Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery.
M.A. Khan. New York: iUniverse, Inc., 2009. 357 pp.
Since the Islamic terror attacks perpetrated on the United States on 9/11/2001, Americans and people in the West have wondered what drove nineteen Muslim fanatics to commit such an atrocity. In M.A. Khan's seminal and scholarly work, Islamic Jihad: A Legacy of Forced Conversion, Imperialism, and Slavery, the reader is given a good background on why these attacks and many other Islamic attacks have taken place throughout the centuries. One word describes it: Jihad. The term Jihad in Arabic means "struggle", but most people agree that it is a euphemism for "Holy War" to be perpetrated against those who do not believe in Allah and his prophet, Muhammad.
Mr. Khan describes the concept of Jihad as "the foundational creed of Islam." And the author should know. Born a Muslim in India, Mr. Khan grew up in a conservative background, while still considering himself a liberal Muslim. The events of 9/11 changed him dramatically and led him on an odyssey as to question how his religion -- and co-religionists -- sanctioned, and even reveled in this atrocity. The author himself candidly admits that he too believed that America had justifiably gotten a bloody nose, though he felt that the victims died unjustifiable deaths. As much of a paradox as these views seem, many Muslims felt the same way. The difference is that Mr. Khan looked in the mirror, asked penetrating questions, and had the intellectual honesty to answer these questions.
In the ensuing years after 9/11, Mr. Khan did extensive research on Islam, Islamic theology, and the history of Jihad which is the driving force behind all of Islam's conquests. The results of his findings led him to the conclusion to leave Islam completely, and to write this most masterful and educational book on a controversial aspect of a most controversial religion.
Mr. Khan begins by giving the reader a biographical background on the founder of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdallah, and how through shrewd diplomacy, duplicity, and sheer treachery, emerged as the most powerful political and religious leader in 7th century Arabia with a new religion hungry to expand as far as it could beyond the Arabian peninsula.
The author details the extermination and expulsion of Arabian Jews followed by persecution of Christians and other "non-believers." Throughout Islamic history, Muslim conquest, conversion, and slavery were all sanctioned and justified under a code of religion which separated the world into the "House of Islam" and the "House of War." In Islam, there were -- and are -- no grey areas. Everything is dictated by Allah and his prophet Muhammad, through the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, and its interpretation by Islamic scholars dictated by Sharia (Islamic law). The book is as much a psychological portrayal of the Jihadists as it is a historical one.
Mr. Khan writes on areas of Jihad that are not well known to people familiar with Islam and its bloody wars. These include the Arab/Islamic slave trade in Africa and the genocidal war between Muslims and Hindus over India. The Arab role in the African slave trade, unlike the European role, is very rarely spoken about, let alone written about.
At times, the book can be quite disturbing when reading about the misfortunes and massacres of the conquered and enslaved peoples. There is much writing that needs to be comprehended by the reader in order to understand the mind of the Jihadist and the bloody wars fought in the name of Allah. Mr. Khan writes a compelling book that is very detailed, backing it up with extensive footnotes, bibliography, and index. It is a book that should be kept as a reference source for anyone and everyone who is interested in understanding the bloody history of Islamic Jihad and all the consequences that have emerged from it.
For those who believe that Jihad is really a Muslim's personal struggle with himself and temptation, then this book will certainly bring clarity and sobriety as to what Jihad, and ultimately, Islam really stands for. In the words of the author himself, the doctrine of Jihad has given Islam a freedom to establish imperialistic rule on a global scale that encompasses economic exploitation, slavery, and ultimately a world ruled exclusively by Islam.
It is a devastating indictment of a religion that is generally grouped with Judaism and Christianity. However, the commands of Jihad entail total war, are eternal, and cannot be revoked as they are enforced with absolute legitimacy by and through Sharia. The author leaves us with the question as to whether or not Jihad will return in the 21st century with a force comparable to previous centures. Islamic Jihad is a riveting book that will leave the reader armed with a knowledge he or she may never have had, and will also leave the reader with the disturbing question as to whether the religion of Islam can ever come to terms in a peaceful way with non-Islamic religions. Given the history of Jihad and the slaughter of 9/11, the reader can only come away with a pessimistic viewpoint.