The Marx Brothers of Jihadism?
This brief review of “The Mind of Jihad” by Laurent Murawiec, Cambridge University Press, 2008, 342 pp., will also be appearing in print in the December issue of OUTPOST.
Ibn Hudayl a 14th century Granadan Muslim author of an important treatise on jihad war, elucidated the allowable tactics which facilitated the violent, chaotic Islamic 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.
And 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 jihadist 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.
Contemporary validation of this principle of jihad as described by Ibn Hudayl, and al-Maqqari—rooted in the Koran—(for example, verses 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…
“Jihad,” the Koranic concept of total strategy…[d]emands 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, Jihad 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 [Koran] 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 Koran 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.
Laurent Murawiec, in a chapter entitled, “Jihad as Terror,” concludes his recently published meditation on contemporary jihadism, The Mind of Jihad, with a discussion of this same treatise by Brigadier Malik. Murawiec reiterates the obvious—Malik’s profound, overriding indebtedness to classical jihad theory and practice, including jihad terrorism. But in the end, Murawiec is betrayed by his book’s preceding shoddily constructed, and illogical narrative. Despite the inclusion of some fascinating texts, letters, speeches, and anecdotes, Murawiec’s study—a rather discursive amalgam—ignores classical (and still omnipresent) doctrines and practices of jihad war, such as the licit taking of infidel “harbi” (from dar al harb, the unvanquished non-Muslims “lands of war”) non-combatant life and property, or even more fundamentally, the goal of submitting the world to Islamic Law. In addition, he clumsily grafts “millenarian Gnostic” motifs on to the unrelated, uniquely Islamic institution of jihad war, and confuses transient, tactical alliances between (primarily) Bolsheviks/Communists, and jihadists, for some “shared vision”—as if the stark differences between the goals of creating Shari’a-based governments (and ultimately, a global Caliphate), versus a centralized, international system of atheistic, Communist bureaucracies, were immaterial. Thus Mailk’s modern primer on Islamic jihadism becomes for Murawiec, a treatise written,
…in pure Gnostic fashion, with a strong dose of Leninist voluntarism, or Nietzschean Wille zur Macht. [Will to Power]
Moreover, central to Murawiec’s overall construct, is the orthodox Pakistani Muslim ideologue Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, influential friend of Ayatollah Khomeini and Sayyid Qutb (the latter, also being Osama bin Laden’s hero). Maududi was a prolific Koranic commentator, and essayist, whose ideas were firmly rooted in classical Islamic formulations of jihad, and the creation of traditional Muslim societies, culminating in his full rendition of how a contemporary Islamic State should appear and function, under the Shari’a. Pace Murawiec, however, Maududi—a pious, traditional Muslim, whose espoused doctrines are entirely consistent with those of a multitude of prototypical Islamic revivalists who have surfaced throughout the history of the creed—must have been nurtured on Lenin, in the author’s words, “as if Lenin’s ‘The State and Revolution’ had become [his, i.e. Maududi’s] bedtime reading.”
From his sober perspective, J.B. Kelly, the great modern historian of the Arabian Gulf—contra Murawiec—viewed (writing in 1980) the aroused spirit of jihad in the Gulf during the 1960s and 1970s—fomented by Faisal b. Abdul Azziz’s implacable hatred for Israel, and the complementary doctrines of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood—as merely a return to the region’s deep Islamic roots and values, following a brief dalliance with “revolutionary” ideologies:
Yet for all the anathematizing of Arab revolutionary movements by Muslim conservatives, it is extremely doubtful whether these movements are au fond anti-Islamic or irreligious. Marxist dogma sits very lightly and uncomfortably upon the few semi-educated peninsular Arabs who have ostensibly adopted it. Their thoughts and their lives are still shaped by Islam, they themselves are fundamentally Muslim. Nor could it be otherwise, since…Islam is the only real source of moral and intellectual guidance available to Arabs of the peninsula. The present evidence of Islamic revivalism, therefore, may be a more significant indication of the drift of events in the Gulf than sporadic troublemaking by self-styled Marxist revolutionaries.
The only Marxist philosopher I admire—i.e., Groucho—is credited with this joke which casts Murawiec’s pretentious gobbledygook in the appropriate light:
“Q: What do you get when you cross an insomniac, an agnostic, and a dyslexic?
A: Someone who stays up all night wondering if there is a Dog.”