Clare Lopez: Superb essay here by Hugh Fitzgerald – very clear, scholarly while still very readable – explains what jihad is & where it comes from – hint: its practitioners are now living among us because we were foolish enough to let them in
Jihad Watch, by Hugh Fitzgerald, March 31, 2017:
This is the rhetorical question — “no” being the only conceivable response — that the Iranian-born David Shariatmadari, now living in the U.K., asked in a recent article in The Guardian.
He began his exercise in taqiyya by insisting that while in the late 20th and early 21st century, some Muslims have begun to resort to “jihadi terrorism,” such a weapon had never before been used in the 1400-year history of Islam. And since nothing had changed in the message of Islam – the texts have remained the same since Islam’s beginning – what could explain this sudden appearance, in the late 20th century, of “jihadi terrorism”?
Shariatmadari locates the cause in the “political economic, military, and social changes in the Middle East.” He deplores the fact that many non-Muslims are starting to seek in the Qur’an the explanation of Muslim violence. He quotes the philosopher Roger Scruton as saying “that we need to deal with these difficult suras,” and notes condescendingly of Scruton that “it’s not an unreasonable thought if you’re unfamiliar with Islam.” For Shariatmadari says that what’s in the Qur’an “provides an easy-to-grasp account of acts that otherwise seem inexplicable. Who knows (or can be bothered to find out) what those verses [really] say, and how they can be interpreted?” Yes, Infidels will misunderstand the Qur’anic verses – they can’t “be bothered to find out” what they really mean – that is, will take them literally, and in this manner, will explain the phenomenon of “jihadi terrorism.”
However, he doesn’t feel obliged to let his readers decide for themselves what Qur’anic verses may mean. He fails to quote a single verse or sentence or phrase from the Qur’an or Hadith. Shariatmadari wants you to stay well away from those texts, insisting that “a proper explanation [for Muslim terrorism and violence] isn’t to be found here [in the Islamic texts].” In fact, the Qur’an gets in the way of a meaningful inquiry: “all it [looking into the Qur’an] really does is stand in the way of a proper investigation. It’s like a sign that says ‘look here and no further,’ obscuring sometimes a little too conveniently, far more complex causes.” So let’s have no more talk about the Qur’an.
Shariatmadari says we have to “look beyond the [Islamic] texts.” Why? Is it because the texts are beyond an Infidel’s understanding, and would only confuse him, as he implies, or is it, rather, that the texts are all too clear – and have been for 1400 years – in commanding the use of violence and terror against the Infidels?
Few will agree with Mr. Shariatmadari that looking into the Qur’an “stand[s] in the way of a meaningful inquiry” into Islam. It is, in fact, the only way to find out what Islam teaches. And when he mocks those who claim that “Islam is especially predisposed towards violence,” this makes one even more eager to take a look at those texts. So let’s round up the usual Qur’anic suspects. Here are just four of the most telling:
Qur’an (3:151) – “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority“
Quran (8:12) – “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them”
Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.
Quran (9:29) – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
There are more than one hundred other verses in the Qur’an that are all about violence and terror. Shariatmadari does not mention, not even in an attempt to explain away, by “contextualizing,” any of the 109 Jihad verses, and the violence that runs through the Qur’an and the Hadith. He keeps up his extended mockery of those who want to draw conclusions from what is in those texts: “Who knows (or can be bothered to find out) what those verses say, and how they have been interpreted?” Well, many Unbelievers have not been dissuaded from finding out “what those verses say”and “how they have been interpreted” is clear from the 1400-year behavior of Muslims. If 1.5 billion Muslims can find out “what those verses say” then so can I, and so can you, and so can any man. And we discover those commands to Believers, telling them to engage in violent Jihad against, and to terrorize the Infidels, the very verses cited by al-Awlaki and al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden and other leaders or members of terror groups, so scrupulous in adducing textual justification for their acts.
These verses are prescriptive, valid for all time, for Muslims everywhere. Can similar verses commanding violence and terror against an enemy, and prescriptive rather than descriptive, be found in the Jewish scriptures? In the New Testament? Robert Spencer notes the significance of this difference: “Indeed, throughout history, these texts[in the Bible] have never been taken as divine commands that either must be or may be put into practice by believers in a new age. All these passages, after all, are descriptive, not prescriptive. They nowhere command believers to imitate this behavior, or to believe under any circumstances that God wishes them to act as his instruments of judgment in any situation today.”