Reminder: Jihad Makes Islam’s Borders, and Innards, Bloody

As of Sunday December 8, 2013, there were at least 22,023 documented fatal terror attacks committed by Muslims since the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on 9/11/2001. This is by nature a gross underestimate given the horrific level of jihad violence across the globe, which has gone underreported. [ref 1]

Dr. Tina Magaard—a Sorbonne-trained linguist specializing in textual anal­ysis—published detailed research findings in 2005 [ref 1a] (summarized in 2007) [ref 2] 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. [ref 3]

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. [ref 4]

My own copiously documented The Legacy of Jihad describes the doctrinal rationale for Islam’s sacralized jihad violence, and its historical manifestations, across an uninterrupted continuum from the seventh-century advent of the Muslim creed through the present. Consistent with Magaard’s textual analysis, I cite the independent study of Australian linguist and renowned Arabic to English translator Paul Stenhouse, who maintained the root of the word jihad appears forty times in the Koran. With four exceptions, 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.” [ref 5]

Muhammad himself waged a series of bloody, proto-jihad campaigns to subdue the Jews, Christians, and pagans of Arabia. Numerous modern-day pro­nouncements by leading Muslim theologians confirm (see for example, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model” [ref 6]) that Muhammad has been the major inspiration for jihadism, past and present. Jihad was pursued century after century because it embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the eighth to ninth centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Koranic verses and long chapters in the canonical hadith, or acts and sayings of Muhammad. My own research also confirmed Magaard’s observation that the canonical hadith, whose significance to both Islam’s foundational jurists, and individual Muslims, as a permanent guide to pious behavior remains equivalent to the Koran, [ref 7] contains extensive, detailed discussions rationalizing jihad war, with a particular emphasis on jihad martyrdom. [ref 8]

Within two centuries of Muhammad’s death, jihad wars had expanded the Muslim empire from Portugal to the Indian subcontinent. Subsequent Muslim conquests continued in Asia, as well as in eastern Europe. Under the banner of jihad, the Christian kingdoms of Asia Minor and the Balkans, in addition to parts of Poland and Hungary, were also conquered and Islamized. 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.[ref 9] This celebratory literature is entirely consistent with the concepts of Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb (Arabic for “the House of Islam” and “the House of War”), also formulated by classical Islamic jurists. [ref 10] As described by the great twentieth-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. [ref 11]

And these innocent noncombatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being harbis during endless razzias (raids) and or full-scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad through the present. [ref 12]

This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, that is, jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of today’s jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe.[ref 13] And unlike Christianity, which has issued formal mea culpas for its past imperial warfare, [ref 14] authoritative Islam has never renounced the living, genocidal legacy of jihad. [ref 15]


1. For a discussion of the rigorous—and conservative—methodology used to compile this tally at The Religion of Peace website, see Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, Amherst, NY, 2008, Preface to the Paperback Edition, p. i.

1a. Orla Borg. “Islam er den mest krigeriske religion,” [“Islam is the most warlike reli­gion”], October 9, 2005,  [title translated by Peder Jensen].

2. Tina Magaard. “Fjendebilleder og voldsforestillinger i islamiske grundtekster,” [“Images of enemies and conceptions of violence in Islamic core scriptures”] Acta Jutlandica : aarsskrift for universitetsundervisningen i Jylland, 2007, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 213-244 [title trans­lated by Peder Jensen].

3. Borg, “Islam is the most warlike religion.”

4. Magaard, “Images of enemies and conceptions of violence in Islamic core scriptures,” p. 221 [English translation of excerpt by Lars Hedegaard].

5. Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, p. i.

6. “The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model,” The Middle East Media Research Institute, July 26, 2001, Special Dispatch No. 246 .

7. From A.J. Wensinck. “The Importance of Tradition for the Study of Islam,” The Moslem World, 1921, Vol. 11, p. 245.

It is not amazing that the canonical books of tradition—especially Bukhari and Muslim—in the eyes of the community have acquired a rank nearly as high as the Koran. Oaths are sworn on a copy of Bukhari; at times of public danger or calamity the book is read in order to repel them; people speak of Khatm al Bukhari (finishing the reading of Bukhari) just as they speak of Khatm al-Koran. Bukhari and the other collections live in the Moslem community and he who thoroughly knows Tradition will understand Islam and the Moslem more easily. Tradition is a staff and a weapon for the Moslems even to this day. So it is equally important for the student of his­torical Islam as it is for him that has to live in Moslem countries. . . . [T]radition has been gathered and modeled by the Moslems themselves. Is this perhaps also an explanation of its having become so popular?

8. Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 136-140; See also Sunan An-Nasai, Volume 4, Riyadh, 2007, pp. 15-81 (translated by Nasiruddin al-Khatab); Mishkat Al-Masabih, Lahore, 1963, Vol. II, pp. 806-816 (translated by James Robson).

9. Ibid., pp. 37-93, 368-382, 383-517, 584-654.

10. Ibid., pp. iii-iv.

11. Ibid., p. v.

12. Ibid., pp. v-vi.

13. Samuel Huntington. The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, New York, 1996, pp. 254 ff.

14. Jonathan Riley Smith. “Rethinking the Crusades,” First Things, March 2000, pp. 20-23,; Richard L. Wentworth. “Pope on a mission of contrition,” The Christian Science Monitor, May 8, 2001.

15. “Liberal Tunisian Researcher Dr. Iqbal Al-Gharbi: Muslims Must Take Responsibility for Past Mistakes,” The Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch No.1019, November 4, 2005,

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