The Corner

Still Willfully Blind

President Obama at Fort Hood today:  “It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy. But this much we do know — no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor.”


At his blog today, Andrew Bostom, a scholar of jihadism, cites the following passage from “Reliance of the Traveler,” a widely distributed manual of Islamic law produced by al-Azhar University in Egypt, the most authoritative interpreters of theology and sharia jurisprudence in Sunni Islam, the dominant tradition among the world’s Muslims:

Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and, is etymologically derived from the word, mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion [of Islam]…The scriptural basis for jihad is such Koranic verses as “Fighting is prescribed for you” (Koran 2:216); “Slay them wherever you find them” (Koran 4:89); “Fight the idolators utterly” (Koran 9:36); and such hadiths [sayings of the Prophet] as the one related by (Sahih) Bukhari and (Sahih) Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And the final reckoning is with Allah”; and the hadith by (Sahih) Muslim, “To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.”

As Dr. Bostom points out, the first hadith referred to in the passage — the one in which Mohammed explains that Allah has commanded the Muslims to fight non-Muslims – was cited by Nidal Hasan in slide 43 of the June 7, 2007 presentation that Jonah discusses in his excellent column today.

Not to beat a dead horse on this, but in 2001, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an al-Azhar graduated doctor of Islamic jurisprudence who is the spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood and the most influential Sunni cleric in the world, issued a fatwa approving suicide bombings against Israel. In 2003, with the male jihadists being caught too often before they could strike, Qaradawi expanded the fatwa to approve suicide bombings by women. In 2004, he issued a fatwa calling for the killing of American troops in Iraq, and later expanded this authorization to include the killing of American civilian support personnel. (As Qaradawi put it: “All of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately.”) 

In 2005, the State Department’s director of public diplomacy in the region, Alberto Fernandez, pronounced that Qaradawi was an “intelligent and thoughtful voice from the region, . . . an important figure that deserves our attention.” (Fernandez was speaking in an interview on Islam Online, Qaradawi’s venture for spreading his interpretation of Islam via the Internet — a venture that enables him to reach millions of Muslims, beyond the millions who watch his weekly al-Jezeera televison program about sharia.)

In national security, we are supposed to put in charge adults who are capable of getting outside their own biases and childish fantasies. It doesn’t matter what President Obama thinks about faith; his obligation is to acknowledge and act on what others understand their faith to compel — even if the president finds that horrifying to contemplate. 

After the carnage we’ve seen for two decades, and the high religious authorities that have endorsed it, it is simply astounding that an American president — at a solemn memorial service for soldiers killed just days ago by a jihadist acting on his rational, broadly accepted understanding of his religious duty — could claim that “no faith justifies” sneak-attack murders, and that no religion teaches that “God looks upon them with favor.” In fact, a widely held interpretation of Islam holds exactly these principles. No one is saying that all Muslims follow Hasan’s construction of Islam, but hundreds of millions do and they have scriptures to back up their beliefs — scriptures we could all read if we’d just pull our heads out of the sand. 

To deny that is to deny reality. A country can’t be protected by people who lack the will to face reality.

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