The New York Times:
To Nader and Enad, prayer is essential. In Enad’s view, jihad is, too, not the more moderate approach that emphasizes doing good deeds, but the idea of picking up a weapon and fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Jihad is not a crime; it is a duty,” Enad said in casual conversation.
“If someone comes into your house, will you stand there or will you fight them?” Enad said, leaning forward, his short, thick hands resting on his knees. “Arab or Muslim lands are like one house.”...
The Times is spending too much time studying the government's new language purge guidelines.
In Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the [INSENSITIVE TERM DELETED], and in this white paper for the upcoming Bradley symposium, I note Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman's explanation that jihad is “the peak of a full [embrace] of Islam…. There is no work that equals” it. Contrary to our government's assiduous efforts to ignore the evidence of sense and deny that terrorists are representative of any legitimate interpretation of Islam, Abdel Rahman (aka "the blind sheikh") is a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Egypt, the seat of Sunni learning. Why we should think the Department of Homeland Security knows more about Islam than he does, I do not know. In any event, he has recounted that since the concept was developed over a millennium ago, jihad has unambiguously and unapologetically called for the aggressive application of brute force against oppressors and infidels. It “means fighting the enemies,” he said, no good works or internal betterment. Nor, he instructed, can it be accomplished such everyday practices as prayer, mosque attendance, alms giving, or living a virtuous life. At such suggestions, he scoffed:
Jihad is jihad…. There is no such thing as commerce, industry and science in jihad. This is calling things . . . other than by [their] own name. If God . . . says, “Do jihad,” it means do jihad with the sword, with the cannon, with the grenades and with the missile. This is jihad. Jihad against God’s enemies for God’s cause and his word.
He is unquestionably right about this. The effort to portray jihad as a peaceful, virtuous, internal striving to become a better person by good works is no doubt motivated by the best of intentions when engaged by our bureaucrats. But it's important to understand that it is a revisionist project — and it is thus doomed to fail given the premium liberals have taught us we must place on authenticity. When it comes to jihad, it's the crazies who are authentic and the well-meaning reformers who are dancing on the head of a pin.
As I recount in the book and the essay, the West’s pre-eminent scholar of Islam, Princeton’s Bernard Lewis, has explained:
Conventionally translated “holy war” [jihad] has the literal meaning of striving, more specifically, in the Qur'anic phrase “striving in the path of God” (fi sabil Allah). Some Muslim theologians, particularly in more modern times, have interpreted the duty of “striving in the path of God” in a spiritual and moral sense. The overwhelming majority of early authorities, however, citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.
In fact, the erudite former Muslim of the nom de plume Ibn Warraq points out that even
[t]he celebrated Dictionary of Islam defines jihad as ‘a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Quran and in the Traditions as a divine institution, enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims.”
It is no wonder that this should be so. The Qur’an repeatedly enjoins Muslims to fight and slay non-Muslims. “O ye who believe,” commands Sura 9:123, “Fight those of the disbelievers who are near you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him.” It is difficult to spin that as a call to spiritual self-improvement. As it is, to take another example, with Sura 9:5: “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them. And seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war),” relenting only if they have accepted Islam. The hadith, lengthy volumes recording the words and traditions of the prophet, are even more explicit, as in Mohammed’s teaching that “[a] single endeavor (of fighting) in Allah’s cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it.”
We can kid ourselves that this is not so. But recognize, then, that we are kidding ourselves.