We hear a lot today from the mainstream media about jihad. Usually, it’s a happy-face jihad, congenially rendered as “the internal struggle to become a better person,” or “the struggle of communities to drive out drug peddlers,” or “the struggle against disease, poverty and ignorance.” In many ways, these reflect admirable efforts to reconstruct a very troubling concept, with an eye toward an Islam that blends into the modern world.
But let’s be clear: these are reconstructions. Jihad, in its seventh-century origins, is a forcible, military concept. I realize politesse frowns on saying such things out loud, but one of the main reasons it is so difficult to discredit the militants — to say convincingly that they have hijacked a peaceable religion — is this: when they talk about this central tenet, jihad, as a duty to take up arms, they have history and tradition on their side. As Abdel-Rahman, the influential scholar with a doctorate from the famed al-Azhar University in Egypt, instructed his followers: “There is no such thing as commerce, industry, and science in jihad…. If Allah says: ‘Do jihad,’ it means jihad with the sword, with the cannon, with the grenades, and with the missile. This is jihad. Jihad against God’s enemies for God’s cause and his word.”
So rich is the military pedigree of this term, jihad, that many of the apologists concede it but try a different tack to explain it away: “Sure, jihad means using force,” they say, “but only in defense — only when Muslims are under attack.” Of course, who is to say what is defensive? Who is to say when Muslims are under attack? For the militants, Islam is under attack whenever anyone has the temerity to say: “Islam — especially their brand of Islam — is not for me.” For the militants who will be satisfied with nothing less than the destruction of Israel, Islam is under attack simply because Israelis are living and breathing and going about their lives.
Read this article. It is one of the most cogent arguments against the absurdities of the war on method that I’ve ever read. The comparison of the wars on Drugs and Terror is particularly apt, as I expect about as much success in the latter as the former.