Krauthammer, Huntington, Islam, and Jihad

Krauthammer: Sam [Huntington] He Is Not

Last night (12/26/11) Charles Krauthammer was interviewed by Mark Steyn (guest hosting for Sean Hannity on Fox News) about the ongoing murderous jihad depredations against Christians in Islamdom. The interview began by highlighting the pathognomonic Christmas day bombing of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla near Nigeria’s capital  by Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, “formally” known as Jamaatu Ahlis Sunna Liddaawati wal-Jihad meaning “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad”.  In Hausa, the spoken language of  Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria, Boko Haram (not to be confused with Procol Harummeans “Western education is sacrilege”

Krauthammer appropriately placed this horrific church bombing—which along with other Christmas jihadist attacks by Boko Haram killed at least 39—in the context of a litany of other Muslim acts of anti-Christian violence and persecution since the end of World War II. However, Krauthammer’s analysis was once again (see here, here, and here) rendered glaringly deficient because of his willful, politically correct ignorance of Islamic doctrine and history, specifically, the living legacy of jihad, a word (and concept) he omitted entirely from his assessment. Moreover, Krauthammer compounds this repeat offense by misrepresenting (disingenuously, or ignorantly) the late Samuel Huntington’s courageous insights on Islam and Islamic societies. According to Krauthammer,

…it’s what Samuel Huntington, a great historian and political theorist wrote 20 years ago, when he wrote that borders of Islam are bloody. Meaning that with the rise of radical Islam as you say Steve (sic—Mark Steyn) in places that for centuries Christians and Muslims and others had lived together. [emphasis added] With the rise of radical Islam, [emphasis added] this idea of just attacking the Christians not only as a strategic and political act to seize their territory, but simply as an act like of intolerance.

Huntington’s seminal 1996 The Clash of Civilizations adduces convincing data in support of his contention that, “Wherever one looks along the perimeter of Islam, Muslims have problems living peaceably with their neighbors.” He provides these germane observations which have been confirmed (one could argue even amplified), subsequently, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., and their aftermath, punctuated by an additional 18,190 jihadist attacks since 9/11.

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.

But notwithstanding Krauthammer’s tendentious claim, Huntington concludes, without equivocation, that the problem for the West, and indeed all other non-Muslim societies, victimized by Islamic bellicosity, is Islam itself, not any radical variant of the creed.

The underlying problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture

The mainstream, doctrinal and historical Islamic context that Huntington grasped and re-stated within his own modern Weltanschauung—and Krauthammer continues to deny—is of course Islam’s unique, eternal institution of jihad.

Huntington’s data and lucid analyses should remind us—and Charles Krauthammer—that there is just one historically relevant meaning of jihad despite contemporary apologetics. Jahada, the root of the word Jihad, appears 40 times in the Koran—under a variety of grammatical forms. With 4 exceptions, all the other 36 usages (in specific Koranic verses) are variations of the third form of the verb, i.e. Jahida. Jahida in the Koran and in subsequent Islamic understanding to both Muslim luminaries—from the greatest jurists and scholars of classical Islam (including Abu Yusuf, Averroes, Ibn Khaldun, and Al Ghazzali), to ordinary people—meant and means “he fought, warred or waged war against unbelievers and the like”, as described by the seminal Arabic lexicographer E.W Lane. Indeed, Lane’s, An Arabic English Lexicon (6 volumes, London, 1865) is still used to this day by Muslim and non-Muslim scholars for definitive Arabic to English translation. Thus Lane, who studied both the etymology and usage of the term jihad, observed, “Jihad came to be used by the Muslims to signify wag[ing] war, against unbelievers.”

Muhammad himself waged a series of proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians and pagans of Arabia. As numerous modern day pronouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s, “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model”), Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present.

Jihad was pursued century after century because jihad embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Koranic verses 14 and long chapters in the “hadith,” or acts and sayings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al-Bukhari [d. 869] and Muslim [d. 874]

Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), jurist, renowned philosopher, historian, and sociologist, summarized these consensus opinions from five centuries of prior Muslim jurisprudence with regard to the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad:

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of  the universalism of  the [Muslim] 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… Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.

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, 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. 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 triumphal 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.

And this classical formulation of jihad is very much a living doctrine today. For example, read the openly espoused views, and sound Islamic arguments which conclude the contemporary work “Islam and Modernism,” written by a respected modern Muslim scholar Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani. Mr Usmani, aged 64, sat for 20 years as a Sharia judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court (His father was the Grand Mufti of Pakistan). Currently Usmani is deputy of the Islamic Fiqh (Jurisprudence) Council of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now Islamic Cooperation)—the major international body of Islamic nations in the world, and serves as an adviser to several global Sharia-based Islamic financial institutions. Thus he is a leading contemporary figure in the world of mainstream Islamic jurisprudence. Mr. Usmani is also a regular visitor to Britain. During a visit there, he was interviewed by the Times of London, which published extracts from Usmani’s writings on jihad, Saturday, September 8, 2007.  The concluding chapter of Usmani’s “Islam and Modernism” was cited, and it rebuts those who believe that only defensive jihad (i.e., fighting to defend a Muslim land deemed under attack or occupation) is permissible in Islam. He also refutes the suggestion that jihad is unlawful against a non-Muslim state that freely permits the preaching of Islam (which, not surprisingly, was of some concern to The Times!).

For Mr Usmani, “the question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not.” “If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?” He answers his own question as follows: “Even in those days . . . aggressive jihads were waged . . . because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah.” Usmani argues that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practice Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle.

Usmani explodes the myths that the creed of offensive, expansionist jihad represents a distortion of traditional Islamic thinking, or that this living institution is somehow irrelevant to our era. Charles Krauthammer’s education on the jihad and its contemporary relevance should begin with a thorough reading of my own The Legacy of Jihad, and an honest re-assessment of Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations.


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