The Straits Times reports that jihad warriors have somehow gotten all kinds of misconceptions about Islam:
“They think that the notion of jihad strictly means they should wage war on those who they believe are suppressing the community.”
But now Muslim leaders in Singapore are going to address this problem:
“Such misunderstanding of Islamic practices among the few in the Muslim community here who join terrorist groups needs to be put right, Muslim leaders said yesterday. And they hope this can be done for the 12 men served with Restriction Orders (ROs) under the Internal Security Act for their involvement with the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front terror groups.
These men must go for religious counselling conducted by volunteer counsellors as one new condition imposed under the ROs.”
Well, this could be just what we need: a comprehensive program to convince radical Muslims that what they are doing is wrong on Islamic grounds. But for such a program to be effective, it must deal forthrightly with the justifications for terrorism that radicals draw out of traditional Islamic sources — as I detail in Onward Muslim Soldiers. If it doesn’t do this, it will never succeed, because the radicals will figure that they were on stronger Islamic grounds in the first place, before the deprogrammers got hold of them.
I am not very confident that the program at hand will do this. The report continues:
“Explaining why religious counselling was a necessary first step, Ustaz Ali Haji Mohamed of Khadijah Mosque said it was crucial to understand why they had accepted the deviant teachings of JI leader Ibrahim Maidin, who was arrested in December 2001. ‘We must tackle first the reasons for them turning to extremism… They interpret jihad to be a holy war when in fact jihad has a vast meaning, encompassing education, economics and many other aspects of a Muslim’s life. Ustaz Fatris Bakaram, director of the office of the Mufti, said that the term really means ‘struggle’ and could relate to ‘the struggle we go through in our daily lives’.”
Doubtless all that is true. But to say that jihad doesn’t mean ONLY holy war is not to say that jihad doesn’t mean holy war at all. Warfare against non-Muslims has been a significant element of the Muslim understanding of jihad since the time of Muhammad. Do these two men think they will eradicate it by pointing out that jihad also means trying to get a good education? I doubt even they believe that.
Especially in light of this:
“Using Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim’s vision of a community of excellence, to be a true Muslim here is to be able to contribute to the larger society, and… ensure that all of us progress and prosper. That’s our true jihad.”
All right. But how does that definitively rule out taking up arms if one sees it as the best way to improve society? This superficial approach will never solve the deeper problem.