We have heard this sort of thing many, many times before. What we have not seen is an actual Islamic theological argument proving from Islamic sources that jihad is primarily peaceful, not violent. Will these officials come up with it? Maybe they will — but notice that while this article refers to “true” and “false” teachings about jihad, and assumes that the peaceful ones are “true,” Faisal Ismail implies that what he is trying to do is propagate a non-traditional understanding of jihad: “Jihad in the modern era should be about improving the lives of people, not killing others.” In other words, jihad in ancient times was about killing others, but it can be that no more.
If he can get this idea across, more power to him. If he can convince Muslims on a large scale that jihad is spiritual, I will be his biggest fan. But if he pretends that jihad has always been spiritual (as do other moderate Muslim spokesman around the world, including here in the U.S.), he enters into the realm of Orwellian doublethink, and — more importantly — leaves himself open to easy refutation by jihadists who are familiar with Islam’s teachings and history. Which, of course, would render his entire effort void.
From The Jakarta Post, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
Top religious affairs officials from four ASEAN member states agreed on Wednesday to intensify efforts to steer young Muslims away from extremist versions of Islam.
During a joint media conference at the end of a three-day informal meeting in Bandung, delegates from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei said the terrorist attacks carried out by militant youths in Indonesia demonstrated the importance of spreading moderate Islamic teachings among the young.
“We must learning from the recruitment of young people by terrorist networks. We call on all member countries (of ASEAN) to protect young people from false Islamic teachings and extremism,” the secretary-general of Indonesia’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, Faisal Ismail, said.
Four major terror attacks in Indonesia since 2002 involved suicide bombers in their 20s.
“We have agreed on several items that require follow-up action, including the development of multicultural education, the empowerment of the people, women’s protection and providing guidance for youth,” Faisal said.
The delegates also agreed to publish books and papers on the true teachings of Islam, particularly regarding jihad.
“Jihad in the modern era should be about improving the lives of people, not killing others,” Faisal said.
The delegates said they would push for the publication of books on “progressive” Islam that would provide young people with a true understanding of jihad.