Politics & Policy

The Meaning of Peace

CAIR vs. Daniel Pipes.

The word “peace” is used with excessive license. For this reason, the U.S. Institute of Peace should choose carefully, as board members, those who understand the American meaning of peace.

There are many wars ravaging our planet. Their intensity, motivations, and tactics differ. But “jihad” — announced triumphantly and waged across the globe — has killed the greatest number of Americans in recent years, both in the United States and abroad. And the number of victims of jihad would have been multiplied considerably if warlike security measures had not been implemented.

Jihad is an Islamic war against non-Muslims. In the seventh century, Arab Muslims waged jihad campaigns to seize control of the entire Arabian peninsula — expelling the indigenous Christians and Jews from the Hijaz, and slaying, or forcing the conversion of all pagan Arabs to Islam. Over a millennium of jihad-wars Muslims conquered lands extending from Portugal to India, and from Poland to the Sudan. Jihad strategy and warfare still apply today, and can be observed in Algeria, Israel, the Sudan, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and elsewhere. Jihad is described in countless Muslim treaties, and other Muslim and non-Muslim, especially Christian, chronicles. For Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, and other non-Muslims, jihad was (and is) a cruel form of warfare, leading at various times to genocidal devastation.

However, for many Muslims this war is called “peace,” and “liberation.” The logic of this conception has been elucidated by the respected contemporary Muslim scholar, Bassam Tibi, in his cogent analysis of jihad. Because jihad imposes the Koranic truth, it is considered an act of peace. Tibi explains: “In this sense Muslims believe that expansion through war is not aggression but a fulfillment of the Koranic command to spread Islam as a way to peace. The resort to force to disseminate Islam is not war (harb), a word that is used only to describe the use of force by non-Muslims.” Hence Islamic wars are not wars, but meritorious efforts to liberate the world from disbelief (jahaliyya) by its submission to Islam. Only submission brings peace, and it is the non-Muslim’s failure to submit that provokes war.

Thus, we have two strikingly different interpretations of war and peace which must be examined with great care by those in the West responsible for resolving conflicts. Today vehement objections have been raised by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) against the nomination of Daniel Pipes to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. Daniel Pipes is an accomplished scholar of Islamic civilization past and present, having conducted seminal research, for example, on both the origins of the Medieval Muslim slave soldier system, and the contemporary implications of the Salman Rushdie fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini. CAIR’s animosity to Pipes derives largely from his Western interpretation of the jihad war. CAIR, in contrast, adopts the traditional Muslim interpretation of jihad, i.e., Islamic “peace,” where conflicts are provoked solely by “misguided” Western policies of obstruction to the peaceful spread of Islam and the sharia law.

CAIR’s position is shared by many non-Muslims. Europe, for instance, has adopted such views in conducting its foreign policy. For European analysts, historical jihad has been effaced from history. Past conflicts between Christendom and Islam are explained by the Crusades, the Catholic Inquisition, and Western imperialism and colonialism. The ideology and history of jihad are obfuscated deliberately.

This European adoption of the Islamic interpretation of jihad, attributing the cause of conflict to the West, has determined the EU foreign policy for nearly 30 years. The negation of jihad and its attendant terrorism has led the EU to deny the very sources of terrorism. This desperate attempt to maintain the peace on EU territory is characterized by a pusillanimous policy of proclaimed self-guilt, and permanent concessions to terrorist organizations labeled as “resistance movements.” Thus European cities have become hotbeds of jihadist terrorists, since Europe denies the very notion that jihad is warlike. European politicians are constantly quoted in the media insisting that American policies — not the jihadists — are the source of terror. This cowardly denial of reality, based on market interests, has given Europe a precarious security, sustained by appeasement measures and payments to jihadist countries.

The denial of jihad terror as a war of aggression has led Europe to pursue a foreign and domestic policy that makes its future uncertain. The United States must examine conflicts according to Western definitions in order to preserve Western values and freedoms. These conflicts will never be solved by interpreting jihad as a peaceful liberation. The nomination of Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace is most appropriate since he will bring to bear on these crucial matters his unique wisdom, courage, and moral integrity.

Bat Yeor has written extensively on Jews and Christians under Islam. Her latest book, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide has just been reprinted in paperback.

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