When is Jihad Not Jihad?

There is an old, dry pun on the query 'When is a door not a door?'—the answer being, 'When it is ajar.' But dry humor is clearly preferable to deluded and dangerous censorship of the lexicon which leads to this question, and requisite answer, 'When is jihad not jihad?'—'When it is spiritual struggle'. 

Witness the latest European Union (EU) pronouncement, which advocates an exclusive definition of jihad as 'spiritual struggle' in the public discourse, lest the tender sensibilities of Muslims be offended. According to the wise and courageous EU leadership, non—Muslim Dorothys and Scarecrows and Tin Men and most appropriately, Cowardly Lions, should simply ignore the jihadists fulminating behind their civilizational veil, endlessly invoking an authentic and uniquely Islamic institution—jihad war —which has shaped human history for over 13 centuries, through the present. And they will be rewarded for this polite obliviousness to such ceaseless calls for (and resultant acts aimed at) their destruction, by the massive efforts of otherwise marginalized  moderate Muslims struggling—indeed 'jihading'—so desperately, so 'spiritually' (the evidence of their struggle is all around us—haven't you noticed?) to expel the hijackers of  Islam.

The EU apparatchiks are thus insisting that only a marginal Sufi notion of the so—called 'greater' spiritual jihad be accepted in defining jihad. 

Unfortunately this much ballyhooed, but anesthetizing definition has a very flimsy theological foundation. Even the Islamophilic scholar Reuven Firestone has acknowledged (pp. 139—40, n. 19) the dubious nature of the oral tradition (i.e., hadith) upon which this potential interpretation of jihad rests:

Its source is not usually given, and it is in fact nowhere to be found in the canonical collections [of hadith]

Of course devout Muslims, and influential 20th century scholars of Islam like the Shi'ite leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (d. 1989), or the brilliant Sunni ideologue Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), always recognized the marginal Islamic foundations of this putative Sufi construction in their seminal writings and lectures, and dismissed it outright. These orthodox modern Muslim authorities base their own traditional and bellicose understanding of jihad not on a disputed hadith as espoused by some Sufis, but a readily identifiable, canonical hadith, wherein jihad by force assumes highest priority, not lowest.

Specifically, this tradition from  Sahih Muslim—Book 001, Number 0079:

I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying: He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand (i.e., by force); and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue (i.e., by preaching or propaganda), and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart (i.e., soul), and that is the least of faith.

Indeed, Al—Ghazali (d. 1111), the famous theologian, philosopher, and paragon of mystical Sufism, who as noted by the eminent scholar W.M. Watt is,

'...acclaimed in both the East and West as the greatest Muslim after Muhammad, and he is by no means unworthy of that dignity',

wrote the following in the Wadjiz, (dated 1101, i.e., in the last decade of his life) about jihad war and the treatment of the vanquished non—Muslim dhimmi peoples:

[O]ne must go on jihad (i.e., warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year...one may use a catapult 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 — primarily Jews and Christians] 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...

[T]he dhimmi is obliged not to mention Allah or His Apostle...Jews, Christians, and Majians must pay the jizya [poll tax on non—Muslims]...on offering up the jizya, the dhimmi must hang his head while the official takes hold of his beard and hits [the dhimmi] on the protruberant bone beneath his ear [i.e., the mandible]... They are not permitted to ostentatiously display 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 [—work] is of wood. He may not walk on the good part of the road. They [the dhimmis] have to wear [an identifying] patch [on their clothing], even women, and even in the [public] baths...[dhimmis] must hold their tongue....  

Thus, the latest EU strategy of dhimmitude—denial and obfuscation through pious—sounding, yet Orwellian manipulation of language and history—reflects a more profound capitulation illustrated by the recent analysis of Dutch policy researcher Jan Schoonenboom. Mr. Schooneboom now openly advocates Shari'a and chastises Dutch politicians who speak out against this brutally repressive theocratic code as being '...spastic about the Sharia.'.

A perverse, depressingly real—life scene from the 'Wizard of Oz' fantasy is now unfolding in Western Europe. EU bureaucrats—playing the well—known aquiline—nosed, broomstick—riding character from movie version—have cast a spell ('Sleep...Sleep') on their non—Muslim constituent Dorothys, Scarecrows, Tin Men and Cowardly Lions, hoping to keep them slumbering in fields of poisonous poppies. Regardless of whether they awaken, it may already be too late.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad.

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