The Islamic Supreme Council of America has posted a number of articles about jihad. The first article they posted is Jihad: A Misunderstood Concept from Islam. I answered their taqiyya and kitman and posted it at https://theinstituteforjihadiresearch.org/2013/03/09/jihad-misunderstood/
This article is concerns jihad and propagation. In the article the author attempts to show that jihad of the mouth is the primary if not sole method of the Da’ wad process. The author does mention jihad of the sword but he always seems to bury it under Meccan ayats and ahadiths.
My responses are in red.
Jihad and Islamic Propagation
God says in the Qur’an, “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” [16:125]
Bo: I will begin my criticism of this article by pointing out the kitman involved in this paragraph. Please notice that this article is about Jihad and propagation. (1) Propagation refers to calling people to Islam or Da’ wah. The author by using the ayah he does seems to be saying (1) jihad bis saif is not used to propagate Islamic doctrine and (2) Islamic Da’ wah is non-violent.
Clearly, jihad of the tongue is a valid Islamic form of jihad no matter which period of which we may be speaking. Clearly both the Qur’ an and Sunnah call upon Muslims worldwide to promote Islam through the use of the tongue. But we need to understand the purpose of this article within the larger picture presented by this series of articles. The author’s big picture is to try and prove that both jihad and Islam are misunderstood by the non-Muslims.
The author does not begin in the Medinah period but Meccan. An-Nahl, topically chapter 16 in the Qur’ an, is a Meccan-period Surah. The Meccan-period refers to the first thirteen years of Mohammad’s so-called prophetship. Mohammad was not permitted to use jihad bis saif (of the sword) during this period because the Muslims were weak and outnumbered. This is the real reason that jihad bis saif is not found in Meccan-based surahs. If Mohammad had used violence it is very possible that Islam would never have had the strength to gain a foothold and we today would be free to explore other more encouraging subjects. But alas it was not to be. Nevertheless, the author’s use of this passage is disingenuous.
It is true Islam still is responsible to invite all non-Muslims to Islam by the mouth (jihad of the mouth) in the Medinah period. Nevertheless, the reader needs to know two things about this verse.
First, if we leave out the “all” in parenthesis then the term invite seems to be limited by the phrase who have strayed from His Path. . . Clearly, the Sunnah calls on Muslims to invite all to Allah’s path but not every verse which calls upon Muslims to invite is speaking of non-Muslims. Additionally, the invite cannot refer to those who receive guidance because the Qur’ an clearly teaches that Allah only guides the faithful and the faithful do not need to be called to the path in which they are already walk. Truly, the faithful will need reminding to remain walking in that path nevertheless, they are already in that path. Also, the word “strayed” cannot refer to the path that a Christian or Jew walks. The Noble Quran states:
(He was) thankful for His (Allah’s) Graces. He (Allah) chose him (as an intimate friend) and guided him to a Straight Path (Islamic Monotheism, neither Judaism nor Christianity ). (An-Nahl 16:121)
Notice that the Straight Path refers to Islamic monotheism and not to Judaism or Christianity. Therefore, a Jew or Christian cannot be said to have strayed from Allah’s path since they were never on that path.
The first point is that this verse commands Muslims to invite the hypocrite (unfaithful Muslims) back to Allah’s path and has nothing to do with the kafir.
The second point is that this verse is Meccan. The command itself to invite the hypocrites back to Allah’s path is as valid in the Medinah period as the Meccan. Mohammad was kicked out of Mecca because he was causing an uproar. He proceeded to Medina because the Jews and Christians there promised to support and protect him if they were given a part of the coming new Islamic state.
When Mohammad arrived in Medinah he set up the first Caliphate through the Treaty of Medina, raised first Islamic center and set up the first Caliphate. Eighteen months or so into the new Caliphate Allah permits Mohammad to use force against the Meccans. Eventually, in At Tawbah 9 Mohammad permits unfettered warfare against the unbeliever especially the Jew and Christian (At Tawbah 5, 29-32)
At this point jihad of the mouth is not the only tool a Muslim has in his arsenal to invite a person to walk Allah’s Straight Path. He now has jihad bis saif. Mohammad himself is said to stated in this sound (sahih) hadith:
The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat.” (Sahih Muslim 1:33)
No matter what Arabic word is translated fight, Mohammad is clearly talking about conversion because what he is to make people do is to testify to the Sahahada or the First Pillar of Islam. Merely speaking this phrase supposedly makes a person a Muslim. So how do we interpret the term fight? According to Ibn ‘Umar Mohammad stated:
“I have been ordered to kill the people until they testify that there is no god except Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay the zakah. If they do that, their blood and wealth are protected from me save by the rights of Islam. Their reckoning will be with Allah.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)”
Of course, Muslim scholars howlingly, tenaciously and doggedly denounce the word kill as a mistranslation. Scholars argue that there is a real difference between qatl (killing) and qital (fighting). The difference? Qatl involves one-direction and Qital involves mutuality. So in qatl one person is physically fighting another who does respond. In qital both parties are physically fighting each other. So, what? This distinction does eliminate killing or physical fighting. The distinction merely tells us who is trying to do the killing.
What nonsense! At the Qur’ anic Studies the author states, “As explained in §3.2, qital is only one, though the most prominent, aspect of armed jihad.”(1) So, qital does involve weapons, jihad and it involves two sides with weapons since it involves mutuality. Well, what in the world are these two sides trying to accomplish as they mutuality fight each other with weapons? To KILL each other. The explanation of this passage is a great example of Islamic double speak encountered in the study of Islam. So, Mohammad is saying that he is going to mutuality fight people to the death until they accept the First pillar of Islam. Sounds a bit coercive and offensive to me.
So, the Medina period permits a Muslim to use jihad of the mouth (Da’wah) to invite a non-Muslim to Allah’s Straight Path but he is also permitted to use jihad bis saif whether mutually or not if the Da’ wah fails. What is the purpose of jihad bis saif in this case? To force conversion.
Mohammad is also quoted (hadith) as saying, “When you meet your enemies who are polytheists (which includes Christians), invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them … If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them” (Sahih Muslim 19:4294)
So a Muslim meets a non-Muslim. He is responsible to invite the non-Muslim to Allah’s Straight Path. If the non-Muslim accepts he becomes a Muslim full-blown. If the non-Muslim refuses he is giving two options. He can pay the jizay and live life like a religious slave to horrible task master. But what if the non-Muslim refuses to pay the jizay? The Muslim is commanded to fight him. First, it does not matter whether fight here means non-mutuality or mutuality. Qatl and Qital both mean to fight to kill. So, the Muslim is to fight the non-Muslim physically until the non-Muslim is either dead or reexamines his options and decides to convert. Forced conversion again! And the Qur’ an says there is no compulsion in religion! Really?
Nevertheless, the Qur’ an supports this interpretation. Listen to At-Tawbah 9:39-32.
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. And the Jews say: ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God – Allah) La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). They (the disbelievers, the Jews and the Christians) want to extinguish Allah’s Light (with which Muhammad has been sent – Islamic Monotheism) with their mouths, but Allah will not allow except that His Light should be perfected even though the Kafirun (disbelievers) hate (it).”
Notice there is that word fight, again. The word fight is قاتلوا (Qaatiluu). Qaatiluu is used in other passages to refer to fighting in war as in Ali Imran 3:167 as well as many others. The point is that qaatiluu means to fight in the Way of Allah against an enemy on a battle field. This involves death. I have already posted sound (sahih) ahadith which provides evidence that Islam is to physically fight against Christians and Jews (1) to force them to pay the jizay and become a slave, (2) to force them to become a Muslim or (3) to murder them for remaining in their religion. Therefore, in light of those passages it seems much more likely that qaatiluu means to physically fight Christians and Jews to force them to become a Muslim, pay the jizay or murder them. This is the logical conclusion.
Here is what is so absurd about the author’s manufactured interpretation. Allah wants the Christian and Jew to pay the jizay. When Islam is strong (in their Medinah period where ever that might be) this is not a suggestion but an order. To that, all agree. Allah permits Muslims to fight against Jews and Christians to force them to pay the jizay. To this, we all agree.
Here is what is absurd. The author claims Allah only permits the Muslim to force the Christian and Jew to pay jizay by the nonviolent means of jihad of the mouth. Every Christian and Jew I personally know would laugh in the Muslim’s face. No. There is more to this passage than mere persuasion. As I have posted earlier in this article Allah permitted Mohammad to use force to make non-Muslims to convert if persuasion does not work. Therefore, the only logical interpretation of fight in these verses must be to interpret fight as physical violence.
Clearly, all through the Qur’ an, no matter the geographical division Muslims are to use jihad of the mouth to persuade hypocrites to return to and non-Muslims to choose Allah’s Straight Path. Yet, since the inception of the Islamic Caliphate during the Medina period Muslims are also allowed to use jihad bis saif to motivate and force non-Muslims to become a Muslim, pay the jizay or they will be murdered for rejecting Islamic monotheism.
Calling people to Islam and making them acquainted with it in all its aspects through dialogue and kind persuasion is the first type of Jihad in Islam, in contrast to the imagined belief that Jihad is only of the combative form. This is referred to in the Qur’an where Allah I says, “so obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor with it (the Qur’an)” [25:52]. Here the word “strive”
<jaahidu>, is used to mean struggle by means of the tongue—preaching and exhortation—and to persevere despite the obstinate resistance of some unbelievers to the beliefs and ideals of Islam.
Imam Nawawi in his book al-Minhaj, when defining Jihad and its different categories, said, “one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct”.4
Bo: The author again uses kitman to mold the belief he wants his readers, especially his Western readers, to accept. His quote is from Al-Furqān or Surah (Chapter) 25 of the Qur’ an. This chapter is also Meccan with the exception of verses (ayats) 68-70 which are believed to be Medinah. So, the author is correct that jihad in this passage would be by the mouth because Allah did not permit Mohammad to use jihad bis saif (of the sword) during the Meccan period. But the author carefully tells some of the truth but not the whole truth.
And this is the story of Islam. The author would like the reader to believe that the jihad of this passage applies to all of Islamic history as the only form of jihad the Muslim is allowed to use. I believe I have provided enough evidence to show the author’s argument is a half-lie and therefore, kitman.
The explanation of Jihad in Imam al-Dardir’s book Aqarab al-Masalik is that it is propagating the knowledge of the Divine Law, commending right and forbidding wrong. He emphasized that it is not permitted to skip this category of Jihad and implement the combative form, saying, “the first [Islamic] duty is to call people to enter the fold of Islam, even if they had been preached to by the Prophet (saws) beforehand.”5
Bo: This is disingenuous because (1) everyone who knows Islam understands that jihad of the mouth is to be use before jihad bis saif and (2) the author’s explanation is useless because no one who understands Islam is concerned with jihad of the mouth. So, it is to come first? So, what? A non-Muslim is supposed to comfort knowing that before the sword is used the Muslim must speak to him. What non-Muslims are concerned with is the use of jihad bis saif in the Da’ wah process which the author wants to bury under Meccan passages and ahadiths.
Similarly, Imam Bahouti commences the chapter on Jihad in his book Kashf al-Kinaa by showing the injunctions of collective religious duties (kifaya) that the Muslim Nation must achieve before embarking on combative Jihad, including preaching and education about the religion of Islam, dismissing all the uncertainties about this religion and making available all the skills and qualifications which people might need in their religious, secular, physical and financial interests because these constitute the regulations of both this life and the life to come. Hence, da`wah—performing the activities of propagating Islam and its related fields of knowledge—is the cornerstone of the ‘building’ of Jihad and its rules; and any attempt to build without this ‘stone’ would damage the meaning and reality of Jihad.6
Bo: This statement is as useless as the previous statement for the same reasons.
Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them in ways that accord with their way of thinking, are all primary forms of Jihad. Similarly, establishing a strong community and nation which can fulfill all physical needs of its people, thereby creating for them conditions in which the message will be heard, rather than being lost in the strife and struggle of everyday life, are requirements and form a basic building block of the Jihadic concept. These foundations fulfill the Qur’anic injunction, “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: and these it is that shall be successful.” [3:104] Until this is accomplished the conditions of Jihad remain unfulfilled.
Bo: The author’s conclusion is interesting for the many, many ayats and ahadiths it violates. The author claims that to remove the misconceptions and stereotypes we non-Muslims have of Islam, Muslims need to build a trusting relationship. But as understood by non-Muslims a trusting relationship refers to being friends, which the moon-god Allah expressly forbids.
O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people. (Al-Mā’idah 5:51)
This passage is Medinah and only one of many about friends, which is the period of ayats under which Islam is to live today. So, it seems to me it is going to be a bit difficult for a Muslim to build a trusting relationship with a non-Muslim if Allah does not permit the Muslim to be the non-Muslim’s friend. But that has never stopped a Muslim from acting as if he is a friend merely for Da’ wah.
Additionally, notice the author calls for a Caliphate. Islam views the Caliphate as a the supreme example of what living under Shar’ ia is like. Muslims believe that if a true Caliphate existed its glory would be so brilliant it would draw into it the entire world.
Again, the author covers his tracks as he speaks to non-Muslims. It is true the Caliphate is seen as the example of real Islamic life but the Caliphate is also necessary because according to Islam it is the Caliph who alone has the authority to control Islamic international relationships and call for jihad bis saif against non-Muslims countries who refuse Shar’ ia. So, the author is correct, that until there is a Caliphate the full conditions of jihad remain unfulfilled. That is fine with me.
1) The original article listed the sources the author used in his defense of jihad. Instead of reproducing those sources I would suggest that if the reader is interested to visit the web page for this article. The web page is http://www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/understanding-islam/legal-rulings/5-jihad-a-misunderstood-concept-from-islam.html?start=2