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Islam and Christianity:

Some Truths About Islam, Muhammad's Followers
Part Three

By Michael Caplow

This article is continued from Islam and Christianity: Part Two

The Jihad

The Jews already know these things all too well. It is time that Christians were made more aware of the fundamentals of Islam; which is also on a global mission that denies Jesus Christ and places Muhammad and Islam in His place.

Another Islamic perspective on the holy struggle, or jihad:
Muslim jurists hold to four types of “holy war,” the war waged by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. The war of the heart is the internal spiritual and moral struggle. It is the most important and meritorious war. It leads to victory over the ego. The war of the tongue is for speaking the truth of Islam and the war of the hand is for setting good moral example for the community and for non-Muslims. Finally, the ‘jihad of the sword’ corresponds exactly to armed conflict with the enemies of the Islamic community and foreign leaders who either persecute the believers or restrict the freedom of conscience of their subjects. It results from the rejection of oppression and from the dynamic conception of justice and mercy. {Marcel A. Boisard, Jihad: A Commitment to Universal Peace (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1988), 23}.

There seems to be a common train of thought among Islamic scholars that Muslim leaders can decide whether certain nations or other foreign leaders are “restricting the freedom of conscience” of their subjects and therefore causing “oppression” upon its people. So, technically speaking, in “rejecting oppression,” Islam can declare “jihad of the sword” upon foreign nations for the sake of “justice and mercy” so as to cause the word of Allah and Islam to prevail and release the people from oppression.

In classical Sunni Islamic scholarship, the territory of Islam is viewed as the territory of justice and peace. In contrast, the territory of ignorance (the territories that do not recognize the authority of Islam) is full of disorder and strife and is a continual threat to Islam. Boisard points out that (to Muslims) the enemies of God are those who threaten the existence of the Islamic community, those who persecute Muslims and, finally, polytheists. “Islam and polytheism, which stands as the enemy of Muslims, cannot coexist. Pagans have to choose between faith or the sword.” {‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power - Broadman & Holman Publishers, pg. 143}.

“Polytheism” is the acceptance or worship of more than one God; or “shirk” as we saw earlier: associating partners or companions with Allah. To the Muslim, the Christian is guilty of worshipping three gods because of the Trinity doctrine (Surah 4:172) (but in reality, the Christian considers God as One). Notice the choice presented by Islam in the above: faith in Islam or the sword (Muhammad’s way).

And again, we see the Muslim worldview of only two territories: one territory under submission to Allah; the other territory under strife and disorder. And the Quran states: “…disorder is a worse evil than killing” (Surah 2:217-219) and,“…tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.. …Such is the reward of those who suppress faith.” (Surah 2:191-194). The fundamentalists easily get their theology in the Quran and Muhammad’s teachings.

So, the “territory of ignorance” is “full of disorder and strife,” and then slaughter and killing can be better options and can be “just cause” for ‘jihad of the sword’ to bring about “justice and peace.”

For this teaching, I hold the scholars, leaders and clerics of Islam responsible and not the Muslims who have not gotten into the dark depths of Muhammad and Islamic theology.

Islam offers two choices to humanity. The way of heedlessness or ignorance (al-jahiliyya) leads to religious and moral error and chaos. The way of submission (al-islam) is to follow the admonitions of Allah in the Qur’an. The way of heedlessness and the way of submission are seen as institutionalized in the existence of Islamic and non-Islamic political entities. The former may be described as the territory of Islam (dar al-islam); the latter is the territory of war (dar al-harb). {‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power - Broadman & Holman Publishers, pg. 143}.

…for the Muslim the peace of the world cannot be fully secure until people come under the protection of Islam. …in classical Sunni Islam there is a program of action, namely jihad, to help bring about the territory of Islam. For force to be used in extending the territory of Islam and thus to achieve peace, Sunni theorists set down certain rules:

  1. There must be a just cause (the refusal of a non-Islamic political entity to acknowledge the sovereignty of Islam).
  2. There must be a declaration of Muslim intentions (the Muslim ruler must invite the adversary to accept Islam or pay tribute and acknowledge the Muslim authority).
  3. There must be right authority (the proper Muslim head of state or ruler)
  4. The war must be conducted based on Islamic values (right intent for the cause and in the path of God)

{‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power - Broadman & Holman Publishers, pg. 144 - John Kelsay, Islam and War}.

The last point in the above keeps showing up in the thoughts of many Islamic scholars. If your sole intent is, “in the path of Allah,” then ‘jihad of the sword’ can be “just cause” - (but how is this intent determined, because one says, “this is for Allah?!”). And look at point number one in the above. “Just cause” can be “the refusal of a non-Islamic political entity to acknowledge the sovereignty of Islam.” Well, that means all the parts of the known world that do not accept the sovereignty of Islam, doesn’t it? That means every nation that does not accept Islam. That means “just cause” for ‘jihad of the sword’ to any nation that refuses to accept Islam as sovereign. There again, is the Muslim worldview of the territory of ignorance, or the territory of Islam. One is a territory of peace (Islam); the other is a territory of war (dar al-harb).

This is a continual struggle for the Muslim and the Quran speaks over and over again to the Muslim to maintain diligence in the struggle (jihad); persist until the world becomes the territory of peace through submission to Islam (dar al-islam).

All throughout the Quran, there is punishment promised upon those who will not hear and submit to Allah and his ways:
Some people spend their time and substance in acquiring idle diversions to lead people astray from the path of Allah, without knowledge, and to make fun of it. For them there will be a humiliating punishment. When Our Signs are recited to such a one, he turns away arrogantly, as though he heard them not, as if they were a heaviness in his ears. So announce to him a painful punishment. (Surah 31:3-12)

The struggle of “Jihad:”
The basic meaning of jihad is to strive or struggle to achieve one’s basic responsibilities to God. The Islamic worldview divides the world into two areas: the world of Islam or obedience and the world of disobedience. Jihad means to work to enable the world of Islam to overcome the world of disobedience. Muslims interpret jihad in a personal way and in a corporate way. Both the individual and the community are to be involved in struggle to establish the world of Islam over untruth, falsity, ignorance, and disobedience.

Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah establish criteria for jihad and who may declare it on behalf of the community. The individual employs jihad in firmly stating the beliefs of Islam and regularly practicing the pillars of Islam. A Muslim community expresses jihad in an apologetic of the Islamic faith against attacks on the integrity of the Muslim community by outsiders. Jihad may take the form of war against declared enemies in which Muslim armies are sent against the foe.

A high Muslim authority and leader, relying on the Qur’an and Islamic jurisprudence, may issue a fatwa or ruling that jihad is necessary and appropriate against an enemy, whether the enemy be an individual, a group, a nation, or nations. Islamic communities and nations have made jihad against non-Muslim people, but they have also declared jihad against another Muslim people. This means that an Islamic nation may be considered by another Islamic nation to be un-Islamic and worthy of warfare. Iran declared jihad against Iraq; both are Islamic nations. Often it is argued that the political leadership of a nation is corrupt and un-Islamic and deserves to be overthrown. {‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power- Broadman & Holman Publishers, pg. 304}.

In the last sentence, we see once again that if a high Muslim leader “decides” that a nation or group is “corrupt and un-Islamic,” then the jihad of the sword to overthrow that corrupt entity can be “just cause.” And notice that the Muslim authority relies on “the Quran and Islamic jurisprudence.”

The Quran states:
Worse than the beasts, in the sight of Allah, are those who have rejected the Signs of Allah and do not believe; those with whom thou makes a covenant, then they break their covenant every time and are not mindful of their obligation to Allah. When thou gainest mastery over them in war, then deal with them in such manner that those making hostile preparations beyond them should abandon their designs and be admonished. (Surah 8:56-58).

Those that reject the “Signs of Allah” and his messenger, Muhammad, are thought of as beasts. The Quran instructs its followers to deal with these unbelievers in a way that will put fear into any other group who also has hostile intentions towards Islam.

Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength and of mounted pickets at the frontier, whereby you may daunt the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others beyond them whom you know not, but whom Allah knows. Whatever you spend in the way of Allah, it shall be repaid to you in full and you shall not be wronged. (Surah 8:61-64)

O Prophet, sufficient for thee are Allah and those who believe who follow thee. O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast ones, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be a hundred of you, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who lack understanding. (Surah 8:65-66)

In the above Surah, Allah says, “O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight.” The “Prophet” that Allah is talking to is Muhammad, and Muhammad is then told to exhort all those who follow him to fight. Most Muslims today claim to follow Muhammad. The fundamentalists are truly following Muhammad.

Muhammad’s Legacy and Traditions of Muhammad

Muhammad left an astounding legacy and he is considered as the greatest authority in Islam. Muhammad’s warriors were known as “fierce,” and they truly did overcome many territories by following Muhammad and his strict code of “submission to Allah and his messenger, Muhammad.” Today, the fundamentalists continue to follow the prophet Muhammad.

George W. Braswell, Jr. writes:
During the last ten years of his life, Muhammad served the Muslim community as prophet, as political and economic leader, and as commander-in-chief of his warriors. He established the umma (community of Islam) with such strength that shortly after his death Islam moved quickly beyond the peninsula to claim vast territories and peoples under its banner. A Muslim was taught to walk the straight path of Allah and thereby attain heaven and avoid hell.

The crescent moon became the symbol on the minarets of mosques and on flags. The mission of Islam had been set. The world was divided into two domains: that world which was to exist under Allah, the teachings of the Qur’an, and the traditions of Muhammad; and that world which was still in ignorance and disobedience and which needed to be brought to submission under Islam. The destiny of Islam, which Muhammad had set, was to extend from Mecca to the moon. {‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power- Broadman & Holman Publishers, pg. 19}.

The Hadith is the traditions of Muhammad. It is a collection of the reports of the words, actions, and attitudes of the Prophet Muhammad, constituting a body of literature second only to the Quran in authority to Muslims.

The Hadith states:
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (Muhammad) said, “Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahidun (men who fight in His Cause), and the distance between each of the grades is like the distance between the Heaven and the Earth.” (Hadith 4:40; 52.4.48.)

Narrated Anas Bin Malik: The Prophet (Muhammad) said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Here-after) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again.” (Hadith 4:42; 52.6.53.)

These traditions are held in high honor among Muslims because they are supposedly the words and doings of Muhammad. The above, and many more writings in the Hadith and the Quran, can clearly set a goal for the one who dies fighting for the cause of Allah and his messenger, Muhammad.

In the Quran, Surah 9:3-6, Muslims are directed to give asylum and protection to those who have shown an interest in the word of Allah; to give them some time to surrender to Islam.

The Surah ends with:
If anyone of the idolaters seeks asylum so that he may hear the Word of Allah; then convey him to a place of security for him, for they are a people who lack knowledge.

The next verse (9:7-11) ends with:
If they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat (the Muslim tax), then they are your brethren in faith.

Then the following verse (9:12-16) states:
But if they break faith after pledging it and ridicule your religion, then fight these leaders of disbelief that they may desist, for they have no regard for their pledged word. Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths, who plotted to turn out the Messenger from his home, and who were the first to start hostilities against you? Do you fear them? It is Allah that is most worthy that you should fear Him, if you are believers. Fight them: Allah will punish them at your hands, and will humiliate them, and will help you to overcome them…

The Hadith states:
Narrated Ikrima: The statement of Allah’s Apostle (Muhammad), “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Hadith 9:45; 84.2.57.)

More Traditions of Muhammad in the Hadith

Narrated Abdullah:
I asked the Prophet, “which deed is the dearest to Allah?” He replied, “To offer prayers at their fixed times.” I asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I again asked: “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To participate in jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.” (Hadith 1:300; 10.5.505.)

Narrated Abu Musa:
A man came to the Prophet and asked, “A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah’s Cause?” The Prophet said, “He who fights so that Allah’s Word (Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause.” (Hadith 4:50; 52.15.65.)

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle (Muhammad) said, “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ and whoever said it then he will save his life and property.’” (Hadith 2:274; 24.1.483.)

Narrated Jubair bin Haiya:
Umar sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans… (The people under siege asked the Muslims who they are.) al-Mughira replied, “We are some people from the Arabs;… …While we were in this state, the Lord of the Heavens and the Earths… …sent to us from among ourselves a Prophet (Muhammad), …the Messenger of our Lord, {he} has ordered us to fight you until you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute).” (Hadith 4:254-55; 53.21.386.)

Narrated Abu Qatada:
Allah’s Apostle (Muhammad) said, “Whoever had killed an infidel and has a proof of witness for it, then the salb (arms and belongings of that deceased) will be for him.” (Hadith 9:213; 89.21.282.)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Apostle said, “To the person who carries out jihad for His (Allah’s) Cause and nothing compelled him to go out but the jihad in His Cause, and belief in His Words, Allah guarantees that He will either admit him into Paradise or return him with the reward or the booty he has earned to his residence from where he went out.” (Hadith 9:413; 93.28.549.)

I believe, at this point, I have listed enough information about this topic of ‘jihad’ so that any who desire can continue to study the Quran and the writings of Islamic scholars and the history of Muhammad and his teachings. The fundamental premise for what is going on in the world today, and the killing in the name of Allah, can easily be found in the Quran, Hadith, and Islamic Law, contrary to what many Muslim leaders are saying publicly. This is not to say that all Muslims adhere to the killing or terrorism or interpret the Quran verses as such. But the problem is that this mindset is easily found in the Quran by its own scholars and leading holy men; and not just a few here and there, but a large section of Islamic leaders. Muhammad himself, the most revered man in Islam, started this foundation, and all Muslims claim to revere and follow Muhammad. We then have to wonder what it is that is being taught in all the mosques around the world.

Basic Tenets of Islam

Many have said that there are many different sects of Islam, and they don’t all believe the same things. This is then compared to the many different sects of Christianity or other religions to show that it is only a small group of Muslims that hold to the extremist beliefs. This is not entirely true. If one considers all the “major” Muslim leaders around the world that do espouse these extremist beliefs, and the people that live and have been brought up in these Islamic regimes, the percentage starts to seem much larger than what we are being told.

Islam has been a very careful and extremely strict religion since its inception. The devoted adherents to Islam, over the years, have done very well at preserving the basic tenets that were initiated by Muhammad. These basic tenets are imposed upon all Muslims worldwide. We have to remember that Islam is not a religion that somebody can convert to and then leave (Muhammad himself said to kill those who change their faith to another). Maybe here in America this is possible (to leave Islam) because of our laws, but in countries ruled by Islam, it is “treason” to leave the faith of Islam for another faith or for atheism. Many Muslim countries impose the death penalty if a Muslim converts to another faith other than Islam. It is simply not tolerated. So, one is “born” a Muslim and is expected to die a Muslim, or he dishonors his whole family.

George W. Braswell, Jr., writes:
The basic and essential beliefs and practices of Islam are uniform among Muslims around the world. Muslims in America and Muslims in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe are required to believe and practice the basic tenets of the Qur’an.

Muhammad made certain that his followers knew that there was a definite law to be followed regardless of geographical location or social position in life. The Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, contains the very words which Allah revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. The Qur’an is the road map for a Muslim community or nation to follow, and it mandates the complete life in the community. Therefore, the individual religious lifestyle blends into a unified community lifestyle with Allah as the only God, Muhammad his prophet, and the Qur’an as the infallible record of law and order.

Islam informs all people that it appreciates its roots in the Hebrew-Christian tradition. However, it quickly states that the Qur’an clarifies, refines, and gives the final and correct revelation through its prophet to the Jews and Christians. Islam teaches that the Bible has been corrupted through its interpretations and translations.

Muslim lifestyle is based on certain key beliefs. Allah is the one and only God and does not share his divineness with any other creature, including Jesus.

…most Muslims would agree that there are six major practices in Islam which characterize the religious lifestyle and are mandatory:

  1. Confession - The confession that there is only Allah and Muhammad is his prophet is prayed and chanted by Muslims daily.
  2. Prayer - Prayer is a stated ritual five times a day. There are ceremonies of washing and purification before prayer. There are specific words and regular genuflections (bending the knees) as one dramatizes the relationship to Allah.
  3. Fasting - A Muslim must fast once a year for one month. No food or drink is consumed from sunrise to sunset. The monetary value which would have been consumed is given to the poor.
  4. Alms - Muslims are required to be fastidious in giving certain percentages of their monies and properties to the cause of Islam. Their giving supports the maintenance and operation of the mosques and provides the livelihood of the clergy.
  5. Pilgrimage - Each Muslim is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime if funds are available and if there is good health.
  6. Jihad - A Muslim is obligated to be a missionary for the faith, that is, to be on holy conquest (jihad) for Allah. Islam has expanded around the globe because of its missionary impulse.

The Muslim lifestyle takes shape most visibly and dramatically in the religious life and activities associated with the mosque. The mosque symbolizes unity and universality in Islam. The leader of the mosque (imam) serves as the model for the Muslim lifestyle. The people imitate the imam in his words and actions in the prayer rituals. The imam interprets the law of Islam through sermons and classes. The people give their offerings to him to provide for mosque activities. He often leads the pilgrimage journey. {‘Islam’ Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power - Broadman & Holman Publishers, ppg. 244-245}.

Muslims all over the world hold to the basic tenets of Islam. Muhammad was very clear and deliberate to install this in the Quran. If the imams are the leaders that the individual congregations follow, and Muslims hang on to their every word, then one wonders what it is that the well-taught imams are teaching… … and so many of Islam’s own scholars and holy men seem to find “a just cause for jihad by the sword” in the Quran.

This article is concluded at Islam and Christianity: Part Four

Books and eBooks by Gary F. Zeolla, the Director of Darkness to Light

The above article was posted on this Web site May 4, 2002.


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