Skip to comments.Daniel Pipes : The Ugly History of Jihad
Posted on 05/31/2005 5:23:15 AM PDT by SJackson
|The Ugly History of Jihad|
In his just-released, absorbing, and excellent book, Understanding Jihad (University of California Press), David Cook of Rice University dismisses the low-grade debate that has raged since 9/11 over the nature of jihad whether it is a form of offensive warfare or (more pleasantly) a type of moral self-improvement.
Cook dismisses as pathetic and laughable John Espositos contention that jihad refers to the effort to lead a good life. Throughout history and at present, Cook definitively establishes, the term primarily means warfare with spiritual significance.
His achievement lies in tracing the evolution of jihad from Muhammad to Osama, following how the concept has changed through fourteen centuries. This summary does not do justice to Cooks extensive research, prolific examples, and thoughtful analysis, but even a thumbnail sketch suggests jihads evolution.
The Koran invites Muslims to give their lives in exchange for assurances of paradise.
The Hadith (accounts of Muhammads actions and personal statements) elaborate on the Koran, providing specific injunctions about treaties, pay, booty, prisoners, tactics, and much else. Muslim jurisprudents then wove these precepts into a body of law.
Muhammads conquests: During his years in power, the prophet engaged in an average of nine military campaigns a year, or one every 5-6 weeks; thus did jihad help define Islam from its very dawn. Conquering and humiliating non-Muslims was a main feature of the prophets jihad.
The Arab conquests and after: During the first several centuries of Islam, the interpretation of jihad was unabashedly aggressive and expansive. After the conquests subsided, non-Muslims hardly threatened and Sufi notions of jihad as self-improvement developed in complement to the martial meaning.
The Crusades, the centuries-long European effort to control the Holy Land, gave jihad a new urgency and prompted what Cook calls the classical theory of jihad. Finding themselves on the defensive led to a hardening of Muslim attitudes.
The Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century subjugated much of the Muslim world, a catastrophe only partially mitigated by the Mongols nominal conversion to Islam. Some thinkers, Ibn Taymiya (d. 1328) in particular, came to distinguish between true and false Muslims; and to give jihad new prominence by judging the validity of a persons faith according to his willingness to wage jihad.
Nineteenth century purification jihads took place in several regions against fellow Muslims. The most radical and consequential of these was the Wahhabis' jihad in Arabia. Drawing on Ibn Taymiya, they condemned most non-Wahhabi Muslims as infidels (kafirs) and waged jihad against them.
European imperialism inspired jihadi resistance efforts, notably in India, the Caucasus, Somalia, Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco, but all in the end failed. This disaster meant new thinking was needed.
Islamist new thinking began in Egypt and India in the 1920s but jihad acquired its contemporary quality of radical offensive warfare only with the Egyptian thinker Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966). Qutb developed Ibn Taymiyas distinction between true and false Muslims to deem non-Islamists to be non-Muslims and then declare jihad on them. The group that assassinated Anwar El-Sadat in 1981 then added the idea of jihad as the path to world domination.
The anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan led to the final step (so far) in this evolution. In Afghanistan, for the first time, jihadis assembled from around the world to fight on behalf of Islam. Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian, became the theorist of global jihad in the 1980s, giving it an unheard-of central role, judging each Muslim exclusively by his contribution to jihad, and making jihad the salvation of Muslims and Islam. Out of this quickly came suicide terrorism and bin Laden.
Cooks erudite and timely study has many implications, including these:
The great challenge for moderate Muslims (and their non-Muslim allies) is to make that rejection come about, and with due haste.
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Indeed. Wishful thinking from Daniel Pipes...
I am not certain I agree.
In some respects, there are some basic elements of, for instance, national socialism, that are still present in all European countries - namely the socialism.
This ingredient removed from the nationalism is harmless to everyone except the people living in the society itself. Sort of like baking soda without vinegar.
It is distincly possible that if we fundamentally alter the Arabic culture - based on an economics of scarcity - we will be able to remove the violent element from Islam.
I certainly have seen and recognize the counter arguments of why Islam is a religion of hate and war. To a certain extent I agree. But, German culture was a culture of xenophobia and war, but it no longer is. Which proves that cultures can change.
Long before Islam the Arabs were cutting off hands, oppressing women and fighting barbaric wars in the name of their local god. It is this basic culture that must be weeded out.
Otherwise we might as well just kill the whole lot.
Thanks, missed that. I have to get up earlier to post from Frontpage
I agree, but frankly I don't think secularism is up to the task of making such a radical change. Minds and hearts must be changed almost instantaneously or the deeply ingrained thinking and culture will ultimately prevail. IMHO, the only agency up to that task is religious conversion (specifically, Christianity). Otherwise, the malignancy is simply papered over to fight another day.
Otherwise we might as well just kill the whole lot.
That will be unnecessary with conversion. Otherwise, the best we can hope for is a temporary remission of their all-consuming jihad, which may be successful the next time around.
Yeah, this is a bit that worries me to. If they get the fruits of the enlightenment without being enlightened, then we have a big problem maybe not in 50 years, but perhaps in 75-100.
Wouldn't it be great if we would just stop using oil and let them figure out what to do with no cash on hand?
Good article, however Pipes has a logical error. If the only difference between post-Taymiya or post-Qutb Jihad and earlier Jihad is the principle that disagreeing Muslims are kafirs, then returing to pre-Islamist Islam will only lead to a unified Jihad against the West.
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