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Preventing the West from Understanding Jihad
American Thinker ^ | JUly 17, 2007 | Walid Phares

Posted on 07/17/2007 5:37:25 AM PDT by Kaslin

In the years that followed 9/11, two phenomena characterized the Western public's understanding of the terrorists' ideology. The first characteristic stemmed from the statements made by the jihadists themselves. More than ever, Islamist militants and jihadi cadres didn't waste any opportunity to declare, clarify, explain, and detail the meaning of their aqida (doctrine) and their intentions to apply Jihadism by all means possible. Unfortunately for them, though, those extremely violent means changed the international public opinion: the public now was convinced that there was an ideology of Jihadism, and that its adherents meant business worldwide.

From Ayman al Zawahiri in Arabic to Azzam al Amriki in American English, via all of the videotapes made by "martyrs" in Britain, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the public obtained all the evidence necessary. Against all the faulty academic literature of the 1990's, the statements by the jihadists themselves were very convincing.

The second phenomenon of help to the public was the surfacing of a new literature produced by alternative scholars, analysts, journalists, experts, and researchers who, from different backgrounds and countries, filled in some of the gaps is "jihadi studies." Producing books, articles, and blogs from Europe, India, the Middle East, and North America, a combination of Third World-born and Western-issued scholarship began to provide the "missing link" as to what Jihadism is all about. These factors came together to shift the debate from "Jihad is spiritual yoga" to "Why didn't we know it was something else as well?" And this triggered in response one of the last attempts to prevent jihad from being understood.

In the 1990's, apologist literature attempted to convince readers and audiences in the West that jihad was a "spiritual experience only, and not a menace." [1] That explanation has now been shattered by Bin Laden and Ahmedinijad. So in the post-9/11 age, a second strategy to delay public understanding of Jihadism and thereby gain time for its adherents to achieve their goals has evolved. It might be called the "good cop, bad cop" strategy. Over the past few years, a new story began to make inroads in Washington and the rest of the national defense apparatus. A group of academics and interest groups are circulating the idea that in reality jihad can develop in two forms: good jihad and bad jihad.

The practice of not using "Jihad" and "Jihadism" was lately defended by two academics at the National Defense University [2] who based their arguments on a study published by a Washington lobbyist, Jim Guirard.[3] On June 22, 2006, Jim Garamone, writing for the American Forces Press Service, published the study of Douglas Streusand and Harry Tunnel under the title "Loosly Interpreted Arabic terms can promote enemy ideology." Streusand told CNN that "Jihad is a term of great and positive import in Islam. It is commonly defined as striving or struggle, and can mean an internal or external struggle for faith." [4]

The article was posted under the title "Cultural Ignorance Leads to Misuse of Islamic Terms" by the US-based Islamist organization CAIR. [5] Since then the "concept" of deflecting attention away from the study of Jihadism has penetrated large segments of the defense newsletters and is omnipresent in Academia. More troubling though, is the fact that scholars who have seen the strategic threat of al Qaeda and Hezbollah have unfortunately fallen for the fallacy of the Hiraba. Professor Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics in Washington wrote recently that "Jihad has been hijacked" as he bases his argument on Jim Guirard's lobbying pieces.[6] Satisfied with this trend taking root in the Defense intelligentsia of America, Islamist intellectuals and activists are hurrying to support this new tactic.

The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the "real" Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for "spoilers." The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that "jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense."[7]

When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a plan to prevent jihad and Jihadism from being depicted by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore sanctioned activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the "black hole" of the 1990's. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection. [8]

First, the argument of "good jihad" raises the question of how there can be a legitimate concept of religious war in the twenty-first century to start with. Jihad historically was as "good" as any other religious war over the last 2,000 years. If a "good jihad" is the one authorized by a caliph and directed under his auspices, then other world leaders also can wage a "good crusade" at will, as long as it is licensed by the proper authority. But in fact, all religious wars are proscribed by international law, period.

Second, the authors of this lobbyist-concocted theory claim that a wrong jihad is called a Hiraba. But in Arab Muslim history, a Hiraba (unauthorized warring) was when a group of warriors launched itself against the enemy without orders from the real commander. Obviously, this implies that a "genuine" war against a real enemy does exist and that these hotheaded soldiers have simply acted without orders. Hence this cunning explanation puts "spin" on jihad but leaves the core idea of jihadism completely intact. The "spoilers" depart from the plan, attack prematurely, and cause damage to the caliphate's long-terms plans. These Mufsidoon "fail" their commanders by unleashing a war of their own, instead of waiting for orders.

This scenario fits the relations of the global jihadists, who are the regimes and international groups slowly planning to gain power against the infidels and the "hotheaded" Osama bin Laden. Thus the promoters of this theory of Hiraba and Mufsidoon are representing the views of classical Wahabis and the Muslim Brotherhood in their criticism of the "great leap forward" made by bin Laden. But by convincing Westerners that al Qaeda and its allies are not the real jihadists but some renegades, the advocates of this school would be causing the vision of Western defense to become blurred again so that more time could be gained by a larger, more powerful wave of Jihadism that is biding its time to strike when it chooses, under a coherent international leadership.

Dr Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a visiting scholar at the European Foundation for Democracy. This piece was adapted from his recently published book The War of Ideas: Jihadism against Democracy.


[1] See John Esposito, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?  3rd edition. (New York: Oxford University Press) 1999. 

[2] May 23, 2006

[3] "Hiraba Versus Jihad," the American Muslim. August 2003.

[4] See Henry Shuster, "Words in War," CNN, October 19, 2006.

[5]  Quoting the American Forces Press Service on June 29, 2006.

[6]  Michael Waller. "Making Jihad Work for America." The Journal for International Security Affairs. Spring 2006

[7]  (7) See James Fallows, "Declaring Victory," Atlantic Monthly (September 2006).

[8]  (8) According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Taqiya: "spelled Taqiyah, Arabic Taqiyah ("self-protection"), in Islam, [is] the practice of concealing one's belief and foregoing ordinary religious duties when under threat of death or injury to oneself or one's fellow Muslims. The Qu'ran allows Muslims to profess friendship with the unbelievers (3:28) and even outwardly to deny their faith (16:106), if doing so would save them from imminent danger," on the condition that their hearts remain attached to faith. Also see Larry Stirling, "On Taqiya' and ‘Fatwas,'" San Diego Source, September 25, 2006; also Walid Phares, "al-Taqiyah: The Muslim Method of Conquest," Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, December 1997.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: islam; jihad; muhammadsminions; muslims; trop; waronislamism

1 posted on 07/17/2007 5:37:26 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
What is preventing the west from seeing the threat of Islamic jihadism clearly is a combination of our tolerant societies and rampant political correctness. Our Western culture is one of tolerating if not encouraging different ideas even if they challenge the traditional order of things...for example we celebrate iconoclasts like Galileo and Luther.

However, this tolerance of different ideas has been perverted by the political correctness movement. The PC zealots place no moral standards on ideas and have no problem defending the "rights" of child molesters, homicide bombers and jihadists to do what ever they want because they do not want to seem "intolerant" or lacking in sensitivity. Ironically one thing the PC crowd cannot tolerate is what they see as intolerance...that is anyone disagreeing with their liberal world view.

2 posted on 07/17/2007 5:55:37 AM PDT by The Great RJ ("Mir we bleiwen wat mir sin" or "We want to remain what we are." ..Luxembourg motto)
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To: Kaslin
This article confirms my oft-held suspicion that, if you laid all the academics in the world end-to-end, they would never reach a conclusion.

The simple fact is that “renegade” Islamists, if we are to really believe that label, do command the MSM attention because they run around the world killing innocent people who are “soft targets” for them. I fail to see “moderate Muslims” doing anything meaningful to stop them. If we are to believe the crap in this article, I would like to see the “moderate Muslims” grow a pair, take control of the situation and bring the renegades to world justice. Until that happens, I will continue to believe that there is no such thing as a “moderate Muslim” and that all Muslims are the same and support what radical Islam is doing throughout the world.

If I'm wrong, don't just sit there wringing your hands...prove it!

3 posted on 07/17/2007 6:25:30 AM PDT by econjack
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To: econjack
Islam IS radical.
4 posted on 07/17/2007 6:45:30 AM PDT by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Kaslin
Two statements in reply to this need clarification:

One states that the west welcomes individual thought, welcomes diverse opinions and 'challenging the traditional order'.
The second states that moderate muslims have still not stepped up to challenge today's version of jihad, and that therefore there are no moderate muslims.

Both are true.
The answer is simply that 'they' do not, and cannot, think like 'us'.

The real knot in the problem is that islam in this century does not teach individual thinking, does not stand for diversity, and that within that framework 'moderate muslims' will only 'disapprove' of criminal acts - they will not step away far enough to question the teachings themselves.
It is totally valid to say that there are 'good muslims' as individuals but that individually or as a group those 'good muslims' will not protest or reform.

Like the second opinion above, I don't believe there is any solution that falls short of massive defeat or total segregation and in today's world segregation is an impossibility.

5 posted on 07/17/2007 7:48:36 AM PDT by norton
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To: econjack
This article confirms my oft-held suspicion that, if you laid all the academics in the world end-to-end, they would never reach a conclusion.

Except on Global Warming...

6 posted on 07/17/2007 8:09:22 AM PDT by Wil H (So just what IS the Globe's optimum temperature?)
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To: norton

The Koran promotes the conquering of infidels by force, and also admonishes those Muslims that do not join the Jihad and condemns them to the same fate as the unbelievers. So you are not going to hear any Muslims speaking out against terrorism.

Take a look at CAIR’s “Not in the Name of Islam” online petition. It has been available for over 3 years for Muslims to sign to register their opposition to Islamic terrorism; The total number of signatures to date?....

..One hundred and seven......- and some of those are detractors


7 posted on 07/17/2007 8:16:32 AM PDT by Wil H (So just what IS the Globe's optimum temperature?)
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To: Heuristic Hiker

Ping


8 posted on 07/17/2007 10:30:34 AM PDT by Utah Girl
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To: Kaslin

thanks, bfl


9 posted on 07/17/2007 11:58:01 PM PDT by neverdem (Call talk radio. We need a Constitutional Amendment for Congressional term limits. Let's Roll!)
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To: Kaslin
This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection.

To me, this is the crux of any religious, organizational, or political system's virtue or evil. Show me a system that ideologically defends lies and I'll show you a system in thrall to the prince of lies. The prince of lies, prince of the air, prince of this world, that's Satan -- evil -- for those who don't know what I'm talking about. From Frank Herbert's "Dune": My father once told me that respect for the truth comes close to being the basis for all morality. "Something cannot emerge from nothing, " he said. This is profound thinking if you understand how unstable "the truth" can be.

10 posted on 07/23/2007 9:35:00 AM PDT by Greg F (<><)
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