Is the Islamic jihad ideology newly minted? It’s easy to be misled into thinking so, given the jihadist propensity to explain their actions as defensive responses to non-Muslim provocations. A fresh example comes from B. Raman in Asia Times: he associates the radicalization of Britain’s Muslim youth of Pakistani origin with British and U.S. actions in Serbia in the early 1990s.
And in the this generally good article in the Jerusalem Post about the kinship between Nazism and Islamic anti-Semitism, Carolyn Glick cites a work by German political scientist Matthias Kuntzel, “Islamic anti-Semitism and its Nazi Roots.” This again is to mistake a secondary cause for a root cause. Islamic anti-Semitism found a kindred spirit in Nazism, but it did not spring from Nazism. One need only recall the virulent anti-Semitism of the Qur’an itself, particularly as it is understood by mainstream Muslims today, to say nothing of Islamic tradition (especially the story about how at the end of the world, the stones will cry out, “Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me! Come kill him!”), to realize that. Says Glick:
As Kuntzel argues, the notion of a violent holy war or jihad against non-Muslims was not a part of any active Islamic doctrine until the 1930s and, as he notes, “its concurrence with the arrival of a newly virulent anti-Semitism is verified in no uncertain terms.” Husseini’s gangs in the Palestine Mandate were joyously praised by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which held mass demonstrations with slogans like “Jews get out of Egypt and Palestine,” and “Down with the Jews!”
There is no doubt that there was a resurgence of jihadist violence in the 20th century. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 as a direct reaction to the abolition of the caliphate in 1924, and its violent activity, as well as its propagandizing, makes it true in a sense that the doctrines of violent jihad were newly present among Muslims beginning in the 1930s. But they were not new in the 1930s. The Ottomans declared jihad (futilely) as late as 1914. Jihads are found throughout Islamic history. If Kuntzel means that violent jihad was invented in the 1930s, he betrays his ignorance of Muhammad’s own career, and of Islamic history.