Supporters of “Palestinian” jihad use photo of girl injured in Yemen to claim Israeli war crimes in Gaza

Supporters of “Palestinian” jihad use photo of girl injured in Yemen to claim Israeli war crimes in Gaza

MAR 29, 2019 4:48 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER27 COMMENTS

The tweet noted below has been taken down, but this image, with the caption, is still circulating: you can see it here on Facebook, where no one in the comments notes that the image isn’t of a “Palestinian” girl and has nothing to do with Israel. But it doesn’t.

“War is deceit,” said Muhammad, and the “Palestinians” listened. I detail the extent of their deception machine, and how successful it has been, in my forthcoming book The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process, which you can preorder here.

“Latest Libel: The ‘Palestinian Child Burned By White Phosphorus,’” IsraellyCool, March 28, 2019:

The following meme was posted by an Israel hater in response to the video of an Israeli woman during a Red Alert

life in gaza…. pic.twitter.com/8V8NRdWdAk

— MareaM (@MariamsworldM) March 26, 2019

Screenshot in case deleted

Besides being insensitive in seemingly mocking this poor child’s appearance, the entire meme is a lie. It does not show life in Gaza. It shows life in Yemen.

Big Win for Students of San Diego School District

Big Win for Students of San Diego School District

The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) finalized a settlement agreement last week with the San Diego Unified School District resolving a federal lawsuit challenging the district’s “Anti-Islamophobia Initiative” created by the terrorist group Hamas doing business as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“Nowhere is religious liberty and equal protection more critical than in our schools,” said Charles LiMandri, FCDF’s chief counsel. “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that students of all faiths may learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.” 

The  “Anti-Islamophobia Initiative” was developed under the direction of Hamas/CAIR as a “holistic” plan to supposedly protect muslim students and their families from bullying and discrimination. As part of the mandated training initiative, staff and students had to receive instruction by Hamas/CAIR officials on “how to become allies to muslim students,” and Hamas/CAIR is empowered to revise school curriculum to “portray Islam more favorably.”

Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund stated the initiative violated the Constitution because it singled out Muslim students for preferential benefits and empowered Hamas/CAIR with governmental decision-making authority.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the San Diego Unified School District distributed a policy memo to area superintendents and principals regarding the First Amendment’s “limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity.”

These directives include:

  •  “Educators should treat each religion with equal respect, with the time and attention spent discussing each religion being proportionate to its impact on history and human development and the material presented in its historical context.”
  • “Educational material on religious subjects must be neutral and may not be presented in a manner that promotes one religion over another.”
  • “Educators or other staff sponsoring guest speakers at district events must ask them not to use their position or influence on students to forward their own religious, political, economic or social views or and shall take active steps to neutralize whatever bias has been presented.”
  • “Guest speakers from religious organizations are not permitted to present to students on religious topics.”

This is a big win for the students at San Diego Unified School District, and UTT hopes many other school districts will follow suit. While CAIR bills itself as a “muslim civil rights” organization, evidence does not support this. In fact, the evidence demonstrates CAIR is a Hamas entity. Hamas is a terrorist organization.

CAIR was created in 1994 by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, which is Hamas in the United States.  See UTT’s document detailing some of the evidence HERE

It is also worth noting that Understanding the Threat (UTT) assesses that the National Director for CAIR – Nihad Awad – is the General Masul (Leader) of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood and the current leader of Hamas in the United States.

Hamas is an inherent part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Islamic Center of San Diego is a Muslim Brotherhood mosque owned by the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT).

The Islamic Center of San Diego was also involved in supporting Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar, two of the 9/11 hijackers.  Specifically, the 9/11 Commission Report investigation revealed the two hijackers lived close to the Islamic Center of San Diego, and purchased a vehicle from a member of the mosque who let them use his address to register the vehicle. The director Taha Hassane acknowledged Nawaf al Hazmi and Khalid al Mihdhar prayed at the mosque at least a few times. 

Imam/director Taha Hassane is also a member of the advisory boards of the San Diego Police Department, the Interfaith Advisory Board of the San Diego District Attorney and a member of the CAIR California executive committee.

We applaud the hard work of Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund and all those involved in this victorious lawsuit.  UTT encourages you to go to www.fcdflegal.org.Stephanie AmeissAllahCAIRCivilization JihadHamasInformation WarfareInterfaith OutreachIslamIslam-USAIslamic LawMuslim AdvocatesRadical IslamshariaTerrorismUTT9/11 Commission ReportFreedom of Conscience Defense FundSan Diego Unified School District

America’s 233-Year-Old Shock at Jihad

America’s 233-Year-Old Shock at Jihad

By Raymond Ibrahim

Exactly 233 years ago this week, two of America’s founding fathers documented their first exposure to Islamic jihad in a letter to Congress; like many Americans today, they too were shocked at what they learned. 

Context: in 1785, Muslim pirates from North Africa, or “Barbary,” had captured two American ships, the Maria and Dauphin, and enslaved their crews. In an effort to ransom the enslaved Americans and establish peaceful relations, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams — then ambassadors to France and England respectively — met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain, Abdul Rahman Adja. Following this diplomatic exchange, they laid out the source of the Barbary States’ hitherto inexplicable animosity to American vessels in a letter to Congress dated March 28, 1786:

We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their [Barbary’s] pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise

One need not conjecture what the American ambassadors — who years earlier had asserted that all men were “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights” — thought of their Muslim counterpart’s answer.  Suffice to say, because the ransom demanded was over fifteen times greater than what Congress had approved, little came of the meeting.

It should be noted that centuries before setting their sights on American vessels, the Barbary States of Muslim North Africa — specifically Tripoli, Algiers, Tunis — had been thriving on the slave trade of Christians abducted from virtually every corner of coastal Europe — including Britain, Ireland, Denmark, and Iceland.  These raids were so successful that, “between 1530 and 1780 there were almost certainly a million and quite possibly as many as a million and a quarter white, European Christians enslaved by the Muslims of the Barbary Coast,” to quote American historian Robert Davis.

The treatment of these European slaves was exacerbated by the fact that they were Christian “infidels.”  As Robert Playfair (b.1828), who served for years as a consul in Barbary, explained, “In almost every case they [European slaves] were hated on account of their religion.”  Three centuries earlier, John Foxe had written in his Book of Martyrs that, “In no part of the globe are Christians so hated, or treated with such severity, as at Algiers.”

The punishments these European slaves received for real or imagined offenses beggared description: “If they speak against Mahomet [blasphemy], they must become Mahometans, or be impaled alive. If they profess Christianity again, after having changed to the Mahometan persuasion, they are roasted alive [as apostates], or thrown from the city walls, and caught upon large sharp hooks, on which they hang till they expire.”

As such, when Captain O’Brien of the Dauphin wrote to Jefferson saying that “our sufferings are beyond our expression or your conception,” he was clearly not exaggerating.

After Barbary’s ability to abduct coastal Europeans had waned in the mid-eighteenth century, its energy was spent on raiding infidel merchant vessels. Instead of responding by collectively confronting and neutralizing Barbary, European powers, always busy quarrelling among themselves, opted to buy peace through tribute (or, according to Muslim rationale, jizya). 

Fresh meat appeared on the horizon once the newly-born United States broke free of Great Britain (and was therefore no longer protected by the latter’s jizya payments).

Some American congressmen agreed with Jefferson that “it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them” — including General George Washington: “In such an enlightened, in such a liberal age, how is it possible that the great maritime powers of Europe should submit to pay an annual tribute to the little piratical States of Barbary?” he wrote to a friend. “Would to Heaven we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind, or crush them into nonexistence.”  

But the majority of Congress agreed with John Adams: “We ought not to fight them at all unless we determine to fight them forever.” Considering the perpetual, existential nature of Islamic hostility, Adams may have been more right than he knew.

Congress settled on emulating the Europeans and paying off the terrorists, though it would take years to raise the demanded ransom.

When Muslim pirates from Algiers captured eleven more American merchant vessels in 1794, the Naval Act was passed and a permanent U.S. naval force established. But because the first war vessels would not be ready until 1800, American jizya payments — which took up 16 percent of the federal budget — began to be made to Algeria in 1795. In return, over 100 American sailors were released — how many died or disappeared is unclear — and the Islamic sea raids formally ceased. American payments and “gifts” over the following years caused the increasingly emboldened Muslim pirates to respond with increasingly capricious demands.

One of the more ignoble instances occurred in 1800, when Captain William Bainbridge of the George Washington sailed to the pirate-leader of Algiers, with what the latter deemed insufficient tribute. Referring to the Americans as “my slaves,” Dey Mustapha ordered them to transport hundreds of black slaves to Istanbul (Constantinople).  Adding insult to insult, he commanded the American crew to take down the U.S. flag and hoist the Islamic flag — one not unlike ISIS’ notorious black flag — in its place.  And, no matter how rough the seas might be during the long voyage, Bainbridge was required to make sure the George Washington faced Mecca five times a day to accommodate the prayers of Muslims onboard.

That Bainbridge condescended to becoming Barbary’s delivery boy seems only to have further whetted the terrorists’ appetite.  In 1801, Tripoli demanded an instant payment of $225,000, followed by annual payments of $25,000 — respectively equivalent to $3.5 million and $425,000 today.  Concluding that “nothing will stop the eternal increase of demand from these pirates but the presence of an armed force,” America’s third president, Jefferson, refused the ultimatum. (He may have recalled Captain O’Brien’s observation concerning his Barbary masters: “Money is their God and Mahomet their prophet.”)

Denied jizya from the infidels, Tripoli proclaimed jihad on the United States on May 10, 1801. But by now, America had six war vessels, which Jefferson deployed to the Barbary Coast.  For the next five years, the U.S. Navy warred with the Muslim pirates, making little headway and suffering some setbacks — the most humiliating being when the Philadelphia and its crew were captured in 1803.

Desperate measures were needed: enter William Eaton. As U.S. consul to Tunis (1797–1803), he had lived among and understood the region’s Muslims well. He knew that “the more you give the more the Turks will ask for,” and despised that old sense of Islamic superiority: “It grates me mortally,” he wrote, “when I see a lazy Turk [generic for Muslim] reclining at his ease upon an embroidered sofa, with one Christian slave to hold his pipe, another to hold his coffee, and a third to fan away the flies.” Seeing that the newborn American navy was making little headway against the seasoned pirates, he devised a daring plan: to sponsor the claim of Mustafa’s brother, exiled in Alexandria; and then to march the latter’s supporters and mercenaries through five hundred miles of desert, from Alexandria onto Tripoli.

The trek was arduous — not least because of the Muslim mercenaries themselves. Eaton had repeatedly tried to win them over: “I touched upon the affinity of principle between the Islam and Americans [sic] religion.” But despite these all too familiar ecumenical overtures, “We find it almost impossible to inspire these wild bigots with confidence in us,” he lamented in his diary, “or to persuade them that, being Christians, we can be otherwise than enemies to Mussulmen. We have a difficult undertaking!” (For all his experience with Muslims, Eaton was apparently unaware of the finer points of their (Sharia) law, namely, al-wala’ wa’l bara’, or “loyalty and enmity.”)

Eaton eventually managed to reach and conquer Tripoli’s coastal town of Derne on April 27, 1805.  Less than two months later, on June 10, a peace treaty was signed between the U.S. and Tripoli, formally ending hostilities.

Thus and despite the (rather ignorant) question that became popular after 9/11, “Why do they hate us?” — a question that was answered to Jefferson and Adams 233 years ago today — the United States’ first war and victory as a nation was against Muslims, and the latter had initiated hostilities on the same rationale Muslims had used to initiate hostilities against non-Muslims for the preceding 1,200 years.

Sources for quotes in this article can be found in the author’s recent book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West; 352 pages long and containing over a thousand endnotes, it copiously documents what many in academia have sought to hide: the long and bloody history between Islam and the West, in the context of their eight most landmark battles.  American Thinker reviews of the book can be read here and here).

Read more: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/03/americas_233yearold_shock_at_jihad.html#ixzz5jRAs8Ijy
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Bill Warner PhD: Acknowledge, Don’t Apologize

Acknowledge, Don’t Apologize

Every time jihadis kill Kafirs, our leaders and Muslims launch another “Don’t blame Muslims” campaign. The latest campaign is presented by Omar Alnatour. He takes the approach of Muslims should not apologize for what criminals do, because terrorists have nothing to do with Islam. OA: “Radicals have hijacked his religion” If a Muslim imitates Mohammed, he is following the Sunna, which the Koran commands Muslims to do. It is not a crime, if you do what Mohammed did. OA: “Islam teaches peace” Islam does preach peace, but it also preaches jihad. Mohammed rose to power on politics and jihad, not peace. OA: “Islam says not to kill the innocents” Yes, but Kafirs are guilty of rejecting Mohammed and are not innocent. OA: “Muslims are not terrorists” No, Muslims are called to be jihadis, not terrorists. The Koran devotes 24% of the Medinan Koran to jihad. OA: “Muslims condemn terrorism” Perhaps, but will Muslims acknowledge that they cannot condemn what Mohammed did? They cannot condemn Mohammed’s jihad. OA: “Good Muslims have no relationship to terrorists” Peaceful Muslims say the same prayers, read the same Koran and follow the Sunna as the jihadis.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/why-muslims-should-never-have-to-apologize_b_9526296

https://www.politicalislam.com/acknowledge-dont-apologize/

Christians in Muslim countries ‘143 times more likely’ to be killed by Muslims than Muslims in non-Muslim countries

Christians in Muslim countries ‘143 times more likely’ to be killed by Muslims than Muslims in non-Muslim countries

MAR 24, 2019 3:00 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER30 COMMENTS

You won’t hear this from the establishment media. It doesn’t fit the narrative.

“Christians living in a Muslim country ‘143 times more likely’ to be killed by a Muslim than vice versa,” Voice of Europe, March 18, 2019:

Terrorist attacks against Muslims in the Western world, like the one that took place in Christchurch, are extremely rare….

If we put Friday’s killings in perspective, that perspective should include the fact that some 30 million Muslims reside in the Western world today, which makes the probability of any one of them falling victim to a deplorable attack in any given year roughly one in ten million.

261 persons have been killed and many more injured, in attacks by Muslims on non-Muslims, in less than four years, in only one country, France (pop. 66 million).

With 66 dead a year on average, Frenchmen are exactly ten times more likely to be murdered by a Muslim than a Muslim being killed by a non-Muslim terrorist anywhere in the Western world.

The score is incomparably worse if we look at the situation of Christians in the Muslim world. It is the most egregious example of human right violations in today’s world: according to “Open Doors”, at least 4,305 Christians known by name were murdered by Muslims because of their faith in 2018.

Aid to the Church in Need, in its latest “Religious Freedom Report”, warned that 300 million Christians, overwhelmingly in the majority-Muslim countries, were subjected to violence, making it “the most persecuted religion in the world.”

This makes the odds of a Christian in a majority-Muslim country being murdered by a Muslim – simply for being what he is – approximately one in 70,000.

Which means that a Christian living in a majority Muslim country is 143 times more likely to be killed by a Muslim for being a Christian than a Muslim is likely to be killed by a non-Muslim in a Western country for being what he is.

Tlaib: Democrats Were Upset with Omar’s Anti-Semitism Because of “Islamophobia”

Robert Spencer in FrontPage: Tlaib: Democrats Were Upset with Omar’s Anti-Semitism Because of “Islamophobia”

MAR 21, 2019 1:00 PM BY ROBERT SPENCER12 COMMENTS

The weapon that leftist leaders have used for years is now turned against them. My latest in FrontPage:

Tlaib
Tlaib

When Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), one of the Democratic Party’s three new stars, was asked in an interview on Showtime’s aptly named “Circus” about why some Democrats were unhappy with the anti-Semitic remarks of her fellow rising star Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), she gave the answer that we will hear again and again as long as she and Omar are in Congress: the problem is “Islamophobia.”

“Circus” host Alex Wagner asked Tlaib: “Rep. Omar…Why do you think people in your own party reacted so strongly to what she said?”

Tlaib responded: “You know, I’m trying to figure it out. This past week I feel, and I know this would be somewhat shocking for some, but I think Islamophobia is very much among the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party. And I know that’s hard for people to hear, but here’s only been four members of Congress that are of Muslim faith. Three of them currently serve in this institution. More of us need to get elected but more of us need to understand as we come into this institution that I have a lot of work to do with my colleagues. ”

Wagner was sympathetic (of course): “So, you think Democrats have some Islamophobia, and that’s at the root of some of this consternation?”

Tlaib was certain: “I think our country’s struggling with it.”

This was a revealing exchange. The idea that anyone might be troubled by allegations that supporters of Israel have a higher loyalty to another country besides the U.S., and are being bribed by moneyed Jewish organizations, is absurd to Rashida Tlaib — after all, she likely believes both of those things. So to her, the uproar over Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks, even though the Democrats capitulated so spectacularly to Omar, is all because of “Islamophobia.” And she says she has a lot of work to do — i.e., work to make sure that no one dares oppose anything a Muslim says or does, for fear of being tarred with this smear term.

The message is clear: from now on Democrats (and everyone else) must accept Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks (and make no mistake, more are sure to come), and anything else that she and Tlaib say or do, because otherwise they will be tarred as “Islamophobes” and accused of bigotry against Muslims.

Well, the Democrats have been making this bed for a long time, and so it is fitting that they now have to lie in it. For years they have foreclosed upon any and all honest discussion of the motivating ideology behind jihad terrorism, dismissing it all as “Islamophobia” and, even more irrationally, as “racism,” and eagerly signing on to and validating forces such as the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in their efforts to stigmatize and silence opposition to jihad terror and Sharia oppression of women, gays, and others as “hatred.”

Through their pet media outlets, they placed the idea that it was “bigoted” to speak about Islam as having anything to do with violence and terror, despite 34,000 jihad terror attacks worldwide carried out in the name of Islam and in accord with its teachings since 9/11, into the American mainstream. Their propaganda portrayed honest counter-terror analysts as a sinister cabal of “Islamophobes” bent on slandering Muslims to make money.

They never proved those “Islamophobes” false. They never showed flaws in their analyses. They just smeared them relentlessly and made their names poisonous, without ever showing the slightest concern about the evil they were enabling by stigmatizing all opposition to it. The mechanisms by which they did this are still in place, well-heeled, and still energetically operating.

But now the same thing is being done against them, if they dare suggest that the monster they themselves created is going too far. And so those who for years have demonized and vilified their political foes instead of engaging them civilly and rationally are confronted with a force that is even more radical than they are, that has learned their methods well and doesn’t hesitate to use them against their teachers and instructors.

Pelosi and her cohorts have been given notice: toe the line or you will be destroyed. They will get in line.

Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence

Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence

by Jonathan Cole
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2019

S

The global proliferation of jihadist violence over the past decades notwithstanding, many educated Westerners still view this phenomenon as a corollary of an extremist misinterpretation of jihad that has nothing to do with the concept’s purported real meaning (i.e., an inner spiritual battle), or indeed with the actual spirit and teachings of Islam. Yet while the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims do not actively support the global jihadist movement, this does not make it a hijacker or distorter of Islam. Rather, both the movement’s pronounced goals and modus operandi arise from or reflect Islam’s authoritative texts, traditions, and history. But understanding this requires greater conceptual clarity about the interrelationship among the three Western categories at the heart of controversy: politics, theology, and religion.

Politics

The global jihadist movement is political in two significant and uncontroversial respects. For one thing, it aspires to direct and administer states as ISIS managed to do in parts of Syria and Iraq, albeit briefly. Indeed, jihadists possess what they regard as a unique and efficacious Islamic art of directing and administrating states. For another thing, jihadists seek to acquire political power via violent revolutionary means, primarily insurgency, but supported by terrorism and other tactics.

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Jihadist violence, whether directed at Muslim regimes or Western governments and populaces, is therefore political as it seeks to bring Islam to power in territorial states and thus implement its political agenda. Jihadists ultimately aim to redraw or remove boundaries between these states currently sovereign under international law and establish a global caliphate.

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The founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir has declared that Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”

In line with Islam’s fundamental outlook, jihadists categorically reject a functional separation between the private-spiritual and public-political spheres of both individual and communal life because of their understanding of two fundamental characteristics of Islam: Islam is both “complete” (kamil), which is to say perfect and sufficient, and “comprehensive” (shamil), encompassing all aspects of human life. As the founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir, Taqi ad-Din an-Nabhani, put it, Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”[1]

So where does this complete and comprehensive conception of Islam, which recognizes no distinction or separation between politics and religion—between thesecular and the sacred—leave the category of “politics” in jihadist thought? The Arabic language does have a word for “politics”—siyasa—that corresponds to the Western category. But siyasa is not a Qur’anic concept, which might explain why it is not a central concept in jihadist literature. There are, on the other hand, several important Qur’anic concepts that feature prominently in jihadist thought that could be described as political in Western terms. These include khalifa (caliph), Shari’a, and the lesser-known term hukm, which means “judgment” or “rule.” Qur’anic passages involving one or more of these concepts appear often in jihadist writing and together form the theological bedrock of jihadist political theory.
Hukm, from the verb hakama (to judge) has the sense of meaning rule in all its political dimensions. The verb hakama, for example, occurs in three closely related Qur’anic passages in the fifth sura (al-Ma’ida, The Table), which are often cited in jihadist literature, particularly in arguments seeking to substantiate the infidel status of governments in today’s Muslim-majority states.

The formula is first found in the last part of verse 42: “Unbelievers are those who do not judge according to God’s revelations.”[2]The passage is repeated with minor variation in verses 45 and 47.[3] Jihadists interpret these as indicating that any ruler who fails to govern in strict accordance with the Shari’a (as they define it) is an infidel and thus to be resisted, including violently, in accordance with their expansive view of apostasy and its penalties.

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Islamic State fighters surrender to Afghan forces, April 2018. ISIS claimed that God has promised Islam global leadership and sovereignty over the earth. Paving the way for the fulfillment of God’s promise is one of the central missions for the global jihadist movement.

Khalifa, or caliph, comes from the verb khalafa, which means to follow or succeed. Caliph literally means successor and, in the context of Islam, specifically denotes the successor to the prophet Muhammad, Islam’s first political ruler. The announcement by the Islamic State (ISIS) of its putative caliphate in 2014 provides a vivid illustration of how the Qur’anic concept caliph is used by jihadists in support of their political goals.
The statement was titled “This Is What God Has Promised,”[4] and it begins with verse 55 of Surat an-Nur (The Light), which says:

God has promised those of you who believe and do good works to make them masters in the land as He made those who went before them, to strengthen the Religion. He chose for them, and to change their fears to safety… “Let them worship Me and serve none besides Me. Wicked indeed are they who after this deny Me.”

The verb translated “make masters” (“rulers” in other translations) is istakhlafa from the root khalafa and, therefore, with connotations of caliph.[5] On the basis of this and related Qur’anic passages, the ISIS statement claims that God has promised Islam global leadership and sovereignty over the earth, but that fulfillment of this promise is contingent on God being worshiped in the strictest monotheism. Consequently, paving the way for the fulfillment of God’s political promise is one of the central missions for the global jihadist movement.

This examination of jihadist exegesis illustrates that while jihadists do not formally recognize the Western distinction between politics and religion, they nevertheless have something like a political theory. God rules over the earth as the sovereign through his revealed law in the form of the Shari’a, andthe human political task is to ensure that His sovereign rule is put into effect by subjecting and ordering all human social relations to the arbitration of that revealed law. The apparent contradiction between the inseparability of religion and politics is resolved by recalling that Islam is a complete and comprehensive way of life. For jihadists, Islam is a nidham (regime) and a manhaj (program) that is to be implemented completely in both the private and public spheres. In that sense, jihadist political theory and the political manifesto that flows from it (in the Western sense of political) are simply dimensions of living out Islam.

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Fighting jihad, establishing Islamic states, and publicly enforcing Shari’a are connected to personal moral obligations and duties, such as performing the salat—the five daily prayers. All form part of the one regime and program. Tellingly, jihadists often describe jihad as an ibada (worship), a clear indication of how jihad is integrated into a holistic conception and practice of Islam as a mode of life.

The global jihadist movement and its violence is truly a political movement. The question, however, is whether politics alone can provide a complete and comprehensive understanding of the movement and its violence. This brings us to theology.

Theology

Theology, in the Western sense, is not a category in jihadist thought or arguably in Islamic thought. One Arabic term equates to the English word “theology,” ilm al-lahut, but refers exclusively to Christian theology.

Islam, on the other hand, has its own indigenous tradition of scholarship with a unique vocabulary designated by the umbrella term ulum Islamiya (Islamic sciences). These cover a range of disciplines, some with correlates in other faiths, such as tafsir (exegesis) —found also in Judaism and Christianity. Others are particular to Islam, such as hadith science, the study of the prophet’s biography, and asbab an-nuzul, which is the science of determining the sequence and circumstances in which each passage of the Qur’an was revealed since passages within individual suras are not arranged in chronological order.

Still, one can productively employ the Western (or Christian) conception of theology to analysis of the global jihadist movement much in the same way as with politics. This draws out some distinctive characteristics that are not captured by politics and which differentiate the global jihadist movement from secular, political movements with which it is often (misleadingly) compared.

A conventional Christian definition of theology “denotes teaching about God and his relation to the world from creation to the consummation, particularly as it is set forth in an ordered, coherent manner.”[6] In this sense, it is possible to conclude jihadists do have a theology shaping their worldview and political activity.

Introducing the category “theology” also allows one to identify something unique about jihadist political concepts such as caliph, Shari’a, and hukm. They are theological concepts in twin senses that relate to teaching about God and his relation to the world, and they find their source in a text regarded as the literal word of God, which articulates His will for humankind.

Some of the foundational concepts of jihadist thought and activity can thus be described using two distinct Western categories: politics and theology. Put differently, it requires two Western conceptual categories to adequately describe, let alone explain, key aspects of jihadist thought, which combine to form a “political theology.” Central jihadist concepts such as caliphate, Shari’a, and hukm are best thought of as theopolitical concepts that relate both to God’s relation to the world and to the administration of states.

An understanding of global jihadist terrorism illustrates the necessity of integrating politics and theology. The moral legitimation for killing Western citizens is fundamentally theological, based on an interpretation of commandments made by God in the Qur’an and the model of warfare practiced by Muhammad and his successors. But the selection of terrorist targets is often made on the basis of political considerations. Targets are rarely, if ever, selected because of revelation, but rather for their strategic, symbolic, and political value to the larger jihadist political agenda: coming to power and implementing “true” Islamic rule.

Why, then, is it so controversial to talk about theology when it comes to the global jihadist movement and its violence? One explanation is the nature of contemporary social sciences where there is palpable and sometimes explicit discomfort with the category of theology. This can be attributed to what Jason Blum aptly terms the “methodological and ontological naturalism” of most social science researchers, the idea that “phenomena are to be explained solely through natural [mundane, not religious] … categories and causes.”[7]

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Article 8 of the Hamas covenant illustrates the convergence in jihadist thought of politics, theology, and religion: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Methodological and ontological naturalism treats the theology of its subjects as irrelevant because there is no such thing as “God’s relation to the world.” Theological concepts and rhetoric, along with religious practice and experience, are to be explained by natural phenomena and causes alone, which are necessarily ulterior when the subjects claim theological motivations and goals. Politics, unlike theology, is considered to be real, tangible, and, most importantly, natural, and therefore a legitimate category for explaining the global jihadist movement.

There is a tension for social scientists, however, because jihadist literature is saturated in theological language. So researchers must do something with the expressed theology of jihadists. Two strategies are common in academic literature and public commentary. One is to minimize the importance of jihadist theology and then to ignore it. The other is to construe jihadist theology as merely politics by another name.

Thomas Hegghammer, a leading expert on the global jihadist movement, offers a vivid illustration of the “minimize-and-ignore” strategy. While he acknowledges that the movement “has both theological and political dimensions and may be analyzed from both perspectives,” he advocates focusing exclusively on politics because theology, though useful for understanding the “intellectual origin of particular texts,” cannot explain the “political preferences” of jihadists. [8] Jihadists, therefore, have a theology, but one that is not deemed to be particularly illuminating of their violent, revolutionary political agenda.

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For his part, French political scientist Olivier Roy, who has published widely on Islamism and Islamist terrorism, contends that jihadist violence arises from what he calls the “Islamization of radicalism” and not the “radicalization of Islam.” He contends that “rebellious youth” have simply “found in Islam the paradigm of their total revolt.”[9] In other words, jihadists are really to be understood as political revolutionaries, who incidentally express their tendencies through Islam, perhaps for reasons of convenience, i.e., they were born into Muslim families and communities.

The evidence, however, forces Roy to use the term “religion” constantly, undermining his thesis that theology is ancillary. He admits that foreign jihadists from France and Belgium appear overwhelmingly to be “born-again” Muslims who, “after living ahighly secular life … suddenly renew their religious observance.” He further concludes that they are “sincere believers.” But he then appears confused by the fact that there is a “paucity of religious knowledge among jihadis. [10] Roy takes this paucity of theological knowledge as evidence that theology is incidental to the revolutionary impulse driving rebellious Muslim youth to violence. This is a clear example of the politics-by-another-name strategy.

Roy’s analysis reflects a common problem among contemporary social scientists: the inability to take professed, or even observable, religious experience seriously, even when these apply to young people who have made the momentous decision to give up their lives to fight and possibly die in the name of Islam.

Another source of controversy relates to Western Muslim scholars, for whom questions about jihadist theology are unavoidably normative. There is much more at stake for Muslim scholars than merely an accurate description of jihadist theology. It is entirely understandable that such scholars wish to dispute the normative theological claims made by jihadists and to offer an alternative reading of those same sources and traditions.

The tension, however, arises from the fact that the global jihadist movement does not pose normative theological questions for non-Muslim scholars, or indeed for the majority of Westerners. Yet some Muslim scholars misconstrue descriptive statements from non-Muslim scholars about contemporary jihadist beliefs as normative statements about Islam as a whole, then oppose such descriptions. They object to non-Muslim scholars adopting the language of jihadists because they believe it unjustly legitimizes jihadists.

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If there were no self-described jihadists waging self-described jihad against Muslim-majority states and their Western allies, then the question of jihad would probably be little discussed as it was prior to 9/11. It is not “Islamophobic” to focus on the notion of jihad as armed combat.

Some take this opposition to extremes. Muslim scholar Asma Afsaruddin, for example, has argued that “those who describe the actions of these militant groups as jihad are part of the problem.” She has even provocatively suggested that it is “Islamophobes” who “focus on the notion of jihad as armed combat.”[11]This opposition to even talking about jihadist theology pushes many non-Muslim scholars to the more comfortable and uncontroversial waters of political explanations, which also happen to be those offered by Muslim scholars like Afsaruddin.

But as Sun Tzu famously observed, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.”[12] Shutting down honest and empirical study of jihadist thought is utterly counterproductive, a recipe for gross misunderstanding of an enemy with which the West—rightly or wrongly—finds itself at war. Muslim scholars such as Afsaruddin must recognize that it is not “Islamophobia” that has brought jihad into public discussion: The global jihadist movement itself is responsible. If there were no self-described jihadists waging self-described jihad against many Muslim-majority states and their Western allies, then the question of jihad would probably be as little discussed as it was prior to 9/11. Muslim scholars such as Afsaruddin could also be more sensitive to the fact that, while their restrictive reading and application of jihad is laudable, it does not illuminate what jihadists believe, which is what policymakers, scholars, and the general public all seek to understand.

Religion

Religion is the Western conceptual category most readily observable in jihadist thought. The term din (religion) occurs frequently and centrally in jihadist literature. Moreover, jihad, as conceived by jihadists, is taken to be a fundamental element of din al-Islam (the religion of Islam). One could argue that, in the jihadist conceptual universe, theopolitical concepts such as caliph, Shari’a, and hukm are properly understood simply as religious, or even more precisely, as Islamic, falling under the rubric of din.

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But the category “religion” creates real confusion in the Western context, making it a fraught category for analyzing the global jihadist movement and its violence. The heart of the problem is that religion in the Western context is generally construed as both a plural and generic phenomenon, in the sense that there are multiple religions that share a common essence. The Western view is evident in the preoccupation of Western universities with comparative religion as a research methodology and goal of religious studies, and in the concomitant obsession with identifying and defining the putative transcultural essence of religion.

American academic Kenneth Rose, for example, defines religion as “the human quest to relate to an immaterial dimension of beatitude and deathlessness.”[13]French-American Catholic intellectual René Girard defines religion as “any phenomenon associated with the acts of remembering, commemorating, and perpetuating a unanimity that springs from the murder of a surrogate victim.”[14]These are classic essentialist definitions of religion. The problem is that jihadists believe in one religion alone: Islam. When they employ the term “religion” (din), it has no plural or generic connotations, thus making scholarly definitions of religion marginally useful as analytical frameworks for understanding the global jihadist movement.

It is true that Rose’s and Girard’s definitions of religion could be applied in the broad sense to the global jihadist movement. But the quest for beatitude and deathlessness and commemorating the murder of a surrogate victim is unlikely to help comprehension of the jihadist mindset and agenda. Any profitable investigation of the religious dimension of the global jihadist movement must begin with Islam, not with what the global jihadist movement might share in common with Buddhism.

It is, of course, not illegitimate to investigate whether there might be intrinsic links between religion and violence. But this is a separate question from that of the role of the religion of Islam (din al-Islam) in jihadist thought and action, and conflating the two does not aid an understanding of the latter. The Christian Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries or the German church’s entanglement with the Third Reich do not illuminate the thought, motivations, and goals of twenty-first-century jihadists. Yet these kinds of issues constantly intrude into discussion of the global jihadist movement.

Conclusion

The false dichotomy of religion vs. politics has long hamstrung analysis and discussion of the West’s conflict with contemporary jihadists. Instead of adhering to this facile and dated paradigm, Western academics, journalists, and policymakers should shed their longstanding denial of the role of Islamic theology in contemporary jihadism. Recognizing that the West confronts a potent “Islamic political theology” in the form of the global jihadist movement will be a first step towards understanding the true nature of one of its most enduring security challenges.

Jonathan Cole holds a Ph.D. in political theology from Charles Sturt University and an MA specializing in Middle Eastern studies from the Australian National University. He has worked as a senior terrorism analyst at the Office of National Assessments and the Australian Signals DirectorateNotes


[1] Taqi ad-Din an-Nabhani, Nidham al-Hukm fi-l-Islam, expanded and revised by Abd al-Qadim Zallum (Hizb at-Tahrir Publications, Online, 2002), pp. 13-14.

[2] Qur. 5:44. All English translations of Qur’anic passages are taken from N. J. Dawood, trans., The Koran (London: Penguin Classics, 2006). The word translated here as “unbelievers” (kafirun) is the same word that is often translated as “infidel.”

[3] “Unbelievers” is exchanged for “wrongdoers” (dhalimun) in verse 45 and “ungodly” (fasiqun) in verse 47.

[4] Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, “This Is What God Has Promised,” June 29, 2014.

[5] See, for example, Qur. 2:30, which is also cited in the ISIS proclamation: “This is what God has promised.”

[6] D.F. Wright, “Theology,” in Martin Davie et al., eds., The New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, 2nd ed. (Downers Grover, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2016), p. 903.

[7] Jason Blum, “Pragmatism and Naturalism in Religious Studies,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 2 (2011), p. 84.

[8] Thomas Hegghammer, “Jihadi-Salafis or Revolutionaries? On Religion and Politics in the Study of Militant Islamism,” in Roel Meijer, ed., Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (London: Hurst and Company, 2009), p. 264.

[9] Olivier Roy, “Who Are the New Jihadis,” The Guardian (London), June 5, 2017.

[10] Ibid.[11] Asma Afsaruddin, “Islamist Militants Carry out Terror, not Jihad,” Religion News Service, June 9, 2017.

[12] Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2007), chap. 3:18.[13] Kenneth Rose, Pluralism: The Future of Religion (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. 12.

[14] René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (London: Continuum, 2005), p. 333.

Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence

Politics, Theology and Religion in Jihadist Violence

by Jonathan Cole
Middle East Quarterly
Winter 2019

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The global proliferation of jihadist violence over the past decades notwithstanding, many educated Westerners still view this phenomenon as a corollary of an extremist misinterpretation of jihad that has nothing to do with the concept’s purported real meaning (i.e., an inner spiritual battle), or indeed with the actual spirit and teachings of Islam. Yet while the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims do not actively support the global jihadist movement, this does not make it a hijacker or distorter of Islam. Rather, both the movement’s pronounced goals and modus operandi arise from or reflect Islam’s authoritative texts, traditions, and history. But understanding this requires greater conceptual clarity about the interrelationship among the three Western categories at the heart of controversy: politics, theology, and religion.

Politics

The global jihadist movement is political in two significant and uncontroversial respects. For one thing, it aspires to direct and administer states as ISIS managed to do in parts of Syria and Iraq, albeit briefly. Indeed, jihadists possess what they regard as a unique and efficacious Islamic art of directing and administrating states. For another thing, jihadists seek to acquire political power via violent revolutionary means, primarily insurgency, but supported by terrorism and other tactics.

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Jihadist violence, whether directed at Muslim regimes or Western governments and populaces, is therefore political as it seeks to bring Islam to power in territorial states and thus implement its political agenda. Jihadists ultimately aim to redraw or remove boundaries between these states currently sovereign under international law and establish a global caliphate.

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The founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir has declared that Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”

In line with Islam’s fundamental outlook, jihadists categorically reject a functional separation between the private-spiritual and public-political spheres of both individual and communal life because of their understanding of two fundamental characteristics of Islam: Islam is both “complete” (kamil), which is to say perfect and sufficient, and “comprehensive” (shamil), encompassing all aspects of human life. As the founder of the Islamist group Hizb at-Tahrir, Taqi ad-Din an-Nabhani, put it, Islam “is a complete and comprehensive regime for the totality of human life, which Muslims are obligated to implement and execute completely.”[1]

So where does this complete and comprehensive conception of Islam, which recognizes no distinction or separation between politics and religion—between thesecular and the sacred—leave the category of “politics” in jihadist thought? The Arabic language does have a word for “politics”—siyasa—that corresponds to the Western category. But siyasa is not a Qur’anic concept, which might explain why it is not a central concept in jihadist literature. There are, on the other hand, several important Qur’anic concepts that feature prominently in jihadist thought that could be described as political in Western terms. These include khalifa (caliph), Shari’a, and the lesser-known term hukm, which means “judgment” or “rule.” Qur’anic passages involving one or more of these concepts appear often in jihadist writing and together form the theological bedrock of jihadist political theory.
Hukm, from the verb hakama (to judge) has the sense of meaning rule in all its political dimensions. The verb hakama, for example, occurs in three closely related Qur’anic passages in the fifth sura (al-Ma’ida, The Table), which are often cited in jihadist literature, particularly in arguments seeking to substantiate the infidel status of governments in today’s Muslim-majority states.

The formula is first found in the last part of verse 42: “Unbelievers are those who do not judge according to God’s revelations.”[2]The passage is repeated with minor variation in verses 45 and 47.[3] Jihadists interpret these as indicating that any ruler who fails to govern in strict accordance with the Shari’a (as they define it) is an infidel and thus to be resisted, including violently, in accordance with their expansive view of apostasy and its penalties.

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Islamic State fighters surrender to Afghan forces, April 2018. ISIS claimed that God has promised Islam global leadership and sovereignty over the earth. Paving the way for the fulfillment of God’s promise is one of the central missions for the global jihadist movement.

Khalifa, or caliph, comes from the verb khalafa, which means to follow or succeed. Caliph literally means successor and, in the context of Islam, specifically denotes the successor to the prophet Muhammad, Islam’s first political ruler. The announcement by the Islamic State (ISIS) of its putative caliphate in 2014 provides a vivid illustration of how the Qur’anic concept caliph is used by jihadists in support of their political goals.
The statement was titled “This Is What God Has Promised,”[4] and it begins with verse 55 of Surat an-Nur (The Light), which says:

God has promised those of you who believe and do good works to make them masters in the land as He made those who went before them, to strengthen the Religion. He chose for them, and to change their fears to safety… “Let them worship Me and serve none besides Me. Wicked indeed are they who after this deny Me.”

The verb translated “make masters” (“rulers” in other translations) is istakhlafa from the root khalafa and, therefore, with connotations of caliph.[5] On the basis of this and related Qur’anic passages, the ISIS statement claims that God has promised Islam global leadership and sovereignty over the earth, but that fulfillment of this promise is contingent on God being worshiped in the strictest monotheism. Consequently, paving the way for the fulfillment of God’s political promise is one of the central missions for the global jihadist movement.

This examination of jihadist exegesis illustrates that while jihadists do not formally recognize the Western distinction between politics and religion, they nevertheless have something like a political theory. God rules over the earth as the sovereign through his revealed law in the form of the Shari’a, andthe human political task is to ensure that His sovereign rule is put into effect by subjecting and ordering all human social relations to the arbitration of that revealed law. The apparent contradiction between the inseparability of religion and politics is resolved by recalling that Islam is a complete and comprehensive way of life. For jihadists, Islam is a nidham (regime) and a manhaj (program) that is to be implemented completely in both the private and public spheres. In that sense, jihadist political theory and the political manifesto that flows from it (in the Western sense of political) are simply dimensions of living out Islam.

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Fighting jihad, establishing Islamic states, and publicly enforcing Shari’a are connected to personal moral obligations and duties, such as performing the salat—the five daily prayers. All form part of the one regime and program. Tellingly, jihadists often describe jihad as an ibada (worship), a clear indication of how jihad is integrated into a holistic conception and practice of Islam as a mode of life.

The global jihadist movement and its violence is truly a political movement. The question, however, is whether politics alone can provide a complete and comprehensive understanding of the movement and its violence. This brings us to theology.

Theology

Theology, in the Western sense, is not a category in jihadist thought or arguably in Islamic thought. One Arabic term equates to the English word “theology,” ilm al-lahut, but refers exclusively to Christian theology.

Islam, on the other hand, has its own indigenous tradition of scholarship with a unique vocabulary designated by the umbrella term ulum Islamiya (Islamic sciences). These cover a range of disciplines, some with correlates in other faiths, such as tafsir (exegesis) —found also in Judaism and Christianity. Others are particular to Islam, such as hadith science, the study of the prophet’s biography, and asbab an-nuzul, which is the science of determining the sequence and circumstances in which each passage of the Qur’an was revealed since passages within individual suras are not arranged in chronological order.

Still, one can productively employ the Western (or Christian) conception of theology to analysis of the global jihadist movement much in the same way as with politics. This draws out some distinctive characteristics that are not captured by politics and which differentiate the global jihadist movement from secular, political movements with which it is often (misleadingly) compared.

A conventional Christian definition of theology “denotes teaching about God and his relation to the world from creation to the consummation, particularly as it is set forth in an ordered, coherent manner.”[6] In this sense, it is possible to conclude jihadists do have a theology shaping their worldview and political activity.

Introducing the category “theology” also allows one to identify something unique about jihadist political concepts such as caliph, Shari’a, and hukm. They are theological concepts in twin senses that relate to teaching about God and his relation to the world, and they find their source in a text regarded as the literal word of God, which articulates His will for humankind.

Some of the foundational concepts of jihadist thought and activity can thus be described using two distinct Western categories: politics and theology. Put differently, it requires two Western conceptual categories to adequately describe, let alone explain, key aspects of jihadist thought, which combine to form a “political theology.” Central jihadist concepts such as caliphate, Shari’a, and hukm are best thought of as theopolitical concepts that relate both to God’s relation to the world and to the administration of states.

An understanding of global jihadist terrorism illustrates the necessity of integrating politics and theology. The moral legitimation for killing Western citizens is fundamentally theological, based on an interpretation of commandments made by God in the Qur’an and the model of warfare practiced by Muhammad and his successors. But the selection of terrorist targets is often made on the basis of political considerations. Targets are rarely, if ever, selected because of revelation, but rather for their strategic, symbolic, and political value to the larger jihadist political agenda: coming to power and implementing “true” Islamic rule.

Why, then, is it so controversial to talk about theology when it comes to the global jihadist movement and its violence? One explanation is the nature of contemporary social sciences where there is palpable and sometimes explicit discomfort with the category of theology. This can be attributed to what Jason Blum aptly terms the “methodological and ontological naturalism” of most social science researchers, the idea that “phenomena are to be explained solely through natural [mundane, not religious] … categories and causes.”[7]

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Article 8 of the Hamas covenant illustrates the convergence in jihadist thought of politics, theology, and religion: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief.”

Methodological and ontological naturalism treats the theology of its subjects as irrelevant because there is no such thing as “God’s relation to the world.” Theological concepts and rhetoric, along with religious practice and experience, are to be explained by natural phenomena and causes alone, which are necessarily ulterior when the subjects claim theological motivations and goals. Politics, unlike theology, is considered to be real, tangible, and, most importantly, natural, and therefore a legitimate category for explaining the global jihadist movement.

There is a tension for social scientists, however, because jihadist literature is saturated in theological language. So researchers must do something with the expressed theology of jihadists. Two strategies are common in academic literature and public commentary. One is to minimize the importance of jihadist theology and then to ignore it. The other is to construe jihadist theology as merely politics by another name.

Thomas Hegghammer, a leading expert on the global jihadist movement, offers a vivid illustration of the “minimize-and-ignore” strategy. While he acknowledges that the movement “has both theological and political dimensions and may be analyzed from both perspectives,” he advocates focusing exclusively on politics because theology, though useful for understanding the “intellectual origin of particular texts,” cannot explain the “political preferences” of jihadists. [8] Jihadists, therefore, have a theology, but one that is not deemed to be particularly illuminating of their violent, revolutionary political agenda.

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For his part, French political scientist Olivier Roy, who has published widely on Islamism and Islamist terrorism, contends that jihadist violence arises from what he calls the “Islamization of radicalism” and not the “radicalization of Islam.” He contends that “rebellious youth” have simply “found in Islam the paradigm of their total revolt.”[9] In other words, jihadists are really to be understood as political revolutionaries, who incidentally express their tendencies through Islam, perhaps for reasons of convenience, i.e., they were born into Muslim families and communities.

The evidence, however, forces Roy to use the term “religion” constantly, undermining his thesis that theology is ancillary. He admits that foreign jihadists from France and Belgium appear overwhelmingly to be “born-again” Muslims who, “after living ahighly secular life … suddenly renew their religious observance.” He further concludes that they are “sincere believers.” But he then appears confused by the fact that there is a “paucity of religious knowledge among jihadis. [10] Roy takes this paucity of theological knowledge as evidence that theology is incidental to the revolutionary impulse driving rebellious Muslim youth to violence. This is a clear example of the politics-by-another-name strategy.

Roy’s analysis reflects a common problem among contemporary social scientists: the inability to take professed, or even observable, religious experience seriously, even when these apply to young people who have made the momentous decision to give up their lives to fight and possibly die in the name of Islam.

Another source of controversy relates to Western Muslim scholars, for whom questions about jihadist theology are unavoidably normative. There is much more at stake for Muslim scholars than merely an accurate description of jihadist theology. It is entirely understandable that such scholars wish to dispute the normative theological claims made by jihadists and to offer an alternative reading of those same sources and traditions.

The tension, however, arises from the fact that the global jihadist movement does not pose normative theological questions for non-Muslim scholars, or indeed for the majority of Westerners. Yet some Muslim scholars misconstrue descriptive statements from non-Muslim scholars about contemporary jihadist beliefs as normative statements about Islam as a whole, then oppose such descriptions. They object to non-Muslim scholars adopting the language of jihadists because they believe it unjustly legitimizes jihadists.

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If there were no self-described jihadists waging self-described jihad against Muslim-majority states and their Western allies, then the question of jihad would probably be little discussed as it was prior to 9/11. It is not “Islamophobic” to focus on the notion of jihad as armed combat.

Some take this opposition to extremes. Muslim scholar Asma Afsaruddin, for example, has argued that “those who describe the actions of these militant groups as jihad are part of the problem.” She has even provocatively suggested that it is “Islamophobes” who “focus on the notion of jihad as armed combat.”[11]This opposition to even talking about jihadist theology pushes many non-Muslim scholars to the more comfortable and uncontroversial waters of political explanations, which also happen to be those offered by Muslim scholars like Afsaruddin.

But as Sun Tzu famously observed, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.”[12] Shutting down honest and empirical study of jihadist thought is utterly counterproductive, a recipe for gross misunderstanding of an enemy with which the West—rightly or wrongly—finds itself at war. Muslim scholars such as Afsaruddin must recognize that it is not “Islamophobia” that has brought jihad into public discussion: The global jihadist movement itself is responsible. If there were no self-described jihadists waging self-described jihad against many Muslim-majority states and their Western allies, then the question of jihad would probably be as little discussed as it was prior to 9/11. Muslim scholars such as Afsaruddin could also be more sensitive to the fact that, while their restrictive reading and application of jihad is laudable, it does not illuminate what jihadists believe, which is what policymakers, scholars, and the general public all seek to understand.

Religion

Religion is the Western conceptual category most readily observable in jihadist thought. The term din (religion) occurs frequently and centrally in jihadist literature. Moreover, jihad, as conceived by jihadists, is taken to be a fundamental element of din al-Islam (the religion of Islam). One could argue that, in the jihadist conceptual universe, theopolitical concepts such as caliph, Shari’a, and hukm are properly understood simply as religious, or even more precisely, as Islamic, falling under the rubric of din.

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But the category “religion” creates real confusion in the Western context, making it a fraught category for analyzing the global jihadist movement and its violence. The heart of the problem is that religion in the Western context is generally construed as both a plural and generic phenomenon, in the sense that there are multiple religions that share a common essence. The Western view is evident in the preoccupation of Western universities with comparative religion as a research methodology and goal of religious studies, and in the concomitant obsession with identifying and defining the putative transcultural essence of religion.

American academic Kenneth Rose, for example, defines religion as “the human quest to relate to an immaterial dimension of beatitude and deathlessness.”[13]French-American Catholic intellectual René Girard defines religion as “any phenomenon associated with the acts of remembering, commemorating, and perpetuating a unanimity that springs from the murder of a surrogate victim.”[14]These are classic essentialist definitions of religion. The problem is that jihadists believe in one religion alone: Islam. When they employ the term “religion” (din), it has no plural or generic connotations, thus making scholarly definitions of religion marginally useful as analytical frameworks for understanding the global jihadist movement.

It is true that Rose’s and Girard’s definitions of religion could be applied in the broad sense to the global jihadist movement. But the quest for beatitude and deathlessness and commemorating the murder of a surrogate victim is unlikely to help comprehension of the jihadist mindset and agenda. Any profitable investigation of the religious dimension of the global jihadist movement must begin with Islam, not with what the global jihadist movement might share in common with Buddhism.

It is, of course, not illegitimate to investigate whether there might be intrinsic links between religion and violence. But this is a separate question from that of the role of the religion of Islam (din al-Islam) in jihadist thought and action, and conflating the two does not aid an understanding of the latter. The Christian Crusades of the 12th and 13th centuries or the German church’s entanglement with the Third Reich do not illuminate the thought, motivations, and goals of twenty-first-century jihadists. Yet these kinds of issues constantly intrude into discussion of the global jihadist movement.

Conclusion

The false dichotomy of religion vs. politics has long hamstrung analysis and discussion of the West’s conflict with contemporary jihadists. Instead of adhering to this facile and dated paradigm, Western academics, journalists, and policymakers should shed their longstanding denial of the role of Islamic theology in contemporary jihadism. Recognizing that the West confronts a potent “Islamic political theology” in the form of the global jihadist movement will be a first step towards understanding the true nature of one of its most enduring security challenges.

Jonathan Cole holds a Ph.D. in political theology from Charles Sturt University and an MA specializing in Middle Eastern studies from the Australian National University. He has worked as a senior terrorism analyst at the Office of National Assessments and the Australian Signals DirectorateNotes


[1] Taqi ad-Din an-Nabhani, Nidham al-Hukm fi-l-Islam, expanded and revised by Abd al-Qadim Zallum (Hizb at-Tahrir Publications, Online, 2002), pp. 13-14.

[2] Qur. 5:44. All English translations of Qur’anic passages are taken from N. J. Dawood, trans., The Koran (London: Penguin Classics, 2006). The word translated here as “unbelievers” (kafirun) is the same word that is often translated as “infidel.”

[3] “Unbelievers” is exchanged for “wrongdoers” (dhalimun) in verse 45 and “ungodly” (fasiqun) in verse 47.

[4] Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, “This Is What God Has Promised,” June 29, 2014.

[5] See, for example, Qur. 2:30, which is also cited in the ISIS proclamation: “This is what God has promised.”

[6] D.F. Wright, “Theology,” in Martin Davie et al., eds., The New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic, 2nd ed. (Downers Grover, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2016), p. 903.

[7] Jason Blum, “Pragmatism and Naturalism in Religious Studies,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion, 2 (2011), p. 84.

[8] Thomas Hegghammer, “Jihadi-Salafis or Revolutionaries? On Religion and Politics in the Study of Militant Islamism,” in Roel Meijer, ed., Global Salafism: Islam’s New Religious Movement (London: Hurst and Company, 2009), p. 264.

[9] Olivier Roy, “Who Are the New Jihadis,” The Guardian (London), June 5, 2017.

[10] Ibid.[11] Asma Afsaruddin, “Islamist Militants Carry out Terror, not Jihad,” Religion News Service, June 9, 2017.

[12] Sun Tzu, The Art of War (Berkeley: Ulysses Press, 2007), chap. 3:18.[13] Kenneth Rose, Pluralism: The Future of Religion (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), p. 12.

[14] René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (London: Continuum, 2005), p. 333.

Interview with the Prophet

Interview with the Prophet

After every terrorist attack, we hear contradictory rules about assigning blame for the attack. Should we only blame the perpetrators of the attacks? Or their ideologies as well? Or perhaps anyone who shares any views with the attacker, whether these views are related to the attack or not? Fortunately for us, history’s greatest authority on terrorism, the Prophet Muhammad himself, agreed to do an interview with David Wood. Now when someone brings up the Christchurch Mosque Massacre or some other mass shooting, you’ll have insights from Prophet Muhammad himself. (Guest starring Vocab Malone!) PATREON: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=3615911 PAYPAL: https://www.paypal.me/Acts17Apologetics TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Acts17 FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?… MINDS: https://www.minds.com/Acts17Apologetics BITCHUTE: https://www.bitchute.com/channel/davi… WEBSITE: http://www.acts17.net#Muhammad#DavidWood#VocabMalone

Category

Education

Why We Are Losing to Political Islam


We need to stop and understand that we are losing and why we are losing. If you like my channel, click the notification bell. Sign up for Bill Warner’s newsletter at http://www.politicalislam.com Buy Bill’s books at: http://www.politicalislam.com/shop Follow Bill Warner: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/billwarnerau… Twitter: https://twitter.com/PoliticalIslam Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/politicalislamhttps://www.minds.com/PoliticalIslamhttps://vimeo.com/user40284186 Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-460569656 Minds: https://www.minds.com/PoliticalIslam Gab: https://gab.ai/PoliticalIslam