The bishop said: “We know that, if Islam has been invoked as the reason to kill, it is because it has been manipulated and held hostage by terrorists and violent people. So, we must help Islam get rid of such manipulative and perverted interpretations, by promoting dialogue and friendship all the time.”
Yes, there is no doubt that Muslims are just waiting for non-Muslims such as Jean-Pierre Delville to come along and show them how to interpret Islam properly.
Meanwhile, are the jihadis really relying upon “perverted interpretations”? Here is what one finds when one turns to the authoritative sources in Sunni Islam, the schools of Sunni jurisprudence (madhahib):
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 jihadis 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.”
This is also taught by modern-day scholars of Islam. 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.
All this doesn’t sound like a religion that “has been manipulated and held hostage by terrorists and violent people” who employ “manipulative and perverted interpretations.” It would be illuminating if Jean-Pierre Delville produced some quotations from Muslim authorities he considers authentic, and explained why the authorities I’ve quoted above and others like them are “manipulative and perverted interpretations.” But he won’t.
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
“Belgium: funeral service in Liege for the two killed policewomen. Mgr. Delville (Bishop), ‘don’t let yourselves be drowned by fear and hatred, be makers of the peace,'” Servizio Informazione Religiosa, June 5, 2018:
“Don’t let yourselves be drowned by feelings of fear and hatred, of resignation, be makers of the peace”. This was said this morning by monsignor Jean-Pierre Delville, Bishop of Liege, in greeting the relatives, colleagues and the political and civilian authorities of Belgium who attended the funeral service for Lucile Garcia and Soraya Belkacemi, the two policewomen killed by a man last Tuesday. The Bishop… also sent a special thought to Mrs Darifa Imankaf, a Muslim and a clerk at the Municipality of Liege, who “managed to restrain the terrorist for a long while, thus preventing him committing an ever greater massacre”. Today, the task that all the community of Liege is charged with – mgr. Delville said – is to “oppose to any further development of hatred” and to get out of this tragedy “more mature inside and even more motivated to build tomorrow’s society in friendship”. …Today’s Christians’ mission – the Bishop pointed out in his sermon – is “building connections among people and steering clear of confusion. We know that, if Islam has been invoked as the reason to kill, it is because it has been manipulated and held hostage by terrorists and violent people. So, we must help Islam get rid of such manipulative and perverted interpretations, by promoting dialogue and friendship all the time”….