(This illustration is taken from La vie de Mahomet, by M. Prideaux, published in 1699. It shows Mohammed holding a sword and a crescent while trampling on a globe, a cross, and the Ten Commandments.)
“The Prophet (Muhammad) is closer to the believers than their selves and his wives are their mothers.” [Koran 33:6]
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Koran 33:21]
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are severe against disbelievers, and merciful among themselves.” [Koran 48:29]
“Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” [Koran 9:29]
I don’t believe the prophet Muhammad wanted a world war to impose Islam on everybody. I don’t believe that.
This Islamophilic sentiment was endorsed by the two apologetic mediocrities O’Reilly hosted, and the thoroughly unenlightening January 16, 2015 discussion soon drew to a merciful end.
But O’Reilly’s entirely counterfactual statement about Islam’s prophet and prototype jihadist—no matter how self-assuredly believed—demands a corrective if there is any hope of restoring rationality and clarity to the public airwaves’ discourse about the impetus for the murderous contemporary global scourge of jihad (i.e., nearly 25,000 jihadist attacks since 9/11/2001, and counting).
Pace O’Reilly’s glib, bowdlerized conception of Muhammad, the frank understandings of two learned, contemporary Muslim theologians—one Shiite, the other Sunni—merit review. The late Ayatollah Montazeri (d. December, 2009), was a Grand Marja (religious authority) of Shiite Islam, and considered perhaps the most knowledgeable senior Islamic scholar in Iran. (He was also dubbed the much ballyhooed Iranian Green Movement’s eternal “spiritual” inspiration.) Montazeri framed the Shiite Iranian call for global jihad conquest by invoking Muhammad’s own numerous military campaigns to establish Islamic hegemony:
He [Muhammad] did not sit in a corner and merely pray, although all his prayers would have been answered. On the contrary, he [Muhammad] carried out an uprising and had about 80 military clashes. He [Muhammad] called on the Muslims to arise, and he established and powerfully implemented Allah’s laws among the people
Yusuf al-Qaradawi (1926–) is a modern Muslim scholar and preacher best known for his popular Al Jazeera program ash-Sharia wal-Hayat (“Sharia and Life”), and his website Islam Online (now On Islam). Trained at Cairo’s renowned Al-Azhar University, Qaradawi has published some fifty books, including The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam and Islam: The Future Civilization. While he is considered the “spiritual guide” of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi also worked in the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, and has been the dean of the Islamic Department at the Faculties of Sharia and Education in Qatar. The Qatari government subsequently (in 2009) created the “Al-Qaradawi Center for Islamic Moderation.” Qaradawi remains the head of the European Council for Fatwa (religious rulings) and Research. During Al-Jazeera’s weekly religious program, June 19, 2001—a special dedicated to the image of Islam’s prophet as a model jihad warrior—Qaradawi elucidated why Muhammad remains the prototype jihadist whom today’s Muslims should emulate:
The prophets that Allah sent prior to Muhammad were sent for a limited time …and to a specific people… Allah established in the life of the Prophet Muhammad general, eternal, and all inclusive characteristics, and he gave every human being the possibility to imitate him and take his life as a model. The Christian is incapable of imitating Jesus regarding war and conciliation since Jesus never fought or made peace. He is incapable of imitating him regarding marriage, divorce, parenthood, and family, since [Jesus] never had a family, never had a wife, a father, or a grandfather. On the other hand, Allah wanted Muhammad’s life to be a model. Allah has made the prophet Muhammad into an epitome for religious warriors [Mujahideen] since he ordered Muhammed to fight for religion…
These highly informed, forthright views of Montazeri and Qaradawi are supported by a vast corpus of Islamic jurisprudence, which in turn merely expounds upon Islam’s most important foundational texts: the Koran itself, and even more significantly, the words and deeds of Muhammad and the nascent Muslim community as recorded in the hadith (“traditions”), and the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Islam’s prophet (or “sira”). Reproduced below are salient examples from the hadith and sira which capture Muhammad’s prototype jihadism:
- Muhammad called for waging jihad to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam, and even foreshadowed the conquest of Christian Byzantium (“Caesar’s kingdom) and Zoroastrian Persia (“Khusrau’s” kingdom), specifically.
Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform a that, then they save their lives an property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.” (Sahih Bukhari, 1:2:24 [see also 4:52:196])
It is reported on the authority of Abu Huraira that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection on my behalf except where it is justified by law, and their affairs rest with Allah. (Sahih Muslim, 1:31 [see also 1:30, 1:32, 1:33])
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war [jihad]… When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [i.e. humiliating poll-tax, paid “in lieu of being slain”, and accompanied other debasing regulations]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim,19: 4294)
Narrated Abu Huraira , Allah’s Apostle said, “When Khosrau perishes, there will be no (more) Khosrau after him, and when Caesar perishes, there will be no more Caesar after him. By Him in Whose Hands Muhammad’s life is, you will spend the treasures of both of them in Allah’s Cause. (Sahih Bukhari, 4:56:815)
Narrated Jabir bin Samura, The Prophet said, “When Khosrau perishes, there will be no more Khosrau a after him, and when Caesar perishes, there will be no more Caesar after him,” The Prophet also said, “You will spend the treasures of both of them in Allah’s Cause.” (Sahih Bukhari, 4;56;816)
- Muhammad extolled jihad terror as the key to his military successes, and celebrated jihad martyrdom as the supreme act of Islamic devotion
Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah’s Cause).” (Bukhari 4:52:53)
Narrated Abu Huraira: “The Prophet said, ‘By Him in Whose Hands my life is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any Sariya’ (army-unit) setting out in Allah’s Cause. By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.” (Bukhari 4:52:54)
- Muhammad personally conducted, and thus “sacralized,” the practice of beheading vanquished prisoners of jihad (which became a principle of the Sharia jurisprudence on jihad, i.e., the other main options being ransom for Muslim hostages, or enslavement). He also used the epithets “apes/monkeys” and/or “pigs” (per Koran 5:60) to characterize Jewish victims of his jihadist campaigns, notably the Qurayza tribe, whose males Muhammad subsequently beheaded.
Just prior to orchestrating the en masse execution of the adult males from the besieged Medinan Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayzah (and distributing their women, children, and possessions as slave “booty” for the Muslims), Muhammad, according to his earliest Muslim biographer, Ibn Ishaq (d. 767-770), addressed these Jews with menacing, hateful derision: “You brothers of monkeys, has God disgraced you and brought His vengeance upon you?” (Another early Muslim biographer of Muhammad, Ibn Sa‘d [d. 845], reports that Muhammad stated, “brothers of monkeys and pigs, fear me, fear me!”). Following a later campaign against the Jews of the Khaybar oasis, Muhammad told those surviving his slaughter, and rapine, “As for you, I hate you more than monkeys and pigs.”
Here is Ibn Ishaq’s description of Muhammad’s mass beheading of the Banu Qurayzah males: Then they [the men, including post-pubescent boys, of the Jewish tribe Banu Qurayzah] surrendered, and the apostle [i.e., Muhammad] confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. Al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka’b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka’b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, “Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!” This went on until the apostle made an end of them.
Writing over seven decades ago, Arthur Jeffery (in 1942) described the continuum from jihad, to what has become known as dhimmitude—the deliberately abased socio-political status of those indigenous non-Muslim peoples vanquished by jihad campaigns:
..[Muhammad] did at least propose that all Arabia should be the land of Allah and planned vigorous measures to insure that within its borders the religion of Allah should be supreme. Communities of the People of the Book [Book = Bible; thus referring primarily to Jews and Christians] might remain within the land, but they must be in subjection….deriving their rights from the supreme Muslim community, not from any recognized rights of their own. As the Arabs did not accept this without struggle, it had to be forced on them, and that meant war. But war in the cause of Allah is Holy War, and so even in the Prophet’s lifetime we have the question of Jihad…
Richard Bell, in his authoritative1937 translation and exegesis of the Koran demonstrates that Sura (chapter) 9, “…is a chapter of war proclamations…”, and verses Koran 9:29 to Koran 9:35, specifically,
…form in effect a proclamation of war against Jews and Christians, and probably belong to the year IX [9-years after the Hijra] when an expedition was designed for the North which would involve war with Christians and possibly also with Jews.
Molla Khosrew (d. 1480) was a celebrated writer and jurist, who was appointed the Ottoman Shaykh-al-Islam (leading cleric) by Sultan Mehmed II in 1469. One of Molla Khosrew’s authoritative, widely cited legal works, reiterated these classical views on jihad, which trace the development of Islam’s institutional war in parallel with Muhammad’s evolution from a proselytizer, to a violent conqueror.
…jihad is a fard al-kifaya, that is, that one must begin the fight against the enemy, even when he [the enemy] may not have taken the initiative to fight, because the Prophet…early on…allowed believers to defend themselves, later, however, he ordered them to take the initiative at certain times of the year, that is, at the end of the haram [sacred] months, saying, “Kill the idolaters wherever you find them…” (Koran 9:5). He finally ordered fighting without limitations, at all times and in all places, saying, “Fight those who do not believe in God, and in the Last Day…”(Koran 9:29); there are also other [similar] verses on the subject. This shows that it is a fard al-kifaya
The modern Muslim scholar Ali Dashti’s biography of Muhammad 23 Years: A Study of the Prophetic Career of Muhammad has also chronicled Muhammad’s “changed course” at Medina, where the Muslim prophet begins to “issue orders for war” in multiple and repeated Koranic revelations (Sura [chapter] 9 being composed almost entirely of such war proclamations—permanent injunctions against pagans, Jews, and Christians). Prior to enumerating the series of assassinations Muhammad ordered, Ali Dashti observes:
…Islam was gradually transformed from a purely spiritual mission into a militant and punitive organization whose progress depended on booty from raids and [tax] revenue….The Prophet’s steps in the decade after the hejra [emigration from Mecca to Medina] were directed to the end of establishing and consolidating a religion-based state. Some of the deeds done on his command [were] killings of prisoners and political assassinations…
September 622 C.E. marks a defining event in Islam—the hijra. Muhammad and a coterie of followers persecuted by fellow Banu Quraysh tribesmen, fled from Mecca to Yathrib, later known as Medina. The Muslim sources described Yathrib as having been a Jewish city founded by a Palestinian diaspora population which had survived the revolt against the Romans. The Jews of the north Arabian peninsula were highly productive oasis farmers. These Jews were eventually joined by itinerant Arab tribes from southern Arabia who settled adjacent to them and transitioned to a sedentary existence.
Following Muhammad’s arrival, he re-ordered Medinan society. The Jewish tribes were isolated, some were then expelled, and the remainder attacked and exterminated. Muhammad distributed among his followers as “booty” the vanquished Jews property—plantations, fields, and houses—using this “booty” to establish a well-equipped jihadist cavalry corps. For example, within a year after the massacre (in 627) of the Jewish tribe the Banu Qurayzah, Muhammad, according to a summary of sacralized Muslim sources, waited for some act of aggression on the part of the Jews of Khaybar, whose fertile lands and villages he had destined for his followers to furnish an excuse for an attack.
But, no such opportunity offering, he resolved in the autumn of this year [i.e., 628], on a sudden and unprovoked invasion of their territory. Ali (later, the fourth “Rightly Guided Caliph”, and especially revered by Shiite Muslims) asked Muhammad why the Jews of Khaybar were being attacked, since they were peaceful farmers, tending their oasis, and was told by Muhammad he must compel them to submit to Islamic Law. The renowned early 20th century scholar of Islam, David Margoliouth, observed aptly:
Now the fact that a community was idolatrous, or Jewish, or anything but Mohammedan, warranted a murderous attack upon it.
Muhammad’s subsequent interactions with the Christians of northern Arabia followed a similar pattern, noted by the scholar of Islam’s origins, Richard Bell. The “relationship with the Christians ended as that with the Jews (ended)- in war,” because Islam as presented by Muhammad was a divine truth, and unless Christians accepted this formulation, which included Muhammad’s authority, “conflict was inevitable, and there could have been no real peace while he [Muhammad] lived.” Muhammad’s threatening jihad bellicosity, accompanied by a call to submit peaceably to Islamic domination, is captured in his putative letter to the Christians and Jews of Eilat:
Thou hast to accept Islam, or pay the tax, and obey God and His Messenger and the messengers of His Messenger, and do them honor and dress them in fine clothing, not in the raiment of raiders…for if you satisfy my envoys you will satisfy me. Surely the tax is known to you. Therefore if you wish to be secure on land and on sea, obey God and His Messenger…But be careful lest thou do not satisfy…for then I shall not accept anything from you, but I shall fight you and take the young as captives and slay the elderly…Come then, before a calamity befalls you…
Thus Muhammad himself launched a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. The aggressive campaigns of jihad imperialism waged by his immediate 7th century “Rightly Guided” Caliph successors were entirely consistent with Muhammad’s worldview, as Richard Bell observed:
We know that before the end of his life Muhammad was in conflict with Christian populations in the north of Arabia, and even within the confines of the Roman [Byzantine] Empire. What would have happened if he had lived we do not know. But probably the policy which Abu Bakr [Caliph from 632-34] carried on was the policy of Muhammad himself. There could have been no real compromise. He regarded himself as vicegerent of God upon earth. The true religion could only be Islam as he laid it down, and acceptance of it meant acceptance of his divinely inspired authority.
Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (as examples, Montazeri and Qaradawi, above) that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present.
Jihad has been pursued century after century, till now, because jihad embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Koranic verses, and long chapters in the hadith, especially those recorded by al-Bukhari [d. 869] and Muslim [d. 874].
Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, renowned 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.
The essential pattern of the jihad war ideology that Muhammad instilled into Islam is embodied 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. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.
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, Georgia, 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, and Safavid Shiite Iranians. 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.
The forcible retreat of Islamic jihadism, beginning with the Ottoman repulsion at Vienna in 1683, was acutely evident in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-1878.
Already by 1882, however, Ignaz Goldziher, widely acclaimed as one of the most profound and original European Islamic scholars from an era that produced seminal investigators, observed astutely, that the “Muhammadan world,” was responding to these historical setbacks, “excited by a powerful idea.” What was this mighty, revitalizing inspiration? The re-establishment of Islam’s Caliphate system, “The spiritual fusion of politically disarrayed Islam into a great unity.” Goldziher continued,
The external form of this unity is the institution of the indivisible Caliphate, which is the oldest political structure of Islam. . . . With regard to Islam, the unification of Muhammadan powers, and the awakening of the awareness of their unity and solidarity under a common authority is seen as the sole remedy against the dangers lurking in the womb of the future. And this unification is only conceived under the flag of the united Caliphate of Islam. . .
And Goldziher concluded—over 130 years ago:
[T]he idea of Panislamism is a militant idea in their [Muslim] eyes, as it was a militant idea at the time of the birth of young Islam. This idea now reigns over Muhammadan public opinion, in some places with such power that the representatives of European governments now complain of it.
The prototype modern Sunni jihadist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged out of this popular, well-defined historical, and mainstream doctrinal milieu, a half-century later (during 1928). In turn, the Muslim Brotherhood spawned Al-Qaeda, which begot the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On June 29, 2014, ISIL declared a re-establishment of the Caliphate.
Pooled findings from surveys conducted between 2006 to 2012 indicate that the vast preponderance of contemporary Muslims still seek the conjoined goals of re-establishing a Caliphate, and implementing the Sharia, Islamic law.
For example, polling data released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims completed between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007—1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-revealed 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”), including 49% of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims. 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 [emphasis added] application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”
A Pew Research Forum report, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” released April 30, 2013, confirmed the broad appeal of the Sharia, Islam’s religio-political “law,” across Islamdom. The data were combined from surveys conducted between 2008 and 2012, representing, as touted by Pew, “a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.” Collectively, the surveys included “more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims.”
Responses to this question on the Sharia comprised the polls’ most salient finding. The question was, “Do you favor or oppose making sharia law, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?” Summary data from the nations with the five largest Muslim populations (as per 2010) surveyed, Indonesia (204 million), Pakistan (178 million), Bengladesh (149 million), Egypt (80 million), and Nigeria (76 million), revealed:
- 72% of Indonesian Muslims, 84% of Pakistani Muslims, 82% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 74% of Egyptian Muslims, and 71% of Nigerian Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. The population-weighted average from these 5 countries was 77% supportive. (Composite regional data confirmed these individual country trends—84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern/North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims favored application of the Sharia as official state law.)
An independent Pew survey of Iranian Shiites released June 11, 2013 (from face-to-face interviews with 1,522 adults, ages 18 years of age and older), revealed that 83% responded affirmatively to the query, “Do you favor or oppose the implementation of Sharia law, or Islamic law in our country?” A largely concordant finding demonstrated that only 28% of Iranians were at all concerned (i.e., 9% “very,” and 19% “somewhat” concerned) about “extremist religious groups” in the nation.
Blithely ignoring all the doctrinal, historical, and contemporary demographic evidence presented herein, Bill O’Reilly champions a self-delusive, Panglossian narrative which exculpates Islam, and its prophet.
University of Paris Professor, Guy Milliere, commenting acidly on the Islamic negationism which epitomizes French coverage of the recent jihad carnage of Charlie Hebdo staff, and French Jews, observed,
Anyone who watches television and sees what is happening in many Muslim countries has to be doubting that Islam is peaceful. Most Muslim “experts” invited to speak are familiar with Islam, familiar with the internet and familiar with what is going on in many Muslim countries—but they lie.
Punctuated by his own willfully ignorant declaration about Muhammad and global jihad conquest, Bill O’Reilly’s 1/16/15 interaction with two dissimulating U.S. Muslim “experts” has been catalogued under the Orwellian title, “The truth about fighting the Jihad.”