Hirabah versus Jihad: Rescuing Jihad from The al Qaeda Blasphemy

Jim Guirard

Posted Jul 6, 2003      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Hirabah versus Jihad: Rescuing Jihad from The al Qaeda Blasphemy
By Jim Guirard—TrueSpeak Institute, Washington, D.C.

INTRODUCTION by Dr. Robert D. Crane—Center For Understanding Islam

The war against terrorism is primarily the responsibility of Muslims, even though the injustices endemic in the world are partly responsible for the alienation, desperation, and extremism that contribute to unjust violence. Part of the challenge to Muslims in countering terrorism is to expose the semantic distortions by Muslim extremists who are skilled in waging mimetic warfare in order to gain support for their actions.

Although extremists may be simplistic in their understanding of Islam, many are sophisticated in developing and using the technique of psy ops or psychological operations to use words and phrases as mimes or symbols in order to capture the minds of unsuspecting people. Such mimetic warfare uses subliminal messages to shape the unconscious thought processes of the naive. All governments, special interest groups, and media advertisers use this form of mind control, and they often hire professional public relations firms to do the dirty work for them. Their target groups have a responsibility to educate themselves in self-defense.

The most pervasive example of such mimetic warfare is the attempt to justify murder and mayhem by calling it “jihad.” The resort to physical force is justified in every religion to defend the human rights of oneself and others. In Islam the qualifications for exercising this right are enshrined in the universal principle (maqsud) known as haqq al haya, the duty to respect human life and indeed all life. At the secondary level of this principle in Islamic law scholars developed over many centuries a set of requirements that must be met in order to wage what in Christian doctrine is known as “just war.”

One may legitimately argue whether these requirements are met in any given instance. In the March, 2003, attack on Iraq, the world consensus is that not a single one of the half dozen requirements was met. And an even stronger consensus, with almost universal unanimity, condemned the attack on America’s principal economic symbol, the World Trade Center. The morality of other instances of resort to force against civilians and other alleged non-combatants is hotly debated.

This debate has turned into a semantic war waged by both Muslim extremists and anti-Islamic extremists. The first step in sorting out all the arguments is not to debate the specific facts on the ground, but to clarify the meaning of the words used.

The defense of human rights through the use of physical forces is known in Islamic law as the jihad al saghrir, the lesser jihad. This presupposes a continuing effort by the individuals involved to purify themselves in a much greater effort or jihad, the jihad al akbar. Both of these two forms of jihad are augmented by a third, the jihad al kabir or greater jihad. This third jihad is the only one mentioned in the Qur’an, specifically in Surah al Furqan 25:52: wa jihidhum bihi jihadan kabiran, “and struggle with it [divine revelation] in a great jihad.”

This third jihad is the intellectual struggle to apply the message of the Qur’an in intellectual discourse as a means to shape humanity’s future, so that in the twenty-first century after Jesus Christ, ‘alayhi al salam, there will be no more Dar al Harb or lands dominated by the enemies of Islam. In the center of this intellectual arena is the battle to define the meaning of jihad and of its opposite, which Islamic scholars have defined as hirabah.

The following essay on the distinction between jihad and hirabah was written by Jim Guirard, President of the Truespeak Institute. The American media have refused to accept this essay for publication, but the Muslims themselves need to be better educated on this kind of mimetic warfare.

Hirabah versus Jihad: Rescuing Jihad from The al Qaeda Blasphemy

Over two months ago, with little or no comment or praise—either then or later—from the Bush Administration, the West Europeans, the media, the foreign policy experts or the Muslim-American community, the traditionally soft-on-terrorism Saudi Arabian government did a rather remarkable thing.

Its harsh condemnation of the May 12, 2002 suicide bombings in Riyadh contained unprecedented Islamic religious frames of reference—charging al Qaeda terrorists with not only a secular and ideological crime but with a heinous and mortal sin against Allah, as well.

According to Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz: “This is because the Saudi peopleK. will not permit a deviant few to shed the blood of the innocent which God almighty, in his infinite wisdom and justice has sanctified.”

The Saudi chief-of-state went on to proclaim: “As revealed in the Holy Qur’an, ‘He who kills a resident living in peace among you will never breathe the air of Heaven.’ ” And he concluded: “These messages, which do not require any interpretation, provide clear evidence that the fate of these murderers is damnation on earth and the fury of Hell in the thereafter.”

By repeatedly injecting the element of Hellfire into the picture, the Saudis were at least for the moment rejecting the pseudo-religious, Wahhabi-supported language of so-called “Jihadi martyrdom.”  Mindlessly parroted by all too many Westerners and Muslims alike, this is the patently false mantra which paints a highly seductive picture of so-called Jihad (Holy War) by so-called mujahiddin (holy warriors) and shuhada or shahiddin (martyrs), supposedly on their way to Paradise.

On its face, the Saudi assault on this al Qaeda scam implies that if Osama bin Laden and his suicidal killers are not waging a truly holy “Jihad,” they must be waging unholy war, instead. Indeed, according to the Crown Prince, it is warfare so unholy and so evil as to be leading its fomenters into eternal Hellfire—the Islamic term for which is Jahannam.

In this situation, three major questions need answering:

o   First, will we Americans support and join in this new Saudi line of attack aV which relies not only on Western secular words but also on the language of the Qurfan to condemn al Qaeda suicide mass murderers as the Jahannam-bound evildoers and blasphemers they really are?

o Second, will Saudi Arabiafs intolerant and reactionary Wahhabi sect of Islam, which has been all too supportive of al Qaeda-style terrorism, quietly acquiesce in this new interpretation—or will it be attempting to undermine those who have spoken such religiously-powerful words? (Already, an indication of the latter seems evident in the Ministry of Information’s May 27 firing of the outspokenly anti-al Qaeda editor in chief of the provincial Al Watan daily newspaper.)

o Third, if we Americans fail to support this appropriate new Qurfanic condemnation of al Qaeda at a time when the Wahhabis are surely quite busy protesting and undercutting it, will the Saudi government be bold enough to repeat and to strengthen this message?

If Not “Jihad,” What Is It?

Only time will answer these inter-connected questions. But in order for any of us to begin changing the proper terminology for al Qaeda-style terrorism from holy to unholy and from godly to satanic, we urgently need to call it what it is—rather than carelessly calling it what it is not.

Although not in the typical Muslimfs active vocabulary, this is the ancient word Hirabah—pronounced hee-RAH-bah. Not found in the Qur’an because it came later, its meaning in the Islamic Jurisprudence, the Fiqh, is that of “unholy war” and forbidden “war against society.”

Used in centuries past to condemn barbarians and brigands who would pillage, terrorize and decimate entire tribes and communities, renowned University of Michigan scholar Abdul Hakim (a.k.a. Sherman Jackson) reports that it became for a time “the most severely punished crime in Islam.”

In modern-day parlance, such wanton killing might best be called genocidal terrorism or crime against humanity. Its perpetrators are the “evildoers” (mufsidoon) of whom President George Bush speaks and the “deviants” (munharefoon) of whom Crown Prince Abdullah speaks.

In Islamic religious context, both of these words mean essentially the same thing. In effect, they are evildoers because of their willful deviancy from authentic Islam, and their deviancy consists of their ruthless and unIslamic evildoing. The words are two sides of the same coin.

Among other transgressions against the “peaceful and compassionate and just” Allah of the Qurfan, here are several of the most sinful—earning for their perpetrators what Crown Prince Abdullah calls “the wrath and curse of Allah”—

o   Wanton killing of innocents and noncombatants, including many Muslims;
o   Committing and encouraging others to commit suicide for the purpose of intimidation;
o   Fomenting hatred and envy among communities, nations, religions and civilizations;
o   Waging genocidal warfare against nations where Islam is freely practiced;
o   Falsely defining all Christians and Jews (and many Muslims) as “infidels”—when authentic Islam calls them all “Children of the Book” (the Old Testament);
o   Issuing unauthorized and un-Islamic fatwas (religious edicts), especially bin Laden’s illegitimate 1998 call to aggressive military “Jihad;”
o   Misquoting and distorting passages of the Qur’an and the Islamic Jurisprudence, the Fiqh.

Confirming the blasphemous nature of such offenses and the Hellfire awaiting those who commit them, Executive Director Dr. Sayyid M.Syeed of the Islamic Institute of North America (ISNA) has explained in authoritative terms: “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.”

Professor Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, confirms in equally expert fashion: “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 godly or holy “Jihad”—but, in fact, constitute the heinous crime and sin of Hirabah.”

Eventual End of al Qaeda

Imagine, then, how difficult it will be for al Qaeda’s mufsidoon (evildoers) to inspire the suicidal zealotry of young Muslims—or to sustain the sympathies of their families, friends and faithful Muslims of any sort—once their forbidden Hirabah (Unholy War) and their tajdeef shaitaniyah (satanic blasphemy) against Allah and the Qur’an are widely recognized as such.

And imagine their own well-deserved terror—repeat, T-E-R-R-O-R—once they envision themselves spending eternity not in a virgin-filled Paradise but in a demon-filled Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire), instead.

At long last—but with virtually no acknowledgement or words of encouragement from us—the Saudi government, long viewed by many as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, has begun to paint this new true-to-Islam picture. Surely, it is high time that we, too, begin changing our language with reference to the al Qaeda scam of so-called “Jihadi martyrdom.”

For us to continue calling the al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other suicide mass murderers “Jihadists”  (in effect, “holy warriors” and “martyrs” on their way to Paradise) makes no more sense than our pathetic decades-long mistake of calling the fascist-left Soviets, Maoists and Castroites “people’s democrats” and “liberationists” and “progressives.”

Lenin and Stalin called this American and West European practice of linguistic self-destruction “useful idiocy.” The late, great Senator Pat Moynihan complained of it as “semantic infiltration”—our tendency to use the language of our enemies in describing political reality. They were all correct.

Of equal importance to U.S. military might, the fundamental elements of truth-in-language and truth-in-Islam are best able to solve the long-term crisis—by gradually turning all faithful Muslims against the pseudo-Islamic blasphemy of bin Ladenism. Who, after all, are better able than properly motivated Muslims themselves to root out these deadly enemies of Islam from their midst?

In this context, their holy motivation in the Will of Allah would not be that of “saving America or the West” or “bringing criminals to justice” or even “promoting world peace” but of saving their own beloved religion from being perverted into nothing but a hate-filled perpetual killing machine.

Now that the Saudis have belatedly begun the process of demonizing The al Qaeda Blasphemy in Islamic religious terms, we can ill afford to stand by in ignorance and in silence—or to continue relying only on Western secular terms which mean little or nothing to “the Arab Street.”

Jim Guirard—TrueSpeak Institute 202-488-2722 f) 2729 .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Jim Guirard is a Washington D.C. lawyer and writer who served for many years as Chief-of-Staff to U.S. Senators Allen Ellender and Russell Long of Louisiana. His new TrueSpeak Institute promotes truth-in-language and truth-in-history in public affairs.