""... "Jihad does not mean â€˜holy war,â€™" says the IIIT flyer, which originally ran in USA Today. "Literally, jihad in Arabic means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression."
This is the prevailing notion in academic circles today. Articulating the currently accepted orthodoxy, Duke University professor of Islamic studies Bruce Lawrence agreed that jihad doesnâ€™t mean "holy war": he defines this all-important Islamic concept as "being a better student, a better colleague, a better business partner. Above all, to control oneâ€™s anger." To its credit, the flyerâ€™s explanation goes farther than Lawrence by mentioning the battlefield, and in this it is more accurate than the professorâ€™s preposterously innocuous farrago. Islamic theology distinguishes between the "greater jihad," which involves "struggle against evil inclinations within oneself," and the "lesser jihad," which is hinted at here as "struggle in the battlefield for self defense or fighting against tyranny or oppression."
Still, left unmentioned is the fact that throughout history, Muslims have not stopped at self-defense or fighting against tyranny. "In premodern times," observes the noted scholar of Islam Daniel Pipes, "jihad meant mainly one thing among Sunni Muslims, then as now the Islamic majority. It meant the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims (known in Arabic as dar al-Islam) at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims (dar al-harb). In this prevailing conception, the purpose of jihad is political, not religious. It aims not so much to spread the Islamic faith as to extend sovereign Muslim power (though the former has often followed the latter). The goal is boldly offensive, and its ultimate intent is nothing less than to achieve Muslim dominion over the entire world."
Pipes adds: "Jihad was no abstract obligation through the centuries, but a key aspect of Muslim life. . . . Within a century after the prophetâ€™s death in 632, Muslim armies had reached as far as India in the east and Spain in the west. Though such a dramatic single expansion was never again to be repeated, important victories in subsequent centuries included the seventeen Indian campaigns of Mahmud of Ghazna (r. 998-1030), the battle of Manzikert opening Anatolia (1071), the conquest of Constantinople (1453), and the triumphs of Uthman dan Fodio in West Africa (1804-17). ......
Has this changed? Certainly itâ€™s quite different from the idea of jihad purveyed by Muslim groups and the major media today. But this older idea of jihad is alive and well in the Islamic world. One manual of Islamic law â€” said to conform "to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni Community" by Al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt, the oldest and most prestigious university in the Islamic world â€” calls jihad "a communal obligation" to "war against non-Muslims. . . . The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax . . . The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim."
Some Muslims assert that because there is no caliph today (the caliphate was abolished by the secular state of Turkey in 1924), there can be no jihad. Thatâ€™s one reason why some radical Muslims urge that the caliphate must be restored. Says Britainâ€™s Sheikh Omar Bakri: "The Muslim Ummah [worldwide Muslim community] has never before been in a position where we are divided into over 55 nations each with its own oppressive kufr [infidel] regime ruling above us. There is no doubt therefore that the vital issue for the Muslims today is to establish the Khilafah [caliphate]."
Unfortunately, Osama bin Laden isnâ€™t waiting for this restoration to declare jihad, and he is by no means isolated in this perspective in the Islamic world â€” witness the many terrorist groups around the world that rally under the name of jihad. Pipes asks, "And what about all the Muslims waging violent and aggressive jihads, under that very name and at this very moment, in Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao, Ambon, and other places around the world? Have they not heard that jihad is a matter of controlling oneâ€™s anger?"
3. Islam condemns terrorism. The "Q & A" asserts that "Islam does not support terrorism under any circumstances. Terrorism goes against every principle in Islam. If a Muslim engages in terrorism, he is not following Islam. He may be wrongly using the name of Islam for political or financial gain."
This assertion is closely allied to the differing explanations of the meaning of jihad. There is no necessary connection between jihad and terrorism, and indeed, many moderate Muslims declare that their extremist brethren who justify terrorism on Islamic grounds only do so by distorting the concept of jihad. "Jihad is misused," says an expert in PBSâ€™s documentary, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet. "There is absolutely nothing in Islam that justifies, uh, the claim of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or other similar groups to kill innocent civilians. That is unequivocally a crime under Islamic law. Acts of terror violence that have occurred in the name of Islam are not only wrong, they are contrary to Islam."
Once again, this is not as much of an open-and-shut case as these authorities would like us to believe. After all, no less an authority than George Bushâ€™s "imam of peace," Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi of Al-Azhar University, disagrees. Bush quoted him in late 2001 at the United Nations as saying that "terrorism is a disease, and that Islam prohibits killing innocent civilians." But evidently his definition of terrorism would differ from that of the average American: according to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), last spring Tantawi called suicide bombing "the highest form of Jihad operations," and added that "every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment."
Tantawi is no isolated crank. He holds his position at Al-Azhar by the grace of the Egyptian government, and he uses that position to wield enormous influence in the Islamic world: the New York Times called Al-Azhar the "revered mosque, the distinguished university, the leading voice of the Sunni Muslim establishment. . . . It has sought to advise Muslims around the world that those who kill in the name of Islam are nothing more than heretics. It has sought to guide, to reassure Westerners against any clash of civilizations."
Nor is Tantawi singular in his opinions. Abu Bakar Bashir, suspected mastermind of the 2002 terrorist bombings in Bali as well as bombings of churches in 2000, declared that "martyrsâ€™ bombs are a noble thing, a jihad of high value if you are forced to do it. For instance, in Palestine there is no other way to defend yourself and defend Islam. All Ulamas [Muslim leaders] agree with martyrsâ€™ bombs because we are forced to do it. There is no other way to defend ourselves and to defend Islam. . . . We are obliged to defend ourselves and attack people who attack Islam. In Islam there is no word for hands up, there is no word for surrender, there are only two things, win or die . . . if infidels do want to attack Islam, fight Islam, so we are instructed to fight them."
Instructed by whom? Does Abu Bakar Bashir read the same Qurâ€™an that moderate Muslims say condemns terrorism?
After a shooting at a church in Pakistan, police detained another Muslim cleric, Mohammed Afzal, who is alleged to have told his people that "it is the duty of every good Muslim to kill Christians . . . You should attack Christians and not even have food until you have seen their dead bodies."
Presumably Afzal would not consider Christians "innocent civilians." Osama and other Muslim extremists have maintained that the people killed in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were not innocent, but complicit in what they imagine to be the American governmentâ€™s worldwide oppression of Muslims. Consequently, they argue that they were fitting victims of jihad â€” even envisioned only as a struggle against "tyranny or oppression."
Disquieting evidence indicates that such ideas are not restricted to obscure covens of ranting radicals, shunned by decent Muslims everywhere. According to MEMRI, "Mahmoud Al_Zahhar, a Hamas leader in Gaza, told the Israeli Arab weekly Kul Al_Arab, â€˜Two days ago, in Alexandria, enrolment began for volunteers for martyrdom [operations]. Two thousand students from the University of Alexandria signed up to die a martyrâ€™s death. This is the real Egyptian people.â€™"
Two thousand students from one university? Didnâ€™t these two thousand students know that "those who kill in the name of Islam are nothing more than heretics"? Didnâ€™t they know that "terrorism goes against every principle in Islam"?
The point is not that the moderates who wrote the flyer are wrong and that these radicals are right. The point is that these radical Muslims use the Qurâ€™an and other core Islamic sources to justify their actions, and their exegesis is compelling enough to win over large numbers of Muslims. Moderate Muslims have thus far not been remotely successful in reading the radicals out of Islam. Certainly terrorism is not universally accepted in the Islamic world, but with terrorist groups rallying under the banner of jihad in all corners of the globe today, IIIT might have performed a valuable service by explaining how this violation of "every principle in Islam" came to be so widely accepted in the Muslim world......""
From the Longer and Very Interesting http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles...le.asp?ID=5502