PART 6: THE MYTH IN CONTEMPORARY DISCOURSE
THE ISLAMIC DISINFORMATION LOBBY531
Pipes adds: “Jihad was no abstract obligation
through the centuries, but a key aspect of Muslim life. . . . Within a century
after the Prophet’s death in 632, Muslim armies had reached as far as India in
the east and Spain in the west. Though such a dramatic single expansion was
never again to be repeated, important victories in subsequent centuries included
the seventeen Indian campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazna (r. 998—1030), the battle of
Manzikert opening Anatolia (1071), the conquest of Constantinople (1453), and
the triumphs of Uthman dan Fodio in West Africa (1804—1817). In brief, jihad
was part of the warp and woof not only of premodern Muslim doctrine but of
premodern Muslim life.”
Has this changed? Certainly it’s quite different from the idea of jihad 528
530 Once again, this is not as much of an open-and-shut case as these authorities would like us to believe. After all, no less an authority than George W. Bush’s “imam of peace,” Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi of A1-Azhar University, disagrees. Bush quoted him in late 2001 at the United Nations as saying that “terrorism is a disease, and that Islam prohibits killing innocent civilians.” But evidently his definition of terrorism would differ from that of the average American: according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), last spring Tantawi called suicide bombing “the highest form of jihad operations,” and added that “every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment.”...
Nor is Tantawi singular in his opinions. Abu
Bakar Bashir, suspected mastermind of the 2002 terrorist bombings in Bali as
well as bombings of churches in 2000, declared that “martyrs’ bombs are a noble
thing, a jihad of high value if you are forced to do it. For instance, in
Palestine there is no other way to defend yourself and defend Islam. All Ulamas
[Muslim leaders] agree with martyrs’ bombs because we are forced to do it. There
is no other way to defend ourselves and to defend Islam. . . . We are obliged to
ourselves and attack people who attack Islam. In Islam there is no word for hands up, there is no word for surrender, there are only two things, win or die if infidels do want to attack Islam, fight Islam, so we are instructed to fight them.”
Instructed by whom? Does Abu Bakar Bashir read
the same Qur’an that moderate Muslims say condemns terrorism? 530
531 Disquieting evidence indicates that such ideas are not restricted to obscure covens of ranting radicals, shunned by decent Muslims everywhere. According to MEMRI, “Mahmoud al-Zahhar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, told the Israeli Arab weekly Kul Al-Arab, ‘Two days ago, in Alexandria, enrolment began for volunteers for martyrdom [operations]. Two thousand students from the University of Alexandria signed up to die a martyr’s death. This is the real Egyptian people.”
Two thousand students from one university? Didn’t these two thousand students know that “those who kill in the name of Islam are nothing more than heretics”? Didn’t they know that “terrorism goes against every principle in Islam”?
...Moderate Muslims have thus far not been
remotely successful in reading the radicals out of Islam. Certainly terrorism is
not universally accepted in the Islamic world, but with terrorist groups
rallying under the banner of jihad in all corners of the globe today, the IIlT
[International Institute of Islamic Thought] might have performed a valuable
service by explaining how this violation of “every principle in Islam” came to
be so widely accepted in the Muslim world.
4. “Islam is a religion of peace, mercy, and forgiveness.” This assertion is made but left unsupported in the lIlT flyer; elsewhere it is often buttressed with quotations from the Qur’an. One verse in particular is often invoked to make the claim that Islam teaches peace and mercy: “That was why We laid it down for the Israelites that whoever killed a human being, except as a punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, shall be looked upon as though he had killed all mankind; and that whoever saved a human life shall
be regarded as though he had saved all mankind” (sura 5:32).
There are exceptions in this verse, however—”murder or other villainy in the land”—and these are particularly troubling in light of other teachings of the sacred book of Islam:
"Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another.” (sura 48:29)/
Prophet, make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate.” (sura 9:73)
The true believers fight for the cause of Allah, but the infidels fight for the devil. Fight then against the friends of Satan.” (sura 4:76)
When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. (sura 47:4)
Fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah does not love the aggressors. Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage. (sura 2:190—91; the part of this passage that forbids striking first explains why Osama and other terrorists couch their self-justifications in the terminology of self-defense)
When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy [i.e., the jizya, the special tax on non-Muslims], allow them to go their way. Allah.is forgiving and merciful. (sura 9:5)
Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given [i.e., Jews and Christians] as believe neither in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Apostle have forbidden, and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.” (sura 9:29) 532
533 ...in November 2002, Dr. Sheikh Bakr Abed al-Razzaq
al-Samaraai said in a Ramadan sermon at Mother of All Battles Mosque in Iraq
that “jihad has become an obligation of every individual Muslim. Anyone who
does not comply, will find himself lost in [hell]....”13 How could the good
doctor issue such a challenge if he knew that Islam was a religion of peace,
mercy, and forgiveness, and that anyone who inves-
tigated his claim would find that out?
Muslim terrorists either blithely ignore the context that moderate Muslims use to hedge the Qur’an’s violent verses, or claim that the believers today face the same sort of challenge that they did at the time the verses were revealed, and so the verses are applicable to the present situation. 533
534-5 .... 5. Islam is tolerant of other beliefs. Moderate Muslims like to quote sura 2:256, “There is no compulsion in religion,” in support of the idea that Islam is a broadly tolerant faith. It has become a commonplace of discussions about Islam today that the great Islamic empires of old were tolerant of Jews and Christians to an extent that non-Christians were never tolerated in medieval Christendom. “It is a function of Islamic law,” says the lilT flyer, “to protect the privileged status of minorities. Islamic law also permits non-Muslims to / set up their own courts, which implement family laws drawn up by minorities themselves.”
Once again, there is some truth to this, but it is neither wholly true nor the whole truth. It is true that Islamic law, the Sharia, allows Jews and Christians to practice their religious beliefs in an Islamic state; however, other religions are not accorded the same privilege: while Islamic states can, according to the Sharia, make “a formal agreement of protection” with Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, “such an agreement may not be effected with those who are idol worshippers,” that is, Hindus, Buddhists, and others.
Also, the “tolerance” granted to Jews and Christians is severely circumscribed. Jews and Christians are termed “People of the Book” in the Qur’an—that is, communities that have received a genuine revelation from Allah. That’s why they’re offered this “protection” in an Islamic state. However, the Qur’an also teaches that both Jews and Christians have incurred the curse of Allah (cf. sura 5:60 and many others) for their refusal to receive Muhammad as a legitimate prophet and his Qur’an as a book from Allah.
Consequently, the tolerance they enjoy is nothing like that of a modern-day secular state, although Muslim apologists often succeed in equating the two in the face of the general Western ignorance of Islamic history and theology.
In fact, the Sharia dictates that such a “protection” agreement between Muslim rulers and Jewish and Christian subjects “is only valid when the subject peoples: follow the rules of Islam . . . (those involving public behavior and dress, though in acts of worship and their private lives, the subject communities have their own laws, judges, and courts, enforcing the rules of their own religion among themselves); and pay the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya).”7
The jizya is a special levy on non-Muslims, whose
higher tax rates contributed much to the magnificent Islamic empires of old. It
is not the Sharia’s only restriction on non-Muslims: according to classic
Islamic law, non-Muslims in an Islamic state “are distinguished from Muslims in
dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar); are not greeted with “as-Salamu
‘alaykum” [the standard Muslim greeting, “Peace be with you”]; must keep to the
side of the street; may not build higher than or as high as the Muslims’
if they acquire a tall house, it is not razed; are forbidden to openly display wine or pork,.. . recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feastdays; and are forbidden to build new churches.”18
There is indeed no “compulsion” in any of this:
Jews and Christians are not forced to become Muslims. But there is also precious
little dignity and respect....