The New Duranty Times explores “jihadi etiquette,” with the expected evasions and obfuscations.
“The Guidebook for Taking a Life,” by Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet in the New York Times, with thanks to all who sent this in:
…Some of these rules have deep roots in the Middle East, where, for example, the Egyptian Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi has argued it is fine to kill Israeli citizens because their compulsory military service means they are not truly civilians.
He does that here. It’s good of the Times to notice, since Qaradawi still enjoys a widespread and undeserved reputation as a “moderate.” Just recently I had a long email exchange with a willfully credulous individual who held up Qaradawi and CAIR, among others, as examples of moderate anti-jihadist reformers. It’s a carefully cultivated image, both only those who can’t face the truth fall for it.
The war in Iraq is reshaping the etiquette, too. Suicide bombers from radical Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups have long been called martyrs, a locution that avoids the Koran’s ban on killing oneself in favor of the honor it accords death in battle against infidels….
Classic Times disingenuousness. The Qur’an does indeed condemn suicide (4:29), or more precisely, it condemns killing oneself “in rancour and injustice” (4:30). But it doesn’t just accord “honor” to “death in battle against infidels”; it actually guarantees Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for Allah (9:111). That is much stronger than just honoring those who are killed in battle, and is the foundational Qur’anic justification for suicide bombing — but you won’t hear that from the Times.
Islamic militants who embrace violence may account for a minuscule fraction of Muslims in the world, but they lay claim to the breadth of Islamic teachings in their efforts to justify their actions. “No jihadi will do any action until he is certain this action is morally acceptable,” says Dr. Mohammad al-Massari, a Saudi dissident who runs a leading jihad Internet forum, Tajdeed.net, in London, where he now lives.
Yet the Times, as you’ll see below, purports to sweep away the jihadist “claims” with a few easy Qur’anic proof-texts, as you’ll see below. If only it were so easy — if it were, there would be no jihadists today, because when they searched for that certainty that their actions were morally acceptable, they would come up empty. Unfortunately, that is not what’s happening. And the Times, by pretending that the jihadists have little to support their views within Islam, undercut sincere Muslim reformers: you can’t reform what you don’t admit needs reforming.
Here are six of the more striking jihadi tenets, as militant Islamists describe them:
Rule No. 1: You can kill bystanders without feeling a lot of guilt.
The Koran, as translated by the University of Southern California Muslim Student Association’s Compendium of Muslim Texts, generally prohibits the slaying of innocents, as in Verse 33 in Chapter 17 (Isra”, The Night Journey, Children of Israel): “Nor take life, which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause.”
But the Koran also orders Muslims to resist oppression, as verses 190 and 191 of Chapter 2 (The Cow) instruct: “Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight with you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out, for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. …”
In the typical car bombing, some Islamists say, God will identify those who deserve to die “” for example, anyone helping the enemy “” and send them to hell. The other victims will go to paradise. “The innocent who is hurt, he won’t suffer,” Dr. Massari says. “He becomes a martyr himself.”
There is one gray area. If you are a Muslim who has sinned, getting killed by a suicide bomber will clean some of your slate for Judgment Day, but precisely where God draws the line between those who go to heaven or hell is not spelled out.
Zarqawi wrote an extensive justification of the killing of Muslims in attacks targeting infidels a few years back. The problem here is that some consider no non-Muslim to be innocent. Unless and until peaceful Muslims address and reject that view, simply invoking the Qur’an against taking life “except for just cause” will accomplish nothing.
Rule No. 2: You can kill children, too, without needing to feel distress.
True, Islamic texts say it is unlawful to kill children, women, the old and the infirm. In the Sahih Bukhari, a respected collection of sermons and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, verse 4:52:257 refers to Ghazawat, a battle in which Muhammad took part. “Narrated Abdullah: During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah’s Apostle disapproved the killing of women and children.”
But militant Islamists including extremists in Jordan who embrace Al Qaeda’s ideology teach recruits that children receive special consideration in death. They are not held accountable for any sins until puberty, and if they are killed in a jihad operation they will go straight to heaven. There, they will instantly age to their late 20s, and enjoy the same access to virgins and other benefits as martyrs receive.
Islamic militants are hardly alone in seeking to rationalize innocent deaths, says John O. Voll, a professor of Islamic history at Georgetown University. “Whether you are talking about leftist radicals here in the 1960s, or the apologies for civilian collateral damage in Iraq that you get from the Pentagon, the argument is that if the action is just, the collateral damage is justifiable,” he says.
Rule No. 3: Sometimes, you can single out civilians for killing; bankers are an example.
In principle, nonfighters cannot be targeted in a militant operation, Islamist scholars say. But the list of exceptions is long and growing….
Here again, the “exceptions” are deeply rooted in the Sharia. Traditionally, Islamic law allows for the killing of women and children who are perceived as aiding the war effort against the Muslims (‘Umdat al-Salik o9.10, cf. al-Mawardi, al-Akham as-Sultaniyyah, 4.2).
Rule No. 5: You can lie or hide your religion if you do this for jihad.
Muslims are instructed by the Koran to be true to their religion. “Therefore stand firm (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded, thou and those who with thee turn (unto Allah), and transgress not (from the Path), for He seeth well all that you do,” says verse 112 of Chapter 11 (Hud). Lying is allowed only when it is deemed a necessity, for example when being tortured, or when an innocuous deception serves a good purpose, scholars say….
“Scholars say.” The Times doesn’t bother to tell its readers about the Qur’anic basis for this idea, as underscored by mainstream commentaries on the Qur’an. In fact, the Qur’an allows Muslims to “utter unbelief” when “under compulsion” (16:106). And another verse also allows for deception of unbelievers: “Let not the believers take disbelievers for their friends in preference to believers. Whoso doeth that hath no connection with Allah unless (it be) that ye but guard yourselves against them, taking (as it were) security” — Qur’an 3:28.
How have Muslims understood this? “Allah said next, ‘unless you indeed fear a danger from them,’ [or as above, ‘unless it be that ye but guard yourselves against them’] meaning, except those believers who in some areas or times fear for their safety from the disbelievers. In this case, such believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly. For instance, Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Ad-Darda’ said, ‘We smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them.’ Al-Bukhari said that Al-Hasan said, ‘The Tuqyah [taqiyya, or religious deception] is allowed until the Day of Resurrection.'” — Ibn Kathir’s commentary on Qur’an 3:28
Rule No. 6. You may need to ask your parents for their consent.
Militant Islamists interpret the Koran and the separate teachings of Muhammad that are known as the Sunna as laying out five criteria to be met by people wanting to be jihadis. They must be Muslim, at least 15 and mature, of sound mind, debt free and have parental permission.
The parental rule is currently waived inside Iraq, where Islamists say it is every Muslim’s duty to fight the Americans, Dr. Massari says. It is optional for residents of nearby countries, like Jordan….
The “Islamists say” this on the basis of the stipulation in Islamic law that if a Muslim land is attacked, jihad becomes fard ayn, or obligatory on every believer. Whether or not the American presence in Iraq or Afghanistan actually constitutes such an attack is not the point; the point is that this idea is not an invention of the jihadists, but is deeply rooted in Islamic law — which is one reason why so many Muslims find it compelling.