This is an off topic post. I will always give you a “heads up” when I’m writing about subjects unrelated to the gym. If you’re here for fitness and bodybuilding stuff, check in tomorrow. In the meantime, have a wonderful day!
Allah’s Messenger said, “Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords (Jihad in Allah’s Cause).”
My 7th grade son’s teacher recently told her class that “Islam a religion of peace.” I’ve heard many elected officials over the years tell us the very same thing. Barack Obama, George Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ashton Carter, Marie Harf, Jeh Johnson and Loretta Lynch have all proclaimed confidently that “Islam is a religion of peace.” In the past, I’ve heard John Brennan say terrorist groups “are driven by this ideology that is not rooted in Islam” and John Kerry say groups like the Islamic State are comprised of apostates who “do not represent Islam.”
European officials are, if possible, more strident in their insistence that Muslims who engage in terrorism misunderstand their own ideology and are twisting the peaceful message of Islam for their own purposes. Just a few days ago, Chancellor Merkel of Germany gave a speech in which she recommended working with “Islamist, Muslim states” to combat the idea that terrorism is actually part of Islam. She suggests that working with them is the key so that “we will be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the problem, but a falsely understood Islam, and the religious authorities of Islam have to find strong language in order to delineate themselves and distance themselves from this fundamentalist and terrorist [type of] Islam. Even the Pope has added his opinion to the cacophony of voices declaring that Islam doesn’t have aggression toward non-Muslims as part of the bedrock of the ideology. In part of a Christmas address in 2014, he expounded, “Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and peaceful coexistence” and according to his most recent declaration on the subject, “…Muslim terrorism does not exist.”
A few years go, confused about what I was actually seeing in the world which wildly opposed the “Islam is a religion of peace” platitudes, I began to dig. I wanted to better understand what was happening and as all researchers know when you’re wading into new subjects for the purpose of analytical examination, you begin at the beginning. That means you go as far back into the source material as you possibly can.
I sought out the Qur’an and read it, in hopes of gaining insight into the ideology. I thought it would contain most, if not all, of what I needed to know but in my studies, I learned that In order to have a reasonable breadth of understanding of how a Muslim is supposed to behave, I certainly needed to read the Qur’an but I couldn’t get the type of deeper understanding I wanted by ignoring the Hadith.
in addition to reading the Qur’an and the Hadith, I realized I also needed to study the life of Mohammad. In Islam, Mohammad is considered the perfect man. He is to be emulated. Therefore, If you know how he lived his life, you have a very detailed roadmap of proper behavior. The Hadith is a collection of short stories, vignettes, or passages about things Mohammad did, said or taught related by those who lived around him (for instance, many of the Hadiths are narrated by Aishah, who was one of his wives). They are personal testimonies of followers and provide insight into how one is to live.
As Jamaal Zarabozo of Boulder, Colorado wrote in his piece entitled “Congratulations to the New Muslim,”
“The most important source for any work about Islam must be the Quran itself. The Quran lays the foundation for the entirety of Islamic teachings.” The author goes on “However, the Quran was not simply revealed upon a mountainside for anyone to read and understand on his own. Allah chose to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and within the Quran itself ordered the Muslims to follow his example and to obey his commands. His way of life is known as the Sunnah and has been captured in what is known as the hadith literature. Therefore, the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as contained in the authentic hadith literature will also be heavily relied upon.
The Quran and Sunnah, therefore, form the ultimate sources of one’s understanding of Islam. Any other source must be secondary to these sources and subject to their overall approval. In other words, if something is contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, it cannot justifiably be considered part of Islam.”
I picked one of the best known collections of Hadith to study. It’s titled The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari (an Arabic-English edition) and was translated into English by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan. This set of Hadiths passed muster from the religious authorities in Saudi Arabia and was put together there. It pertains particularly to Sunni Muslims, who comprise upward of 75% of all Muslims in the world. It consists of nine volumes, each composed of many “books.” The books cover topics like how to wash, the passing on of property, how and when to pray, charitable giving and all manner of other topics. Volume 4 contains The Book of Jihad (fighting for Allah’s Cause) and it is 155 pages long.
I have heard Muslims and their western supporters say that Jihad is just the concept of “spiritual battle.” In other words, that Jihad is an internal struggle one engages in for the purposes of perfecting one’s behavior in order to be a better Muslim. Perhaps that statement has elements of truth in it but it’s far from the complete story. Chapter One of the Book of Jihad begins
“Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties: for the price that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah’s Cause, so they kill (others) and are killed.” (page 44)
The opening lines of the book destroy the notion that Jihad is simply a spiritual battle. At the bottom of the page, as a footnote the translator adds
“Al-Jihad (Holy fighting) in Allah’s cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) is given the utmost importance in Islam, and is one of the pillars (on which it stands). By Jihad Islam is established, Allah’s word is made superior. [His Word being (La ilaha illallah which means none has the right to be worshipped but Allah)], and his religion (Islam) is propagated.
“None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.” That phrase is written dozens of times throughout these volumes and it’s a phrase worthy of keeping in mind. It sets the tone toward non-believers since they are repeatedly instructed that those of other faiths do not have the right to worship as they see fit. Therefore, it’s easy to see why large numbers of Muslims are convinced they do not have to tolerate other traditions especially if they are present in enough numbers to prevent it (politically, by intimidation or through violent means).
Participation in Jihad is considered noble and excellent behavior as seen in the following passage (in this quote and hereafter, “Allah’s Messenger” refers to Mohammad).
(2785) Narrated abu Hurairah: A man came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “Guide me to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” He replied, “I do not find such a deed.”
The translator adds a telling line in a footnote, He writes,
“The Prophet tells his companions that one can attain rewards through Jihad against Kufr.”
Loosely, and for easy understanding, Kufr are people who are not Islamic. There are categories of Kufr and nuances of definition but basically it means an Unbeliever (and they are regarded as filth). You may rightly assume that unless you’re Muslim, they are referring to you. So great is the reward for those who fight in Allah’s cause that
“The mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders about (for grazing) tied by a rope.” (page 46)
What follows serves as further evidence that Jihad is not simply an internal battle.
“Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.” (page 47)
Clearly, you aren’t killed in a spiritual fight, nor do you get war booty from some sort of internal Jihad. It’s crystal clear to the reader that aggressive and violent Jihad is not only acceptable but encouraged. Jihad leads directly to Paradise. In the following quote and hereafter, “the Prophet” refers to Mohammad. “Al-Mushrikun” refers to polytheists, pagans, Idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and His Messenger Mohammad. Unless you are Muslim you fall into this category.
Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba: Our Prophet told us about the Message of our Lord that “…whoever amongst us is killed (in Jihad in Allah’s Cause), will go to Paradise.” ‘Umar asked the Prophet, “Is it not true that our men who are killed (in Jihad in Allah’s Cause), will go to Paradise and theirs (i.e., those of Al-Mushrikun) will go to the (Hell) fire?” The Prophet said, “Yes.” (Page 63)
To be clear, Jihad is not a choice. It’s a responsibility and is expected from each and every Muslim. The translator writes
Jihad is an obligatory duty in Islam, on every Muslim, and he who tries to escape from this duty or does not in his innermost heart wish to fulfill this duty, dies with one of the qualities of a hypocrite. (Page 44)
If a Muslim ruler calls for Jihad, it’s incumbent upon Muslims to answer that call.
(2783) Narrated Abu Hurairah: …and if you are called (by the Muslim ruler) for Jihad, go forth immediately.
In many places in the book, potent devotion to the concept of martyrdom is expressed.
Chapter 12 – The Statement Of Allah “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah (i.e., that they have gone out for Jihad (holy fighting) and showed not their backs to the disbelievers), of them some have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred), and some of them are still waiting, but they have never changed (i.e. they never proved treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allah) in the least.” (V .33 :23)
(2817) Narrated Abis bin Malik, The Prophet said, “Nobody who enters Paradise likes to return to the world even if he got everything on the earth, except a martyr who wishes to return to the world so that he may be martyred ten times because of the honor and dignity he receives (from Allah).”
(2797) Narrated Abu Hurairah. The Prophet said, “by Him in Whose Hands my soul is! Were it not for some men amongst the believers who dislike to be left behind me and whom I cannot provide with means of conveyance, I would certainly never remain behind any sarya (army-unit) going out for Jihad in Allah’s Cause By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred.”
Obviously, Army units aren’t deployed for internal struggle and again, you typically don’t die when engaged battles that aren’t violent engagements. You don’t suffer cuts or bleed either.
(2802) Narrated Jundab bin Sufyan: In one of the holy battles, a finger of Allah’s Messenger (got wounded and) bled. (Page 54)
Mohammad was wounded another time as well.
(2903) Narrated Sahl: When the helmet of the Prophet was smashed on his head and blood covered his face, and one of his front teeth got broken, Ali brought the water in his shield and Fatima (the Prophet’s daughter) washed him.
Chapter 10 (Page 55) in the Book of Jihad is summed up as “The superiority of him who is wounded in Allah’s Cause.” and it assures that those who are wounded in fighting will be taken care of on the Day of Resurrection when a wound would have “the color of blood but it’s smell will be the smell of musk (perfume).”
It’s obvious from what’s written in the Hadith that Mohammad took up arms himself. That’s an important fact to note if you remember that Mohammad is considered the perfect Islamic man and his actions are to be emulated. Mohammad waged war on non-Muslims and he did so expressly because they were not Muslim. He sought their conversion, first by persuasion and then, by the sword.
(2946) Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people till they say La Ilaha Illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and whoever said La ilaha illallah, he saved his life and property from me…”
Chapter 179 – The saying of the Prophet to the Jews, “Embrace Islam and you will be safe” (Narrated by Abu Hurairah). The flip side of this obviously meaning, if you don’t embrace Islam you won’t be safe.
(3053) Narrated Sa’id bin Jubair: The Prophet on his deathbed gave three orders saying, ‘Expel the Al-Mushrikun (polytheists, Pagans, Idolaters, and disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and His Messenger Muhammad) from the Arabian Peninsula…
The following quote further underscores the fact that Mohammad purposefully targeted non-Muslims using violent action because they did not accept Islam. Before going to battle he would discern if a group had accepted Islam or not by waiting to see if he could hear the call to prayer in the morning.
(2943) Narrated Anas: Whenever Allah’s Messenger attacked some people, he would never attack them till it was dawn. If he heard the Adhan [i.e., call for Salat (prayer)] he would delay the fight, and if he did not hear the Adhan, he would attack them immediately after dawn.”
One day, Mohammad fought battles against not one, but two, distinct groups. We are told he was encouraged in this endeavor by Gabriel who Muslims call Jibril. Gabriel is an important figure in Islam since they believe it was Gabriel who recited the Qur’an to Mohammad in a cave near Mecca.
(2813) Narrated Aishah: When Allah’s Messenger returned on the day (of the battle) of Al-Khandaq (i.e. Trench), he put down his arms and took a bath. Then Jibril (Gabriel) whose head was covered with dust, came to him saying, “You have put down your arms! By Allah, I have not put down my arms yet.” Allah’s Messenger said, “Where (to go now)?” Jibril said, “This way,” pointing towards the tribe of Bani Quraiza. So Allah’s Messenger went out towards them.
Only by acquiescing to Mohammad’s demand that they convert to Islam could non-Muslims save their lives and property. When Mohammad was refused, he went to war with the goal of killing all the men and then taking the women, children and their property as war booty. He split the booty among his men as reward for their part in battle.
(3043) Narrated Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri: Then Sa’d came and sat beside Allah’s Messenger who said to him, “These people are ready to accept your judgement.” Sa’d said, “I give the judgment that their warriors should be killed and their children and women should be taken as captives.” The Prophet then remarked, “Oh Sa’d! You have judged amongst them with (or similar to) the judgement of the King (Allah).”
(2864)…When we met them, we attacked them, and they fled. When the Muslims started collecting the war booty, Al-Mushrikun faced us with arrows, but Allah’s Messenger did not flee. (page 85)
Mohammad took at least one of his wives from among those he vanquished. It’s worth a noting that marriage did not need to be based on mutual consent. Only the Muslim male’s desire was required.
(2893) Narrated Anas bin Malik: When we reached Khaibar; and Allah enabled him to conquer the fort (of Khaibar), the beauty of Safiyya bent Huyai bin Akhtab was described to him. Her husband had been killed while she was a bride. So, Allah’s Messenger selected her for himself and took her along with him till we reached a place called Sad As-Sahba’, where she was clean from her menses, he took her for his wife.
There are several examples of Mohammad explicitly ordering the killing of another. In one case, it was by purposeful torture.
(3016) Narrated Abu Hurairah: When we intended to depart, Allah’s Messenger said, “I have ordered you to burn so-and-so and so-and-so, and it is none but Allah, who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, Kill them.”
(3044) Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Messenger entered (Makkah) in the year of the Conquest (of Makkah) wearing a helmet over his head. After he took it off, a man came and said, “Ibn Khatal is clinging to the curtains of the Ka’bah.” The Prophet said, “Kill him.”
(3051) Narrated Salama bin Al-Akwa: An infidel spy came to the Prophet while he was on a journey. The spy sat with he companions of the Prophet and started talking and then went away. The Prophet said (to his companions), “Chase and kill him.” So, I killed him. The Prophet then gave me the belongings of the killed spy (in addition to my share of the war booty).
(3018) Narrated Anas bin Malik: A group of eight men from the tribe of “Ukl came to the Prophet and then they found the climate of Al-Madina unsuitable for them. So, they said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Provide us with some milk.” Allah’s Messenger said, “I recommend that you should join the herd of camels.” So they went and drank the urine and the milk of the camels (as medicine) till they became healthy and fat. Then they killed the shepherd and drove away the camels, and they became disbelievers after embracing Islam. When the Prophet was informed by a shouter for help, he sent some men in their pursuit, and before the sun rose high, they were caught and brought, and he had their hands and feet cut off. Then he ordered for nails which were heated and were branded with those nails, their eyes, and they were left in the Harra (i.e. rocky land in Al-Madina). And when they asked for water, no water was given to them till they died.
There are many places in the Book of Jihad that support using stealth in order to defeat one’s enemies (non-Muslims). You don’t have to necessarily meet them on the battlefield to accomplish the goal of killing them. For instance, Chapter 155 is titled “Killing a sleeping Mushrik (polytheist, idolater, pagan).” Such an act is described in detail.
(3022) Narrated Al-Bara bin Azib: Allah’s Messenger sent a group of Ansari men to kill Abu Rafi. One of them set out and entered their (i.e. enemies) fort. That man said, “I hid myself in a stable for their animals. They closed the fort gate. Later, they lost a donkey of theirs, so they went out in its search. I, too, went out along with them, pretending to look for it. They found the donkey and entered their fort. And, I, too, entered along with them. They closed the gate of the fort at night, and kept its keys in a small window where I could see them. When those people slept, I took the keys and opened the gate of the fort and came upon Abu Rafi and said, “O Avu Rafi”. When he replied me, I proceeded towards the voice and hit him and came back. He shouted and I came out, pretending to be a helper. I said, “O Abu Rafi”, changing the tone of my voice. He asked me, ‘What do you want: woe to our mother?’ I asked him , ‘What has happened to you?’ He said, ‘I don’t know who came to me and hit me.’ Then I drove my sword into his belly and pushed it forcibly till it touched the bone.”
There are other chapters devoted to similar themes for instance, Chapter 158, which is titled “Telling lies in the war” which deems it permissible and Chapter 159 titled, “Killing non-Muslim warriors secretly” which is also permissible. The theme of deception in war is hammered home again and again.
(3030) Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”
A careful reading of The Book of Jihad makes it clear that the concept of Jihad is central to the practice of Islam, and it’s incorrect to think of it as strictly an internal struggle. The book advocates taking up of arms against non believers…because they are non believers. It exalts violence in “Allah’s cause” and teaches that those who engage in battle are rewarded with admission to Paradise, in fact, the best spots in Paradise are reserved for them. The translator tells us on page 46, that “no possible deed equals Jihad in reward.” Jihad is required and expected from each and every Muslim.
I cannot say what every Imam teaches nor what every Muslim knows regarding this subject. I imagine many Muslims are cultural Muslims rather than people who practice with true devotion, similar to people who call themselves Christian but aside from going to church on Christmas and Easter, they don’t adhere deeply to the teachings of their faith. Perhaps in many places, the message of Jihad is underplayed, smoothed over or ignored. Perhaps some teachers of Islam do pass on the idea that Jihad is relegated to a personal, internal battle. What I do know is that anyone who wishes to delve deeply into Islam or who wants to follow the direction of Mohammad as it is written in the Qur’an and in the Hadith, can see for themselves that there is a call for physical aggression toward non-believers. Mohammad himself engaged in battles against those of other faiths, and at the risk of being repetitive, Mohammad is considered the perfect Muslim (and his behavior is to be emulated).
This is why the fight against what most western politicians call “terrorists” and a few who are more bold call “radical Islamic extremists” is such a difficult undertaking. Muslims who engage in terrorist acts in the west and groups like Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al-Shabaab, and ISIS (AKA the Islamic State) are not twisting a peaceful ideology into something it’s not. They don’t misunderstand their religion at all, rather they are generally practicing as they are instructed to in the Qur’an and the Hadith. They’re following centuries old, original instruction. It would be more accurate to call them originalists, or perhaps fundamentalists (although there has been no formal reform to draw Islam away from ancient directives toward violence). Having not had a reformation, or official canceling of the pronouncements that advocate violence as a divinely approved of way of spreading Islam, the message still resonates through time. Anyone can read it if they choose and you don’t have to twist a single thing to come to the conclusion that violence against others is not only permitted, it’s desirable and grants one automatic admission to Paradise.
The problem for Muslims who don’t wish to travel that path and who would like to move the ideology toward a different orientation toward others is that the commands are actually there in black and white. They are clear and irrefutable. Publicly going against the call is essentially going against Mohammad and therefore Islam. Doing so would make them apostates, and the price for that is death since Islam teaches that apostates are to be killed.
It’s a conundrum but one that will never be resolved until people say what’s true, instead of what they wish was true in their conversations about Islam. We are now in you-better-figure-it-out-fast mode because western politicians have decided it’s a great idea to invite large groups of Islamic people into our countries without having had said conversations (America thankfully may be moving into a more cautious mode). We see the devastation the originalist Muslims bring with them (whether foreign born or home grown). They’ve pledged publicly to kill us. We’ve watched them blow up, shoot, rape, behead, stab, crash planes into buildings and run over citizens with vehicles in the name of Allah. All this, while our feckless, cowed, corrupt, evil politicians and academicians lie to our faces, telling us it’s ridiculous to be concerned, that Islam is a religion of peace and that those who engage in terrorism have simply misunderstood the central message of peaceful coexistence with others.
‘I, being martyred as a Muslim
Do not mind how I am killed in
For my killing is for Allah’s sake,
And if Allah wishes,
He will bless the amputated parts
of a torn body.’
(Chapter 170, , The Book of Jihad)
*Examples of approval for engaging in violence against non-Muslims are found woven throughout the nine volumes of the Hadith. They can be found in the Qur’an as well. I kept this discussion to the subject matter found in one book of the Hadith to limit the scope for the sake of brevity.