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Defeating Jihad

Chapter 3: Jihad

by Serge Trifkovic

Webmaster note: As of July 2006 I think this is the best book on Islam to date. Every adult should read this book in order to understand the threat of Islam per se, not just "radical Islam" (as opposed to the mythical "peace-loving nature of 'true' Islam"). Dr. Trifkovic, a courageous Serbian Orthodox Christian, is a leading authority on Islam. This is the sequel to his first book on Islam, Sword of the Prophet, also published by Regina Orthodox Press.

Jihad, war in the path of Allah with the objective of converting, killing, or else subjugating and taxing the "infidel" was in Muhammad's view the most important work a man could perform, in addition to having faith and performing a blameless pilgrimage. The doctrine of jihad was also Muhammad's most significant single contribution to world history. It defined Islam in its earliest days. And Jihad has defined the relations between Islam and other religions and cultures ever since. It continues to define the mindset of Islam today.

Muhammad's followers and successors were prone to war by custom and nature, accustomed to living by pillage and the exploita-tion of settled populations. Theirs was an "expansionism denuded of any concrete objective, brutal, and born of a necessity in its past." [1] Islam provided a powerful ideological justification for those wars—a justification that was inherently global in scope and totalitarian in nature. It shifted the focus of attention of the tribesmen from their internecine feuds to the outside world. The enormous aggressive energy and hunger for loot was henceforth to be directed outward.

The view of modern Islamic activists, that "Islam must rule the world and until Islam does rule the world we will continue to sacrifice our lives," [2] has been solidly rooted in traditional Islam ever since the early divine sanction of violence that came to Muhammad in Medina: "O Prophet! Rouse the Believers to the fight," the Kuran orders, and promises that twenty Muslims, "patient and persevering," would vanquish two hundred unbelievers; if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand. [3] Allah further orders the faithful to fight the unbelievers and be firm with them, [4] "and slay them wherever ye catch them." [5] The end of the fight is possible only when "there prevail justice and faith in Allah"—everywhere. [6]

Such scriptural basis made Islam different from Judaism and Christianity in creating the foundations for a theocratic universal state with unlimited aspirations. From Muhammad's second year in Medina on, Islam combined the dualism of a universal religion and a universal state and became "Islam's instrument for carrying out its ultimate objective by turning all people into believers." [7]

Even in the absence of an active military campaign against dar al-harb at any given moment in time, Islam postulates the funda-mental illegitimacy of its existence and the embrace of a permanent "rejection of the other" by every bona fide Muslim as a divine obligation. Jihad did not necessarily mean permanent fighting, but it did mean a permanent state of war and permanent instability wherever Muslim populations began to gain a foothold.

In addition to the verses of the Kuran, there are dozens of hadiths with Muhammad's assurances that Allah guarantees to all jihadi warriors instant paradise in case of martyrdom, or "reward or booty he has earned." [8] To be a Muslim was a win-win proposition. Muhammad assured his troops of rewards in hereafter and profit in this life:

Jihad is the best method of earning, both spiritual and temporal. If victory is won, there is enormous booty and conquest of a country, which cannot be equaled to any other source of earning. If there is defeat or death, there is ever-lasting Paradise and a great spiritual benefit. This sort of Jihad is conditional upon pure motive i.e. for establishing the kingdom of Allah on earth. [9]

Only after the universal Islamic Empire is established, the notion of an "inner" jihad—that of one's personal fight against his ego and sinful desires—may become prominent, but it was predicated on the assumption that the external, real jihad "in the path of Allah" was nearing its completion.

The concept of spiritual struggle was never meant to replace, let alone abrogate the original, warlike meaning. Furthermore, all jihad is "defensive jihad" once it is accepted that the legal formulation of the relationship of Muslims to others is based on the principle that Islam is a universal message which the whole of mankind must accept or else submit to.

Since no political system or material power is allowed to put hindrances in the way of preaching Islam, any such "hindrance" constitutes an act of "aggression" and Islam has no recourse but to remove them by force. [10]

Muhammad may not have performed any miracles in his lifetime, but his followers took the victorious spread of Islam by the invading Arab armies, starting at Badr, as a sure sign of divine favor. Following the first four caliphs, the conquered lands were turned into an Arab empire ruled by Muslim warriors who lived entirely on the spoils of war, that is, the poll and land taxes paid by the subjugated peoples.

"My livelihood is under the shade of my spear," that is, from booty and poll tax, Muhammad declared, and the faithful followed his example. [11] All conquered lands were duly transformed into the House of Islam, where umma had been established, while the rest of the world belonged to the House of War inhabited by Harbis.

As for remaining unconquered lands and cultures, the House of Islam is in a state of permanent war with the lands that surround it. The never ending war can be interrupted by truces, but peace will only come with the completion of global conquest.

There is an intermediate stage known as Dar al Sulh—when the Muslims are a minority community and need to adopt temporarily a peaceful attitude in order to deceive their neighbors. Mecca before Muhammad's move to Medina is the model for which the Muslim diaspora in the Western world provides contemporary example. The model was provided by Muhammad, who accepted a truce with Mecca when he was in an inferior position but broke it as soon as his recuperated strength allowed. Then he offered his pagan compatriots the choice of conversion or death.

The final objective all along is Dar al Islam, where Muslims dominate and infidels are converted or massacred: "fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war]; but if they repent, and establish regular Prayers and practice regular Charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." This, "the Verse of the Sword" (9:5) allows only one way out for pagans to be spared from being slain: to become Muslims. Islamic scholars agree that this single verse abrogates 124 earlier verses—the ones that are quoted most regularly by Islam's apologists to prove its tolerance and benevolence as a "religion of peace."

"People of the book" had the third option of paying the poll tax—a crushing burden for most—with a trembling hand: "Declare war upon those to whom the Scriptures were revealed but believe neither in Allah nor the Last Day, and who do not forbid that which Allah and His Apostle have forbidden, and who refuse to acknow-ledge the true religion until they pay the poll-tax with a hand of humility and are totally subjugated." [12]

The entire Sura 9 has been accordingly called "a chapter of war proclamations." Thereafter the Muslims were obliged to wage war against all unbelievers. They could contemplate tactical ceasefires, but never its complete abandonment short of the unbelievers' abject submission. This is the real meaning of Jihad.

Its meaning as the obligatory and permanent war against non-Muslims has not changed since Muhammad: "Those who believe fight in the cause of God." [13] For the fallen and victorious alike, the rewards are instant and plentiful: "Let those fight in the cause of God who barter the life of this world for that which is to come; for whoever fights on God's path, whether he is killed or triumphs, we will give him a handsome reward." [14] The firm promise of instant bliss remains to this day a powerful incentive to would-be martyrs from Iraq's markets to London's mass transit system.

The conquered peoples were "protected persons" only if they submitted to Islamic domination by a "Contract" (Dhimma), paid poll tax—jizya and land tax—haraj to their masters. Any failure to do so was the breach of contract, enabling the Muslims to kill or enslave them and confiscate their property.

The cross could not be displayed in public, the people of the book had to wear special clothing, and they were not allowed to carry weapons. They had to take in Muslim travelers, especially soldiers on a campaign. [15]

The resulting inequality of rights in all domains between Muslims and dhimmis was geared to a steady erosion of the latter communities by the attrition and conversion. By the time Timur's invasions at the end of the 14th century the Christians became a minority in their own lands where no other religion had been known until the Muslim conquest. They endured for centuries lives of quiet desperation.

In the conquered lands the dynamics of Islamization were at work, different in form, perhaps, between Spain and Syria, but always following the same pattern determined by the ideology and laws of jihad and Sharia, and leading to transformation of native Christian majorities into religious minorities. The initial choice of the vanquished was not "Islam or death" but "Islam or super-tax." But over time Sharia ensured the decline of all other religions it was "tolerating" such as Eastern Christianity. The sapping of the captives' vitality and capacity for renewal was the long term norm.

It is remarkable that in this age of rampant victimology the persecution of Christians by Muslims has become a taboo subject in the Western academe. A complex web of myths, outright lies, and deliberately imposed silence dominates it. Thirteen centuries of religious discrimination, causing suffering and death of countless millions, have been covered by the myth of Islamic "tolerance" that is as hurtful to the few descendants of the victims as it is useless as a means of appeasing latter-day jihadists. The silence and lies, perpetrated by the Western academe and media class, facilitates the perpetuation of religious discrimination and persecution even today.

The cover-up is not new. Writing more than six decades ago, Arthur Jeffery dismissed as "the sheerest sophistry" the tendency apparent in his own time that sought to explain away Muhammad's warlike raids as "defensive wars" or to interpret Jihad as merely a bloodless striving in missionary zeal for the spread of Islam: "The early Arabic sources quite plainly and frankly describe the expedi-tions as military expeditions, and it would never have occurred to anyone at that day to interpret them as anything else." [16]

Contemporary apologists for Islam in the academe have moved on, however, and now routinely make claims that would have been considered eccentric if not openly fraudulent only a generation ago. Their "Islam is peace" mantra invokes the alleged Kuranic quote, "If you kill one soul it is as if you have killed all mankind," but without Allah's essential proviso, "unless it be . . . for spreading mischief," i.e., resisting Muslim rule. They assert that the usual modus operandi of the early Muslims should be judged in its "context," that this was "normal behavior" at the time.

The same understanding, however, is not extended towards those Europeans—often coarse and decidedly unpleasant characters that joined the Crusades—who attempted to turn the tables and take the battle back into the enemy camp, and whose actions those same Western friends of Islam so sternly condemn today. [17] Their assurance that only the "spiritual" definition of Jihad is the real one, practiced by "most Muslims," amounts to distorting the well documented history of centuries of very physical "striving" by generations of Muslim warriors.

The reality of militant jihad as a centuries-long religious and legal institution of Islam has a rock-solid rooting in its scriptures, traditions, and in all four schools of Sunni jurisprudence. [18] Even the renowned master of the allegedly peaceful and tolerant Sufi sect, al-Ghazali (d. 1111) opined that "one must go on jihad (i.e. warlike razzias or raids) at least once a year... One may use a catapult against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and drown them."

One of the most prominent Islamic jurists and philosophers of all time, Ibn Khaldun, summed up the "consensus" that is valid to this day. He defined holy war as a religious duty based on the universal-ism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert all men to Islam by persuasion or force. He readily concedes that the holy war is not a religious duty for other religions, but explains that unlike them "Islam is under obligation to gain power over all other nations."

The apologists assert that Muslims are called by the Kuran to strive for peace, but the "peace" that is believers are called upon to implement is impossible unless it is established under an all-pervasive Islamic rule. Such "peace," resulting from jihad, does not only have the meaning of the absence of war, it is also a state of security that is attainable only once Islam defeats all infidels, kills, converts or subjugates them, and conquers their lands. This is a concept of peace "completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace." [19]

This is exactly the same definition of "peace" as that used by the Soviet empire in the period of its external expansion (1944-1979): it is the objective, but it is fully attainable only after the defeat of "imperialism as the final stage of capitalism" and the triumph of the vanguard of the proletariat in the whole world. [20]


* Please note that the footnote numbering does not follow the book's numbering.

1. Ibn Warraq (1995), p. 219.

2. Al-Badr spokesman Mustaq Aksari, CNN, September 19,2001

3. 8:65

4. 9:123

5. 2:191

6. 2:193

7. Majid Khadduri, quoted in Bostom (Ed), op. cit, p. 311.

8. E.g. as quoted in The Dictionary of Islam by Thomas Patrick Hughes:

"God is sponsor for him who goeth forth to fight on the road of God. If he be not killed, he shall return to his house with rewards and booty, but if he be slain, he shall be taken to Paradise."

"I swear by God I should like to be killed on the road of God, then be killed and brought to life again, then killed again and then brought to life again, so that I may obtain new rewards every time."

"Guarding the frontiers of Islam for even one day is worth more than the whole world and all that is in it."

"The fire of hell shall not touch the legs of him who be covered with the dust of battle in the road of God."

"This religion will ever be established, even to the Day of Resurrection, as long as Muslims fight for it."

"In the last day the wounds of those who have been wounded in the way of God will be evident, and will drop with blood, but their smell will be as the perfume of musk."

"Being killed in the road of God covers all sins, but the sin of debt."

"He who dies and has not fought for the religion of Islam... [is] a hypocrite."

"Fighting in the road of God, or resolving to do so, is a divine duty. When your Imam leader. orders you to go forth to fight, then obey him."

9. Mishkat II, p. 253

10. Cf. Sayyid Qutb quoting Ibn Qayyim in Bostom (Ed.), op. cit.

11. This Hadith has been removed from the Internet version of Sahih Bukhari (Vol. IV-88), but it can be found in the print version translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan.

12. 9:29,30

13. 4:76

14. 4:74

15. A host of additional petty rules were either enacted or adopted that were meant to humiliate non-Muslims. Some of them were summarized in the "Pact of Umar," in which the Christians were forced to solemnly declare, inter alia, "we shall show deference to the Muslims and shall rise from our seats when they wish to seat down... We shall not ride on saddles. We shall clip the forelocks of our head. We shall not display our crosses or our books anywhere in the Muslims' thoroughfares or in their marketplaces... we shall not build our homes higher than theirs." Disobedience meant death: "Anyone who violates such terms will be unprotected. And it will be permissible for the Muslims to treat them as rebels or dissenters: it is permissible to kill them." That "protection" was also abolished if the dhimmis resisted Islamic law, gave allegiance to non-Muslim power, harmed a Muslim or his property or committed "blasphemy."

16. Quoted in Andrew Bostom (Ed.), The Legacy of Jihad, Amhrerst, New York: Prometheus, 2005, p. 25. This exceptionally valuable collection of extracts and documents dating back to the earliest days of Islam contains hitherto unavailable texts in English by a number of Islamic scholars and scholars of Islam.

17. Notably e.g. Muhammad : A Biography of the Prophet by Karen Armstrong.

18. I.e. Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi, and Shafi'i. For relevant quotes by a representative of each school cf. Bostom (Ed.), op. cit, p. 27.

19. Bassam Tibi of Gottingen University, as quoted in "Islamic Scholar Warns U.S. of 'Two-Faced' Muslims." Wires, June 20, 2002.

20. As per Ayatollah Khomeini, "those who study jihad will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world: all the countries conquered by Islam or to be conquered in the future will be marked for everlasting salvation."

From Defeating Jihad: How the War on Terrorism Can Be Won - in Spite of Ourselves, by Serge Trifkovic. Posted with the publisher's permission on July 28, 2006.