10 November 2006

It ain't necessarily jihad!

What is being passed off today as jihad is not jihad. Let me tell you something about jihad.

In about A.D. 627 the first Muslim community al-Madinah faced destruction in what has come to be known as the Battle of the Trench. A champion of the pagan forces trying to wipe out Islam had managed to cross the trench and challenged the Muslims to send their bravest warrior to duel with him. The Prophet's son-in-law Ali took up the challenge, and bested his opponent. Just as Ali was about to strike the final blow, his opponent spat in his face. Ali sheathed his sword and walked away. Only when the man came at him again did Ali finally kill him. When he was asked why he had not finished his opponent at his first opportunity, Ali answered that when the man spat on him, he became angry. Ali did not want to kill the man because of his anger — that would have been contrary to God's will regarding jihad. He was willing to kill only to defend Islam and Muslims. He had recovered his purity of purpose when the man attacked him the second time.

What a contrast to the venom spewed out by the Global Fundamentalist Hirabah! They so deny the anger and hatred in their souls, and so conflate it with God's Will, that they twist centuries of Islamic tradition regarding jihad into justifying hirabah - the killing of innocents and non-combatants to achieve their own satisfaction.

And they do this as a way of achieving salifiyyah, a return to the ways of the Prophet and the Rightly Guided Ones. But what they pass off as salifiyyah is not salifiyyah. They want to yank the world back to the 6th century. But they forget that the Prophet and his Companions did not want to move the world backwards. They wanted to move it forwards. They were not conservatives - they were innovators, who respected certain traditions, but who made all things new. A true salifiyyah does not seek to run time backward, but to move it forward constructively. It asks not how to make the world like the world of the Prophet's time, but what the Prophet and his Companions would do if they were transplanted to our own time. How would they adapt? How would they innovate? What traditions would they let go and what traditions would they re-invigorate in order to make the world new again?

Again, what a contrast to the salifiyyah of the Global Fundamentalist Hirabah! They deny that Right Guidance act through a whole people in the form of Representative Democracy. To them Right Guidance is still the intellectual property of a few (themselves, of course) despite the historical fact that the few have guided Islam away from its position of world prominence since the early fifteenth century.

At least, that's how it looks to this Judeo-Christian outsider. Comments, anyone?