Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fitzgerald: Greater Jihad and Lesser Jihad

"There are, according to Khan, two kinds of Jihad. The greater Jihad, in which a person fights their animal tendencies, and a lesser Jihad, in which they fight on behalf of their community." Again and again this phony business about "Lesser Jihad" and "Greater Jihad" keeps coming up, and we are carefully told that the "Greater Jihad" is the internal struggle of Muslims with their own consciences. But this is not quite what it seems.

First of all, Islam is based not on solicitousness for the individual, but concern for the collective of Believers, the Umma, and for furthering the interests not of a single soul but of the Great Cause: that of spreading Islam until it dominates everywhere. The individual Believer is akin to a recruit to an army. If he leaves, that is regarded as treason. His duty is that of mental submission -- no independent questioning, no comparing what his duties are with what reason, or morality, tell him should be his duties. His not to reason why, but to follow scrupulously the rules as to what is prohibited and what is commanded.

This "Greater Jihad" business is designed merely to convince Infidels that the real "Jihad" -- the "struggle" to remove all obstacles to the spread, and then to the dominance, of Islam -- is not that, but a lesser thing, something hovering in the background, while all attention should be focused on these individuals wrestling with their consciences. The weight of authority is completely on the other side. Qur'anic commentators and Muslim jurisconsults and Muslim historians all agree that the "Jihad" means that "struggle" to spread Islam, and that the "internal struggle" is simply a later invention by a few Muslim would-be reformers who realized that "Jihad" would not be wise or even possible in a world of overwhelmingly more powerful Infidels, and that therefore the idea should be given a different interpretation. Or at least they would try to do the impossible and hope that some Muslims might actually accept that interpretation.

But it never happened. Yet today, all kinds of security services in the Western world keep trying. They keep believing that if they stay away from the word "Jihad" and supply every other sort of word (hiraba, etc.), that somehow they will manage to convince Muslims in the West that the real Jihad is this "internal struggle." They are not only whistling in the dark, but are delaying the widespread recognition of what the "Jihad" is and why it matters among the very Infidels who need to recognize the meaning and menace (for them) of Islam in order to realize what is going on, and to support measures that otherwise might appear to them to be uncalled-for. Our security services and our political and media elites all over the Western world failed to understand Islam before the great unhindered migration of Muslims to the Lands of the Infidels began. That failure continues right up to the present, because few wish to think rationally about this problem, so fearful and confused does it make them. And then there are always the crazies, the ones who, in having sensed the threat, are incapable of soberly discussing it, but instead focus on the trivial or the tendentious -- "it's all the fault of lefties [Marxists, democrats, fill in your favorite epithet here].” And in their inarticulateness and political parti pris, and general uncultivated and comical ineptness, they simply allow others to more easily dismiss them.

This "Greater Jihad" and "Lesser Jihad" business comes from a single Hadith that is not judged authentic by the most authoritative muhaddithin, such as Bukhari and Muslim. Karen Armstrong, naturally, in her little guide to nothing called "Islam," quotes this hadith and makes much of it, without hinting at how little it means to Muslims. Of course, it is unclear if Armstrong understands what an isnad-chain is, or how the muhaddithin studied and ranked the hundreds of thousands of claimed Hadith (more correclty, ahadith), or how the muhaddithin themselves have been ranked according to their supposed authoritativeness.

This is never mentioned by the kind of Muslims who want to convince us that the "Jihad" is not what we think. They want us to believe that our understanding of the texts and our study of how Muslims, over 1350 years, acted on those texts reveals nothing about Jihad, and that the truth of it can be learned from latter-day Muslim propagandists. Those propagandists have to deal with an unprecedented situation -- that of millions of Muslims living within the Lands of the Infidels, the Bilad al-Kufr. They have to stave off any inquiry, or critical analysis, or study of, Islam that might lead Infidels, quite naturally, to become keenly worried -- as they discover that Islam is not a "religion" but also, and mainly, a politics and a geopolitics within a Total Belief-System that is based on the notion of uncompromising and permanent hostility between Believer and Infidel, a hostility that does not lessen if the Infidel moves heaven and earth to prove his own good will and surpassing generosity.

And, of course, those who report on such matters rarely think they have an obligation not merely to write down and transmit to others, as docile amanuenses, what is told them by Muslim propagandists, but to study Islam, and to question what they are told, and to learn enough so that, in such cases as the one above, they will be able to discuss this matter of the "Lesser Jihad" and the "Greater Jihad" precisely in the way that...well, that I have done in this very article.

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