9/11 and Jihad Terror: A Legacy of Over 13 Centuries—Not 13 Years

I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)

—Islam’s prophet Muhammad, as recorded in the most important collection of Muhammad’s “traditions,” Sahih Bukhari,Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220

ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is not Islamic

Barack Obama, September 10, 2014

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There is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite the surfeit of contemporary apologetics. Dr. Tina Magaard—a Sorbonne-trained linguist specializing in textual analysis—published detailed research findings in 2005 (summarized in 2007) comparing the foundational texts of ten major religions. Magaard concluded from her hard data-driven analyses:

The texts in Islam distinguish themselves from the texts of other religions by encouraging violence and aggression against people with other religious beliefs to a larger degree [emphasis added]. There are also straightforward calls for terror. This has long been a taboo in the research into Islam, but it is a fact that we need to deal with.

For example, in her 2007 essay “Fjendebilleder og voldsforestillinger i islamiske grundtekster” [“Images of enemies and conceptions of violence in Islamic core scriptures”], Magaard observed,

There are 36 references in the Koran to expressions derived from the root qa-ta-la, which indicates fighting, killing or being killed. The expressions derived from the root ja-ha-da, which the word jihad stems from, are more ambiguous since they mean “to struggle” or “to make an effort” rather than killing. Yet almost all of the references derived from this root are found in stories that leave no room for doubt regarding the violent nature of this struggle. Only a single ja-ha-da reference (29:6) explicitly presents the struggle as an inner, spiritual phenomenon, not as an outwardly (usually military) phenomenon. But this sole reference does not carry much weight against the more than 50 references to actual armed struggle in the Koran, and even more in the Hadith.

Consistent with Magaard’s textual analysis, the independent study of Australian linguist and renowned Arabic to English translator, Paul Stenhouse, claimed the root of the word jihad appears forty times in the Koran. With four exceptions, Stenhouse maintained, all the other thirty-six usages in the Koran, and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam—and to ordinary people, meant and means, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer, E. W. Lane: “He fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like.” A concordant modern Muslim definition, relevant to both contemporary jihadism and its shock troop “mujahideen” [holy warriors; see just below], was provided at the “Fourth International Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research,” at Al Azhar University— in 1968, by Muhammad al-Sobki:

[T]he words Al Jihad, Al Mojahadah, or even “striving against enemies” are equivalents and they do not mean especially fighting with the atheists . . . they mean fighting in the general sense.

Data for 2012 from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) were released December 19, 2013. Gary LaFree, START director and professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland, highlighted the report’s most salient finding: the “incredible growth” in jihad terror attacks perpetrated by “al-Qaeda affiliates.” START identified the six most lethal jihad terror groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and the death tolls these organizations had inflicted during 2012, as follows: the Taliban (more than 2,500 fatalities), Boko Haram (more than 1,200 fatalities), al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (more than 960 fatalities), Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (more than 950 fatalities), al-Qaeda in Iraq (more than 930 fatalities) and al-Shabaab (more than 700 fatalities). These attacks, as the START report acknowledged, were intrinsic to a broader phenomenon—the emergence of jihad terrorism emanating from the Middle East, South Asia, and North Africa, as the predominant form of global terrorism, since the 1990s.

Another macabre tally—updated almost daily—is being kept assiduously in cyberspace: the number of attacks committed by jihad terrorists since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on September 11, 2001. This grisly compilation is if anything a conservative estimate of jihad-related carnage— murder and severe morbidity—because it doesn’t include combat-related statistics per se, or the death toll increases during the days or months after any given attack (as victims die from their injuries). As of September 11, 2014, this grim count is approaching 24,000.

The consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through the current era, is that non-Muslims peacefully going about their lives—from the Khaybar farmers whom Islam’s prophet (and jihad model) Muhammad ordered attacked in 628, to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01—are “muba’a”, licit, in the Dar al Harb. As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht,

A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, “in a state of war”, “enemy alien”; his life and property are completely unprotected by law…

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 specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of today’s jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe. To validate his contention that, “Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors,” Huntington adduced these hard data:

The overwhelming majority of fault line conflicts … have taken place along the boundary looping across Eurasia and Africa that separates Muslims from non-Muslims…Intense antagonisms and violent conflicts are pervasive between local Muslim and non- Muslim peoples…Muslims make up about one-fifth of the world’s population, but in the 1990s they have been far more involved in inter-group violence than the people of any other civilization. The evidence is overwhelming. There were, in short, three times as many inter-civilizational conflicts involving Muslims as there were between non-Muslim civilizations…Muslim states also have had a high propensity to resort to violence in international crises, employing it to resolve 76 crises out of a total of 142 in which they were involved between 1928 and 1979. … When they did use violence, Muslim states used high-intensity violence, resorting to full-scale war in 41 percent of the cases where violence was used and engaging in major clashes in another 39 percent of the cases. While Muslim states resorted to violence in 53.5 percent, violence was used the United Kingdom in only 1.5 percent, by the United States in 17.9 percent, and by the Soviet Union in 28.5 percent of the crises in which they were involved…Muslim bellicosity and violence are late-twentieth-century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny.

Ibn Hudayl a 14th century Granadan author of an important treatise on jihad, elucidated the allowable tactics which facilitated the violent, chaotic jihad conquest of the Iberian peninsula, and other parts of Europe:

It is permissible to set fire to the lands of the enemy, his stores of grain, his beasts of burden – if it is not possible for the Muslims to take possession of them – as well as to cut down his trees, to raze his cities, in a word, to do everything that might ruin and discourage him…[being] suited to hastening the Islamization of that enemy or to weakening him. Indeed, all this contributes to a military triumph over him or to forcing him to capitulate.

These repeated attacks, indistinguishable in motivation from modern acts of jihad terrorism, like the horrific 9/11/01 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, and the Madrid bombings on 3/11/04, or those in London on 7/7/05, were in fact designed to sow terror. The 17th century Muslim historian al-Maqqari explained that the panic created by the Arab horsemen and sailors, at the time of the Muslim expansion in the regions subjected to those raids and landings, facilitated their later conquest,

Allah thus instilled such fear among the infidels that they did not dare to go and fight the conquerors; they only approached them as suppliants, to beg for peace.

Muhammad himself was the ultimate prototype sanctioning jihad terror, as recorded in this canonical hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “I have been sent with the shortest expressions bearing the widest meanings, and I have been made victorious with terror (cast in the hearts of the enemy)…

Contemporary validation of this principle of jihad as described by Ibn Hudayl, and al-Maqqari—rooted in the Koran—(for example, verses 3:151, 8:12, 8:60, and 33:26)—i.e., to terrorize the enemies of the Muslims as a prelude to their conquest—has been provided in the mainstream Pakistani text on jihad warfare by Brigadier S.K. Malik, originally published in Lahore, in 1979. Malik’s treatise was endorsed in a laudatory Foreword to the book by his patron, then Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq, as well as a more extended Preface by Allah Buksh K. Brohi, a former Advocate-General of Pakistan. This text—widely studied in Islamic countries, and available in English, Urdu, and Arabic—has been recovered from the bodies of slain jihadists in Kashmir. Brigadier Malik emphasizes how instilling terror is essential to waging successful jihad campaigns:

Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy (sic); it is the decision we wish to impose upon him… “Jehad,” [Jihad] the Quranic concept of total strategy. Demands the preparation and application of total national power and military instrument is one of its elements. As a component of the total strategy, the military strategy aims at striking terror into the hearts of the enemy from the preparatory stage of war…Under ideal conditions, Jehad can produce a direct decision and force its will upon the enemy. Where that does not happen, military strategy should take over and aim at producing the decision from the military stage. Should that chance be missed, terror should be struck into the enemy during the actual fighting…the Book [Quran] does not visualize war being waged with “kid gloves.” It gives us a distinctive concept of total war. It wants both, the nation and the individual, to be at war “in toto,” that is, with all their spiritual, moral, and physical resources. The Holy Quran lays the highest emphasis on the preparation for war. It wants us to prepare ourselves for war to the utmost. The test of utmost preparation lies in our capability to instill terror into the hearts of the enemies.

The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the classical Muslim historian al-Tabari’ s recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al-Khattab (the second “Rightly Guided Caliph”) to the commander of the troops he sent to al- Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar reportedly said:

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Koran 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.

By the time of al-Tabari’s death in 923, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as Eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Armenia, Georgia, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Albania, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized by waves of Seljuk, or later Ottoman Turks, as well as Tatars, and Safavid Shiite Iranians. Arab Muslim invaders engaged, additionally, in continuous jihad raids that ravaged and enslaved Sub-Saharan African animist populations, extending to the southern Sudan. When the Ottoman Muslim armies were stopped at the gates of Vienna in 1683, over a millennium of jihad had transpired. These tremendous military successes spawned a triumphant jihad literature. Muslim historians recorded in detail the number of infidels slaughtered, or enslaved and deported, the cities, villages, and infidel religious sites which were sacked and pillaged, and the lands, treasure, and movable goods seized.

This sanctioned, but wanton destruction resulted, specifically in: the merciless slaughter of non-combatants, including women and children; massive destruction of non-Muslim houses of worship and religious shrines—Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Zoroastrian, Hindu, and Buddhist temples and idols; and the burning of harvest crops and massive uprooting of agricultural production systems, leading to famine. Christian (Coptic, Armenian, Jacobite, Greek, Slav, etc.), as well as Hebrew sources, and even the scant Zoroastrian, Hindu and Buddhist writings which survived the ravages of the Muslim conquests, independently validate this narrative, and complement the Muslim perspective by providing testimonies of the suffering of the non-Muslim victims of jihad wars.

The forcible retreat of Islamic jihadism, beginning with the Ottoman repulsion at Vienna in 1683, was acutely evident in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish War of 1876-1878.

Already by 1882, however, Ignaz Goldziher, widely acclaimed as one of the most profound and original European Islamic scholars from an era that produced seminal investigators, observed astutely, that the “Muhammadan world,” was responding to these historical setbacks, “excited by a powerful idea.” What was this mighty, revitalizing inspiration? The re-establishment of Islam’s Caliphate system, “The spiritual fusion of politically dis­arrayed Islam into a great unity.”  Goldziher continued,

The external form of this unity is the insti­tution of the indivisible Caliphate, which is the oldest political structure of Islam. . . . With regard to Islam, the unification of Muhammadan powers, and the awakening of the awareness of their unity and solidarity under a common authority is seen as the sole remedy against the dangers lurking in the womb of the future. And this unification is only conceived under the flag of the united Caliphate of Islam. . .

And Goldziher concluded—over 130 years ago:

[T]he idea of Panislamism is a militant idea in their [Muslim] eyes, as it was a militant idea at the time of the birth of young Islam. This idea now reigns over Muhammadan public opinion, in some places with such power that the representatives of European governments now complain of it.

Writing in 1916, C. Snouck Hurgronje, the great Dutch Orientalist, confirmed how the jihad doctrine of world conquest, and the re-creation of a supranational Islamic Caliphate remained a potent force among the Muslim masses:

…it would be a gross mistake to imagine that the idea of universal conquest may be considered as obliterated…the canonists and the vulgar still live in the illusion of the days of Islam’s greatness. The legists continue to ground their appreciation of every actual political condition on the law of the holy war, which war ought never be allowed to cease entirely until all mankind is reduced to the authority of Islam-the heathen by conversion, the adherents of acknowledged Scripture [i.e., Jews and Christians] by submission.

Hurgronje further noted that although the Muslim rank and file might acknowledge the improbability of that goal “at present” (circa 1916), they were,

…comforted and encouraged by the recollection of the lengthy period of humiliation that the Prophet himself had to suffer before Allah bestowed victory upon his arms…

Thus even at the nadir of Islam’s political power, during the World War I era final disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, Hurgronje observed how

…the common people are willingly taught by the canonists and feed their hope of better days upon the innumerable legends of the olden time and the equally innumerable apocalyptic prophecies about the future. The political blows that fall upon Islam make less impression…than the senseless stories about the power of the Sultan of Stambul [Istanbul], that would instantly be revealed if he were not surrounded by treacherous servants, and the fantastic tidings of the miracles that Allah works in the Holy Cities of Arabia which are inaccessible to the unfaithful. The conception of the Khalifate [Caliphate] still exercises a fascinating influence, regarded in the light of a central point of union against the unfaithful (i.e., non-Muslims). [emphasis added]

Eight years later, in 1924, an article that appeared in the Calcutta Guardian linked the Pan-Islamic Indian Khilafat (Caliphate) Movement to trends that developed, and intensified immediately following the Russo-Turkish War, five decades prior to the eventual advent of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1928, and geographically far removed from the latter movement.

The Islamic World was aroused to the fact that the area of Islamic independence was steadily narrowing”, and the Qur’anic theory that Islam should dominate over every other religion was giving way to the contrary system. It was felt that the only Muslim power which could deal with those of Europe as an equal was Turkey; and pan-Islamism everywhere inculcated the doctrine that Turkey should be strengthened and supported. The Sultan was urged to advance through Persia into India and make common cause with the Sudanese Mehdi, and restore Egypt to an Islamic Sovereign.

Thus the prototype modern Sunni jihadist organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, emerged out of this popular, well-defined historical, and mainstream doctrinal milieu, a half-century later. The Muslim Brotherhood in turn, spawned Al-Qaeda, which begot the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On June 29, 2014, ISIL declared a re-establishment of the Caliphate.

Pooled findings from surveys conducted almost a century after Hurgronje’s 1916 observations (i.e., performed between 2006 to 2012), indicate that the vast preponderance of contemporary Muslims still seek the conjoined goals of re-establishing a Caliphate, and implementing the Sharia, Islamic law.

For example, polling data released (April 24, 2007) in a rigorously conducted face-to-face University of Maryland/ WorldPublicOpinion.org interview survey of 4384 Muslims completed between December 9, 2006 and February 15, 2007—1000 Moroccans, 1000 Egyptians, 1243 Pakistanis, and 1141 Indonesians-revealed that 65.2% of those interviewed-almost 2/3, hardly a “fringe minority”—desired this outcome (i.e., “To unify all Islamic countries into a single Islamic state or Caliphate”), including 49% of “moderate” Indonesian Muslims. The internal validity of these data about the present longing for a Caliphate is strongly suggested by a concordant result: 65.5% of this Muslim sample approved the proposition “To require a strict [emphasis added] application of Shari’a law in every Islamic country.”

A Pew Research Forum report, “The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society,” released April 30, 2013, confirmed the broad appeal of the Sharia, Islam’s religio-political “law,” across Islamdom. The data were combined from surveys conducted between 2008 and 2012, representing, as touted by Pew, “a total of 39 countries and territories on three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.” Collectively, the surveys included “more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages and dialects, covering every country that has more than 10 million Muslims.”

Responses to this question on the Sharia comprised the polls’ most salient finding. The question was, “Do you favor or oppose making sharia law, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?” Summary data from the nations with the five largest Muslim populations (as per 2010) surveyed, Indonesia (204 million), Pakistan (178 million), Bengladesh (149 million), Egypt (80 million), and Nigeria (76 million), revealed:

  • 72% of Indonesian Muslims, 84% of Pakistani Muslims, 82% of Bengladeshi Muslims, 74% of Egyptian Muslims, and 71% of Nigerian Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies. The population-weighted average from these 5 countries was 77% supportive. (Composite regional data confirmed these individual country trends—84% of South Asian Muslims, 77% of Southeast Asian Muslims, 74% of Middle Eastern/North African Muslims, and 64% of Sub-Saharan African Muslims favored application of the Sharia as official state law.)

Furthermore, the Pew survey results confirm the abject failure of the U.S. midwived Iraqi and Afghan “democracies” to fulfill the utopian aspirations of the much ballyhooed “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine.” Instead, the negative prognostications, epitomized by Diana West’s evocative description “Making the world safe for Sharia,” have been realized. Specifically, the Pew data indicated 91% of Iraqi Muslims and 99% of Afghan Muslims supported making Sharia the official state law of their respective societies

This is the disastrous bipartisan legacy Americans have been bequeathed by two successive administrations willfully blind to the mainstream, uniquely Islamic doctrine of jihad.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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