A recent Arabic article appearing in Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper titled “Is Terrorism Jihad?” written by Islamic law expert Dr. Abdul Fatah Idris offers important lessons—from the fact that jihad does involve subjugating non-Muslims to why the Western mentality is still incapable of acknowledging it.
Idris, professor and chairman of Al Azhar University’s Department of Comparative Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Sharia Law, is a well-reputed legal scholar. He begins his article by defining terrorism and quoting several international bodies that, in his words define terrorism as an act of violence or threat of violence coming from an individual either on his own volition or in participation with other individuals. (More detail here)
But jihad in the path of Allah, to make his word supreme, spread his religion, defend the honor of the Islamic nation [umma], and respond to the aggression against Muslims all around the earth—this is jihad: when a Muslim fights an infidel without treaty to make the word of Allah Most High supreme, forcing him to fight or invading his land, this is a permissible matter according to the consensus of the jurists. Indeed, it is an obligation for all Muslims. Now if the deeds of the jihad—including fighting the infidels and breaking their spine through all possible means—are permissible according to Sharia, then it is impossible to define those acts as terrorism, which Sharia-based evidence has made illegitimate. A large gap exists between them [jihad and terrorism]. And there is no connection between what is obligatory [jihad] and what is forbidden [terrorism]. [italics added for emphasis]
What’s needed here is for the non-Muslim to try to transcend his epistemology and think, for a moment, like an observant Muslim, especially in the context of two points:
1. According to Islamic doctrine, jihad, as Idris asserts, is an obligation for Muslims (offensive being communal, defensive being individual). As this expert of Islamic jurisprudence states: “But jihad in the path of Allah, to make his word supreme, spread his religion… this is jihad: when a Muslim fights an infidel without treaty [e.g. dhimma pact] to make the word of Allah Most High supreme, forcing him to fight or invading his land…”
2. In Islamic thinking, even offensive jihad—including “breaking [the infidels’] spine through all possible means”—is seen as something of an altruistic affair, for the good of the world. More to the point, the ends justify the means.
Taking these two points together—(1) Allah commands Muslims to wage jihad and (2) it is good for all concerned, a means to a glorious end, i.e., “making Allah’s word supreme”—how can Muslims classify jihad as “terrorism,” even when, from a non-Muslim perspective, it seems identical to the international definitions of terrorism that Idris himself delineated and agreed with?
In short, jihad is not terrorism simply because Allah says so—even if the two, back in the real world, are identical. In the words of Idris: “Now if the deeds of the jihad—including fighting the infidels and breaking their spine through all possible means—are permissible according to Sharia, then it is impossible to define those acts as terrorism.”
Three final thoughts:
1. Next time you wonder why “moderate” Muslims rarely if ever condemn the terrorism habitually committed in the name of their religion, you’d do well to remember Idris’ article and rationale.
2. Regarding what jihad really is, who do you think is more authoritative—a Sharia law instructor at the Islamic world’s most prestigious university, writing in Arabic to fellow Muslims, or, say, a Karen Armstrong writing best-selling fluff pieces about a benign and “misunderstood” Islam to a naïve Western public?
3. Why was Idris’ article left unreported? Imagine the international outrage that would spark if a Christian theologian wrote in the New York Times—which is what Al Ahram is equivalent to in Egypt—that “it is an obligation” for Christians to wage “holy war” on non-Christians and “fight or invade his [non-Christian] land” to “make Jesus’ word supreme”? Read More Here