 9:5, famously known as ayat al-saif — the “sword verse” — has abrogated some 124 of the more peaceful Meccan verses.

The obligatory jihad is best expressed by Islam’s dichotomized worldview that pits Dar al-Islam (the “realm of submission,” i.e., the Islamic world), against Dar al-Harb (the “realm of war,” i.e., the non-Islamic world) until the former subsumes the latter. Internationally renowned Muslim historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) articulates this division thusly: “In the Muslim community, holy war [jihad] 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 [specifically Christianity and Judaism] did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense. … But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

This concept is highlighted by the fact that, based on the ten-year treaty of Hudaibiya (628), ratified between Muhammad and his Quraish opponents in Mecca, ten years is, theoretically, the maximum amount of time Muslims can be at peace with infidels. Based on Muhammad’s example of breaking the treaty after two years (by citing a Quraish infraction), the sole function of the “peace treaty” (or hudna) is to buy weakened Muslims time to regroup before going on the offensive once more. Incidentally, according to a canonical hadith, Muhammad said, “If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath.” The prophet further encouraged Muslims to do the same: “If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better.”

After negotiating a peace treaty criticized by Muslims as conceding too much to Israel, former PLO leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, speaking to Muslims in a mosque and off the record, justified his actions by saying, “I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraish in Mecca.” In other words, like his prophet, the “moderate” Arafat was giving his word only to annul it once “something else better” came along — that is, once Palestinians became strong enough to renew the offensive.

Most recently, a new Islamic group associated with Hamas called Jaysh al-Umma (Islam’s army) stated clearly, “Muslims all over the world are obliged to fight the Israelis and the infidels until only Islam rules the earth.” Realizing their slip, they quickly clarified: “We say that the world will not live in peace as long as the blood of Muslims continues to be shed.” Which is it — until Muslim blood stops being shed in Israel or “until only Islam rules the earth”?

These are all clear instances of Muslims feigning openness to the idea of peace simply in order to buy more time to build up their strength.

Here, then, is the problem: If Islam must be in a constant state of war with the non-Muslim world, which need not be physical, as the ulema have classified several non-violent forms of jihad, such as “jihad-of-the-pen” (propaganda) and “money-jihad” (economic); and if Muslims are permitted to lie and feign loyalty, amiability, even affection to the infidel, simply to further their war efforts — what does one make of any Muslim overtures of peace, tolerance, or dialogue?

This is more obvious when one considers that, every single time Muslims “reach out” for “peace,” it is always when they are in a weakened condition vis-à-vis infidels — that is, when they, not their non-Muslim competitors, benefit from the peace. This is the lesson of the last two centuries of Muslim-Western interaction, wherein the former have been militarily inferior and thus beholden to the latter.

One wonders if the reverse would hold true. If, for example, the Palestinians suddenly became stronger than Israel and could annihilate it, if Israel reached out for peace or concessions, would the (overwhelmingly Muslim) Palestinians grant it? In fact, the answer to this question is evident in all those countries where non-Muslim groups live as minorities among Muslim majorities: while living in constant social subjugation (according to Koran 9:29) they are also sporadically persecuted and killed — such as the Christian Copts of Egypt who, after merely assembling for prayer in a condemned factory, found 20,000 rioting Muslims surrounded them, screaming the Muslim war cry, “Allah Akbar,” while throwing stones at them.