Lieutenant Colonel Joseph C. Myers, the Senior Army Advisor to the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, has published in Parameters a superb review of Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik's The Quranic Concept of War, which I discussed at some length in my book Onward Muslim Soldiers.
“The universalism of Islam, in its all-embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political, if not strictly military. . . . The Jihad, accordingly, may be stated as a doctrine of a permanent state of war, not continuous fighting.” — Majid Khadduri
To understand war, one has to study its philosophy; the grammar and logic of your opponent. Only then are you approaching strategic comprehension. To understand the war against Islamist terrorism one must begin to understand the Islamic way of war, its philosophy and doctrine, the meanings of jihad in Islam—and one needs to understand that those meanings are highly varied and utilitarian depending on the source.
With respect to the war against the global jihad and its associated terror groups, individual terrorists, and clandestine adherents, one should ask if there is a unique method or attitude to their approach to war. Is there a philosophy, or treatise such as Clausewitz’s On War that attempts to form their thinking about war? Is there a document that can be reviewed and understood in such a manner that we may begin to think strategically about our opponent. There is one work that stands out from the many.
The Quranic Concept of War
The Quranic Concept of War, by Brigadier General S. K. Malik of the Pakistani Army provides readers with unequalled insight. Originally published in Pakistan in 1979, most available copies are found in India, or in small non-descript Muslim bookstores. One major point to ponder, when thinking about The Quranic Concept of War, is the title itself. The Quran is presumed to be the revealed word of God as spoken through his chosen prophet, Mohammed. According to Malik, the Quran places warfighting doctrine and its theory in a much different category than western thinkers are accustomed to, because it is not a theory of war derived by man, but of God. This is God’s warfighting principles and commandments revealed. Malik attempts to distill God’s doctrine for war through the examples of the Prophet. By contrast, the closest that Clausewitz comes to divine presentation is in his discussion of the trinity: the people, the state, and the military. In the Islamic context, the discussion of war is at the level of revealed truth and example, well above theory—God has no need to theorize. Malik notes, “As a complete Code of Life, the Holy Quran gives us a philosophy of war as well. . . . This divine philosophy is an integral part of the total Quranic ideology.”
In The Quranic Concept of War, Malik seeks to instruct readers in the uniquely important doctrinal aspects of Quranic warfare. The Quranic approach to war is “infinitely supreme and effective . . . [and] points towards the realization of universal peace and justice . . . and makes maximum allowance to its adversaries to co-operate [with Islam] in a combined search for a just and peaceful order.” For purposes of this review, the term “doctrine” refers to both religious and broad strategic approaches, not methods and procedures. Malik’s work is a treatise with historical, political, legalistic, and moralistic ramifications on Islamic warfare. It seemingly is without parallel in the western sense of warfare since the “Quran is a source of eternal guidance for mankind.”
The approach is not new to Islamists and other jihad theorists fighting according to the “Method of Mohammed” or hadith. The lessons learned are recorded and form an important part of Quranic surah and jihadist’s scholarship. Islamic scholars both Muslim and non-Muslim will find much to debate in terms of Malik’s view of jihad doctrine and Quranic warfare. Malik’s work is essentially modern scholarship; although he does acknowledge the classical views of jihad in many respects.
Malik’s most controversial dictum is summarized in the following manner: in war, “the point where the means and the end meet” is in terror. He formulates terror as an objective principal of war; once terror is achieved the enemy reaches his culminating point. “Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose . . . .” Malik’s divine principal of Islamic warfare may be restated as “strike terror; never feel terror.” The ultimate objective of this form of warfare “revolves around the human heart, [the enemies] soul, spirit, and Faith.” Terror “can be instilled only if the opponent’s Faith is destroyed . . . . It is essential in the ultimate analysis, to dislocate [the enemies] Faith.” Those who are firm in their religious conviction are immune to terror, “a weak Faith offers inroads to terror.” Therefore, as part of preparations for jihad, actions will be oriented on weakening the non-Islamic’s “Faith,” while strengthening the Islamic’s. What that weakening or “dislocation” entails in practice remains ambiguous. Malik concludes, “Psychological dislocation is temporary; spiritual dislocation is permanent.” The soul of man can only be touched by terror.
Read it all.