Quanta Ahmed, at the close of her latest standard fare apologetic on Islam versus “Islamism,” published today at NRO, writes that she “knew well” the following words of Islam’s prophet Muhammad:
Whoever sees a wrong and is able to put it right with his hand, let him do so; if he can’t, then with his tongue; if he can’t, then in his heart, and that is the bare minimum of faith.
Pace Ahmed’s contention that these words compel a Muslim to “expose injustice,” they actually sanction jihad war, a context made plain by both authoritative Islamic legists, and modern Islamologists.
Islam apologist, and revisionist Ahmed is invoking Sahih Muslim-Book 001, Number 0079, a canonical hadith which prioritizes the categories of jihad.
It is narrated on the authority of Tariq b. Shihab: It was Marwan who initiated (the practice) of delivering khutbah (address) before the prayer on the ‘Id day. A man stood up and said: Prayer should precede khutbah. He (Marwan) remarked, This (practice) has been done away with. Upon this Abu Sa’id remarked: This man has performed (his duty) laid on him. I heard the Messenger of Allah as saying: He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand (i.e., by force); and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue (i.e., by preaching or propaganda), and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart (i.e., soul), and that is the least of faith.
Princeton Islamologist John Ralph Willis’ 1967 essay (“Jihad fi sabil Allah- Its doctrinal basis in Islam and some aspects of its evolution in 19th century West Africa” The Journal of African History, 1967, Vol. 8 [No. 3], pp. 395-415) discusses this canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim–Book 001, Number 0079), in the following bellicose context (pp. 398-99), which establishes the priority of jihad by the sword:
The Islamic community…retained as part of its ideology the desire for world domination. According to the Sharia, the world was divided in two. That part which fell outside the abode of Islam was said to be the abode of war (dar al harb). Since the Sharia could not countenance the indefinite existence of this dichotomy, the Muslim community was under obligation to declare jihad upon those who refused to submit or pay the tax of humiliation, until all peoples were brought within the fold of Islam. The jihad came to be looked upon as the instrument by which the dar al-harb would be transformed into dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam)
Willis acknowledges that nonviolent forms of jihad certainly existed—and were lauded.
…the jihad was not seen as a single-edged instrument to be employed by violent means only
But all these methods were geared towards the purpose of Islamization, and jihad by the sword assumed the ultimate, most esteemed priority. In contrast, per, Sahih Muslim–Book 001, Number 0079, “the least of faith,” was jihad from one’s heart, alone.
The classical jurists had distinguished four ways by which the believer could fulfill his jihad obligation. The jihad was defined as an effort directed against any object of disapprobation by use of the heart, the tongue, the hands, and the sword. The jihad of the heart was directed against the flesh…It was to be accomplished by fighting temptation through purification of the soul. The jihad of the tongue and hands was undertaken in fulfillment of the Koranic injunction (for example 7:157; 12:40) to command the good and forbid the bad. And the jihad of the sword was concerned exclusively with combating unbelievers and enemies of the faith by open warfare. Before combating the object of disapprobation, however, it was necessary that the warrior should at first withdraw from it; this withdrawal was called ‘hijra’ in imitation of the Prophetic model. Turning one’s mind from evil and things temporal was hijra of the heart. Withdrawal of verbal or physical support for actions forbidden by Quran, Sunna (traditions of Muhammad and the early Muslim community), or Ijma (consensus of learned Muslim legists, etc.) realized hijra of the tongue and hands. And extrication of oneself from unbelievers—Christians, Jews, or pagans—or from those who would harm Islam, accomplished the last type of hijra.
Willis cites an exemplar of this endlessly repetitive historical “pattern of jihad”: the 11-12th century Almohad jihadst leader Ibn Tumart (d. 1128-1130). Before taking up the sword,
…he went about as a self-appointed censor of public morality—‘commanding the good and forbidding the bad’. We see him breaking the wine jars and musical instruments wherever he finds them; openly admonishing women who go about unveiled; openly blaming the established authority on the pitiful state of Islam; and publicly teaching his theological views to whomever was willing to listen.
The jihad depredations of the Almohads—inspired by Ibn Tumart—wrought enormous destruction on both the Jewish and Christian populations in Spain and North Africa, permanently extinguishing the last vestiges of Augustinian Christianity in the latter region. A contemporary Judeo-Arabic account by Solomon Cohen (which comports with Arab historian Ibn Baydhaq’s sequence of events), from January 1148 C.E, described the Muslim Almohad conquests in North Africa, and Spain, as follows:
Abd al-Mumin…the leader of the Almohads after the death of Muhammad Ibn Tumart the Mahdi …captured Tlemcen [in the Maghreb] and killed all those who were in it, including the Jews, except those who embraced Islam…[In Sijilmasa] One hundred and fifty persons were killed for clinging to their [Jewish] faith…All the cities in the Almoravid [dynastic rulers of North Africa and Spain prior to the Almohads] state were conquered by the Almohads. One hundred thousand persons were killed in Fez on that occasion, and 120,000 in Marrakesh. The Jews in all [Maghreb] localities [conquered]…groaned under the heavy yoke of the Almohads; many had been killed, many others converted; none were able to appear in public as Jews…Large areas between Seville and Tortosa [in Spain] had likewise fallen into Almohad hands.
This devastation—massacre, captivity, and forced conversion—was described by the Jewish chronicler Abraham Ibn Daud, and the poet Abraham Ibn Ezra. Suspicious of the sincerity of the Jewish converts to Islam, Muslim “inquisitors”, i.e., antedating their Christian Spanish counterparts by three centuries, removed the children from such families, placing them in the care of Muslim educators.
The true doctrinal and historical context of Quanta Ahmed’s invocation of a canonical hadith she errantly claims urges Muslims to “expose injustice,” in reality exposes her own profound ignorance, and delusion. Ahmed’s witless Islamic apologetics should be reflexively dismissed in the future.