The thoroughly mendacious Zahra Billoo of Hamas-linked CAIR says that it’s a “misconception” that jihad means “armed struggle or holy war.” She doesn’t bother to explain why so many Muslims worldwide every day buy into this “misconception.”
Jihad in Arabic does indeed mean “struggle,” and the Arabic word carries as many connotations as the English one. One may struggle to lose weight or to exercise regularly, and the same word is used for great struggles, such as those against Nazism and Communism. The Islamic Republic of Iran has a Department of Agricultural Jihad, which has nothing to do with blowing up farm implements, but merely concerns itself with the struggle to increase crop yields.
However, the principal meaning of jihad throughout Islamic history and in Islamic law is armed struggle against unbelievers to subjugate them as inferiors under the rule of Sharia. The four schools of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence are clear about jihad:
Shafi’i school: A Shafi’i manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the clerics at Al-Azhar University, one of the leading authorities in the Islamic world, as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy, stipulates about jihad that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians…until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” It adds a comment by Sheikh Nuh “˜Ali Salman, a Jordanian expert on Islamic jurisprudence: the caliph wages this war only “provided that he has first invited [Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians] to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…while remaining in their ancestral religions.” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.8).
Of course, there is no caliph today, and hence the oft-repeated claim that Osama et al are waging jihad illegitimately, as no state authority has authorized their jihad. But they explain their actions in terms of defensive jihad, which needs no state authority to call it, and becomes “obligatory for everyone” (‘Umdat al-Salik, o9.3) if a Muslim land is attacked. The end of the defensive jihad, however, is not peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals: ‘Umdat al-Salik specifies that the warfare against non-Muslims must continue until “the final descent of Jesus.” After that, “nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent” (o9.8).
Hanafi school: A Hanafi manual of Islamic law repeats the same injunctions. It insists that people must be called to embrace Islam before being fought, “because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith.” It emphasizes that jihad must not be waged for economic gain, but solely for religious reasons: from the call to Islam “the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.”
However, “if the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax [jizya], it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.” (Al-Hidayah, II.140)
Maliki school: 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.”
Hanbali school: The great medieval theorist of what is commonly known today as radical or fundamentalist Islam, Ibn Taymiyya (Taqi al-Din Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya, 1263-1328), was a Hanbali jurist. He directed that “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.”
Majid Khadduri was an Iraqi scholar of Islamic law of international renown. In his book War and Peace in the Law of Islam, which was published in 1955 and remains one of the most lucid and illuminating works on the subject, Khadduri says this about jihad:
The state which is regarded as the instrument for universalizing a certain religion must perforce be an ever expanding state. The Islamic state, whose principal function was to put God’s law into practice, sought to establish Islam as the dominant reigning ideology over the entire world….The jihad was therefore employed as an instrument for both the universalization of religion and the establishment of an imperial world state. (P. 51)
Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Assistant Professor on the Faculty of Shari’ah and Law of the International Islamic University in Islamabad. In his 1994 book The Methodology of Ijtihad, he quotes the twelfth century Maliki jurist Ibn Rushd: “Muslim jurists agreed that the purpose of fighting with the People of the Book…is one of two things: it is either their conversion to Islam or the payment of jizyah.” Nyazee concludes: “This leaves no doubt that the primary goal of the Muslim community, in the eyes of its jurists, is to spread the word of Allah through jihad, and the option of poll-tax [jizya] is to be exercised only after subjugation” of non-Muslims.
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Buses in San Francisco are carrying messages of jihad, but it’s not what you might think. It’s a campaign to educate residents about the real meaning of the word. It’s a campaign that began in Chicago and has now reached the Bay Area.
One statement on the side of a Muni bus reads: “My jihad is to stay fit despite my busy schedule. What’s yours?”
It’s part of an educational campaign created by CAIR — the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The group has put 35 ads on buses rolling through the streets of San Francisco.
“The intention of the campaign is to educate our fellow Americans about what the word jihad means,” said Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the Bay Area office for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said, “A common misconception of the word jihad is that it means armed struggle or holy war and that is something that has been perpetrated by many who’ve made careers out of pushing anti-Muslim sentiment.”
We asked some Muni riders if they knew the definition of jihad. Most of the answers we got were “a religious war” and “a holy war”.
Miriam Webster also defines it as a holy war, but it lists a second definition — one that Billoo says is much more appropriate.
“The proper meaning of jihad as many of us frequently describe it is to struggle. And that’s it. For many, that is anything from building relationships with their neighbors to making it to work on time or doing better on their diets,” said Billoo.
It’s a meaning many don’t know.
“I didn’t know the definition either. It’s interesting to be educated on it,” said one Muni rider.
But Muni rider Nicholas Thomas doesn’t know how big an impact the ads will make. He said, “I think for so long it’s been ingrained in people’s heads that it has such negative connotation, that I think that’s sort of rooted in people and that for that idea to change, it would probably take a little bit more than just people talking about it.”
Yes, it would take peaceful Muslims taking some real action against their coreligionists who further violent jihad. Meanwhile, the ads we have developed telling the truth about jihad are still awaiting approval in Chicago — doubtless dhimmi officials are trying to figure out a way to block them: