Andrew Bostom interview


Our contributor Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Jihad, is interviewed by Jamie Glazov at Front Page Magazine.

The cataclysmic events of 9/11 had very little context for me, so I set out to learn about Islam, reading voraciously. Starting with the writings of Karen Armstrong and John Esposito (how nae and ironic it seems in retrospect!), I became thoroughly dissatisfied, in short order, with the entire genre of thinly veiled, treacly apologetics, sadly characteristic of modern popular and 'academic' works on Islam. So I began what has become a ceaseless endeavor to educate myself, making liberal use of the vast research resources of the Brown University system.

Dr. Bostom explains jihad this way:

The consensus on the nature of jihad from major schools of Islamic jurisprudence is clear. Summarizing this consensus of centuries of Islamic thought, the seminal Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun, who died in 1406, wrote:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty because of the universalism of the 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.


Only Islam, Ibn Khaldun added, 'is under obligation to gain power over other nations.'

Dr. Bostom sees contibuities where others see the "hijacking of a great religion."

...the consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through the current era, that non—Muslims peacefully going about their lives—from the Khaybar  farmers whom Muhammad ordered attacked in 628,  to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01—are 'muba'a', licit,  in the Dar ul Harb. And these innocent non—combatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being 'harbis' during endless razzias and or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred  continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the institutionalized ideology that we are fighting, i.e., jihad, notwithstanding  President Bush's unfortunate public mischaracterization.

Meanwhile, at the Weekly Standard, Dean Barnett ponders what Legacy tells us about Islam, and in the process says a lot very economically. 

Quoting Islamic scholars from the Dark Ages through the 20th century, Bostom documents the consistent and usually prevailing presence of an Islam bent on converting or conquering "non—believers." The Legacy of Jihad charts the development of a code whereby it was each Muslim's duty to spread the faith by war. What's more, Islamic scholars developed a depressingly detailed set of rules prescribing the correct way to treat non—believers. One thing in this code was paramount——the best non—believers could hope for was second—class citizen status and an oppressive "head—tax." Other options included slavery and death.

Bostom also debunks the comforting notion that such beliefs and practices are relics of ancient history. For instance, the Islamic slave trade that planted its roots over a millennium ago sadly continues to thrive today in places such as the Sudan.

The philosophy of offensive jihadists has also remained consistent through the ages. Not only does Bostom reprint passages from Islamic scholars from nearly a millennium ago belligerently calling for jihad, he shows the expansion of their thinking in the modern era. Perhaps most informative is a speech he reprints from Ayatollah Khomeini who wasn't enthusiastic about the "religion of peace" concept: Said Khomeini, "All those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the world . . . Those who know nothing about Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. [They] are witless!"

AMONG THE WITLESS are many American academics, such as Georgetown's John Esposito. In his book, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam,Esposito describes jihad this way: "Literally 'struggle' or 'exertion.' 'Greater' jihad is the struggle within oneself to live a righteous life and submit oneself to God's will. 'Lesser' Jihad is the defense of the Muslim community."

The Legacy of Jihad is an essential reference work for those who wish to face the facts of the war for suin which we are engaged. if you can't buy it, at least read these two articles.

Thomas Lifson  1 30 06