It’s Not Jihad It’s Unholy Hirabah

In recent months, many Americans have managed to learn several Arabic and Islamic religious words—mostly chosen for us by Yassir Arafat, Osama bin Laden, and their followers. 

Among these are such oft-repeated terms as intifada (uprising), jihad (so-called “holy war”), mujaheddun (holy warriors), al Qaida (pronounced QAA-e-dah) - the Base), shahid (martyr), fatwa (religious edict), shari’ah (Islamic law) and Allahu akbar (God is great).

Lo and behold!  Americans can, indeed, learn foreign words when we choose to do so.

As used by al QaҒida-style assassins—and carelessly repeated by most of us—these terms imply goodness and holiness and promise Paradise for those who engage in activities even so extreme as suicidal mass murder.  And they ascribe an evil of “Great Satan” proportions to those who oppose such acts of “Jihadi martyrdom.”

That is bad enough. But, worse yet, Americans remain quite ignorant of those other Arabic and Islamic religious terms that are the functional antonyms for those godly-sounding but patently false words favored by terrorists of the suicidal, genocidal al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad varieties.

These vital new words—which are needed to draw a sharp distinction between the “peaceful and compassionate” religion of ғmoderate and peace-loving Muslims and the hate-filled militancy of bin Laden’s “radical Islamists”—include the following:

Hirabah (hee-RAH-bah)—Islam’s word for the forbidden wanton killing of innocents, non-combatants and even contrary Muslims; a terroristic “war against society” or, loosely speaking, an “Unholy War.”

mufsidoon (moof-see-DOON)—Islam’s word for those evildoers (President BushԒs favorite word for these criminals) who engage in such forbidden, terroristic warfare; roughly speaking, “unholy warriors.”

jahannam (djah-HEH-nahm)—Islam’s word for the Eternal Hellfire into which such unrepentant and, therefore, unforgiven mufsidoon will most likely be cast by Allah on Judgment Day.

tajdeef (tahj-DEEF)—Islam’s word for the blasphemy which results from the waging of unholy war by ruthless evildoers, an outside-the-religion sin punishable by death.

shaitaniyah (shy-TAHN-ee-ah)—Islam’s word for satanic: the nature of those who would foment the blasphemy of Hirabah against the peaceful and compassionate Allah who is described by the Qur’an.

Unfortunately, the keystone word Hirabah is an ancient term not well known or widely used, even by many Islamic scholars.  Centuries ago, it was used to condemn vicious attacks by barbarian tribes which would race in on horses and camels to kill, pillage and enslave—and terrorize—entire communities. 

Such merciless barbarism was referred to by Islam as war against societyӔ and, according to some scholars (e.g., Prof. Sherman Jackson of the University of Michigan), became the most severely punished crime in Islam.Ӕ  Yet, if in this era no one knows the word or proactively uses it to condemn and to punish the ongoing atrocity, the patently false JihadiӔ frame of reference will continue to prevail by default.

Today, the Muhariboon mufsidoon (the unholy war evildoers) ride in not on horses and camels but at the controls of truck bombs and jet liners, or with explosives strapped to their bodies—a distinction without a difference.  And yet, we mindlessly continue to repeat the disinformational words which say that these pseudo-Islamic transgressors are doing Allahs will when they a) commit suicide in order b) to kill innocents—both of which are considered mortally sinful and even blasphemous by Islam.

Strangely enough, here we are more than a year into the era of so-called ғJihadi martyrdom and the incomparable ԓOn Language guru William Safire has not yet written about this problem of ԓsemantic infiltration—long ago defined by former U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan as ԓour tendency to use the language of our adversaries in defining political reality.

In his own inimitable way, Mr. Safire should do so without delay Ԗ at which point other seriousӔ people will begin to take the matter seriously, as well.

On the positive side, however, increasing numbers of Muslim-American and Middle-Eastern scholars have begun to use the Hirabah paradigm and to urge others to do the same. Among these stalwarts are distinguished Professors Abou el Fadl of UCLA, John Esposito of Georgetown University, Muqtedar Khan of Adrian College, Akbar Ahmed of American University, Roy Mottahedeh of Harvard, the afore-mentioned Sherman Jackson of Michigan, and others.

Needed now is for many other such scholars as well as for all Muslim clerics and all Muslim-American organizations claiming to be ֓anti-terrorist Ԗ to prove their bona fides by becoming active participants in a truth-in-language and truth-in-Islam initiative of the sort recommended.

Imagine how difficult for al Qaida and their ilk to recruit and to sustain the suicidal zealotry of young Muslims Җ or the support of any authentic Muslims whatever once their forbidden Hirabah and their tajdeef shaitaniyah have been recognized as such, and once they picture themselves headed not for a virgin-filled Paradise but for a demon-filled Jahannam, instead. 


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

Jim Guirard is a Washington, D.C. attorney and former Chief-of-Staff to Democratic U.S. Senators Allen Ellender and Russell Long of Louisiana.  He is president of the TrueSpeak Institute, an organization devoted to truth-in-history

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