Although not unanimously, most of the five panelists in the Christian Coalition’s Saturday, February 15 symposium on Islam focused equally on the future of Israel, instead. In so doing, they generally applauded the Bush Administration’s support of Israel but criticized the President’s friendly policy toward most Muslim-American socio-political organizations—some of which have enjoyed financial support from Saudi Arabian government and even Wahhabi sources.
On balance, therefore, the panel reflected a simmering disagreement between certain conservatives and Christian fundamentalists on the one hand and President George Bush on the other regarding the fundamental nature of Islam—violent and vengeful versus peaceful and compassionate.
Caught in the middle—disparaged by many hard-right commentators (in this case by Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes) and by such anti-Islam religious leaders as the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Franklin Graham but cautiously embraced by the President—we find several million Muslim-Americans, their own clerics and civic and politico-religious organizations.
Among the latter, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Muslim Council (AMC) are perhaps the most outspoken in rejecting demands that they and other Muslim-Americans “apologize” for al Qaeda’s 9/11/01 atrocities and, in effect, appear to admit the complicity of their “moderate Muslim” community in these heinous crimes.
Both these and similar Muslim-American organizations respond that their religion is one of peace and compassion, as contrasted to the violent and hate-filled ideology of radicals they accuse of “hijacking” authentic Islam. They point to repeated denouncements of the 9/11 attacks on America and strongly assert that they have nothing to apologize for.
At a time when an abject apology might not be in order but when a much sharper condemnation than any yet issued might be highly appropriate, here is a proposed Muslim-American “declaration of holy war” against al Qaeda-style terrorism—all in Islamic religious language and context, rather than in Western secular terms.
First, such an outspoken initiative would tend to confirm the President’s “faith” in the peaceful character of most Muslim-Americans. Second, it would draw a much-needed bright line between good guy Islam and what is, in fact, The al Qaeda Blasphemy. Third, it would be so absolute as to satisfy even the harsh demands of the Christian Coalition.
RESOLVED: As faithful Muslims and patriotic Americans, it is not our intention to “apologize” for ruthless transgressions and blasphemous criminality which were not of our doing and are most certainly not part of authentic Islam. However, we have condemned and will continue to condemn in the harshest possible terms not only those criminal and sinful offenses of September 11, 2001 but also any ongoing or future terrorist attacks on America by al Qaeda or like-minded criminal conspiracies —the basic terms of our renewed and strengthened condemnation being as follows:
a) we denounce the ongoing attack on America not as so-called “Jihad” (Holy War) but as the crime and heinous sin of Hirabah (Unholy War and “war against society”);
b) we label those who are fomenting and waging this forbidden type of warfare not as mujahiddin (holy warriors) or shahiddin (martyrs) but as mufsidoon (evildoers);
c) we state that unless these evildoers cease their sinful ways—and both seek and obtain forgiveness from Allah—they are likely destined on Judgment Day not for Paradise but for Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire), instead;
d) we proclaim that this forbidden Hirabah and its anti-Islamic consequences are not in the will of Allah but, rather, that they constitute a tajdeef (a blasphemy) against the peaceful, compassionate, merciful and just Allah of the Qur’an; and
e) we conclude that such a blasphemy—based on unholy war by ruthless evildoers who are placing fellow Muslims, and themselves, in mortal danger of Eternal Hellfire—has surely not been designed by a peaceful and compassionate Allah but by a hate-filled and violent force which is plainly shaitaniyah (satanic) in nature.
If the various Muslim-American organizations which energetically profess to be anti-al Qaeda and which fervently claim that their beloved Islam is being perverted and “hijacked” by these satanic blasphemers will not venture this far, then perhaps they have some serious soul-searching and explaining to do.
And if the Robertsons and Grahams (and the Daniel Pipes) of the world will still not accept and applaud such total condemnation as adequate, then it is perhaps they who are at serious fault.
In strong support of the new Hirabah (unholy war) frame of reference on which this anti-“jihadi martyrdom” resolution is based, there are increasing numbers of scholars of Islam and Middle East affairs—some of whose learned interpretations are as follows:
Prof. Akbar Ahmed (Chair of Islamic Studies, American University) “Properly understood, this is a war of ideas within Islam—some of them faithful to authentic Islam, but some of them clearly un-Islamic and even blasphemous toward the peaceful and compassionate Allah of the Qur’an…...As a matter of truth-in-Islam, both the ideas and the actions they produce must be called what they actually are, beginning with the fact that al Qaeda’s brand of suicide mass murder and its fomenting of hatred among races, religions, and cultures do not constitute holy or godly ‘Jihad’—but, in fact, constitute the heinous crime and sin of Hirabah…....”
Prof. John Esposito (Georgetown University) “What…these Muslims are suggesting is that we take an older term [Hirabah] which referred to terrorizing bandits, and therefore the kinds of people who kill women and children, and separate that out from the term ‘jihad’....I did a book recently called ‘Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam,” and I deliberately chose the phrase ‘unholy war’ rather than ‘holy war’.....Hirabah, which is found in tradition, can be applied…. to the kind of terror which is committed .....against noncombatants.”
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed (Exec. Dir., Islamic Society of North America) “The Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet emphatically distinguish the term jihad from hirabah, a destructive act of rebellion committed against God and mankind. Hirabah is an act of terrorism, a subversive act inflicted by an individual or a gang of individuals, breaking the established norms of peace, civic laws, treaties, agreements, moral and ethical codes. .....Individuals and groups indulging in Hirabah are condemned as criminals, subjected to severe deterrent punishments under Islamic law and warned of far more punishment and humiliation in the life after life.”
Dr. Akhtar Emon (President, Arabic Language Institute Foundation) “Hirabah represents an Unholy War against innocent civilians. The truth stands clear from falsehood. Hirabah can never be confused as ’Jihad’ (holy war). as much as al Qaeda would like to label their heinous acts against humanity as Jihad…..Hirabah is forbidden and sanctioned not only by the teachings of the Qur’an, but also the Bible and Torah….All three Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Judaism and Christianity) agree on this…”
Dr. Robert D. Crane (Chairman, Center for Understanding Islam) “The term Hirabah means ‘spreading mischief in the land,’ which is the Qur’anic term for terrorism in a war against society and civilization. It is the very opposite of every kind of jihad….. Today there are many alienated extremists who rely on their own resort to violence in protest against perceived injustice, rather than relying on the jihads of akbar, saghrir and kabir with the help of Allah and ecumenical cooperation in peacefully building a better world…..If there is to be a clash of civilizations, a major cause will be the muharibun, those who commit inter-civilizational Hirabah.”
Although too lengthy to be recorded here, similar definitions of unholy Hirabah—and similar attacks on deceitful use of the “jihadi martyrdom” frame of reference—have been presented by other such distinguished scholars as Prof. Khaled Abou el Fadl of UCLA, Prof. Muqtedar Khan of Adrian College, Prof. Sherman Jackson and Dr. Antony Sullivan of Michigan University, Dr. Radwan Masmoudi of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Dr. Ezzeddin Ibrahim of the United Arab Emirates, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna of the Center for Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland, Imam Dr. Tammam Adi of Eugene, Oregon and others.
Finally, in light of the harsh religious condemnations set forth by this draft resolution and by the distinguished scholars cited above, imagine how much more difficult it will become for al Qaeda and their ilk to inspire and to sustain the suicidal, genocidal zealotry of young Muslims—or the support of any authentic Muslims whatever—once their forbidden Hirabah (Unholy War) and their tajdeef shaitaniyah (their satanic blasphemy) against the peaceful and compassionate Allah of the Quran are finally recognized as such.
And imagine their own well-deserved terror—T-E-R-R-O-R—once these hate-mongers and suicide mass murderers of innocents begin to envision themselves as headed not for a virgin-filled Paradise but for a demon-filled Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire), instead.
Mr. Guirard is a Washington, DC attorney and writer. He was for many years Chief-of-Staff to former US Senators Allen Ellender and Russell Long of Louisiana
TrueSpeak Institute—- Jim Guirard, President, 600 Water Street, S.W., Location B-14