It doesn’t? Somebody better tell the schools of Sunni jurisprudence:
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, unless one believes the claims of the Islamic State, 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.”
Someone should also alert more recent scholars of Islam to the reality of jihad as a spiritual struggle. 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.
One might also get the impression that jihad has something to do with warfare from these Qur’an verses. What kind of “spiritual struggle” involves killing?
2:191-193: “And kill them wherever you come upon them, and expel them from where they expelled you; persecution is more grievous than slaying. But fight them not by the Holy Mosque until they should fight you there; then, if they fight you, kill them — such is the recompense of unbelievers, but if they give over, surely Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. Fight them, till there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s; then if they give over, there shall be no enmity save for evildoers.”
4:89: “They wish that you should disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of Allah; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and kill them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.”
8:12: “When thy Lord was revealing to the angels, ‘I am with you; so confirm the believers. I shall cast into the unbelievers’ hearts terror; so strike above the necks, and strike every finger of them!”
8:60: “Make ready for them whatever force and strings of horses you can, to strike terror thereby into the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them that you know not; Allah knows them. And whatsoever you expend in the way of Allah shall be repaid you in full; you will not be wronged.”
9:5: “Then, when the sacred months are over, kill the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them, and confine them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms, then let them go their way; Allah is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.”
9:29: “Fight those who believe not in Allah and the Last Day and do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden, and do not practice the religion of truth, even if they are of the People of the Book — until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”
9:111: “Allah has bought from the believers their selves and their possessions against the gift of Paradise; they fight in the way of Allah; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon Allah in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Koran; and who fulfils his covenant truer than Allah? So rejoice in the bargain you have made with Him; that is the mighty triumph.”
9:123: “O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you; and let them find in you a harshness; and know that Allah is with the godfearing.”
47:4: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads. So it shall be; and if Allah had willed, He would have avenged Himself upon them; but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will not send their works astray.”
Also: did this gathering explain to the Jews what the Qur’an says about them? “Haroon put his arm around me and said, ‘I thought we were cousins.'” Did Haroon tell his Cousin Fred about how the Qur’an depicts the Jews as the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more? Somehow I doubt any of that came up.
“Muslim-Jewish interfaith exchange reveals common ground,” by Dan Geringer, Philadelphia Inquirer, January 9, 2017:
Haroon Rashid, a Muslim from North Penn Mosque in Lansdale, and Fred Goldstein, a Jew from Old York Road Temple-Beth Am synagogue in Abington, met as mentors at an Interfaith Center of Philadelphia youth conference in 2015 and quickly became kindred souls.
When they visited Rashid’s mosque during the conference, Goldstein asked about a collection box he saw. Rashid said it was a Sadaqah box, used to collect money for the poor. Goldstein said, “When we go to my synagogue, I’ll show you a Tzedakah box, where we collect money for the poor.”
That was one of many common threads between Judaism and Islam that the two new friends discovered as “Haroon put his arm around me and said, ‘I thought we were cousins,’ ” Goldstein recalled Sunday. “That day for me was actually life changing.”
Discovery of common ground was also on the agenda Sunday, when 46 members of Temple-Beth Am visited North Penn Mosque to share a meal of lamb, beef, rice, and chickpeas; observe the afternoon prayer service led by Imam Abu Rashad; hear Imam Mujammil Zakir explain the basic tenets of Islam; and learn that jihad isn’t necessarily what they thought it was.
After alternating flawlessly between Arabic and English to discuss shared Islamic and Jewish respect for seminal figures such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, and the similar wish for peace in the greetings shalom and salaam alaikum, Zakir paused and said, “Jihad.”
He looked around the room, smiled, and gently teased his listeners, “When we hear that word, we sometimes wake up if we’ve been sleeping.”
Then, turning serious, he said, “Jihad doesn’t mean to go on a battlefield and fight. It means you struggle in your heart” to meet God’s standard of goodness.
That struggle might be between relaxing at home after a tiring work week instead of venturing out into the cold to go to the mosque, he said, adding “Who made the jihad? People who came to the afternoon prayer. That is jihad.”
Syed Afzal, the mosque’s president, welcomed visitors by saying, “We are blessed with your presence,” and noted that the mosque’s members in the room included people from India, Pakistan, Senegal, and Bangladesh.
“This is a beautiful gathering. I’m sure all of you came from another part of the world at one time or another. And now,” he said dramatically, “the most important item of the day. What is that? Food!”
He began the meal by breaking flatbread with Beth Am’s Rabbi Robert Leib, who offered a blessing in Hebrew. Afzal looked at his Muslim and Jewish audience and said, “We are all the offspring of one pair: Adam, peace be upon him; and Eve, peace be upon her.” Then he worked the lunch crowd, asking how the food was and joking, “If it’s good, I cooked it.”
Lily Rothman runs Beth Am’s Lincow Institute for Adult Jewish Studies, with her husband, Paul, and helped organize the mosque visit. She said its purpose was “to help get the whole sense of the unknown out of the way. I think if we have a level of comfort with each other, we’ll be more at peace with each other. The more you know, the more you understand and appreciate differences, and the more you eliminate misunderstanding and fear. The bottom line is: we’re all human beings.”
The afternoon of fellowship ended with women from Beth Am spontaneously serenading their Muslim hosts with a Hebrew song that translated as “How beautiful it is when brothers and sisters come together.”
Then the congregants who Leib affectionately calls the “Beth Amniks” invited their Muslim hosts to come to the synagogue for a future interfaith visit. Leib and Afzal hugged….