Iran: More Jew-Annihilationist Jihad Rhetoric (and Jihad Taqiyya)

Reza Khalili reports the latest (ad nauseum) re-statement of the Iranian Shiite theocracy’s Jew-annihilationist jihadism (see my three-part series, “Jihad and Genocidal Islamic Antisemitism in Shiite Iran” [here, here, and here], and much more extensive material included in “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism”)—putatively (and perversely) a “response” to Israel’s own planned efforts to thwart Iran’s longstanding, expressed genocidal desire to destroy the Jewish State and Zionists (i.e., non-dhimmi Jews) in general. But as is their wont, and entirely consistent with their forbears, Iran’s Shiite theocrats manage to include some taqiyya (sacralized Islamic dissimulation) on the doctrine of offensive jihad in Shiite Islam. After all, how in fact did their lionized ancestors—beginning with Shah Ismail at the advent of the 16th century—justify the expansionist jihad campaigns which created the “Safavid Empire”, as well as the maintenance of this imperialistic aggressiveness during the subsequent Qajar dynasty (i.e., into the early 20th century)?

In fact, Shia and Sunni doctrines on jihad are fundamentally the same. [1] Even the so-called “requirement” for the “hidden” Shia Imam’s “consent” to wage jihad, was already argued away regarding “defensive jihad” by Abu Jaffar al-Tusi during the 11th century as the Shia of Iraq were beset by the Sunni Seljuk Turks. [2] This position was reiterated in the 13th century by al-Hilli. [3] These legists maintained—in a deliberately vague and elastic formulation—that Shia Muslims could be summoned to jihad by the Imam’s so-called “designee(s)”—which came to mean the “fuqaha,” or doctors of the (Shiite) Muslim Law. [4] With the advent at the outset of the 16th century of the very aggressive Shiite Safavid theocracy under Shah Ismail, who claimed direct descent from the Imams, we see  “non-fuqaha” rulers declaring unabashed offensive, expansionist jihad throughout this dynasty. [5]

Demonstrating how Safavid Shi’ite jurisprudence was in agreement with the Sunni consensus on the basic nature of jihad war, including offensive jihad, here is an excerpt from the Jami-i-Abbasi [the popular Persian manual of Shi’a Law] written by al-Amili (d.1622), a distinguished theologian under Shah Abbas I [6]:

Islamic Holy war [jihad] against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax.

The 18th century Qajar Shiite theocratic dynasty saw the role of declaring jihad—again, including offensive, expansionist jihad—restored in theory to the Shiite fuqaha. [7] Moreover, re-emphasizing how such campaigns under the both Safavids and Qajars no longer required endorsement by the Imam, an early 18th century Qajar treatise on jihad states, “It is possible to say that jihad during the Imam’s concealment is more praiseworthy than during his presence.” [8]

Finally, Sunni and Shiite eschatology—the latter being of particular importance to Iran’s current obsessive desire to eradicate Israel and non-dhimmi Jews—highlights the Jews purported supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjal—the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ—and as per another tradition, the Dajjal is in fact Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions state that the Dajjal will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. [9] When the Dajjal is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered— everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!” [10] Another hadith variant, which takes place in Jerusalem is described by James Robson, a noted scholar and English translator of the hadith. [11]

…most of the Arabs will be in Jerusalem when Jesus [i.e., Isa, the Muslim Jesus] will descend. The imam will give place to him, but Jesus will tell him to lead the prayers. Afterwards, Jesus will order the door to be opened, and the Dajjal will be seen there with 70,000 armed Jews. The Dajjal will begin to melt, but Jesus will pursue and catch him and kill him at the east gate of Ludd. God will rout the Jews who will find that even the places where they shelter will shout out where they are hiding.

And Georges Vajda, whose magisterial 1937 essay on the Antisemitic motifs in the hadith, remains the defining scholarship in this area, emphasizes how the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology: [12]

Not only are the Jews vanquished in the eschatological war, but they will serve as ransom for the Muslims in the fires of hell. The sins of certain Muslims will weigh on them like mountains, but on the day of resurrection, these sins will be lifted and laid upon the Jews.


1. Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, 2005/2008, p. 28

2. Etan Kohlberg, “The Development of the Imami Shi’i Doctrine of Jihad”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 1976, 126, 64–86; pp. 80-81.

3. Ibid. p. 80

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid. p. 81; also The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 28,88, 213-220, 620-622.

6. The Legacy of Jihad, p. 28.

7. Kohlberg, “The Development of the Imami Shi’i Doctrine of Jihad”, pp. 81-83.

8. Ibid. p. 83.

9. Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism, 2008, p. 63.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

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

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