Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Muhammad Smackdown

"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever you find them..." (Qur'an 9:5)*

The wicked Organisation of the Islamic Conference - which has long been spearheading an initiative to criminalise criticism of Islam by forcing the UN to implement blasphemy laws - has now set its sights on an online game, "Faith Fighter", in which players can choose a number of religious figures (including the "Prophet" Muhammad) to kick seven shades of shit out of each other. The OIC declared the game to be "offensive" to Muslims (and Christians) and demanded that it be removed from the host website.

The game designers, Molleindustra, have today removed the game from their website in dhimmi compliance, issuing the following statement (follow the link to read it all):

Faith Fighter was meant to be a game against intolerance that used over the top irony and a cartoonish style to express the instrumental use of religions.

Faith Fighter depicted in a mildly politically incorrect way all the major religions as a response to the one-way islamophobic satire ["Islamophobic"? I disagree - Ed] of the Danish Mohammad cartoons.

If a established organization didn't understand the irony and the message of the game and is claiming it is inciting intolerance, we simply failed.

The OIC's assertion that the game is offensive to Christians also is probably a case of projection - remember, Jesus is a Muslim prophet, too. And also note that despite the fact that the game comes with a disclaimer (look it up on the web) that actually says "peace be upon him" after Muhammad's name, and offers a "censored" version where Muhammad's face is covered (unfortunately not by a veil - that would have been funnier), it's still not good enough for the vicious OIC.

* Incidentally, in the fight above, I was Ganesh, and I eventually killed Muhammad.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Hostage Games

"Islamic militants" in Africa have threatened to kill a British hostage unless Muslim hate preacher Abu Qatada is released from prison.

“Most scholars are agreed that, in his dealings with captives, various policies are open to the Imam [Muslim leader]. He may pardon them, kill them, or release them...on ransom. [emphasis added]”
~ Averroes (d.1198)

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Is the Qur'an Hate Speech?

Earlier this week, I wrote a rebuttal to a recent letter in the Daily Mail, which purveyed a lot of politically correct tropes about Islam. Part of that rebuttal centred around the idea of whether there is anything in the Qur'an or mainstream Islamic teaching that teaches Muslims to hate unbelievers, or whether hate preaching can only be achieved by "distorting" the true message of Islam.

In the 1980s, two Indian Hindus were arrested on charges of "insulting Islam" after publishing a poster depicting 24 violent and hateful verses from the Qur'an, with the title: "Why riots take place in this country". They claimed that the Qur'an itself was the primary source of tension between Muslims and Hindus in India.

After a trial, the Hindus were eventually acquitted. The judge who presided over the case concluded: "[A] close perusal of the Ayats [verses] shows that the same are harmful and teach hatred, and are likely to create differences between Mohammedans on one hand and the remaining communities on the other.”

So is the Qur'an hate speech?

First, let us define hate speech. Wikipedia defines hate speech as follows: "Hate speech is a term for speech intended to degrade a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, language ability, ideology, social class, occupation, appearance (height, weight, hair color, etc.), mental capacity, and any other distinction that might be considered by some as a liability." We may also add to this any speech that advocates applying different standards of treatment to certain people based on their perceived membership of a group identified with any of the above criteria.

According to this definition, the Qur'an is certainly a text that incites to religious hatred.

The overall attitude of the Qur'an is starkly supremacist. Muslims are the best people on Earth: "Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah. And if the People of the Scripture [Jews and Christians] had believed it had been better for them. Some of them are believers; but most of them are evil-livers." (3:110) Not only are "most" Jews and Christians "evil-livers", they are also, along with other unbelievers, the worst of Allah's creations: "Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings." (98:6)

The Qur'an also dehumanises unbelievers as "the worst of beasts" (8:55). This being the case, they do not deserve the same level of treatment as Muslims: "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves." (48:29)

While the Christian God is said to love all people, even sinners, Allah states explicitly that he does not love unbelievers (3:32, 30:45). While the Christian doctrine is inconsistent with the idea that God sends even those He "loves" to Hell, some inventive interpretation and apologetics may be able to get around this problem. In Islam, however, it would be pretty hard for anyone to make the case that Allah is a loving, benevolent God.

Furthermore, Jews and Christians have both been cursed by Allah: "The Jews call 'Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!" (9:30) This is reinforced by the Qur'an's opening prayer itself, the Fatiha, which pious Muslims recite up to seventeen times daily: "Show us the straight path, the path of those whom Thou hast favoured; not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.” (1:6-7) Most Muslim Qur'an commentators - such as Ibn Kathir (d.1373), al-Suyuti (d.1505), Ibn Abbas (d.687) and Tabari (d.923) - identify those who have earned Allah's anger as the Jews, and those who have gone astray as the Christians. And remember that these words are the nearest Muslim equivalent to the Lord's Prayer.

Meanwhile, polytheistic religions are not exempted from this hostility - those who attribute partners to Allah and worship them alongside or instead of him are committing the "most heinous" sin anyone can possibly commit (4:48). Perhaps because of this ultimate sinfulness, they are declared to be physically unclean and prohibited from entering the Sacred Mosque in Mecca (9:28).

Finally, this hatred is so deeply embedded in Islamic ethics that the Qur'an explicitly commands Muslims not to even befriend Jews and Christians: "O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk." (5:51, repeated in 3:28 and 4:144)

That all of this is hate speech can be demonstrated by simply reversing the roles. Imagine that the above quotes were not from the Qur'an, but had been said by, say, Geert Wilders. Imagine if he had said that most Muslims were evil-doers, or that Muslims are the worst of beasts, or that non-Muslims are obliged to be merciful to each other but ruthless towards Muslims, or that no one should make friends with Muslims (despite the claims of many Muslims, incidentally, he has never said anything even close to any of this). He would be arrested for hate speech even quicker than he already has been. So why does the Qur'an get a pass?

Silly question. Obviously, we would be the hateful ones if we ever brought any of these facts to light. That's the way multiculturalism works, folks.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Fruitcake That Isn't So Sweet

CJ's new look

Little has saddened me more recently than the tragic fall of Charles Johnson.

Johnson is the owner of the noted conservative blog Little Green Footballs. His story was an interesting one. The blog began as essentially a place for Johnson to post photographs he had taken while mountain biking, and to discuss geeky web design stuff. It wasn't a political blog. If anything, Johnson was a leftist before 9/11.

Then that dreadful day came, and everything changed. LGF became a much more obviously right-wing site, and Johnson did a lot of good work chronicling the War on Terror and exposing the liberal bias of the media's coverage of it. I read LGF for a couple of years and respected the work Johnson did.

But now, Johnson has reverted to the kind of mentally deficient ideologue he had formally condemned. The chief problem has been his disputes with Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch and Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs. Geller has always seemed like a bit of a nutcase to me, but Spencer is a genuinely respectable man whose website is one of the best out there covering the threat of Islamic jihad.

The downfall began when Johnson became convinced that the Belgian political party Vlaams Belang were a "fascist", neo-Nazi group, and that it would therefore be unwise for true anti-jihadists, who want nothing to do with racism or fascism, to ally with them. When certain writers disagreed with his assessment of the party, however, he turned viciously on them. From that moment on, he set out on a self-righteous crusade to destroy the reputations of all those who had once been his allies in this fight. Since this petty conflict began, he has accused Spencer and Geller not only of allying with all sorts of "fascist" groups, but also of themselves being fascists, supporters of genocide, and all manner of other absurdities. In all cases, the evidence he has presented for these claims has been far from compelling. It largely consists of photographs of two people together, as if this means that if someone is photographed with someone else, that automatically means that they endorse all their positions. The final fall-out between Johnson and Spencer eventually came when Johnson severed ties with Jihad Watch because Spencer continued to link to Gates of Vienna, a blog which has endorsed Vlaams Belang - even though there is a quite explicit disclaimer at Jihad Watch stating that the fact that a website is linked doesn't mean that Spencer endorses everything in it. Spencer has repeatedly denounced all forms of fascism and white supremacism, and has also stated that he does not endorse Vlaams Belang. But that hasn't been enough for Johnson to stop continuing to smear his name and trying to destroy his reputation.

Everyone who disagrees with Charles Johnson's depiction of Vlaams Belang and other groups is automatically labelled a "fascist" themselves, and dozens of people have been banned from his website (rather fascist-like) for disagreeing with him.

Most recently, Johnson attempted to smear Spencer once again by claiming that a group who had invited him to give a talk on jihad is another "fascist" group (poor dear must have nightmares about those "fascists"; they seem to be coming out of the walls). When Spencer pointed out not only that the group are not neo-Nazis, but that Johnson had fallen for an obvious Photoshop job which made it look as if two of his prime targets of hatred were attending a neo-Nazi march (which they weren't), Johnson simply replied by claiming that even though the picture was an obvious fake, it didn't matter because it was still true, anyway. Meanwhile, he did not address any of Spencer's points refuting the claim that this was yet another "fascist" group, all the while claiming moral and intellectual superiority.

It has been very sad to see a once-respectable right-wing blogger, who for a long time was leading the anti-jihad resistance, become such a demented, bullying fruitcake. At a time when we need to be more united than ever in order to repel the jihadist threat, Johnson has gone out of his way to be divisive and downright dishonest. Not only the anti-jihad movement, but also the very Right itself, must consign this dangerous fool to the dustbin of history and refocus its attention on matters of real importance.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

What Obama Can (And Should) Learn From Pakistan

As we learn that President Obama is softening his tone on Hamas, and has approved a large Turkish arms sale to Lebanon (which has rightly disgusted Israel), it is worth having a cogent understanding of what all this short-sighted and suicidal appeasement leads to.

Back in February, the Pakistani government handed over the Swat valley region of Pakistan to the Taliban, officially recognising the implementation of Islamic law there. They did this "in an attempt to placate extremists".

But guess what - it hasn't worked. In fact, it's had the exact opposite effect.

According to the BBC: "Taleban militants operating in Pakistan's Swat region who agreed a peace deal with the government have expanded operations [emphasis added] into nearby Buner." Furthermore, "The Taleban say they will not lay down their arms until Sharia is fully implemented."

In other words, appeasing jihadists does not work, and has in fact never worked. It only emboldens them, as it grants sharia a legitimacy that it should not have and creates an image of dhimmi weakness that they are quick to exploit.

The actual impact of sharia in Pakistan is demonstrated by the widespread concern that "[t]he Taliban takeover of Swat is likely to expand to extend to more parts of the country and will mean worsening conditions for Christians".

Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs says the Taliban seem to have taken encouragement from their success in Swat and now have a foothold from which they could expand into other parts of Pakistan.

About Swat Nettleton said, “We have had Christian workers in that area who have been kidnapped, they have been badly mistreated, and they have been beaten because of their Christian witness. Some have been killed, simply because they were known to be Christians and known to be involved in outreach to Muslims.

“This is bad, as it is, and will only worsen if sharia law spreads further than the Swat Valley. As these militants have gained standing, they have gained clout within the country that also promises more pressure against the church.”

For a bajillion examples of the persecution of Christians in Pakistan (up to August 2007, prior even to the implentation of sharia in Swat), see here.

We have a moral obligation to say no to sharia. Now that sharia courts are officially binding in Britain, don't be surprised if we see the calls for more of it very soon (in fact, we already have).

Monday, 20 April 2009

Rebuttal, Round 2

Following on from my letter printed in the Daily Mail last week, I see that today they have once again published a treacly apologetic, this time by a presumably non-Muslim useful idiot. I haven't bothered emailing in again (I doubt lightning strikes twice), but I am going to respond to some of the absurd claims made in the letter here and now.

The writer first of all claims that "Muslims are not bound by their faith to oppose Christianity. Certainly not in the Qur'an." They then quote Qur'an 2:62, which reads as follows: “Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.”

At first glance, this is a wonderfully ecumenical passage: even those not of the Islamic faith can attain salvation.

But when we read the commentaries of Muslim scholars on this verse - those scholars who are generally considered by Muslims to be the best - everything changes. Most commentators are not inclined to see this as an indication of divine pluralism, tending to restrict the universal application of this passage in several ways. The main one is to assert that it only applied until Muhammad brought Islam to the world, after which embracing Islam was the only way to attain salvation. Ibn Kathir (d.1373) quotes Muhammad's cousin Ibn Abbas (d.687), who was known for his great knowledge of Islam, to assert: “Allah does not accept any deed or work from anyone, unless it conforms to the Law of Muhammad: that is, after Allah sent Muhammad. Before that, every person who followed the guidance of his own Prophet was on the correct path, following the correct guidance and was saved.” Tabari (d.923) and Qutb (d.1966) also believe that this verse only applied before Muhammad brought Islam to the world.

This view would seem to be confirmed by a hadith:

“By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of Hell-Fire.” (Muslim b.1, no.284)

Other commentators restrict their interpretations by saying that the verse means that Jews and Christians will be saved only if they convert to Islam. One final common interpretation is that 2:62 only applied to a very specific group of Jews and Christians who Muhammad was talking to when this verse was revealed. The long and short of it is that it isn't as tolerant a statement as this apologist tried to make it appear.

Anyway, they then go on to purvey the usual falsehood that Muslims take Qur'anic verses and passages from the hadith "out of context" in order to foment hatred against non-Muslims. Oh really, is that so? Let's look at a few verses they've "twisted" and "distorted":

"Lo! those who disbelieve, among the People of the Scripture and the idolaters, will abide in fire of hell. They are the worst of created beings." (98:6)

"Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah's sight are the ungrateful who will not believe." (8:55)

"Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves." (48:29)

"He [Allah] loveth not the disbelievers..." (30:45)

"O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust." (5:51)

I look forward to finding out what "context" turns these words from hateful to not hateful.

The letter-writer then stated, incredibly, that Muhammad "was very supportive of inter-faith dialogue." What incredible nonsense! I plan to write a series of posts about Muhammad's interactions with other religions soon, but until then here's a few names: The Quraysh. The Banu Qaynuqa. The Banu Nadir. The Banu Qurayza. The Byzantines. I doubt our apologist has heard of any of these people, but if they have, they'll know that Muhammad wasn't remotely tolerant with any of them. Here, for example, is the partial text of a letter written by Muhammad to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 631 AD:

“In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants).” (Sahih Bukhari v.1, b.1, no.6)

"I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe..." That's not "inter-faith dialogue", that's a direct threat - a threat that Muhammad and his Companions later carried out, waging war on Byzantium and capturing Jerusalem within only seven years of the writing of this letter.

Finally, the author insisted that "there are many sects of Islam, just as there are in Christianity" - presupposing that there is at least ONE of these sects that teaches that Muslims should live peacefully with non-Muslims as equals, without ever trying to subjugate or exterminate them. But there isn't. Within Sunni Islam, all four main schools of jurisprudence teach that it is the duty of the Muslim community to wage war against non-Muslims until they submit to Islamic authority. Shi'ite jurists also agree with this doctrine. There is one sect that rejects this - the Ahmadi sect. However, they are considered unorthodox and heretical by traditional Muslims, and are often persecuted in Muslim countries - often for the very reason that they do not teach armed jihad against unbelievers. Faced with these facts, the assertion that there are "many sects" of Islam is a pointless argument when it comes to trying to explain away Islam's jihad doctrines.

Anyway, you get the picture. This apologist's presentation was not at all accurate or complete. I couldn't let it go completely unchallenged.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Re-Defining "Extremism"

Don't mind this fellow

But watch out for this fellow

You may have read recently about the US Department of Homeland Security report warning of the threat of "right-wing extremism" in America. The first thing that struck me was the utter lack of any comparable concern for the threat of Islamic jihad violence and supremacism in America and around the world. Diana West has a great piece on this today, making the same point, as well as the following important observations:

But while the DHS report is thin on specifics and devoid of sources, it nonetheless quite helpfully exposes the federal government's outrageous strategy to portray conservatism as "right-wing extremism."

The report defines the term this way: "Right-wing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

Presto -- the federal government has just taken key conservative positions, from opposition to Islamic law to support for security along our Mexican border, and cast them as primitive, "primarily hate-oriented" pathologies that are therefore beyond civilized political discourse. So, too, is opposition to overweening federal powers and "single-issue" opposition to abortion. What we are seeing, in other words, is the most extraordinary governmental attempt in history to limit the spectrum of debate by demonizing a range of positions as "right-wing extremism." This attempt is surely not only unconstitutional but also un-American.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Pirates, Thomas Jefferson, Jihad and Pakistanis

You will have undoubtedly heard about the recent crisis involving the capture and resulting hostage crisis of an American ship's captain by Somali pirates - a crisis, by the way, which is still ongoing.

If you have been covering the events via the mainstream media, however, you will probably not have heard about the Islamic component of the whole affair.

Reuters reports that during the hostage situation, one of the pirates said: "We never kill people. We are Muslims. [emphasis added] We are marines, coastguards - not pirates." Even before this most recent flair-up, it was a known fact that the plunder from Somali piracy was being funneled to Islamic jihad groups on the mainland. Some of the pirates are even thought to have links to al-Qaeda.

Islamic piracy of this kind, directed against the US - and inspired specifically by Islamic ideals - is nothing new. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, then serving as American ambassadors to France and Britain, respectively, met in London with the Tripolitan Ambassador to Britain. They were attempting to negotiate a peace treaty which would end piracy raids on America emanating from the Barbary States (modern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya). During their discussions, they asked the Tripolitan Ambassador why the Barbary States were directing their aggression, unprovoked, at the U.S. Jefferson and Adams later summed up the Ambassador's response in their report to the Continental Congress:

“…that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Qur'an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

The Barbary jihadists' understanding of Islam was perfectly in line with traditional Qur'anic exegesis and Islamic jurisprudence. Moreover, the recent hostage situation, in which the Somali jihadists demanded a ransom in exchange for Captain Richard Phillips' release, was also perfectly in line with Islamic law. For example, according to the great Muslim philosopher Averroes (d.1198), who was also an important legal theorist: “Most scholars are agreed that, in his dealings with captives, various policies are open to the Imam [Muslim leader]. He may pardon them, kill them, or release them...on ransom. [emphasis added]”

Finally, as I followed this story via the mainstream news wires, I was struck by their utter ignorance not only of the ideology of the Somali pirates, but also of the fact that they may well have shared this ideology with another group that was also in the news at the same time - the twelve Pakistanis arrested in Manchester on suspicion of plotting acts of terror against British citizens. These alleged terrorists are undoubtedly motivated by Islamic concepts of jihad, just as the Somali pirates are. The BBC news ran both stories one after another on TV, without ever consciously making the connection between the two.

How long can such ignorance continue?

UPDATE: Confirming the above observations, we have this from an MSNBC report on the piracy affair today:

Sometime Thursday, a desperate Phillips jumped from the lifeboat in an attempt to swim to the USS Bainbridge, only to be hauled back on board after the pirates opened fire. From then on, Phillips was tied up.

One pirate radioed the Navy destroyer and demanded to know how far they were from the sanctuary of Somalia's coast.

"Very far," came the reply from the Bainbridge.

"Thank you," the pirate negotiator responded, according to a U.S. military timeline, his politeness masking menace. "If we cannot [reach the] Somali coast, we will kill the infidel. [emphasis added]"

Monday, 13 April 2009

Rise, My Servant

“The jizya is taken from the dhimmi while his neck is being hung low.” ~ Muslim scholar al-Baydawi (d.1316)

Raymond Ibrahim has another insightful piece at Pajamas Media on the recent incident in which Barack Obama bowed to the Saudi king. Ibrahim points out that in Eastern culture, holding or kissing hands is considered a symbol of equal rank - while bowing is a sign of subservience.

Although US Presidents have long cosied up to Saudi royalty, they have never bowed before, and in this Obama has made bad move in what is in my opinion a string of bad moves vis a vis the War on Terror.

A Ray of Sunshine to Penetrate the Gloom of the Mainstream Media?

I have had a letter published today in the Daily Mail.

I wrote it in response to "Imam Hussein" of Brighton (I think), who last week wrote a letter to the Mail espousing the usual sanitised version of Islam which we have come to expect in the mainstream media. These days, even the so-called "right-wing" Daily Mail is terrified of publishing more critical views of Islam. That's why I'm really surprised - and somewhat delighted - that my response to Imam Hussein was published.

There is no online version of the Mail's letters page that I'm aware of, so below I've reproduced the letter. In the paper itself, they cut a few things out, and anglicized some of the Arabic words (e.g. "Qur'an" became "Koran", etc), but since that version isn't available online I'm going to reproduce the exact text of the original email I sent them.

Let's hope this isn't the last time the politically correct an deceitful tropes of "moderate" Muslims are challenged in the mainstream media.

Imam Hussein's letter (Mail, April 8) presents a dishonest and whitewashed picture of the religion of Islam which, in these times, needs to be challenged if we are to have serious debate on these issues.

He states that the Prophet Muhammad would disapprove of honour killings, but does not mention that the Qur'an denies women equality of rights when it comes to inheritance and legal testimony, and even encourages Muslim men to beat their disobediant wives (sura 4:34). He also does not mention that the Qur'an's peaceful verses are seen by traditional Islamic authorities as having been abrogated by its more warlike verses, which command eternal warfare against Jews and Christians until they submit to Islamic authority.

Moreover, he makes reference to the so-called "greater jihad", but does not mention that the theological basis for this concept is weak, as it does not appear in any of the collections of Muhammad's sayings that are generally considered most reliable by Muslim scholars.

I am glad that Mr. Hussein subscribes to a peaceful understanding of Islam. However, there will never be any success with the kind of honest debate he is calling for until peaceful Muslims begin to acknowledge that what they call "radical" Islam is actually supported by orthodox Muslim authorities, and is the version of Islam that has been taught for centuries by many of the greatest Muslim scholars and thinkers throughout history, including the modern era.

Until Muslims begin to be a bit more honest with themselves and others, violence and oppression in the name of Islam will continue.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Obama Chickens Out Re: the Armenian Genocide


An Armenian-American group that backed Barack Obama in the election is now urging its members to call the White House to protest the president’s failure to recognise the Armenian genocide.

During his presidential campaign, Obama pledged to recognise the deaths as genocide. He spoke in a January 2008 statement of his “firmly held conviction that the Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.”

The Washington-based Armenian National Committee of America endorsed Obama, delivering large blocs of votes in swing states and tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, according to Politico.com.

But at a Monday press conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul and in a later address to the Turkish Parliament, Obama declined to recognise the Armenian deaths as genocide.

"Mehsud has pals in high places"

Baitullah Mehsud, the brazen Taliban chief based in Waziristan, has been able to escape several attempts to kill and capture him because he has friends in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, according to a Newsweek report.

This is no surprise. Pakistan has become notorious for its duplicity and the fact that its intelligence services seem to be in cahoots with the Taliban. For example, a report in the LA Times from July last year provided the following details:

"American spy agencies depend heavily on cooperation from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, elements of which are believed to have long-standing ties to the Taliban. Underscoring the lack of trust, a former high-ranking CIA official said that the United States typically gives the Pakistani government less than an hour’s notice before launching a Predator missile strike, largely out of fear that more time might allow ISI sympathizers to tip off targets. The ISI sometimes shares information from its network of tribal contacts, officials said. But it also routinely stonewalls CIA requests.“They are in many cases intentionally keeping you in the dark,” said the former CIA official who served in the region. The former official described one case in which a CIA agent near Waziristan, in the tribal area, pressed the ISI over several months to detain a Pakistani who appeared to be helping Al Qaeda operatives move safely around the region.“He was a known Al Qaeda associate and facilitator,” the former CIA officer said. “But you bring it up 10 times and they never take the first step of planning anything. It’s like pushing against a marshmallow.”

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Ibrahim: "Textbook Lies About Islam"

Raymond Ibrahim, editor and translator of The Al-Qaeda Reader, has a good piece at Pajamas Media on the whitewashing of Islam in American schools. Ibrahim observes:

"...from American junior high texts obfuscating the motivation of 9/11 to censored intelligence analysts who cannot prefix more meaningful adjectives to the word “terrorist,” until Islamic ideologies are addressed forthrightly, the U.S. — leadership and lay alike — will remain philosophically unprepared against the threat of radical Islam. Objective knowledge — properly taught and disseminated — is the first step to formulating any long-term strategy. When knowledge is unshackled from the bonds of political correctness and wishful thinking, strategies will naturally present themselves as common sense.

"Bottom line: if children are sheltered from ugly truths today, how can they ever be expected to confront them as adults tomorrow?"

In his recent book Stealth Jihad, Robert Spencer demonstrates that such whitewashing is in part facilitated by Muslim groups themselves, who deliberately obfuscate accurate teaching of Islamic doctrines such as jihad, and peddle ahistorical myths such as the "Golden Age" of tolerance in medieval Muslim Spain. Spencer summarises:

"With the mandate of 'tolerance' robbing many educators of their ability to evaluate non-Western cultures critically, teachers are highly susceptible to an organised campaign by US-based Islamic organisations and their primary benefactor, Saudi Arabia, to present a view of Islam that whitewashes its violent history and intolerant religious imperatives.

"Meanwhile, in America's Islamic academies, teaching materials, some direct from Saudi Arabia, instill unequivocal hatred toward non-Muslims and a deep suspicion of Western culture. But one would never know that such attitudes even exist among Muslims from reading the lessons placed in mainstream public schools by US-based Islamic groups. In contrast to the antagonistic teachings found at Islamic academies, these groups ensure that the Islamic instruction in public schools presents a picture of Islam that is so pristine and peaceful that it sometimes crosses the boundary from mere pro-Muslim bias into outright Islamic proselytising." (p.189-90)

Finally, in 2005 Bat Ye'or observed in her book Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis that:

"The Muslim version of history is now being taught and accepted in Europe and America, while more accurate treatments such as historian Paul Fregosi's book Jihad in the West faced a wall of opposition. Mainstream views of jihad gloss over its fanaticism and such practises as enslavement and massacre. The responsibility for the jihad wars' atrocities is attributed to Christian resistance to Islamisation and to the iniquitous Crusades - but not to the concepts of jihad and dar al-harb, the land of war where the infidels must be subdued...There is no doubt that this chorus of tearful contrition helps to strengthen the Muslim opinion that Islamic jihad is a liberating and peaceful favour granted to the infidels." (p.195)

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Jihad and Dhimmitude (Part 3)


The theology of jihad which I have outlined thus far is not some seventh-century anachronism that is rejected or ignored today. In fact, it is a healthy, living doctrine, and is mainstream in the modern Islamic world to an extent that is quite shocking. A few representative examples are provided here.

Al-Azhar University in Cairo is the highest institution of learning and the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, Sunnis representing around 85% of the world's Muslims. In 1991, it endorsed a manual of Islamic law by the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community”. The manual, Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), defines jihad as “warfare against non-Muslims”, noting that the word itself “is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.” It then devotes eleven pages to explaining how this warfare must be fought, saying that “[t]he caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians...until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll-tax.” Also, if there is no caliph, Muslims must still wage jihad.

Regarding dhimmis, Umdat al-Salik is clear about the restrictions that must be imposed upon non-Muslims subjugated by jihad: “[Dhimmis] are distinguished from Muslims in dress, wearing a wide cloth belt (zunnar); are not greeted with as-Salamu 'alaykum [the traditional 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' buildings, though if they acquire a tall house, it is not razed; are forbidden to openly display wine or pork, [or] to ring church bells or display crosses, recite the Torah or Evangel aloud, or make public display of their funerals and feastdays; and are forbidden to build new churches.”

Furthermore, in line with the teachings of al-Mawardi and others, “[i]f non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state refuse to conform to the rules of Islam, or to pay the non-Muslim poll tax, then their agreement with the state has been violated”, and they can legitimately be killed or sold into slavery. Al-Azhar – the closest Muslim equivalent to the Vatican – considers this manual to be a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy.

The ideology of jihad is openly espoused by many of the world's top Islamic clerics. For example, see the recent work Islam and Modernism by Muhammad Taqi Usmani. Usmani sat for twenty years as a Sharia Judge in Pakistan's Supreme Court (his father was the Mufti of Pakistan). Currently he is the deputy of the Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Council of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference. As such, he is a leading figure in modern Islamic jurisprudence.

In Islam and Modernism, Usmani explodes the common myths that jihad can only be defensive and that it is only a thing of the past. He invokes the example of the early Muslim rulers to assert that aggressive, expansionist jihad is a good thing: “Even in those days...aggressive jihads were waged...because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah.” Perhaps most alarmingly, Usmani also refutes the suggestion that jihad is forbidden against nations that allow the free preaching of Islam, stating that Muslims should only live peacefully in non-Muslim countries until they have developed sufficient strength to wage jihad against them.

Such views are not restricted to high-level theologians and clerics, either. They are in fact a part of the formal education of children in many Islamic countries, even in supposedly “secular” schools. For example, a study of Egyptian school textbooks revealed material that encouraged and celebrated not only violence against unbelievers, but their physical mutilation (in accord with Qur'anic passages such as 8:12 and 47:4). Here is an extract from one such textbook:

“This noble sura [sura 47]...deals with questions of which the most important are as follows: 'Encouraging the faithful to perform jihad in God's cause, to behead the infidels, take them prisoner, break their power, and make their souls humble – all that in a style which contains the highest examples of urging to fight.”

According to the translator of these appalling passages, “[the] concept of jihad is interpreted in the Egyptian school curriculum almost exclusively as a military endeavor...it is war against God's enemies, i.e. the infidels...it is war against the homeland's enemies and a means to strengthening the Muslim states in the world. In both cases, jihad is encouraged, and those who refrain from participating in it are denounced.”

Similarly, a July 2008 study found that Saudi Arabian textbooks were full of similar hatred and violence. Jews and Christians were described as hated enemies of Islam, while jihad and the killing of apostates were also advocated.

Finally, numerous polls and surveys have indicated alarming levels of support for jihad in the Islamic world, as well as here in the West. It is also of concern that while many Muslims claim to disapprove of terrorism, they nevertheless share the same ultimate goals and desires as jihadists. For example, according to a 2007 World Public Opinion poll, 65.2% of Muslims surveyed in four major Islamic countries (Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia) openly declared that they wanted to see a global Muslim state, or caliphate. Concordantly, 65.5% wanted strict (that word was emphasised) application of sharia law in every Islamic country. In early 2009, a follow-up poll by the same team achieved similar results. An earlier study in 2006 reported that as many as 40% of British Muslims would like to see the British legal system replaced with sharia.

These results are important because they clearly demonstrate that the ideologies of jihad and Islamic supremacism remain fundamental to the thinking and ideology of many Muslims in the mainstream today. This can only lead to a dangerous apathy in the heart of the Muslim umma, or community, at large, prohibiting serious efforts within Muslim societies to eradicate jihad and terrorism from their midst. Given that sharia law denies basic human rights to women and non-Muslims, and that one of the primary functions of the caliphate is to wage jihad against unbelievers, in turn imposing this totalitarian system upon them, such findings should make ominous reading for all those in the West concerned with preserving the freedom we take for granted.


Within several centuries of the death of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, Muslim jurists and theologians had formulated the permanent institution of jihad based on his teachings as preserved in the Qur'an and hadith: warfare against non-Muslims in order to submit the entire world to Islam. The historical record shows that this theory of jihad has been put into practice, continuously, across the globe, for over a millennium, into modern times.

What now remains is for the Muslim community to acknowledge this. Muslims must work to reform the elements of Islam that give rise to jihad violence, or the past will continue to poison the present and inhibit harmonious relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the grand scheme of things, this is hardly an unreasonable request. Self-criticism is one of the guiding lights of civilisation. Here in the West, every scourge from slavery to capitalism, communism to Nazism, has been analysed and dissected by the intellectual elites. Even Judaism, relatively harmless in comparison to the power of Islam or the Church, has been forced to break away from some traditions. It is inconceivable that Islam alone should be immune from this critical self-reflection. Muslims cannot reform what they will not admit needs reforming.

In the West, such reflection is equally important, though of a different kind. The objective study of Islam and its inherently political doctrines, such as jihad, is of profound importance today. One of the most heinous crimes of the modern era may not be the jihad itself, but the almost complete failure of our leaders and analysts to understand the nature of the jihad and the threat posed by it to all those who cherish our freedom.

Their failures in this regard can only be to the detriment of us all.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Real War Criminals

The crime scene in Bat Ayin

Earlier this week, the Israeli army was cleared of accusations of war crimes during its attack on Gaza in late December and January, with an investigation concluding that the claims made were "purposely exaggerated".

As the media continues to lap up such anti-Israel smears, far less attention was paid to Thursday's attack on two innocent young Israelis - one killed, one injured - by an axe-wielding jihadist.

Although the killer was not a Hamas operative, a spokesman for the Islamic jihadist group issued a terse statement:

"This attack was committed in the framework of the resistance," Ayman Taha, a spokesperson for the group said. "This is a reaction to the continuing occupation and the continued building of settlements."

"This is a natural reaction," he said, "especially against the backdrop of Israeli attacks. We are a people occupied, and it is our right to defend ourselves and to act in every way and with every means at our disposal in order to defend ourselves."

Now, can you imagine what sort of coverage this would have gotten in the media had the alleged "war crimes" of the Israeli military been proven true, and then an Israeli government official had come out and said that the crimes were a "perfectly natural" reaction to the hundreds of rockets that had been fired at towns and villages in southern Israel from Gaza over the previous few months, even while a truce was supposed to be in effect?


The outrageous lies spewed about Israeli actions in Gaza, and the media's lemming-like acceptance of this propaganda - as well as the real war crimes committed and endorsed by Palestinian jihadists - demonstrate the immense challenges Israel faces when it comes to winning the war in the Middle East, when even its own are determined to oversee its destruction by any means possible, no matter how craven and desperate.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Jihad and Dhimmitude (Part 2)


Dhimmitude is the name coined for the system enforced upon the non-Muslim peoples conquered by Islamic jihad wars. Non-Muslims under this system have to submit to Islamic law and pay the poll tax, the jizya, to the Muslim authorities. These non-Muslim subjects of the Islamic state are known as dhimmis.

The consensus view of the jizya in classical Islamic jurisprudence is that it is a tax paid in lieu of being slain – that is, payment of the jizya is the only way to safeguard the dhimmis' lives and property from the invading Muslims. The jurist al-Mawardi explained that “the enemy makes a payment in return for peace and reconciliation.” Payment is made annually and will “constitute an ongoing tribute by which their security is established.” If the dhimmi refuses to pay the tax, “the reconciliation ceases, their security is no longer guaranteed and war must be waged on them”. Collection of the jizya is, in short, a form of blackmail.

The law stating that dhimmis can be killed if they violate their pact of agreement with the Muslims has played out tragically in history. It was because dhimmis were seen to be violating their agreements of “protection” that the Ottoman Empire waged the Armenian genocide in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Another important aspect of the jizya is the widely held view among Muslim scholars and jurists that it must be deliberately collected in the most humiliating way possible. For example, here is an explanation of the jizya collection ceremony by the Shafi'i jurist an-Nawawi (d.1278): “The infidel who wishes to pay his poll tax must be treated with disdain by the collector; the collector remains seated and the infidel remains standing in front of him, his head bowed and his back bent. The infidel personally must place the money on the scales, while the collector holds him by the beard, and strikes him on both cheeks.”

The revered Muslim scholar al-Suyuti (d.1505) made these recommendations regarding jizya collection: “[T]he taker sits and the dhimmi stands with his head bowed and his back bent. The jizya is placed in the balance and the taker seizes his beard and hits his chin.”

Jewish, Coptic, Syriac, Armenian and Serbian sources provide evidence that the jizya and the kharaj (a land tax often synonymous with jizya) were collected from children, widows, orphans, and even the dead. Indeed, this is what was prescribed by the Shafi'i jurists, as an-Nawawi testifies: “Our religion compels the poll tax to be paid by dying people, the old, even in a state of incapacity, the blind, monks, workers, and the poor, incapable of practising a trade. As for people who seem to be insolvent at the end of the year, the sum of the poll tax remains a debt to their account until they should become solvent.”

Tax collectors were accompanied by soldiers and inspectors, who all had to be lodged and fed for several days at the taxpayers' expense. Sometimes punishment and torture were used, although this was technically prohibited. All over the Muslim world, such brutal persecution forced many dhimmis to abandon their homes and become either exiles or slaves. Many also converted to Islam to spare themselves from the burden of the jizya.

Although the system of the dhimma is not implemented in full anywhere today, it is not entirely an ancient phenomenon, either, as the following two examples demonstrate. It was still practised at the end of the nineteenth century and into the second decade of the twentieth, and maybe even beyond that, until Western pressure and the fall of the Ottoman empire led to the emancipation of the dhimmis. An Italian Jew travelling in Morocco in 1894 recorded this harrowing experience:

“The kaid Uwida and the kadi Mawlay Mustafa had mounted their tent today near the Mellah [Jewish ghetto] gate and had summoned the Jews in order to collect from them the poll tax which they are obliged to pay the sultan. They had me summoned also. I first inquired whether those who were European-protected subjects had to pay this tax. Having learned that a great many of them had already paid it, I wished to do likewise. After having remitted the amount of the tax to the two officials, I received from the kadi's guard two blows in the back of the neck. Addressing the kadi and the kaid, I said, 'Know that I am an Italian protected subject.' Whereupon the kadi said to his guard: 'Remove the kerchief covering his head and strike him strongly; he can then go and complain wherever he wants.' The guards hastily obeyed and struck me once again more violently. This public mistreatment of a European-protected subject demonstrates to all the Arabs that they can, with impunity, mistreat the Jews.”

A 1950 report stated:

“The Jews in Afghanistan are still subject to all the forms of discrimination which rigorous adherence to the Qur'an requires. They have to pay the jizya poll tax imposed on infidels, and the payment is accompanied by humiliating ceremonies.”

The system of the dhimma encompasses other rules and regulations as well as payment of the jizya. Some of these regulations include: the prohibition of arms for the vanquished dhimmis, and of church bells; restrictions concerning the building and restoration of churches, synagogues, and temples; inequality between Muslims and non-Muslims with regard to taxes and penal law; a requirement that non-Muslims wear special clothes; and the overall humiliation and abasement of non-Muslims.

These oppressive conditions were institutionalised as part of the permanent Islamic law. The writings of al-Ghazali demonstrate how dhimmitude is simply a normative and accepted part of the sharia:

“The dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or his Apostle...Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians must pay the poll tax...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his head and hits the dhimmi on the protuberant bone beneath his ear...They are not permitted to ostentatiously exhibit their wine or church bells...their houses may not be higher than the Muslim's, no matter how low that is. The dhimmi may not ride an elegant horse or mule; he may ride a donkey only if the saddle is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. The dhimmis have to wear an identifying patch on their clothing, even women, and even in the public baths...dhimmis must hold their tongue.”

The dhimma also includes restrictions on the dhimmis' ability to testify in courts of law, with most jurists agreeing that dhimmi testimony is completely inadmissible, as demonstrated in the Hedaya of the Hanafi school:

“Malik and Shafi [the founders of the Maliki and Shafi'i schools of jurisprudence, respectively] have said that [dhimmi testimony] is absolutely inadmissible, because as infidels are unjust, it is requisite to be slow in believing anything they may advance...the evidence of an infidel is not admitted concerning a Muslim...Besides, a dhimmi may be suspected of having invented falsehoods against a Muslim from the hatred he bears to him on the account of the superiority of the Muslims over him.”

Shi'a Islam's attitude to the dhimma may display an even greater level of fanatical intolerance towards non-Muslims than the Sunnis. The Qur'an's severe admonition that unbelievers are “unclean” (9:28) led to the prohibitions called najis.

An example of the impact of these regulations is seen in the writings of Muhammad al-Majlisi (d.1699), who was one of the most influential clerics under the Safavid theocracy of Persia. In his writings, Majlisi disseminated rulings on the appropriate treatment of dhimmis, that were then implemented in practice by the Safavid rulers. These included all the usual regulations about the jizya, restrictions on worship, clothing, etc. But they also contained regulations concerned with the “dirtiness” of the dhimmis in comparison to the Muslims. For example, Majlisi ruled:

“[Dhimmis] should not enter the public pools while a Muslim is bathing...It would also be better if the ruler of the Muslims would establish that all infidels could not move out of their homes on days when it rains or snows because they would make Muslims impure.”

The ruling prohibiting dhimmis from being outdoors during rain or snow was in place in Iran as late as 1923.

It should be clear that such a religious caste system is totally at variance with modern notions of human rights. The dhimmi is allowed to practise his religion, but only under a series of restrictions which are designed to ensure that he never forgets his inferior status. In no way are dhimmis considered equal with Muslims under Islamic law.

The long-term consequences of being made to live this way over a long period of time are in numbers. Dhimmis, overwhelmed by the oppressive conditions they were forced to live under, converted to Islam in droves. In this way, several religious populations which thrived in the Middle Ages have gone through dramatic declines. The Assyrian Christians, who were once all over Central Asia and the Middle East, are now largely confined to Iraq, where they face continuous persecution from Muslim radicals, who are still trying to collect the jizya from them even today. Similarly Zoroastrianism, once the dominant religion in Persia, is now virtually non-existent except as a tiny minority in Iran. As late as 1895, Zoroastrians were persecuted in Persia, and were even denied such mundane privileges as wearing glasses.

It is the same for every civilisation that has been subjected to the dhimmi system. Apart from the Christians of Europe and the Hindus of India, every demographic that Islam has ever come into contact with has ultimately become extinct or dramatically reduced. Living as a dhimmi was so unpleasant that converting to Islam became the only way to live a relatively comfortable life.

The reason for analysing this theology and history in such great depth is because it is the only way to understand the present. The historical condition of Jews and Christians under Muslim rule would be merely of historical interest were it not for the fact some Muslims want to reinstate the dhimma today. For example, in 2002 the Saudi Sheik Marzouq Salem al-Ghamdi asserted: “If the infidels live among the Muslims, in accordance with the conditions set out by the Prophet – there is nothing wrong with it provided they pay the jizya to the Islamic treasury.” He then outlined numerous other rules and restrictions which were completely in line with the classical jurisprudence regarding dhimmis outlined above.

The same year, British jihadist Omar Bakri Muhammad affirmed that unbelievers should be subjugated under Islamic rule: “We cannot simply say that because we have no caliphate we can just go ahead and kill any non-Muslim; rather, we must still fulfil their dhimma.”

If such policies were to be implemented in the Islamic world once more, this would surely hasten the mass emigration of Jews and Christians from Arab countries, which is already under way. Christian populations in the Middle East today are dwindling rapidly as they seek to flee persecution at the hands of Muslim radicals. Half the Christian population of Iraq has fled since the US invasion of the country in 2003. Overall, the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped from about 20% in 1900 to less than 2% today.

Jewish communities have fared no better. Before 1945, there were around one million Jews living in Muslim countries. Today, there are only about 50,000 – and only 5000 in the Arab countries, which is 0.5% of the total living there after the Second World War.

Stay tuned for the third and final part, coming soon...

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Jihad and Dhimmitude (Part 1)

Contemporary scholarship and analysis has engaged in systematic whitewashing of the doctrine and history of the Islamic institution of jihad and its corollary institution, dhimmitude. Attempts have been made in some circles to explain away the concept of jihad as merely internal striving, or – if it has some military component – purely defensive in nature. It has also become common for academics to negate the violent history of Islamic expansionism, as well as the suffering of the non-Muslims who fell victim to it.

This three-part series exclusive to Eye On Islam will provide the corrective to such apologetics, by outlining the rationale for jihad as formulated by Muslim scholars and jurists based on the most sacred Islamic religious texts, as well as highlighting the global consequences of over thirteen centuries of jihad during ancient and modern times.


Despite the apologetics of El Fadl and others, there is just one historically relevant meaning of the word “jihad”. It is correct that the word itself does not mean “holy war”, but “struggle” or “striving”. However, the use of this word in the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, is telling. The Arabic root word of jihad, jahada, appears in the Qur'an forty times, and thirty-six of these occurrences use derivations of the verb form jahida, which refers to physical fighting. Similarly, the canonical hadith collection known as Sahih Bukhari, which is considered by Muslims to be the most authoritative of all the collections of traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains approximately two hundred references to jihad, and only a tiny handful could even conceivably be read as referring to any kind of spiritual endeavour. There is no doubt that the dominant understanding of jihad among Muslim jurisprudents since the inception of Islam has been that of literal holy war against unbelievers.

The basic pattern of this war is captured in the order given by caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslim community between 634 and 644, to his lieutenant during the invasion of Iraq in 636. According to the Muslim historian Tabari (d.923), Umar ordered: “Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them (this is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them), but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.”

This conception was based upon Umar's interpretation of a number of passages from the Qur'an and the hadith.

Here are some passages from the Qur'an regarding jihad against unbelievers:

2:191-193 – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers...And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

4:95 – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.”

8:38-39 – “Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease (from persecution of believers) that which is past will be forgiven them; but if they return (thereto) then the example of the men of old hath already gone (before them, for a warning). And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.”

9:5 – “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

9:29 – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

9:111 – “Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth...”

Perhaps the most important of all these verses of violence is 9:29, which links jihad against unbelievers specifically to their payment of a special tax, called the jizya, to the Muslim state.

The writings of the greatest Muslim scholars and commentators, both classical and modern, demonstrate the orthodox, mainstream understanding of this passage throughout history.

From the commentary of the prominent Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir (d.1373):

“This honorable Ayah [verse] was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book; after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah's religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims' control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians...
“Allah said, 'until they pay the Jizya', if they do not choose to embrace Islam, 'with willing submission', in defeat and subservience, 'and feel themselves subdued', disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah [protected religious minorities living under Muslim rule] or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated.”

This orthodox view is affirmed in the modern era by Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi (d.1979), one of the most influential Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century:
“The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is not as one might think to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather their purpose is to put an end to the sovereignty and supremacy of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over men. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the true faith; unbelievers who do not follow this true faith should live in a state of subordination...Jizya symbolises the submission of the unbelievers to the suzerainty of Islam. To pay the jizya of their own hands 'humbled' refers to payment in a state of submission. 'Humbled' also reinforces the idea that the believers, rather than the unbelievers, should be the rulers in performance of their duty as God’s vicegerents...
“The simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted the freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made ways if they so wish. They have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reigns of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.
“One of the advantages of jizya is that it reminds the dhimmis [non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state] every year that because they do not embrace Islam...they have to pay a price – jizya – for clinging to their errors.”

There are also commands to wage jihad against non-Muslims in the hadith. Some representative examples are presented below, from the two most authoritative collections, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim:

Sahih Bukhari

v.1, b.2, no.25 – “Allah's Apostle said: 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

v.1, b.2, no.26 – “Allah's Apostle was asked, 'What is the best deed?' He replied, 'To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad).' The questioner then asked, 'What is the next (in goodness)?' He replied, 'To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's Cause.'”

Sahih Muslim

b.19, no.4294 – “When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them...If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.”

b.20, no.4645 – “It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Sa'id Khudri that the Messenger of Allah said (to him): Abu Sa'id, whoever cheerfully accepts Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion and Muhammad as his Apostle is necessarily entitled to enter Paradise. He (Abu Sa'id) wondered at it and said: Messenger of Allah, repeat it for me. He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa'id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!”

Jihad persisted century after century because it was institutionalised by Muslim jurists in the two hundred years following Muhammad's death. The consensus of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and Shafi'i) is demonstrated below.

Maliki jurist Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d.996):

“Jihad is an obligation which can be taken on by some of the people on behalf of others. And it is preferable, according to us [the Maliki school], that the enemy are not fought until they have been invited to the religion of Allah except if they attack first. They can either accept Islam or pay the jizya; if not they are to be fought.”

Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328):

“Since jihad is divinely instituted, and its goal is that religion reverts entirely to Allah and to make Allah's word triumph, whoever opposes the realisation of this goal will be fought, according to the unanimous opinion of Muslims. Jews and Christians, as well as Zoroastrians (Magians), must be fought until they embrace Islam or pay the jizya without recriminations. Jurisconsults do not agree on the question of knowing if the jizya should be imposed on other categories of infidels; on the other hand, all consider that it should not be required of Arabs [hence they should convert to Islam or be killed or expelled].”

From the Hedaya of (primarily) the Hanafi school:

“It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war...If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.”

Shafi'i jurist Abu'l Hasan al-Mawardi (d.1058):

“The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al-Harb (the House of War) are of two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir of the army has the option of fighting them...in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun...Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of His Messenger...it is forbidden to...begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached.”

Ibn Khaldun (d.1406), a renowned Muslim philosopher and sociologist who was also a legal theorist, summed up the consensus of Sunni Muslims regarding jihad: “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universality of the [Muslim] mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force...The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense...Islam is under obligation to gain power from other nations.”

Indeed, even Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d.1111), the greatest of the order of Sufi mystics – who is lionised as the greatest ever Muslim after Muhammad himself – stressed the necessity for jihad against unbelievers:

“One must go on jihad (i.e. warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year...one may use catapults against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the ahl al-kitab [People of the Book] is enslaved, his marriage is automatically revoked...One may cut down their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they need...”

The Shi'a also agree with the basic premise of jihad war, as demonstrated by this quote from a Persian manual of Islamic law written by the Shi'ite theologian Muhammad al-Amili (d.1621): “Islamic Holy war (jihad) against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax.”

In the centuries following Muhammad's death, the Muslims swept out of Arabia and launched an astonishingly swift and brutal invasion of the surrounding peoples. Within only six years they had captured the holiest city of Christendom, Jerusalem. In the following centuries, they expanded their empire as far West as Spain and as far East as India, as well as over half of the formerly Christian kingdoms. Every country they invaded, they Islamised. The society of the invaders became based on the rules of the sharia (Islamic law), and the conquered peoples were offered Muhammad's triple choice of conversion, subjugation or death. Many were converted to Islam (often by force), while others were sold into slavery. Both Muslim and non-Muslim sources testify to the brutality of the jihad conquests and the suffering of the non-Muslims who fell victim to them.

This jihad carried on almost unabated for a thousand years, until the Muslims were beaten back from the gates of Vienna on September 11th, 1683. After this crushing defeat, Islam fell into a state of decline in which it was not capable of waging jihads of the scope that had helped it to expand its hold on two thirds of the Christian world and the whole of Persia and the Indian subcontinent. Although jihad continued, it never reached the ferocity of the first waves, and it was de-emphasised in Muslim societies in theory and practice while Islam passed through its period of weakness.

Stay tuned for Part 2...