NPR: All Things Considered ... Except Evidence — and Scholarship.
My own copiously documented The Legacy of Jihad describes the doctrinal rationale for Islam’s sacralized jihad violence, and its historical manifestations, across an uninterrupted continuum from the 7th century advent of the Muslim creed through the present. The root of the word "jihad" appears 40 times in the Koran. With four exceptions, all the other 36 usages in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries -- the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam -- and to ordinary people meant and means, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W. Lane:
He fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.
Muhammad himself waged a series of bloody, proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians, and pagans of Arabia. Numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model) that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present. Jihad was pursued century after century because it 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 canonical hadith, or acts and sayings of Muhammad.
Within two centuries of Muhammad’s death, 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 Asia Minor and the Balkans, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized. 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 triumphalist 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 celebratory literature is entirely consistent with the concepts of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for “the House of Islam and the House of War”), also formulated by classical Islamic jurists.
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 ...
And these innocent non-combatants 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 todays jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe. And unlike Christianity, which has issued formal mea culpas for its past imperial warfare, authoritative Islam has never renounced the living, genocidal legacy of jihad.
Thus today, jihad war remains the central pillar of Hamas’ foundational ideology, as featured in its 1988 Covenant, which highlights unequivocal statements fomenting the annihilation of Israel’s Jews via jihad. Despite repeated public appeals to the UN Human Rights Commission since 1989, this charter of jihad genocide has never been condemned by the 57 member nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) -- which represents the entire global Muslim community.
On the contrary, the OIC held a special meeting during 2004 to commemorate Sheikh Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, who co-drafted this document sanctioning jihad genocide.
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