politinfo

Trying to make sense of a meshuga planet

The meaning of jihad

While some think that the Global War on Terror is happily over… Raymond Ibrahim has a great article in Pajamas Media (reprinted in ME Forum): Words Matter in the War on Terror explaining very relevant concept of Jihad (which as of recently also officially became an unmentionable, at least in the U.S.) Ibrahim picks apart a piece by Colonel Jeffrey Vordermark, who attempts to explain – or rather excuse – Jihad to the gullible Westerners. I recommend the entire thing, here’s a short excerpt:


“Jihad” has a very precise, juristic definition; more to the point, Sunni Islam — which accounts for nearly 90% of the Islamic world — is, in fact, “simple and monolithic,” thanks to the totalitarian nature of Islamic law (Sharia), which categorizes all possible human actions as being either forbidden, discouraged, legitimate, recommended, or obligatory. Indeed, of the major religions of the world, none is perhaps so black and white, so clear cut as Islam, which meticulously delineates to Muslims the correct “way” of living (“way,” incidentally, being the literal definition of the word “Sharia”).

The real problem here is that Vordermark’s assertion that the military “jihad” has been “traditionally” limited to “defensive warfare” is totally false.

Even so, Vordermark is to be excused; he warns us about accepting definitions of “jihad” from “pundits, academics, and laymen,” and surely his falls into this category. Thus let us dispense once and for all with infidel-based definitions — including my own — and see what Islam’s own most revered authorities have to say about what “jihad” really means:

First, it needs to be borne in mind that Sunni Islam is wholly dependent on the various rulings (ahkam) of the so-called four schools of jurisprudence (al-madhahib al-arba’). I am currently reading an Arabic manual called Al-Tarbiya al-Jihadiya fi Daw’ al-Kitab wa al-Sunna (“The Jihadi Upbringing in Light of the Koran and Sunna”), written by one Sheikh Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir al-Jalil. After closely examining the word “jihad,” he concludes that “jihad is when Muslims wage war on infidels, after having called on them to embrace Islam or at least pay tribute [jizya] and live in submission, and then they refuse.”

The book also contains terse summaries of the word “jihad” from each of the four schools of jurisprudence, which have the final say as to how Islam — or in this case, jihad — is articulated: According to the Hanafis, jihad is “extreme and strenuous warfare in the path of Allah, with one’s life, wealth, and tongue — a call to the true religion [Islam] and war to whoever refuses to accept it”; according to the Malikis, jihad is “when a Muslim fights an infidel in order that Allah’s word [Sharia] reigns supreme”; according to the Shafi’is, jihad is “fiercely fighting infidels”; and, according to the austere Hanbalis, it is “fighting infidels.” (Note: “infidels,” or kuffar, simply means non-Muslims.)

In short, the “traditional” meaning of jihad is offensive warfare to spread Islamic hegemony — period. This is doctrinally, textually, historically, and consensually demonstrable. At any rate, who probably better understands what jihad means, the non-Muslim Jeffrey Vordermark or the Muslim Abd al-Aziz bin Nasir al-Jalil? More to the point, whose definition will Muslims actually take seriously?

Emph. added by me.

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May 7, 2009 - Posted by | Islamism | , , ,

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