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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shaikh Al-Qaradawi: Muslim 'Moderates' endorse aggressive jihad

This post has been moved. It can be read here.

1 comment:

  1. Mark,

    Thank you for the post. The argument is an interesting one, and increasingly important. It's also disturbing to see how in the last decade it's become so much more urgent for folks like Qaradawi to defend his willingness to wage traditional offensive jihad.

    I'd be hard pressed to find older parallels for this expansion of the scope of defensive jihad. It's certainly not present in the classical sources. There, it's jihad al-talab when we attack and jihad al-daf` when we are attacked. That's about as subtle as it gets.

    I suspect you're right, though, that the main reason for the change is the attempt by so-called moderates like Qaradawi to defend their bona fides to the salafi jihadis. The authoritative sources are clear on the mandate to undertake offensive jihad, to lift the kalimat allah on high: Qaradawi knows it, his opponents know it. He's been trying to highjack Islam and has been called on it.

    Like others, Qaradawi has trapped himself in his own rhetoric about Islam as a force of anti-imperialism. If empire is bad, Islam can't ever have been an empire. Therefore, all those lands it took over were not conquered, but liberated.

    In the case of the early Islamic conquests, this can sometimes get silly. In the handouts at the ruins of the Church of Mar Simeon in Syria, e.g., one reads how Muslims heard that the imperialist forces of Byzantium were oppressing the people of Syria and that Umar sent Muslims to free them from the yoke of their colonial overlords -- and Muslims and Christians lived together as brothers, happily ever after.

    In the end, of course, Qaradawi can't have it both ways. Either Muslims must wage war until Islam is victorious, or they must be citizens of modern nation-states.

    I suspect the present strategy will ultimately work against him and those like him -- and this, for the simple reason that young Muslims also believe the version meant for non-Muslims.

    When I teach traditional Muslim doctrines of war, my Muslim students are almost always incredulous. Some of the Middle Eastern students know the basics, especially the Saudi kids. Most Muslims students, though, whether from abroad or the U.S., don't believe a word of what I say.

    -- No, they say, Islam can only fight in defense of itself.

    -- How can you say that? Muhammad never fought anything other than wars of defense.

    -- Who is this anti-Muslim writer Ibn Ishaq that you assigned? Why does he talk about our Prophet like this?

    That last response was from a 20 year-old hijabi, whose uncle is a leader of one of the main U.S. Ikhwan organizations. She had spent 13 years in a Muslim school connected with Hamas, and her main religion teacher fled to Gaza rather than face an indictment.

    It would almost be funny, if so many people weren't dying.

    In a way, though, it's encouraging. Ibn Ishaq's sirah looks like anti-Muslim polemic and folks like Qaradawi have to hide the historical truth about Islam from Muslims. Meanwhile, a generation of American Muslim kids is coming to think about the bigger issues of citizenship, pluralism, and right and wrong, in much the same way as other kids. The minority that refuses to accept this new reality is forced to side with the overtly militant. The ambiguous middle that Qaradawi's generation occupied has ceased to exist.

    The same dynamic can be seen in other matters. Rather than acknowledge that classical Islamic law has divinely sanctioned slavery, my students almost always affirm that that slavery ever existed in Islam. Likewise, they avoid problems related to gender equality, but proclaim that Muhammad was the first feminist: complete equality, down the line, and no hitting women.

    I don't know if it's a healthy way to reform a religious tradition, but it seems to be working for the majority of the kids who end up in my classroom. (I'm less optimistic about other parts of the world.)



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