Bruce Lawrence is the Duke professor who says that jihad means “being a better student, a better colleague, a better business partner. Above all, to control one’s anger.” Now he has joined to that bit of wisdom the assertion that Osama bin Laden needs to take his place among the world’s statesmen. Unfortunately, were he ever to meet Osama in person, I expect that the terrorist mastermind might wisely and gently differ with his definition of jihad. “Do not await anything from us but Jihad, resistance and revenge,” he told the American people in 2002. I guess he meant “Do not await anything from us but being better students, better colleagues, better business partners, and controlling our anger.”
All that said, I expect that Lawrence’s book will be a useful sourcebook, showing Osama to be something quite different from how Lawrence characterizes him. “Prof publishes bin Laden’s words,” from the Duke University Chronicle, with thanks to Ruth King:
Bruce Lawrence, professor of religion, is publishing a book of Osama bin Laden’s speeches and writings.
Only days after the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, a Duke professor is trying to explain the motivations of the tragedy”s organizer””jihadist Osama bin Laden.
Bruce Lawrence, professor of religion, edited and wrote the forward to the book Messages to the World””The Statements of Osama bin Laden. The text, which goes into print today and will arrive in bookstores in the fall, is the first to include the translations of the Arabic writings of bin Laden.
The book features a collection of 22 speeches and interviews given by the leader of the terrorist organization al Qaeda between 1994 and 2004….
“If you read him in his own words, he sounds like somebody who would be a very high-minded and welcome voice in global politics,” Lawrence said.
After analyzing his writings, Lawrence said he concluded bin Laden does not have an ultimate goal that he wants to achieve in his jihad but that he does have a specific target.
He doesn’t have an ultimate goal, eh? Apparently Lawrence did not read the writings he was editing all that closely. Osama makes it quite clear in his message to the American people of November 24, 2002 that he is waging “Jihad in the way of Allah so that Allah’s Word and religion reign Supreme.” He criticizes the United States for failing to adopt Islamic law: “You are the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire. You separate religion from your policies, contradicting the pure nature which affirms Absolute Authority to the Lord and your Creator.”
What, then, is his goal? To restore the caliphate and Sharia in the Islamic world, and then by offensive jihad to extend it over the non-Muslim world. This is emphasized not only by Osama but by other jihadists around the world. How could Lawrence have missed it?