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If you are a non-believer, Islam has its eyes on you. It covets your attention, regardless of your race, religion, culture, heritage, profession, income or attitudes. It considers you wicked, defiant: willfully so.
True Muslims subscribe to the absolute 'words of the Qur'an, where Muhammad acts as a vessel for the will of Allah. The Qur'an is the summary of G-d's thoughts to the human beings. It is a blueprint for human conduct within the context of obedience to the message of Muhammad (the messages of Allah through Muhammad). A Muslim is one who submits (to Allah and his words) and Islam is a faith-based life based on this submission.
The fog of willful self-deception practiced by non-Muslims about the content, meaning and purpose of Islam has many symptoms. One of the linguistic symptoms of this denial is the agreement to accept wrong translations of the words Muslim and Islam. Their Arabic meanings have no connection to the word for peace, salaam, which comes from an entirely different three-letter root; in Semitic languages, all non-borrowed words derive from three or four-letter roots.
The Qur'an itself is a combination of lessons, instructions and warnings from Allah that form the theological basis of Islam (to believing Muslims, it is merely the sum of His words as spoken through his Messenger). The lessons are strict, the instructions are strict and binding, and the warnings are severe and forbidding.
The first chapters of the Qur'an, especially Chapter 2, The Cow, and Chapter 3, The Family of Imran, define a system of rewards and punishment in which non-Muslims are forever cursed and threatened with destruction. Muslims are spared their fate, provided they submit and live their lives to spread the revelations brought by Muhammad. They are not to question, nor to interpret. Skepticism is lack of faith and hypocrisy, and such people can expect fates little better than the disbelievers.
A number of relevant verses from these chapters clarify the statuses of disbelievers and hypocrites:
2.88: And they say: Our hearts are covered. Nay, Allah has cursed them on account of their unbelief; so little it is that they believe.
2.15: Allah shall pay them back their mockery, and He leaves them alone in their inordinacy, blindly wandering on.
3.91: Surely, those who disbelieve and die while they are unbelievers, the earth full of gold shall not be accepted from one of them, though he should offer to ransom himself with it, these it is who shall have a painful chastisement, and they shall have no helpers.
2.257: Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light; and (as to) those who disbelieve, their guardians are Shaitans who take them out of the light into the darkness; they are the inmates of the fire, in it they shall abide.
Key points are: 1) disbelief is willful and disrespectful, 2) it deserves, and, will receive, heavenly retribution, 3) disbelievers are outcasts who shall be, forever, 'inmates of the fire.' They are in Satan's (Shaitan's) hands forever. There they shall remain.
Jews and Christians, thought to be venerated in the Qur'an, are first acknowledged, and then denounced. They and their prophets are considered Muslims to have gone astray, though Islam's arrival is reckoned as 632 CE, hundreds of years after Christianity solidified and far longer since Judaism made its appearance. The Hadith (commentaries) enlarge on the corruption of the Jews and Christians, accuse them of doctoring the Scriptures to refute Muhammad and Allah's will, and specify the events that mark the fall of each from grace. For Jews, this is, remarkably, the refusal to acknowledge Jesus as a human messiah; for Christians, the watershed event was the denial of Islam (for which the Jews are also damned, especially as Muhammad 'lobbied' them personally to convert).
Relevant verses and commentaries:
3.67: Ibrahim was not a Jew nor a Christian but he was (an) upright (man), a Muslim, and he was not one of the polytheists.
2.87: And most certainly We gave Musa the Book and We sent apostles after him one after another; and We gave Isa, the son of Marium, clear arguments and strengthened him with the holy spirit, What! whenever then an apostle came to you with that which your souls did not desire, you were insolent so you called some liars and some you slew.
"The Jews refused to believe in the Message of Jesus, so all their work was annulled. Similarly, the Christians refused to accept the Message of Muhammad and thus their work was annulled too. Such people were not rewarded, because they refused true faith and died unbelievers. They should have accepted the latest Message. Their insistence on keeping their old religion deprived them of any reward. On the other hand, Muslims accepted the new religion and believed in all three Messages. They deserved a full reward for their complete surrender to Allah." (A footnote to Surah 41:46).
2.59: The wicked [Jews] changed and perverted the word We [Allah] had spoken to a word distorted. Because of their egregious behavior, the Jews became like apes despised.
According to the Qur'an and Surah commentary, the great precursor to monotheism, Abraham was a Muslim, Moses' work was Islamic, Muslims imbued Jesus with a holy spirit; the Jews slay prophets habitually, Jews and Christians' work is annulled retroactively, by their lack of true faith, and the Jews (if this was not already clear) most egregiously perverted the word of G-d and became, literally, like the apes of the jungle. The Cow, the Family of Imran, and the commentaries all lay this out, clear as day, sharper than the shadows or a knife's blade.
In Islamic terms, there are really no non-Muslims or non-believers. Instead, there are only disbelievers -- people who know that Allah revealed his will to all mankind through Muhammad and still spit in the face of the truth. Nay, Allah has cursed them on account of their unbelief; so little it is that they believe. Allah shall pay them back their mockery. This is a critical point. The whole should be, really is, Islamic, but the disbelievers and (Islamic) hypocrites reject the natural truth.
This attitude is consonant with all of Islam's official doctrines on the relations between the Islamic and non-Islamic (disbelieving) peoples. The Islamic nation, which is the community of Muslims bound by belief in and propagation of Muhammadism, must war non-stop against the disbelievers until they are subdued. The Islamic realm, Dar al-Islam, which is comprised of all lands ruled by Muslims and all lands ever conquered by Muslims, is commanded to expand its territory relentlessly at the expense of Dar al-Harb, the realm of war. Dar al-Harb is so called not only because it is not currently part of Dar al-Islam, but because it is inhabited and ruled by disbelievers. Against such wicked, corrupt and defiant souls are Muslims commanded to fight.
This is Allah's will, pure and simple. Expansion is mandated by the Almighty, who is the source of truth and wisdom for all human beings. It is to be accomplished via Jihad, holy war. Additional mechanisms like Taqiyya (deceit) should be employed to achieve the goals of the Jihad. And those goals include world conquest, the Islamization of humanity, and the establishment of Islamic kingdom(s) in which Islamic law (sharia) will prevail.
Jihad warriors are specially protected. By acting as agents of Allah, and dispatching the disbelievers to hell, Jihadis gain eternal life:
3.169: And reckon not those who are killed in Allah's way as dead; nay, they are alive (and) are provided sustenance from their Lord.
What power lays in these messages: how they animate the Muslim who truly believes! He is relieved of doubt. He is an agent of the one true faith. The Jihadi is empowered as a catalyst of the disbeliever's transformation into a Muslim, and he is sanctioned to bring the 'painful chastisement' that Allah promises backsliders:
3.20: But if they dispute with you, say: I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and (so) every one who follows me; and say to those who have been given the Book and the unlearned people: Do you submit yourselves? So if they submit then indeed they follow the right way; and if they turn back, then upon you is only the delivery of the message and Allah sees the servants.
The Jihadi rides in the footsteps of Muhammad, whose own warriors first spread Islam by the sword -- a precedent that was followed many times, across lands and cultures and eras. The Jihadi is exemplar and model of Islam. He is most certainly not viewed by most Islamic religious authorities as an 'extremist subverting a great and peaceful religion.' The disbelievers can have their fantasies about Islam, but they are just that.
Islam's vision of peace is, literally, the peace that will come upon the world once it has accepted the book, once the disbelievers have been killed or converted.
3.151: We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they set up with Allah that for which He has sent down no authority and their abode is the fire, and evil is the abode of the unjust. -- (Chapter and Verse(s), The Cow and The Family of Imran.)
The Muslim knows Allah is watching, always watching. The Jihadi knows the instructions, and knows that Allah can read his mind, hear his words, and observe his actions:
6.3: And He is Allah in the heavens and in the earth; He knows your secret (thoughts) and your open (words), and He knows what you earn.
Allah is watching, so think, speak and act Islamically. Allah wants you to be truthful and sincere in promoting the interests of the ummah and Islam. He is far less choosy when it comes to confronting and overcoming the disbelievers and Dar al-Harb, Realm of War. Muslims are permitted to deceive the disbelievers; they are encouraged to do so. What helps the ummah and advances Islam is moral.
Al-Taqiyya is the Arabic word for this policy of sanctioned deception. The Shiite Encyclopedia provides a literal definition:
"Concealing or disguising one's beliefs, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions, and/or strategies at a time of imminent danger, whether now or later in time, to save oneself from physical and/or mental injury." -- (A Shite Encyclopedia October 1995 Revised January 2001)
While Taqiyya originated as a device to protect endangered Shiites, often in Sunni-dominated environments, it evolved into something quite different: a mechanism to deceive non-believers and advance the Jihad. While some maintain that it is strictly a Shiite tool, it has been endorsed and practiced by both main branches of Islam. According to Ibn Abbas, a renowned interpreter of tradition:
"Taqiyya is (merely) the uttering of the tongue, while the heart is comfortable with faith." -- (Sunan al-Bayhaqi and Mustadrak al-Hakim
Ibn Kathir, another renowned authority, sanctioned its practice this way: "Taqiya is allowed until the Day of Resurrection." Imam al-Ghazali, philosopher and theologian, elaborated a justification for deliberate lying:
"Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible." -- (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, Amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, p 745)
The goal of Jihad, or, more precisely, the goal of turning the world Islamic green through Jihad, is certainly a 'permissible' goal. It is in fact a cherished goal, the highest ambition of the ummah, this process of bringing light and peace to all humankind through Islam.
A twist on the definition is given by Professor Walid Phares:
"Al-Taqiya, from the verb Ittaqu, means linguistically dodge the threat. Politically it means simulate whatever status you need in order to win the war against the enemy."
"According to Al-Taqiya, Muslims were granted the Shar'iya (legitimacy) to infiltrate the Dar el-Harb (war zone), infiltrate the enemy's cities and forums and plant the seeds of discord and sedition. These agents were acting on behalf of the Muslim authority at war...mujahedeen, whose mission was to undermine the enemy's resistance and level of mobilization. One of their major objectives was to cause a split among the enemy's camp..."
"Al-Taqiya was a formidable weapon...and...has a civilizational, global dimension versus the narrow state interest of the regular Western subversive methods."
Taqiyya is a technique for advancing the Jihad. Those who use it are mujahadeen, verbal warriors and agents of the Muslim authorities at war with the disbelievers and Dar al-Harb.
So, attempting to befriend disbelievers is sanctioned. It is in fact an expression of great loyalty to Islam, in the context of Jihad. It does not contradict the Quranic tenets which prohibit true friendship with the disbeliever:
Let not the believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except that you guard yourselves fully against them -Surah 3:28
According to Phares, Taqiyya remains in use and is widely practiced:
"One can easily detect Taqiya in the two discourses used by Islamist strategists. On the one hand, one comprehensive Islamist theory is attempting to mobilize Middle East, and sometimes Western Christian leaders and intellectuals, against 'evil Jews.' We see considerable success on that level. And on the other hand, another Islamist comprehensive theory is attempting -with success also- to mobilize the Jews against 'evil and pagan Christians.'"
The principle of sanctioning lying for the cause of Islam bears grave implications in matters relating to the spread of the religion of Islam in the West. Muslim activists employ deceptive tactics in their attempts to polish Islam's image and make it more attractive to prospective converts. -- (Islam Review, Lying in Islam, Abdullah Al Araby
As religious doctrine, Islam differs vastly from Judaism, Christianity, and every other religious heritage/belief system on earth. Its closest analogue is fascism, and the best example of modern fascism is Nazism, which may be seen as an atheistic, race-based cousin of Islam (which itself was purely race-based in its early decades).
The 'faith' promoted in Islam derive, or begin, with the concept of, well, Islam -- submission. The concepts of man giving himself up to Allah, of obeying and spreading His will through Jihad can not be stressed too much. Warring against disbelievers is at the core of the Qur'an's seminal chapters. Jihad, struggle, is the most important element of a true Muslim's life. The Muslim must struggle with himself, true, but so as to better struggle with the enemies of Islam, subdue and defeat them.
Islam's parameters do not allow for imagination. They mitigate against skepticism. Independent thought and skepticism about the Qur'an or Hadith are essentially heresy. Thinking itself is dangerous, discouraged and severely punished. Critical thought is forbidden. Changing, diluting or moderating the basic messages of the faith are acts of heresy. Again:
"The Qur'an has not been expressed using any human words. Its wording is letter for letter fixed by Allah. Prophet Muhammad was the final Messenger of Allah to humanity, and therefore the Qur'an is the last Message which Allah has sent to us. Its predecessors such as the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels have all been superseded. (Craig Winn: Prophet of Doom)
"To you We have revealed the Qur'an containing the truth, confirming the earlier revelations [Torah, Psalms, and Gospels], and preserving them from change and corruption. So judge between them by what has been revealed by Allah. (Qur'an 5:48.)"
The West knows, or should know, that it is in a war with the soldiers of Islam. These are jihadis who fight in Islam's name and purpose, on behalf of the Islamic nation (ummah). They have different names, and belong to different sects. They may be Sunni or Shiite, individuals or the representatives of a terror organization or of a nation-state. They are not deviants far outside the mainstream of Islamic tradition, but rather Muslims fighting on different patches of earth against various infidel entities. Practicing Jihad, they seek to further the messages of Islam -- a life based on submission to Allah and his word, the Qur'an and the Hadith.
People may decide that most Muslims do not subscribe to such beliefs if they wish, or be reassured that many Muslims are not Quranic scholars. They may play with numbers and determine that only a 'small minority' of Muslims subscribe to Islam's' core teachings (effectively proposing that the ummah practices heresy on a mass basis, daily). They may perform linguistic tricks with Arabic words, confusing Islam with Salaam, so it morphs into the Arabic for 'Shalom.'
The Qur'an and the commentaries, and the rulings of Islamic religious authorities, and nearly 1400 years of Jihad clarify the identity of Islam's soul, the nature and shape of its purpose, the size of its ambitions -- and the cost of denying it all.
Larry Hall is a freelance writer in Northern California with personal and academic grounding in the Middle East. He has studied Jewish history, Hebrew Literature and Middle Eastern History and believes strongly in Israeli independence.
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