Islam Warriors Looking For
article, superbly explains why the fight against Islamic terrorism
without taking into account Islam itself is
came as a shock to Americans. It was like a blow from someone in the
shadows - someone that they don't know or understand. The Chinese
Strategist Sun Wu who wrote the "Art of War" said:
"Know thyself and know thy enemy. One hundred battles, one
people in the civilized world still argue what 911 was all about. Some
argue that it is about poverty and lack of democracy in the Muslim
world. Others say it is about Israel. These may be contributory
factors. Yet the Chinese occupy Tibet for decades without provoking
suicide bombers. The British occupied Gibraltar for centuries without
triggering violence from Spaniards. There is poverty in Africa, Latin
America and Asia. Yet these people don't turn to terrorism and suicide
There is more at
work here than just poverty or US Middle East policies. Unfortunately,
the politically correct crowd has not followed Sun Wu's advice to
"Know thy enemy". They must be made to realize that
September 11 was just another chapter of the history of jihad, which
began nearly 14 centuries ago.
It was Prophet
Mohammed himself who led the first jihad against the infidels. At the
crucial battle of Badr, the flame of jihad was kindled. It is a spirit
that inspires extraordinary courage that is terrifying to the enemies
There are two
kinds of jihad - the lower and the higher kind. The lower jihad is
fought on the battlefield. The higher jihad is a struggle to improve
oneself. But it is the lower jihad that one attains the prize of
martyrdom. Militant Muslim scholars argue that it is the duty of
Muslims to spread the religion by conversion if possible or by force
of arms if military power comes to them.
said: "Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they
are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the
conquest of (other) countries that the writ of Islam is obeyed in
every country in the world.”
At the battle of
Badr, the Muslims were outnumbered by the Meccans. The Prophet was
worried and prayed fervently. Nine hundred well armed Meccans with
seven hundred camels and a hundred horses faced three hundred Muslims.
The Prophet said:
“If the Muslims were defeated that day, Allah would never be
Then he fainted
and when he opened his eyes, there was a smile on his lips. He had
seen the angel Gabriel in a dream coming to help the Muslims. Then he
told his men: “By God in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no man
will be slain this day fighting against them with steadfast courage,
advancing not retreating, but God will cause him to enter Paradise.”
A soldier who
heard these words flung away the dates he was eating and plunged into
the enemy, fighting till he was killed. When the Prophet was asked
what would make Allah joyous with his servant, he replied: “When he
plunges into the midst of the enemy without mail.”
At a critical
moment in the battle of Badr, a dust storm blew, blinding the Meccans.
The angels led by Gabriel galloped in to aid the Muslims. The Meccans
lost and fled. The lesson from Badr is that a Muslim’s thoughts
should focus on martyrdom and leave it to Allah to secure victory. In
the long run, Allah would assure them victory. In the short run, they
might suffer defeat. But death even in defeat only hastens their entry
into paradise. So, either way they win. Strategy is important but
reliance in Allah must take precedence over man made strategies. This
is the spirit of jihad. This is the spirit that inspires the members
This spirit is
best summed up in a hadith from Sahih al Bukhari where the Prophet
said: "Know that Paradise is under the shade of swords". It
is really an invitation to die for Allah.
That is why Holy
Warriors from the 7th century to the present day followers of Osama
bin Laden are so dangerous. As I argued in my article, "Once were
Warriors", Islam was designed to facilitate Arab imperialism. It
is a warrior's religion and few ancient armies fighting with swords,
bows and spears could defeat them as you will see when I continue my
jihad continued and the Muslims were defeated at the battle of Uhud.
What happened was that a group of archers disobeyed orders to guard
the rear, rushed forward to get their share of booty, thinking that
victory was theirs. This allowed the Meccans to launch a cavalry
charge into the opening and won the day.
But Muslims found
victory in defeat. The Muslims lost because of the sin of greed for
gold. The Muslims learned the lesson that sin leads to defeat. Defeat
on the battlefield thus led them to victory in the higher jihad - the
inner struggle to purify oneself of sin. The Koran said in 3:139:
"Lose not heart, nor fall into despair: for ye must gain mastery
if ye are true in faith."
renewal will pave their way to eventual victory. Verse 3:166 says:
" What ye suffered on the day the two armies met, was with the
leave of Allah, in order that He might test the believers."
Thus with the
example of Uhud before them, members of Al-Qaeda will not be deterred
by defeat in Afghanistan. Instead, they will see it as a test of faith
and a lesson from Allah to purify themselves from sin and to
rededicate themselves to Allah's cause.
It was this faith
that enabled the Muslims to conquer Arabia in the 7th century. At this
point they were about to explode into history. In about 628, the Roman
Emperor, Heraclius was in Jerusalem. It was there that he received a
letter from Mohammed, asking him to become a Muslim. This was in fact
an invitation to surrender to Allah and his Prophet. Failure to do so
meant war. Mohammed also sent letters to the rulers of Persia,
Abysinnia, Bahrain and Oman.
Some things have
not changed in 14 centuries. In a letter to America, purportedly
written by Osama bin Laden published in the Observer on November 24th,
the terrorist leader (or holy warrior depending on which side you are
"As for the
second question that you want an answer: What are we calling you to,
and what do we want from you?
(1) The first
thing that we are calling you to is Islam."
His confidence in
eventual victory is shown from this verse from the Koran (61:9) that
he quoted in the letter:
"It is He who
has sent his Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth
(Islam), to make it victorious over all other religions even though
the Polytheists hate it."
Towards the end of
the letter, Osama said:
Americans refuse to listen to our advice and the goodness, guidance
and righteousness that we call them to, then be aware that you will
lose this crusade Bush began, just like the other Crusades in which
you were humiliated by the hands of the Mujahideen, fleeing to your
home in great silence and disgrace."
Now, let us get
back to the 7th century. Mohammed died in 632 and Abu Bakr became the
first Caliph (successor). He told the assembled Muslims:
"Obey me as
long as I obey God and His apostle, and if I disobey them you owe me
words opened the door to rebellion for future rulers of Muslim lands
right up to this present day - making Muslims a prickly bunch of
people for any ruler to handle. The need for compromise from unbending
orthodoxy makes Muslim states vulnerable to charges of disobedience to
(October 13, 2001) reported that an 80 year old cleric, Sheik Hamoud
bin Ogla an-Shuaibi issued a fatwa against the ruling Saudi family.
When summoned by the authorities to explain himself, he said:
backs the infidel against Muslims is considered an infidel."
This sentiment is
common in Saudi Arabia and that is why Osama bin Laden is such a hero
there. When the King invited the Americans to deal with Saddam Hussein
after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, bin Laden was furious.
This is because
the last injunction that the Prophet gave was: "Let not two
religions be left on the Arabian Peninsula."
The Koran (5:51)
also says: "Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians
for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you
seeks their friendship shall become one of their number."
Clearly, it is
against scripture to allow the infidel Americans to put their boots on
sacred Arabian soil. Trying to explain that they need the military
strength of the infidel United States to protect Saudi Arabia from the
powerful Iraqi army do not impress men of faith.
Did not Allah
grant the impoverished mujahideen victory against the Soviet Union?
What is Saddam Hussein compared to a superpower? It was clear to Osama
and Sheik Hamoud that the House of Saud preferred to rely on the
infidels rather than on Allah. Therefore, can they really be true
believers? Osama got angrier when the Americans did not go home after
Saddam was defeated.
to moderate Muslims, is permissible only for self-defense. But what is
considered as self-defense? To Muslims like Osama, having infidel
troops on sacred Arabian soil is an offense to Islam and merits a
jihad. The clause of self-defense opens a wide loop-hole for creative
Osama is of course
not the first to declare jihad against "Christendom". Under
Umar, the second Caliph, Christendom lost Egypt, Palestine and Iraq.
Byzantine armies weakened by years of warfare against the Persians
were no match for the Arab warriors who could hide in the desert where
the Romans could not go. The Christians were also weakened by
division. The Emperor favored the Orthodox Church and the Nestorians,
Monophysites and Copts resented this.
Under Umar, the
ancient Persian Empire was also partially conquered. After Umar came
Uthman and later Ali (Mohammed’s son-in-law), the last of the
Rashidun Caliphs. Ali did not last long and was murdered by one of his
followers, a Kharajite, for compromising with Muawiya. Of the four
"rightly guided" Caliphs, only Abu Bakr died a natural
death. Muawiya was the son of Abu Sufyan, Mohammed's old enemy before
he converted to Islam (i.e. submitted to Allah and his Prophet).
Muawiya became a
great Caliph. When he died, the Umayyad empire stretched from the
Maghreb to the Sind in India. Civil war started soon after he died. In
the internecine warfare, Prophet Mohammed's grandson, Husayn (Ali’s
son) was killed by the forces of Yazid, the son of Muawiya at the
battle of Karbala.
His head was cut
off and presented to Yazid and kicked around like a football. Such
irreverence to the Prophet's family make me wonder if Abu Sufyan and
his family were true believers. More likely, Abu Sufyan (who lost two
sons fighting Mohammed at Badr) converted to preserve his life. That
is why the Koran and Hadiths recorded that there were many hypocrites
who were constantly plotting against the Prophet.
I suspect that Abu
Sufyan’s family had a blood feud against Mohammed’s family in
which they finally won. Even today, Bedouin families still wage blood
feuds. Abu Sufyan and his family may not be true believers but
hijacked the Islamic movement for their own purposes. This topic could
be the subject of a speculative article on Islam’s early days. But I
digress too much. Let’s get back to the history of jihad.
Within fifty years
of the death of the Prophet there were three rival Caliphs at each
other's throats. Abdal Malik (a son of Abu Sufyan’s nephew) emerged
the victor and became a great Caliph. The empire grew larger than
before and lasted till 750.
During this time,
another attempt was made to take Constantinople in 717. Muawiya had
tried and failed because of lack of winter provisions. This new jihad
against Christendom was led by Maslama, the brother of the Caliph,
Suleyman. The Muslim force comprised of 180,000 Arabs and 1,800 ships.
The Byzantines repulsed them with Greek fire and the energetic efforts
of Emperor Leo. The Muslims retreated and Constantinople became the
eastern gate that shut out the Muslim tide for another eight centuries
till it fell to the Turks.
forces were more successful. Spain fell and the tide of jihad entered
France. Charles Martel stopped them there at the battle of Poitiers.
This was the western gate and Christendom was saved. If the Franks had
been defeated, Gibbons said:
interpretation of the Koran would be taught in the schools of Oxford,
and her pulpits demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and
truth of the revelation of Mahomed."
Decline set in
eventually. The Umayyad Caliphs were irreligious and I suspect some of
the Caliphs may not have been true believers. For example, Caliph
Walid II stuck a Koran on his lance and shot arrows at it! He said to
threats against the stubborn opponent. Well then, I am a stubborn
opponent myself. When you appear before God at the day of resurrection
just say: My lord, al-Walid has torn me up."
His court was full
of debauchery. He surrounded himself with poets, dancing girls and
musicians. The Umayyads have always been considered “godless” by
their opponents and failed to satisfy the pious.
According to noted
Islamic historian, Rafiq Zakaria, "it was their betrayal of the
concept of Islamic brotherhood, irrespective of race and language,
that brought them down."
He is echoing a
familiar theme among Muslim historians. Decline will always come when
Muslims forget Allah's commandments as had happened in Uhud. Renewal
lies in a return to the first principles as taught by the Prophet.
This theme will play again and again throughout the centuries right up
to the present day. For the Muslim, history is a cycle of rise and
fall and then renewal.
In 750, a general,
Abul Abbas invited 80 Umayyad nobles to his home for dinner and
slaughtered them. This ended the Umayyad dynasty with the exception of
Spain. Abbas established the Abbasid caliphate, which reached its peak
at the time of Harun al Rashid. Then it too declined and the Caliph
was reduced to being a figurehead. The empire was in reality divided
up by rival groups.
fast-forward to the Crusades. By the 11th century, Christendom was
strong enough to mount a counterattack. In 1061, Count Roger invaded
Muslim Sicily and Sicily returned to Christendom in 1091. In 1085,
Frankish knights fought alongside Spaniards to recover Toledo. The
re-conquest of Spain had begun. But Muslim power was still potent and
made inroads against the tottering Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine
Empire was defeated at Manzikert and never recovered.
In 1095, Byzantine
Emperor Alexius Comnenus I asked the Pope for help. In the same year,
Pope Urban II launched the first Crusade to help the ailing empire and
to recover the Holy Land, which was originally part of the Byzantine
By 1099, the
Crusaders captured Jerusalem and massacred Jews and Muslims. The loss
of Sicily and the Holy Land was a humiliation for Muslims. The third
most sacred city, Jerusalem with its Dome on the Rock was under
infidel rule and Crusader states were established.
But in 1187,
Saladin declared jihad and recaptured Jerusalem after defeating the
Christian army at Hattin. The defenders threatened to destroy Al Aqsa
and the Dome on the Rock. A deal was struck. In exchange for ransom,
the Christians could leave. Saladin kept his word and not a Christian
To many modern
Muslims, the Crusades are still fresh in their memories. The presence
of Israel is a humiliation for them. To people like Osama bin Laden,
Israel is a modern Crusader State supported by the USA. Muslims are
waiting for a modern day Saladin to restore the Ummah to power and
understand why Allah seems to have deserted them. Muslims are amongst
the poorest and least educated people in the world ruled mostly by
tyrants who appear to be doing the bidding of the infidel Americans.
To them, it should not be this way. Many Muslims still dream of their
golden past when their green pennants fluttered proudly from Spain to
What makes the
humiliation worse is that the infidel west is corrupting the minds of
Muslims with their ubiquitous alien culture. Many Muslim women are
envious of the freedom that their occidental sisters enjoy, which
brings shudders to the conservative. Western ideas about democracy are
seductive and are a challenge to the Muslim model of the Islamic state
where all laws are made not by man but by God as revealed through the
This lament for
their low estate can be seen in a poem, called Shikwa, written by
Iqbal, an ideologue of the Pakistan movement. The poem asks why Allah
is unfaithful to Muslims when Muslims remain faithful to Him. A part
of the poem says:
are showered on homes of unbelievers, strangers all.
Only on the poor
Muslim, Your wrath like lightning falls.”
To other Muslims,
it must be because they have not been faithful enough to Allah. The
solution is greater piety and sacrifices. To the members of Al-Qaeda,
keeping faith with Allah means martyrdom. Greater devotion will lead
to renewal of the Ummah as happened many times in Islamic history.
That is why some see Osama bin Laden as the new Saladin coming to
restore Muslims to their rightful place in the world. The sad truth
is, as I argued in “How Islam failed Muslims”, that Islam retarded
However, I would
like to add that the Islamic world is by no means monolithic. No
religion is. Not all Muslims will see things the way I described in
this article. But many do. The danger is that political correctness
may have blinded many westerners to the dangers. Such people like to
insist that Islam means peace. And that Osama’s ideas do not
represent the “real Islam”.
The truth is a lot
more complex. It does not matter what real Islam is. There is a
militant component in Islam and there are many Muslims whose worldview
is as I described. For those afflicted with political correctness, let
me leave you will a quote for Ayatollah Khomeini:
“But those who
study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the
whole world. Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam
counsels against war. Those (who say this) are witless. “
If you are one of
the politically correct, I think he was referring to you.