6 years ago
Global Politician has an interesting article up entitled Analysis of al-Qaeda’s World View. It’s a slow-moving article, and seems to go a little soft on al Qaeda at a few points (seeming to acquiesce to the notion of validity to AQ complaints), but returns to a sensible enumeration of the AQ world view by the end of the article (and even a forceful confrontation of the idea that we can co-exist with jihadists). There are several key money quotes provided below that show the universal and eternal nature of the jihad they are to wage.
All of the above clearly demonstrates that, for al-Qa’ida, the war with the West is not finite but eternal. The current battles may ostensibly revolve around U.S. presence in Islamic lands, or support for Israel, or support for secular though dictatorial regimes, or even oil. Even so, the ultimate war does not end with a cessation of these real or perceived injustices, but rather with the West’s–indeed, the rest of the non-Islamic world’s–submission to Islam. As the words of Usama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri–all grounded in the traditional sources of Islam–make clear, the war with the West revolves around something more transcendent than temporal grievances. It revolves around “eternal truths” …
Jihad in the path of Allah is greater than any individual or organization. It is a struggle between Truth and Falsehood, until Allah Almighty inherits the earth and those who live in it. Mullah Muhammad Omar and Sheikh Osama bin Ladin–may Allah protect them from all evil–are merely two soldiers of Islam in the journey of jihad, while the struggle between Truth and Falsehood transcends time. [p. 182]
The bottom line is, perceived Western injustices–as propagated by bin Ladin’s mantras–have nothing to do with the ultimate source of hostilities between Islam and the West (Infidelity). The doctrine of Offensive Jihad, spreading the laws of Allah to every corner of the world by the sword and enforcing the practice of dhimmitude (that is, discriminating and humiliating those who, having been conquered and living under Islamic suzerainty, still do not embrace Islam officially), was and remains a basic tenant of Islam–well before it ever encountered the West.
Fight those amongst the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] who do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger have forbidden [i.e. enforce Shari'a law], and who do not embrace the religion of truth [Islam], until they pay the Jizya with willing submissiveness and feel themselves utterly subdued. [Koran 9:29]
The word “until” (hata) highlights the perpetual nature of this command. Enmity for non-Muslims, irrespective of whether or not they harm the Muslim is also a basic tenant of the faith, established before Islam and the West met:
“O you who have believed! Do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are but friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them [i.e., he apostasies from Islam].” [Koran 5:51] …
At this point many will proclaim that al-Qa’ida is misusing, misinterpreting, or taking these otherwise straightforward verses out of context. That is hardly the point here: Even if this were true, that does not change the fact that many men before al-Qa’ida, going back to the first jihads of the seventh century, have also “misused” them, or that many today who have nothing to do with al-Qa’ida, “misinterpret them,” or ultimately that many after al-Qa’ida will also be taking them “out of context.” In other words, even if those verses really do not mean what they seem to be saying, they certainly led themselves to the sort of hostile interpretation that al-Qa’ida and other Islamists, past, present and future, give to them. This is all the more troubling since it took only 19 men who follow such “interpretations” to cause September 11.
This is a very sophisticated understanding of hermeneutics, one I have addressed before with Professor Steve Metz of the U.S. Army War College. There are competing hermeneutics within Islam that live side by side every day, and it doesn’t matter which one is right (since Islam is fundamentally not a creedal religion, and even if the majority in Islam do not believe in violent jihad). What matters is which one is held, and in the case of jihadists, the hermeneutic held is one that places it at eternal war with the West. This isn’t our decision – it’s a function of things far beyond our control.