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Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America

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.”)