A Former Jihadist Validates Stephen Coughlin’s Thesis

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The very courageous and forthright Dr. Tawfik Hamid has written a must read analysis in the Jerusalem Post, entitled “The development of a jihadist’s mind.” Although Dr. Hamid—a former member of the jihadist organization, al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Jamaah Islamiyah)— faces overwhelming obstacles—not the least of which will be the flimsy basis for his own albeit much needed re-interpretations of core Islamic theology/jurisprudence vis a vis the jihad, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude—he is possessed of unusual candor, and insight.  

Dr. Hamid even voices concerns with the much ballyhooed “Qur’anist” movement, including the lionized Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, executed in the Sudan in 1985. And Hamid’s concerns about Taha, specifically, are well justified.  Taha, was extolled in a September 2006 essay by the New Yorker’s silly and self-important writer George Packer, for his “radically peaceful vision of Islam.” Apparently Packer never read Taha’s defining work, “The Second Message of Islam” (readily available in English translation by Taha’s fawning acolyte, and Islamic Shari’a-promoting apologist, Abdullah an-Naim), before writing his distressingly stupid puff piece on the Sudanese “Qur’anist.” 

These extracts from “The Second Message of Islam” reveal that Packer’s ecumenical “anti-Qutb” (i.e., Sayyid Qutb, the prolific 20th century Egyptian

Qur’anic commentator, and jihad theorist)—Mahmoud Taha—was in fact simply more disingenuous than his presumptive polar opposite, Qutb. Taha proclaims these bowdlerized pieties on Islam’s violent Medinan emergence as a polity: 

Islam used persuasion for thirteen years in propagating its clearly valid message…When the addressees failed to discharge properly the[ir] duties…the Prophet was appointed as their guardian…once they embraced the new religion [i.e., by coercion]…the sword was suspended…and [they] were penalized according to new laws. Hence the development of Islamic Shari’a law…  

And Taha further had the temerity to compare the jihad-genocide waging historical “sword of Islam” to a surgeon’s scalpel—an unconscionable immoral equivalence to this physician: 

In justifying the use of the sword, we may describe it as a surgeon’s lancet, and not a butcher’s knife…We [the Muslims] have enacted fighting with the sword in order to curtail the freedom  of those who abuse it, so the sword brings them to their senses, thereby allowing them to earn their freedom and benefit from their life [note: “freedom as perfect slavery to Allah”, the Sufi notion of Ibn Arabi, perhaps? 

But Taha’s true sentiments towards non-Muslim infidels are in the end, not concealed from anyone who cares to look. He in fact justifies—consistent with mainstream Islamic jurisprudence—their historical subjugation by violent jihad: 

Suffering death by the sword in this life is really an aspect of suffering hell in the next life, since both are punishments for disbelief…for the disbelievers the law of war, and hardship of iron. 

Dr. Hamid has examined contemporary jihadist ideology by “immersion” in order to better comprehend the nexus between such teachings, and acts of violence. The conclusions of this former jihadist, turned introspective analyst, provide a remarkable validation of Major Coughlin’s own extensive independent findings (summarized earlier, here, and here). Hamid states plainly that,  

These doctrines [of jihad] are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue: They are central to the [Islamic] faith and ethics of millions of Muslims, and are currently being taught as part  of the standard curriculum in many Islamic educational systems in the Middle East as well as in the West. Moreover, there is no single approved Islamic textbook that contradicts or provides an alternative to the [Qur’anic, and other sacred text] passages I have cited [advocating jihad violence, misogyny, Jew-hated, enslavement and rape of female war prisoners and the beating of women]. It has thus become clear to me that [jihadist] ideology is largely what is responsible for the so-called “clash of civilizations.” 

Political scientist, lawyer, and jihad terrorism expert, Dr. Walid Phares recently expressed his puzzlement, at one level over the Coughlin affair: “I don’t understand why is there so much intellectual commotion about this matter in the West and in the US.” He added, “Muslim scholars and historians agree that the theological texts have also a military dimension. In Islamic studies there is no debate about that. So why is there one in non-Muslim research and political circles, particularly in America? Major Coughlin was studying the texts used by the Jihadists to call for military action.”  

Phares argues that although politicians might attempt to separate Islam from Jihad for their own purposes, “the study of the theological roots of Jihad is something else, and that is an academic not a political issue.”

But perhaps Dr. Phares had already expressed matters most appositely a decade ago in his  November, 1997 The Palestine Times essay (of the same title):   

“Jihad is 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

2 responses to “A Former Jihadist Validates Stephen Coughlin’s Thesis

  1. Would it be pushing it to ask Dr. Hamid to go all the way, to abandon rather than merely reinterpret Islam? Even so, I wish him success…and safety.

  2. Thank you for your various articles on this. One only hopes that the message gets through.
    Would it be possible for you to post Dr Phares article, “Jihad is Jihad” on this site? I cannot locate it on the internet.