Raymond Ibrahim: Islam, War, and Deceit: A Synthesis (Part II)

(See here for Part I; to read with hyperlinks, see the Pajamas Media version, where this essay was originally posted.)

War is eternal

The fact that Islam legitimizes deceit during war cannot be all that surprising; as the saying goes, all’s fair in love and war. Moreover, non-Muslim thinkers and philosophers, such as Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Hobbes, all justified deceit in war. The crucial difference, however, is that, according to all four recognized schools of Sunni jurisprudence, war against the infidel goes on in perpetuity “” until “all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39). In its entry on jihad, the definitive Encyclopaedia of Islam simply states:

The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorized. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict.

Moreover, going back to the doctrine of abrogation, the vast majority of the ulema agree that Koran 9:5, famously known as ayat al-saif “” the “sword verse” “” has abrogated some 124 of the more peaceful Meccan verses.

The obligatory jihad is best expressed by Islam’s dichotomized worldview that pits Dar al-Islam (the “realm of submission,” i.e., the Islamic world), against Dar al-Harb (the “realm of war,” i.e., the non-Islamic world) until the former subsumes the latter. Internationally renowned Muslim historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406) articulates this division thusly: “In the Muslim community, holy war [jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. The other religious groups [specifically Christianity and Judaism] did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense. “¦ But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations.”

This concept is highlighted by the fact that, based on the ten-year treaty of Hudaibiya (628), ratified between Muhammad and his Quraish opponents in Mecca, ten years is, theoretically, the maximum amount of time Muslims can be at peace with infidels. Based on Muhammad’s example of breaking the treaty after two years (by citing a Quraish infraction), the sole function of the “peace treaty” (or hudna) is to buy weakened Muslims time to regroup before going on the offensive once more. Incidentally, according to a canonical hadith, Muhammad said, “If I take an oath and later find something else better, I do what is better and break my oath.” The prophet further encouraged Muslims to do the same: “If you ever take an oath to do something and later on you find that something else is better, then you should expiate your oath and do what is better.”

After negotiating a peace treaty criticized by Muslims as conceding too much to Israel, former PLO leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat, speaking to Muslims in a mosque and off the record, justified his actions by saying, “I see this agreement as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraish in Mecca.” In other words, like his prophet, the “moderate” Arafat was giving his word only to annul it once “something else better” came along “” that is, once Palestinians became strong enough to renew the offensive.

Most recently, a new Islamic group associated with Hamas called Jaysh al-Umma (Islam’s army) stated clearly, “Muslims all over the world are obliged to fight the Israelis and the infidels until only Islam rules the earth.” Realizing their slip, they quickly clarified: “We say that the world will not live in peace as long as the blood of Muslims continues to be shed.” Which is it “” until Muslim blood stops being shed in Israel or “until only Islam rules the earth”?

These are all clear instances of Muslims feigning openness to the idea of peace simply in order to buy more time to build up their strength.

Here, then, is the problem: If Islam must be in a constant state of war with the non-Muslim world, which need not be physical, as the ulema have classified several non-violent forms of jihad, such as “jihad-of-the-pen” (propaganda) and “money-jihad” (economic); and if Muslims are permitted to lie and feign loyalty, amiability, even affection to the infidel, simply to further their war efforts “” what does one make of any Muslim overtures of peace, tolerance, or dialogue?

This is more obvious when one considers that, every single time Muslims “reach out” for “peace,” it is always when they are in a weakened condition vis-à-vis infidels “” that is, when they, not their non-Muslim competitors, benefit from the peace. This is the lesson of the last two centuries of Muslim-Western interaction, wherein the former have been militarily inferior and thus beholden to the latter.

One wonders if the reverse would hold true. If, for example, the Palestinians suddenly became stronger than Israel and could annihilate it, if Israel reached out for peace or concessions, would the (overwhelmingly Muslim) Palestinians grant it? In fact, the answer to this question is evident in all those countries where non-Muslim groups live as minorities among Muslim majorities: while living in constant social subjugation (according to Koran 9:29) they are also sporadically persecuted and killed “” such as the Christian Copts of Egypt who, after merely assembling for prayer in a condemned factory, found 20,000 rioting Muslims surrounding them, screaming the Muslim war cry, “Allah Akbar,” while throwing stones at them.
Reciprocal treatment or religious obligation?

Why did Osama bin Laden, who firmly believes in the division of the world into two entities “” Islam and the rest “” which must war until the former dominates the globe, attack the U.S.? The following anecdote sheds some light: after a group of prominent Muslims wrote a letter to Americans saying that Islam is a peaceful religion that wishes to coexist with others, seeking only to “live and let live,” bin Laden, thinking no non-Muslim would see his letter, castigated them as follows:

As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High’s Word: “We [Muslims] renounce you [non-Muslims]. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us “” till you believe in Allah alone” [Koran 60:4]. So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility “” that is, battle “” ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [i.e., a dhimmi], or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable [i.e., taqiyya]. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy! “¦ Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred “” directed from the Muslim to the infidel “” is the foundation of our religion. And we consider this a justice and kindness to them (from The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 43).

It bears repeating that this hostile weltanschauung is well supported by mainstream Islam’s schools of jurisprudence (i.e., there is nothing “radical” about it). When addressing Western audiences, however, bin Laden’s tone drastically changes; he lists any number of “grievances” for fighting the West “” from Palestinian oppression, to the Western exploitation of women and U.S. failure to sign the Kyoto protocol “” never once alluding to fighting the U.S. simply because it is an infidel entity that must be subjugated. Indeed, he often initiates his messages to the West by saying, “Reciprocal treatment is part of justice” or “Peace to whoever follows guidance” “” though he means something entirely different than what his Western audience thinks.

This is of course a clear instance of taqiyya, as bin Laden is not only waging a physical jihad, but one of propaganda. Convincing a secular West (whose epistemology does not allow for the notion of religious conquest) that the current conflict is entirely its fault only garners him and his cause more sympathy; conversely, he also knows that if Americans were to realize that, all political grievances aside “” real or imagined “” according to Islam’s worldview, nothing short of their submission to Islam can ever bring peace, his propaganda campaign would be quickly compromised. Yet the fact is al-Qaeda is motivated more by religious obligation than reciprocal treatment. Hence the constant need to lie, “for war,” as their prophet asserted, “is deceit.”

It should be added that, though the vast majority of the world’s Muslims are not active terrorists, bin Laden’s list of grievances against the West is paradigmatic of the average Muslim’s grievances. However, if they are unaware that, according to Islam “” not bin Laden “” animosity towards infidels transcends time, space, and grievances, and that religious obligation commands the war continue till “all religion belongs to Allah,” they are either ignorant of their own faith, or “” taqiyya?

With friends like these “¦

Associated with Hamas, denounced by American politicians for “pursuing an extreme Islamist political agenda,” its members arrested for terrorism-related charges “” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is another Muslim group which appears to be less than sincere to its non-Muslim audience; situated in the U.S., it is also much closer to home. When it comes to the issue of jihad, perpetual warfare, even doctrines such as taqiyya “” indeed, all that has been delineated in this essay “” CAIR has been at the forefront of not only denying their existence, but accusing of “Islamophobia” and threatening with lawsuits anyone alluding to them, thereby censoring any critical talk of Islam.

Could CAIR be taking lessons from the Muslim convert Masud, whom Muhammad urged to go and live among the Confederate infidels, solely in order to mislead and betray them, so that Islam might triumph?

The most obvious example of taqiyya, however, comes from an entire nation: Saudi Arabia. If any nation closely follows Sharia “” including, but not limited to, the division of the world into two perpetually warring halves, Islam and infidelity “” it is Saudi Arabia, a.k.a. America’s “friend.” According to Sharia, for instance, the Saudis will not allow the construction of a single church or synagogue on their land; Bibles are banned and burned; Christians engaged in any kind of missionary activity are arrested, tortured, and sometimes killed; Muslim converts to Christianity are put to death.

Yet for all that, in their attempt to portray Islam as a “tolerant” religion, a religion that, once again, merely seeks “peacefully coexist” with others, the Saudis have been pushing for more “dialogue” between Muslims and non-Muslims, specifically Christians and Jews (ironically, those two peoples who are currently much more powerful than Islam). Rather tellingly, however, Saudi Arabia refuses to host any of these conferences; after all, their prophet Muhammad’s deathbed wish was to expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsula; how to re-invite them now and talk of peace and tolerance? Moreover, surely the Saudis fear that a real “debate” “” not just the perfunctory talk of “mutual understanding” that permeates these farces “” might take place, once the non-Muslim participants discover that they are not free to practice their faiths on Saudi soil? The most recent interfaith conference was held in Madrid, where King Abdullah, despite all the aforementioned, asserted, “Islam is a religion of moderation and tolerance, a message that calls for constructive dialogue among followers of all religions.”

Mere days later, it was revealed that Saudi children’s textbooks still call Christians and Jews “infidels,” the “hated enemies,” and “pigs and swine.” A multiple choice test in a fourth-grade book asks Muslim children, “Who is a “˜true” Muslim?” The correct answer is not the man who prays, fasts, etc., but rather, “A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the infidels” “” that is, those same people the Saudis want to “dialogue” with.

Clearly, then, when Saudis “” or other Sharia-following Muslims “” call for “dialogue” they are merely following the aforementioned advice of Muhammad’s friend, Abu Darda: “Let us smile to the face of some people while our hearts curse them.”

Implications

There is also a troubling philosophical “” again, specifically epistemological “” aspect to taqiyya. Anyone who truly believes that no less an authority than God justifies and, through his prophet’s example, sometimes even encourages deception, will not experience any ethical qualms or dilemmas about lying. This is especially true if the human mind is indeed a tabula rasa shaped by environment and education: deception becomes second nature.

Consider the case of Ali Mohammad “” bin Laden’s “first trainer” and longtime al-Qaeda operative. Despite being entrenched in the highest echelons of the terror network, his confidence at dissembling enabled him to become a CIA agent and FBI informant for years. People who knew him regarded him “with fear and awe for his incredible self-confidence, his inability to be intimidated, absolute ruthless determination to destroy the enemies of Islam, and his zealous belief in the tenets of militant Islamic fundamentalism.” Indeed, this sentence sums it all: for a “zealous belief” in Islam’s “tenets,” which, as seen, legitimize deception, will certainly go a long way in creating “incredible self-confidence” when lying.

The bottom line is, any Muslim who closely observes Sharia law “” and that is, incidentally, the definition of a Muslim, “one who submits to (the laws of) Allah” “” laws that, among other bellicosities, clearly and unambiguously split the world into two perpetually warring halves “” such a Muslim will always have a “divinely sanctioned” right to deceive, until “all chaos ceases, and all religion belongs to Allah” (Koran 8:39). All Muslim overtures for peace, dialogue, or even temporary truces must be seen in this light.

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