This tweet from Ed Husain is no doubt tongue-in-cheek, but note its import: clearly it is an attempt to exonerate the jihad terror group Hamas by equating its murderous mission to the American Revolutionary slogan that is the motto of the state of New Hampshire. Simultaneously Husain minimizes the bloodiness of Hamas and advances a sly moral equivalence argument equating American Revolutionaries with genocidal Islamic jihadists who celebrate the murders of civilians.
And this from a “normal Muslim.” Ed Husain is a prominent non-violent Muslim who recently wrote a piece in the reliably dhimmi Wall Street Journal entitled “Don’t Call Me Moderate, Call Me Normal.” In it, he claimed that “normative Islam is inherently pluralist” and “supported by 1,000 years of Muslim history in which religious freedom was cherished.” He said nothing in this, not surprisingly, about dhimmitude, or about the deprivations, discrimination and harassment suffered by non-Muslims in Islamic societies for centuries.
Normal Ed is also the author of The Islamist, a book about how he entered and then left the jihadist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. In 2007 he wrote a piece in The Guardian, “Stop supporting Bin Laden,” about how Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and I are — unwittingly, of course — playing into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself.
His claim (which is by no means original with him — this is a familiar Islamic supremacist talking point) is that because I — and Hirsi Ali, and Ibn Warraq, and others — point out that there is a broad and deeply rooted tradition of violence and supremacism within Islam, therefore we are marginalizing other Islamic traditions and legitimizing bin Laden. In saying this, Husain implies that jihadism is clearly an Islamic heresy, and that there is a broad tradition within Islam that rejects violence against non-Muslims and Islamic supremacism — and that Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq and I are ignoring or downplaying it out of some base motives. Bin Laden or someone like him invented jihadism and grafted it onto a religion that has otherwise peaceful teachings.
In reality, however, while there are a few courageous reformers out there, all — not just one, or a few, but all — the orthodox sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence all teach that it is part of the responsibility of the Islamic community to wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law (references can be found here). There is no sect or school recognized as orthodox that rejects this.
It is not playing into bin Laden’s hands to point it out; in fact, it is playing into bin Laden’s hands to deny it and denigrate those who point out that it is so, for there can be no reform of what one will not admit needs reforming. There are some disagreements between modern jihadism and traditional jihad theology: modern jihad is all defensive, as there is no caliph authorized to call offensive jihad, and some assert that only the state authority can call jihad in any case. But these disagreements do not touch on the central point: that it is legitimate to wage religious war. If Ed Husain wishes to pretend to the world that the situation of Islamic theology and jurisprudence is other than what it is, how sincere a reformer can he be? Wouldn’t a genuine reformer acknowledge the existence of problematic passages and doctrines and formulate new ways to understand them, rather than pretending that they don’t exist at all — except in the minds of violent fanatics and those he would have you believe are merely hatemongers?