Yesterday evening I shortened this post and sent it as a letter to the Emory Wheel. Do you think they will publish this? Whether they do or not, note that Caldwell’s letter was yet another example of something we have seen here again and again and again: in response to specific information about what Muslims believe about jihad, an Islamic apologist makes broad-brush but unsubstantiated charges of ignorance and hatred. This letter provides in response more specific information aboout Islamic teaching on jihad. What will be the reply?
In “Jihad Means Much More Than Violence,” Will Caldwell objects to the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s ad, “What Americans Need to Know About Jihad,” as “propaganda,” and calls for it to be censored. He asserts that “most in our community are educated enough to understand that statements like “˜The goal of jihad is world domination” are completely ignorant and intentionally provocative.”
Unfortunately, however, jihad as warfare against unbelievers in order to institute Sharia worldwide is not propaganda or ignorance, or a heretical doctrine held by a tiny minority of extremists; instead, it is a constant element of mainstream Islamic theology. It is affirmed by all four principal schools of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence (madhahib): the Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali, and Shafi”i, to which the great majority of Muslims worldwide belong, as well as of all the other schools.
These schools formulated laws regarding the importance of jihad and the ways in which it must be practiced, centuries ago. Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d. 996), a Maliki jurist, declared: “Jihad is a precept of Divine institution”¦.[Unbelievers] have the alternative of either converting to Islam or paying the poll tax (jizya), short of which war will be declared against them.”
Likewise, Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), a Hanbali jurist who is a favorite of Osama bin Laden and other modern-day jihadists, taught: “Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”
The Hanafi school sounds the same notes: “If the infidels, upon receiving the call [to Islam], neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them”¦” (Hidayah)
The Shafi”i scholar Abu”l Hasan al-Mawardi (d. 1058 ) agrees, saying that if unbelievers “refuse to accept [Islam] after this, war is waged against them”¦”
All this is not merely of historical interest. A Shafi”i manual of Islamic law that in 1991 was certified by the highest authority in Sunni Islam, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.” This manual, “˜Umdat al-Salik (available in English as Reliance of the Traveller), after defining the “greater jihad” as “spiritual warfare against the lower self,” devotes eleven pages to the “lesser jihad.” It defines this jihad as “war against non-Muslims,” and spells out the nature of this warfare in quite specific terms: “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.”
Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a pioneering historian and philosopher, was also a Maliki legal theorist. In his renowned Muqaddimah, the first work of historical theory, he notes that “in the Muslim community, the holy war 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.” In Islam, the person in charge of religious affairs is concerned with “power politics,” because Islam is “under obligation to gain power over other nations.”
Extremists? Propaganda? No, this is the Islamic mainstream.
Will Caldwell calls upon the Wheel “to provide the community with reliable and useful information.” Reliable and useful information about jihad was in the ad and is in this letter. I’d be happy to discuss or debate this, and what can be done about it, with Will Caldwell or anyone else. I can be reached at email@example.com.