We are Against Hate, Not Faith

Jihad – the four forms and the West

Jon MC

This article was originally published several years ago. Following a request for it’s re-publication I have taken the opportunity to update it and correct a few minor errors.

 In the west we often interpret “jihad” as “waging war in the name of Allah” or “Islamic holy war”. This is not without justification, but it also annoys and upsets many Muslims who see jihad as a “supreme effort” to lead a “godly personal and social life”.

Thus Muslim scholar Mahmoud Ayoub states that “The goal of true jihad is to attain a harmony between Islam (submission), iman (faith), and ihsan (righteous living).”

Again, Pakistani scholar and professor Fazlur Rahman Malik has used the term to describe the struggle to establish “a just moral-social order“.

Whilst these definitions seem utterly innocuous, it has to be remembered that in the eyes of Islam – and thus its scholars – “righteous living” and “a just moral-social order” can only be found when living in a society ordered by Shari’ah Law (or, for the really picky, a given interpretation thereof) thus for non-Muslims perhaps these definitions are not quite so harmless as they might at first appear.

Whilst many Muslim apologists would like us to believe that Jihad has only non-violent connotations, it is worth noting that from the word “Jihad” (root = jhd) we get words such as “Mujahid” and “Mujahideen” meaning (in practice at least) [Muslim] “fighter/soldier” and “band of fighters/soldiers” respectively, which rather belies the “peaceful only” interpretation of jihad.

Furthermore Muslim jurists explained that there are four kinds of jihad fi sabili Allahi (“jihad in the way of Allah”):

  • Jihad of the heart/soul (jihad bil qalb/nafs) is concerned with combating “evil” (i.e. un-Islamic) desires and the devil in the attempt to escape his persuasion to evil. In other words it is the “internal” jihad.

  • Jihad by the tongue/pen (jihad bil lisan/qallam) is concerned with spreading the word of Islam with one’s tongue or writing and the verbal (or written) defence of Islam.

  • Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) refers to choosing to do what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong in Islamic terms with action, e.g. protest, demanding “special consideration” etc. Some writers see this “hand-jihad” as subsuming the sword-jihad (below{1}).

  • Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabili Allahi ([armed] fighting in the way of Allah, or holy war), this is the most common usage by Salafi and Wahhabi Muslims and the most ancient. For example, Sahih Bukhari (the pre-eminent Hadith collection of Sunni Islam) has almost 200 references to jihad and 98% (~196) of them refer to it in the sense of armed warfare against non-Muslims{2}.

This is not the only way in which Muslim scholars have classified Jihad (see for example “An exegesis on Jihad in Islam” which deserves a reading) but I think the above is the clearest from the non-Muslim perspective.

Thus whilst jihad is not only warfare, it most certainly encompasses warfare, as history and the Islamic sources comprehensively demonstrate and it is even reasonable to say that jihad is mostly about warfare, since the majority of references to it in both hadith and Koran refer to sword-jihad.

Indeed, within classical Islamic jurisprudence jihad is the only form of warfare permissible under Sharia law, and consists of wars against non-Muslims, apostates, rebels, dissenters renouncing the authority of Islam (i.e. heretics) and (curiously) highway robbers. Thus all war carried out by Muslims is (or should be) jihad{3}.

It is also worth noting that the primary aim of sword-jihad is not the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force, but the expansion of the Islamic state (K.13:41) and its defence, as is well attested in history (e.g. the Eastern Christian, now part of the Islamic, world). This fact belies the “defence only” interpretation also used by some apologists.

That jihad is not primarily intended to convert needs a little further explanation. Whenever Islam conquered territory it generally allowed its subjugated peoples three choices:

  1. To convert.

  2. To accept the third-class status of dhimmi.

  3. To face a merciless war of annihilation.

Strictly, the second choice is only available to “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians) and, according to some authorities, Zoroastrians and Sabians (these two terms may be synonyms); but where a war of annihilation was not readily practicable it was extended to other peoples (e.g. the Hindus and Buddhists of the Indian sub-continent whose numbers were too vast to be readily annihilated by the Muslim conquistadors).

Excursus:

Many Muslims will thus claim that “Islam was not spread by the sword”, but this depends on precisely what is meant. In Europe, Arabia, Persia, the Levant, Anatolia, India and Africa jihad bis saif was used to conquer the lands, and the oppressive dhimmitude system was used to gradually convert their peoples, since (generally) one could not be a citizen without being Muslim and the dhimmi lived with great uncertainty and fear. Let me state that this was not invariably so and history relates that in several periods of the Islamic hegemony non-Muslims – usually Jews or Christians – did indeed rise to prominence usually within what we would term “the civil (or public) service”. Equally, there were also periods of pogrom and active persecution, which regrettably continue to today in some parts of the Islamic world – i.e. those countries with majority Muslim populations.

Thus, in general, Islam did not “convert by the sword” in the sense of offering the choice “become Muslim or I will kill you”, but it did do so in the sense that it used the “sword” to gain territory and then set up a system that so discriminated against the non-Muslim that gradual conversion under social, economic, legal and political pressures inevitably followed, albeit with various degrees of success worldwide.

From the point of the non-Muslim it is perhaps relevant to note that of the four forms of jihad, three are aimed at non-Muslims.

An amplification and (partial) exemplification of these forms follows:

  • Jihad by the tongue(jihad bil lisan) and/or jihad by the pen (jihad bil qallam). This might sound like simple proslytisation, but there is more involved in that (in essence) Islam recognises any method including lying or dissimulation (see the doctrines of Taqiyya/Muda’rat, Kitman, Tawriya and also Tayseer) to “spread Islam” either in terms of actually winning converts, or gaining acceptance for Islam within a host society, or disguising elements of Islam (hence the oft repeated statement that “Islam is a religion of peace” despite much evidence to the contrary from both its texts and its actions). It would also include attempting to silence criticism of Islam by labelling critics as “racists”, “fascists” or “Islamophobes” or any verbal/written means to promote/defend Islam and/or silence opposition and critics.

  • Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad). It is important to realise that “what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong” must be understood from the point of view of Shariah Law systems, which define “right and wrong” by law (thus what is actually defined is “lawful” or ‘halal’ and “unlawful” or ‘haram’ which stands in place of the morality of right and wrong). Shariah Law systems often define “injustice” as anything that interferes with or prevents Muslims living their lives in a fully Sharia-compliant manner and the instruments of that “injustice” it labels as “oppression”.

    Thus hand-jihad would include demands for time off work for prayer; special (Muslim-only) washing facilities; Muslim or Muslim-women-only sessions in swimming baths, libraries and other Public facilities; that women doctors be continually available to treat Muslim women throughout the Healthcare system; that Halal food be supplied by default in public institutions; that Muslims be permitted not to handle “haram” things such as pork or alcohol in shops/businesses when all other employees would be required so to do; that ‘Sharia Courts’ (in the U.K. they are officially called “Muslim arbitration Tribunals”) be set up for Muslims; that the Police show special care and consideration when entering Muslims’ houses. Please note that the above are all things which have been demanded by UK Muslims and acquiesced to by UK governments, councils and, in the case of “special treatment of Muslim homes”, the Police Authorities (ACPO guidelines). That criticism of Islam be forbidden (see “vilification of religion” – U.N. resolution, proposed by the Organization of the Islamic Conference or Cooperation and it’s successor document ’16/18 “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against, persons based on religion or belief”’ which led to the on-going – as of 2013 “Istanbul process”),or at least heavily curtailed legally. It would also include staging (violent) protests against anything giving “offence” to Muslims – from Remembrance Day and returning troops to anything derogatory about Mohammed, the Koran, or Islam in general; e.g. books, cartoons, plays, films etc. Another aspect of this is “lawfare”- legal warfare. In America this primarily takes the form where someone who makes “defamatory” comments about Islam (etc.) is sued in the Courts by Muslim advocacy groups. This always has the effect of tying them up in legal matters and may also bankrupt them. Thus the threat of lawfare adds to the pressure to silence criticism. In Europe, things may be even worse: in several European Countries the State has taken over the job of “lawfare” against its own majority population. In these cases the criticism of Islam brings, not a civil law-suit, but criminal persecution (sorry, that’s “prosecution”) by the state – even if what is said is true. Examples include Geert Wilders (Holland), Lars Hedegaard (Denmark){4}, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff (Austria) to name but three three high-profile cases. And convictions have followed, thus proving that the truth and fact are no defence (a position perfectly consonant with Islamic Sharia, see conditions set in the “Pact of Umar”).

A further element to this could involve something as simple as the building of large mosques, preferably on high-ground so that the building (or its minaret) symbolically “dominates” the surrounding landscape thus making sure that people have to “look up to Islam”. If this last sounds ridiculous, remember that in many Muslim Countries the Christian Church (etc.) many not be higher than, nor built within a given radius of, a Mosque. Thus in Islamic Countries the relative heights of Church (or temple etc.) and Mosque are used to show the dominance of Islam.

It is worth pointing out that both the two types of Jihad referred to above are at least as effective at spreading Islam as is warfare/terrorism.

Some Western commentators refer to these forms of Jihad as “stealth Jihad”, an apt description since both lead to the gradual acceptance of elements of Shariah Law as normative within a host society, generally without any fuss (or even awareness) on the part of the larger community, amongst whom it is passed off as “religious tolerance”, see examples above.

The Muslim Brotherhood and similar groups refer to this as “civilisation jihad” because they see it as a means to adapt and ultimately convert non-Muslim civilisations to and into Muslim ones, they would also see this as a process of “civilising” the non-Muslims of course. As their own documents put it: “[civilisation jihad is] a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their own hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Thus we can see that the aims of hand-jihad are wide-ranging, indeed globally encompassing.

  • Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif), or more simply, sword-jihad. According to Muslim Jurists this refers to “qital fee sabeeli Allahi.” This phrase means “fight[ing] in the way of Allah”. This is significant since it equates, depending on context, the Koranic phrase “jahadooona fee sabeeli Allahi” “strive [or: make jihad] in the way of Allah” with “fight [qital] in the way of Allah”.

Thus (again) jihad encompasses fighting and the “qital” verses in the Koran have to be considered in the light that to “fight in the way of Allah” is “jihad” – or (more precisely) 98% thereof.

The question that then arises is what forms of “war” are permitted. As already stated, the primary aim of sword-jihad is to expand the Islamic state. That, ergo, makes sword-jihad offensive in nature, rather than defensive and means that Muslims; or, more accurately, the Islamic state, thinks it has a god-given right to attack non-Muslim countries. Indeed, it goes beyond this: Jihad is declared an obligatory religious duty and thus the Islamic state has a duty (strictly) to attack or raid its nearest non-Muslim neighbours (K9:123, 21:43-44) – except during a period of “hudna” or truce. Another duty placed on Muslims is to wage war on “oppressors” (K4:75). Islam regards as “oppressive” and “unjust” anything that interferes with Islamic life. Thus from the Islamic point of view, any state that is not based on Shariah law interpretations is an “oppressive” state vis-a-vis any Muslim minority within its borders, no matter how liberal, tolerant and accommodating that state may in fact be{5}.

The final element I wish to elucidate under this head is that of suicide bombing and whether or not this is permissible in Islam. On this, Islamic opinion itself is split, depending on the sources to which you refer; so the short answer is both “yes” and “no”. Those that say “yes” refer to the verse K9:5 which includes the phrase “ lie in ambush for them in every stratagem of war”, claiming that the suicide bombing is encompassed within the “every stratagem” and “ambush” of the verse. They also refer to K9:111 which contains the phrase “they fight in the way of God; they kill, and are killed” claiming this is a description of a “suicide” attack. Those that say “no” point out that in Islam suicide is forbidden (as well as offering alternative exegesis of the verses mentioned above). Thus there is no clear answer. What is clear, however, from the evidence of >20,000 terror attacks since 9/11 (as of Jan.2013) is that significant strands within Islam do believe this technique is justified, much to the sorrow of the whole world, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Although from both history and the Shariah, the primary meaning of jihad was offensive war against non-Muslims, with the advent of the western Colonial era some Muslim Theologians started to re-interpret jihad as being either a purely spiritual struggle (based primarily on Sufi teachings, from which we get the concept of “greater Jihad” here meaning a spiritual Jihad that can extend beyond “Jihad of the heart” into mysticism) or else as a defensive war (principally based on the writings of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, a 19th-century “reformist”{6} leader in India).

This came about due to the fact that during that time Islam (and Muslims) had little or no military power, having suffered the shock of defeat by the Colonial powers and this military failure seemed like a breach of Allah’s “war covenant” with the Muslims (2:216; 3:139-143, 3:195; 4:74, 47:35; 61:10-13; 48:20-21; 9:111,etc.). Thus, to explain this away, some Muslim Theologians attempted to recast Jihad as either completely non-violent or defensive only, sometimes as part of a genuine attempt at a degree of “re-thinking” of Islam led by thinkers of the ilk of Khan.

Whilst in the modern post-colonial era many strands of Islam have reverted to the more genuine definitions of jihad (if, indeed, they ever truly disregarded them), the “spiritual struggle” and “defence only” dogmas live on, primarily within Western Institutions. Indeed many University “Chairs” and Professors are keen to promote this dogma{7}, which is based on the attitudes of a small minority of Muslim thinkers.

Whilst I think that these false limitations of jihad to the spiritual realm and/or the defensive war theory have been adequately refuted above, an interesting line in polemics has arisen as a result, one that is used by the Islamist{8} faction as a “cover” for the primary purpose of jihad – offensive action against the Kaffir. It is a line parroted by various non-Muslim apologists who wish to make the victims of jihad (Muslim and non-Muslim, but primarily the latter) responsible for their own suffering rather than laying the responsibility with the perpetrators.

This is what may be termed the “offensive jihad as defensive war” theory, outlined below.

The polemicist starts out by making a case that Islam is (somehow) “oppressed” by the “kaffirs”(that’s non-Muslims) of the West. This is rather ironic in fact, since in many respects Muslims (especially if from a minority sect within their “home” Country) have more freedom to practice their religion in the West than they often do in their Country of origin. But nevertheless, the argument is made that since the west is not governed by the ‘god-given’ tenets of Sharia Law it is “oppressing” the Muslims within it{4}. Argument 1.

They also make the claim that the west is “oppressing” Muslims by interfering in Islamic countries, though the exact nature of this interference and why it is “oppressive” is seldom elucidated – except in the manner of a conspiracy theory or argument 1. Argument 2

Their final polemical argument is that since the West invaded Iraq and Afghanistan the West is fighting against Islam and has killed “thousands of innocent Muslims” (I have even seen some polemicists claiming “millions” rather than thousands). Argument 3

Excursus:

This latter-most claim of the three is risible, since the evidence from within majority Muslim Countries is that it is overwhelmingly the Muslims themselves who are joyously slaughtering their co-religionists. Indeed the Sunni-Shia fratricide has been part and parcel of the fabric of Islamic society since its earliest days and more recently the more “extreme elements” (who would be better called the more traditional and orthodox elements, or “Islamists”) in Sunni Islam (in particular) have also turned on their more liberal “brothers”, not to mention “sisters”. In particular Wahhabi and Salafi Islam have shown great willingness to carry out terrorist atrocities against their own in, for instance, Pakistan; which in the seven years of 2003-2010 suffered (in round terms) some 10,000 terrorist attacks which killed over 12,000 persons and injured many more, the vast majority of the victims being (naturally enough) Muslim. (Source BBC)

Pakistan is a largely Muslim Country that, with the passing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, underwent a period of rapid Islamification that accelerated under Zia ul-Haq.

Yet this Islamification has not been great enough nor fast enough for the Wahhabis in the Country and thus terror attacks are now commonplace in the Country which currently (2013) teeters on the brink of political and social collapse.

The most high-profile attack was the assassination of the Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) Presidential candidate in the 2007 election. The main motive for her murder was the orthodox Islamic view that no woman may rule a Country or people, thus she gave great offence to the orthodox Muslims (and, according to them, broke god-given Laws) when she “sinned” by standing for high office. She therefore “deserved” to be killed – and was duly murdered by a bomb.

Part of this world-view is neatly elucidated by the recent (Jan.2013) intervention of French forces in Mali to repel an invasive “Islamist” force that had taken over the north of the Country. The French intervention (along with Malian and other Muslim-African troops) was in direct response to calls for aid from the Muslim Malian government. Egyptian Salafist Muhammad Al-Zawahiri said in response to this action: “We are here to protest the French aggression against the Muslims. We consider any aggression against Muslims to be aggression against us all. We are required by the shari’a to repel it [by sword-jihad]. France must return to its senses and withdraw [from Mali] immediately, or else there will be dire consequences. Any Arab who collaborates with France is a traitor, who has betrayed the Islamic nation and all its peoples.” Thus in Zawahiri’s view one is being aggressive “against all Muslims” if you repel an invasion by Islamic (here Islamist) forces on the territory of a sovereign (Muslim) nation, but it is not aggression for Islamic (here Islamist) forces to invade and capture (part of) a sovereign (Muslim) Country “in the name of Islam”. Part of his angst is doubtless due to it being a bunch of “Kafirs” that are relieving his compatriots of their ill-gotten gains and his ignoring the presence of other Muslim forces which would undermine his “lookit what the nasty Kafirs are doing!” narrative is not surprising, but the underlying mind-set is also clear: all war carried out in the way of Allah is defensive, the only “aggression” is to resist such attacks/raids/invasions etc. even when the resistance is ultimately coming from other Muslims (whom Zawahiri sees as “not Muslim enough”).

Thus, goes the polemicist’s argument, the “West” has the blood of Muslims on its hands, which in turn means that it has “attacked Islam” and it is also oppressing Muslims both within the dar-ul-Islam (Islamic world) and the dar-ul-harb (literally “the house of war”, meaning here the non-Islamic world) and thus it is an obligatory duty on Muslims to wage a defensive sword-jihad against the oppressors until all oppression of Muslims is stopped throughout the World and (in some views) all those involved in killing Muslims have themselves been killed (many Sharia law systems admit only the death penalty for a non-Muslim who kills a Muslim).

Hence, it follows, that Muslims have the “right” to launch attacks on the kaffir west in order to “defend” themselves from “oppression” and revenge bloodshed.

To the Western mind these arguments are irrational since, taking our polemicist’s arguments in turn:

  1. Muslims choose to immigrate to the West and no one is stopping them leave if they feel “oppressed”.

  2. The oppression of Muslims in Islamic Countries is by their own dictatorial governments, rather than the West itself, hence the recent (2011) Mid. East unrest aka “the Arab Spring” directed at those governments rather than the West, which has led (2012) to the formation of a number of Islamist governments. It will be interesting to see if these governments are any less oppressive than their predecessors, thus far (Jan. 2013) the results are not encouraging to say the least and particularly so for their non-Muslim citizens{9}.

  3. a. The vast majority of the Muslim casualties are Muslim on Muslim killings, bombings, honour killings, etc.

b. The West had suffered terror attacks at the hands of “Islam” for nearly fifty years prior to its major (post-colonial) interventions in Muslim lands. Even the colonial period was but a century’s “blip” on the previous history of relentless Islamic expansionism. In the West this was only finally halted at the battle of Vienna in 1683{10}.

Setting aside this rather curious and convoluted polemical argument (the only real value of which is a matter of self-justification and obfuscation as to motive in killing people) we in the West are faced with the three facets of the Jihad doctrine that are aimed squarely at the non-Muslim.

Of these three sword-jihad is the least worrisome, at least in its current “terror attack” form.

That is not to minimise the trauma of its victims and their relatives. However, its impact on society is minor in terms of overall life loss or damage to the economy. (It is worth pointing out that even in 9/11 with its ~3000 fatalities, the death-toll was less than 10% that of the annual loss of life on America’s roads according to US government figures.)

Where it is effective, however, is in creating a certain level of fear that may well facilitate the other forms of jihad (“hand” and “tongue/pen”) in terms of getting special treatment for Muslims and acceptance of elements of Sharia as normative within our non-Islamic societies.

And that is the danger.

See also this article: “The Janus face of Islam” which reveals the chronological development of Jihad doctrine within Islam.

Afterword.

The West, or more accurately its political leaders, have been frightened by sword-jihad (and the more public manifestations of hand-jihad) as used against the West and as a consequence are appeasing Islam in areas covered by both tongue- and hand-jihad (as illustrated above). The only effect of this is to further embolden Muslims to request more concessions to “Islamic practice” and the result is the gradual Islamification of the Countries of the West{11}.

At present, this is a “work in progress”, but a look back over 20-30 years indicates the degree of progress that the (primarily) non-violent Jihad against the West has actually made in terms of self-censorship in the Media, “special provision” for Muslims, introduction of elements of Sharia Law interpretations, etc.

Since the game-plan of Islamist Jihad is clear – the incorporation of Kaffir territory within the Dar-ul-Islam – it should not be beyond the intellect of man (or even politician) to realise that appeasement of Islam is precisely and diametrically the wrong response; each concession simply brings in its wake the demand for the next. Whilst it might be unreasonable to draw too close a parallel to the “Islamification” of Pakistan, it still provides a salutary lesson as to the possible consequences of a “dash to Islam”. The lesson becomes even more salutary if one compares the current trajectories of India and Pakistan and/or Bangladesh (and this despite Indian “accommodations” to Indian Muslims).

Therefore to resist Jihad the West must deny all further demands for “special provision” for Muslims and indeed it must work to “roll back” those already made so that our Muslim citizens realise that they will simply be treated like anyone else – with neither fear nor favour.

I would wish to end on a positive note.

Fairly recently (2010-2011) several European politicians have made statements critical of multi-culturalism (which has been one of the disguises for much of the Islamification of the West) and the emphasis has moved to a degree towards integration and “social cohesion”.

Whilst the latter is merely a phrase, the real meaning of which (if any) is yet to be determined, an expectation that immigrants integrate is to be welcomed.

Then there are groups like the English Defence League, its European counterparts and groups like SION (the acronym is probably deliberately ironic/provocative, depending on your view), as well as a cohort of courageous speakers who publicly speak the truth about Islam. Whilst they may all be reviled in the press{12}, even that “bad publicity” often publicises the truth (albeit incidentally) and moves public opinion against appeasement of Islamist demands.

Thus, if this political trend continues I think that there is real hope that Islam’s Jihad against the West can be defeated.

Lan Asteslem!

(I will never submit.)

A post-script to U.S. readers.

Whilst I have described actual examples of Islamification within the UK, please do not imagine that the US is not in the same, or at least a similar, position. Your position may not be as severe – mostly since your Muslim population is that much smaller on a %age basis – but the US shows almost as many signs of Islamification as the UK or Europe.

Notes and references.

  1. Thus some Muslim writers regard “jihad of the hand” as including sword-jihad and thus have three categories of Jihad rather than four, thus seeing all violent (sword-jihad) actions as being “of the hand” along with relatively peaceful manifestations of this jihad type.

  2. See “Statistical Islam” or here. (I have a full pdf of this which no longer appears to be available.)

  3. History shows that “Jihads” have been declared by one Muslim ruler against another. Technically, this is wrong, since sword-Jihad is (supposed to be) aimed at the infidel. However, Muslim rulers resorted to the fiction of calling their opponents unbelievers or (worse) apostates. This attitude, though dating back to the Sunni/Shia split, is exemplified by the writings of Ibn Taymiya (1268-1328), who holds that Muslims who fail to live up to the requirements of their faith are themselves to be considered unbelievers, and so legitimate targets of jihad. In the 20th century Islamist thinkers like Hasan al-Banna (1906-49), Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), Abu al-A‘la Mawdudi (1903-79)as well as Ayatollah Ruollah Khomeini (1903-89) also promoted jihad against Muslim rulers who failed to live up to or apply the laws (Shariah) of Islam. The revolutionaries who overthrew the shah of Iran in 1979 and the assassins who gunned down President Anwar Sadat of Egypt espoused this doctrine, as do sections of the current crop (2011-2012) of protesters and reformers in the Arab world.

  4. Lars Hedegaard has now, as of 6th Feb 2013 survived two assassination attempts by Islamists intent on silencing a critic of Islam.

  5. This is often, at its simplest, the idea (used by Orwell in his book “1984”) that “freedom is slavery”. An example from history: Mohammed’s demand to the kingdom of Axum (Abyssinia) that they become Muslim was made notwithstanding the fact that Mohammed had sent some of his Meccan followers there for sanctuary, which the King of Axum granted (along with full freedom to both practice and preach Islam) even in the face of a Meccan embassy demanding their return. The Axumites recompense for their generosity, kindness and tolerance was a demand for their conversion coupled to a threat (later carried out) of invasion and war.

  6. Although called “reformists” this is a somewhat ironic description. If we analogise “Islamic reform” with the “Christian reformation” – which was about returning to the original teachings of the early Church, then Islamic “reformers” would be those usually called “radicals” or “extremists” in the West. As author Mark Durie states: “Understanding ‘reformation’ in this way, Wahhabism and Al Qa’ida are products of an Islamic reformation, i.e. they are attempts to go back to the example and teaching of Muhammad.” The irony here is that such a definition of reformation makes the self-styled “Muslim reformists” the true radicals within Islam, since theirs is the radical new interpretation of Islam. The above is not the only definition of “reform”, often it is used to mean in essence “change” (but who would want to be called a “changist”?), but a change in understanding etc. is not necessarily “reform” in the sense defined above, nor even in the sense of something “better”. What this means is that we have to be clear about what is meant by “reformists” in Islam, since both those we would normally (and erroneously) term “radicals/extremists” and “moderates” have laid a claim to the terminology.

  7. See this 2002 article by Daniel Pipes. In an admittedly small sample of 24 American Academicians he found that 20 held the view that Jihad had no violent component whatsoever, 3 held that jihad permitted defensive war and only 1 made any comment that, however elliptically, indicated that Jihad could be offensive.

  8. The use of the word “Islamist” is rejected by some critics of Islam, however I think that provided it is used with care, that is to describe a person who adheres to all the tenets of Islam, its use it acceptable. It is certainly preferable to “Muslim extremist” etc., in that it correctly identifies the fact that Islam itself is the source of his/her violent, intolerant, etc. beliefs.

  9. From the purely Islamist perspective of course, “oppression” only means a restriction on the full and complete implementation of their version of Shariah law. Thus (in theory at least) a fully Shari’ah compliant regime that oppressed non-Muslims would not be an “oppressive regime”.

  10. One of the curiosities from the Western perspective is how blinkered is the Islamic view of history. Muslims will still recount the “horrific atrocities” visited upon them by the Crusaders (which term is still used by many Muslims in the Mid.East and elsewhere to describe Western militaries) and of the “colonialists” whilst being either unaware of, or utterly disregarding, the incessant military expansionism that drove a millenia of Islamic history in several parts of the world along with levels of atrocity besides which those of the “crusaders” and “colonists” pale in comparison.

  11. For example: in the UK, it was discovered in 2010 (just google it) that many public Institutions are serving Halal meat by default and without bothering to inform the consumer. (The “justification” for this was that it was “too expensive” to cater separately for Muslims, therefore all non-Muslims had to be catered for as if they were Muslim.) Thus in the UK we have the (partial) Islamification of the meat trade. Halal slaughter can only be carried out by Muslims – so no non-Muslims may be slaughter-men. Halal certification is also required – more jobs for Muslims, as well as higher meat prices. The end result of this policy could be the closing of the meat trade to non-Muslims were all UK meat to become Halal “by default” not to mention the much greater cruelty to animals involved.

  12. Usually be being called “right wing”, “far-right” or even “fascist”. The underlying narrative of such opprobrium is that any person/group which does not uncritically subscribe to the multi-cultural paradigm is “a nasty piece of work”. This sort of stereotyping is of increasingly limited effect as information sources proliferate and misuse of such labels is laid bare.

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