Educating John McCain on the Meaning of 'Allahu-Akbar'
During a Tuesday (9/3/13) morning appearance on Fox News Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) took umbrage (hat tip Ben Shapiro) at Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s disgust with Syrian anti-Assad opposition groups shouting “Allahu Akhbar! Allahu Akhbar!” when their rockets apparently shot down a Syrian jet.
I have a problem helping those people screaming that [Allahu-Akbar!] after a hit.
A perturbed, if typically feckless McCain replied, without any basic linguistic understanding, or supportive evidence of the rocket launchers’ alleged “moderation,” by making an immoral equivalence to Christianity:
Would you have a problem with an American or Christians saying “thank God? Thank God?” That’s what they’re saying. Come on! Of course they’re Muslims, but they’re moderates and I guarantee you they are moderates.
One of the English translators of the great 14th century Muslim jurist (d. 1350) Ibn Qayyim’s “The Way to Patience and Gratitude” opts for “Allah is Greater” as the specific translation of Allahu Akbar. On page 463, the following explanation is provided:
...I preferred using “the Greater” to “the Greatest”... Allahu Akbar literally means, “Allah is Greater" with the comparative mode. Yet, this does not mean that He (Glory be to Him) is not the Greatest, nor does it mean that there is anything that is put in comparison with Him. This is because when the Muslim says it, he means He is “Greater” than anything else, which, consequently, means He is the Greatest. This use gives more influence. This may be why it is used in Arabic this way, otherwise it should have been used as “Allahu al-Akbar”, in the superlative mode. Surely, Allah Knows best.
E. W. Lane’s classical 19th century Arabic English Lexicon, (p. 2587) elaborates on the preferred “elliptical” meaning:
[Allah] is the greatest great [being] or [Allah] is greater than every other great [being]
“Allahu Akbar” has been employed by Muslims as a jihadist war cry dating from its declaration by Islam’s prophet Muhammad when he made an aggressive proto-jihadist foray on the Jews of the Khaybar oasis. Here is how the phrase has been rendered into English by pious Muslims from the canonical hadith collection (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:195):
Narrated Anas: The Prophet set out for Khaibar and reached it at night. He used not to attack if he reached the people at night, till the day broke. So, when the day dawned, the Jews came out with their bags and spades. When they saw the Prophet; they said, “Muhammad and his army!” The Prophet said, “Allahu-Akbar! (Allah is Greater) and Khaybar is ruined, for whenever we approach a nation (i.e. enemy to fight) then it will be a miserable morning for those who have been warned.”
The willful intellectual and moral blindness of U.S. political and military leaders to the doctrine of jihad—epitomized by John McCain—continues to engender self-destructive “solutions” to global jihad depredations, in Syria, and across the globe.