A new review for The Al Qaeda Reader, from the Terrorism and Political Violence journal, which was just brought to my attention by a terrorism analyst. Good to know that, while some in the government are still quarreling over what to call jihadists, others are bothering to find out, not only what the jihadists call themselves, but also how they think. “Islam and War: A Review Essay,” by John C. Zimmerman, for Terrorism and Political Violence, Fall issue:
In The Al Qaeda Reader, Raymond Ibrahim has translated and masterfully assembled a number of key statements by Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahiri, that shed light on their views. The centerpiece of this collection is a long exegisis by Bin Laden entitled ‘‘Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.’’ Most of Bin Laden’s communique´s are intended to be read in the West as well as byMuslims.3 However, this statement was solely intended for aMuslim audience. He denounces a declaration by Saudi intellectuals that seeks co existence with non-Muslims ‘‘as if one of the foundations of our religion is how to coexist with infidels’’ (p. 23).
Bin Laden rejects arguments that the West does not understand Islam. Rather, he acknowledges that there is a great deal of scholarship in the West on Islam. However, the reason for Western hostility is the Islamic doctrine of offensive jihad, which the West wants Muslims to abandon. Offensive jihad requires Muslims to attack non-Muslims and subordinate them to second class citizenship as dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule). ‘‘The West avenges itself against Islam for giving infidels but three options: Islam, jizya [a special tax imposed on non-Muslims] or the sword’’ (p. 42). Therefore, ‘‘Islam is spread with the sword alone, just as the Prophet [Muhammad] was sent forth with the sword’’ (pp. 46–47).
According to Bin Laden, Muslims cannot abandon offensive jihad because it ‘‘is an established and basic tenet of this religion’’ (p. 32). He asks: ‘‘Why else did the sword come as an important pillar, enslaving mankind to their Master [Allah]?’’(p. 33). Therefore, ‘‘Muslims, and especially the learned among them, should spread sharia [Islamic] law to the world–that and nothing else’’ (p. 33). Waging jihad ‘‘is our only option for glory, as has been continuously demonstrated in the [Islamic] texts’’ (p. 33). He states that ‘‘[b]attle, animosity, and hatred-directed from the Muslim to the infidel–is the foundation of our religion’’ (p. 43).