Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage Magazine: The Many Faces of Jihad


Why the word “jihad” does mean “strive”—and why that makes it even more dangerous.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
One of the longest standing apologias for Islam is that the Arabic word jihad does not mean “holy war,” as earlier scholars (mostly Orientalists) often translated it.  Rather, we are repeatedly reminded—especially by those notorious for whitewashing Islam—that jihad simply means to “strive” for something, with no necessary connotation of violence.
While this is absolutely true, rather ironically, it also only underscores just how dangerous, multifaceted, and subversive the jihad truly is. 
Let us go to the beginning, etymology.  Here is how the authoritative Hans-Wehr’s Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic translates the triconsonantal root j-h-d (from which the word jihad is derived): “to strive, endeavor, labor, take pains, and exhaust on behalf or for the sake of something [namely Islam].”
Published in 1961, that is, before the age of political correctness, the academically rigorous dictionary also makes it a point to place under j-h-d and translate the proper word jihad as “fight, battle; jihad, holy war against the infidels, as a religious duty.”
There is a very good reason for this subcategorized entry.  Historically, jihad certainly manifested itself as a “holy war against infidels”; it revolved around expanding (occasionally, as during the Crusades, defending) the borders of Islam. 
Century after century, the only way for Muslim empires to expand into non-Muslim territory was through offensive warfare. Non-Muslims, zealous over their faith and heritage, were not about to submit to Islam without a struggle; force—Islamic invasion and conquest—was the only way. 
Times have changed.  With the modern, meteoric rise of the West—economically, militarily, and scientifically—a lax if not gullible attitude has come to prevail, allowing some Muslims to exercise the root meaning of jihad.  If they can no longer subjugate the infidel through conventional war,  they can at least, to quote from the aforementioned definition, “strive, endeavor, labor, take pains, and exhaust on behalf or for the sake of something”—namely empowering Islam over the West.
One of the most obvious ways, recommended both in the Koran and Hadith, is known as jihad al-mal—the “money jihad.”  Instead of physically participating in jihad, a Muslim supports it financially or materially.  This used to be the caliphate’s responsibility; nowadays and in its absence, every day Muslims—including those living in the West—finance the jihad with their zakat, or “alms.”  For example, in 2001, the U.S. government designated the Holy Land Foundation—once the largest Islamic charity group in the United States—as a terrorist organization dedicated to financing Hamas’s jihad/terrorism against Israel.
Two other “endeavors” are more subtle.  Once useless against premodern Europeans, they are today both highly effective against—and widely ignored by—their Western descendants.
The first is the demographic jihad—also known as the “baby-jihad” (jihad al-wilada).  Muslim men “strive” to breed with as many women as possible—Muslim or non-Muslim—in order to increase the ranks of Islam vis-à-vis increasingly sterile infidels. This is not just a lusty rationalization for illicit sex; Islamic clerics laud this “endeavor” as a legitimate jihad.   Its success can be seen in Western Europe, some regions of which now have more newborn babies named Muhammad than traditional, local names. Such is the true impetus behind the mantra, “Islam is the fasted growing religion in the world.” 
The other especially effective form of “striving” goes by many Arabic names, jihad al-kalamjihad al-lissanjihad al-qalam—jihad of words, tongues, and pens, respectively—and can be understood with one word: propaganda.  Whether in speaking or writing, here the Muslim’s chief purpose is to empower Islam and/or demoralize the West.  This jihad usually appears as apologetics for Islam and polemics against the West—many of which consist of out-and-out lies; it emanates from Muslim academics, activists, journalists, politicians, and others.   
For example, when writer Qasim Rashid used his “pen” to deceive the Washington Post’s infidel readership about the word jihad—saying it only pertains to defensive, never offensive, war—he himself was performing jihad.  Another recent example concerns the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a “co-conspirator” of the aforementioned terrorist Holy Land Foundation that masquerades as a “civil rights” group.   In order to cripple the US Army War College’s knowledge on how to combat Islamic terrorism successfully,  CAIR cried “racism,” prompting the college to appease.
In short, yes, the word “jihad” does not simply mean “holy war” to empower Islam over infidels; it means any“endeavor,” any kind of “striving” or “labor,” that empowers Islam over infidels.  Citing this fact, as the apologists often do, should not create less but more apprehension concerning the jihad.
Reflecting on the similarities and differences between the past and present offers a final lesson:   Historically, no amount of words—lies, propaganda, even cajolery—ever sufficed to empower Islam over the West.  Accusing Europeans before the twentieth century of being “Islamophobic,” “racist,” or in dire need of “multiculturalism,” was, as might be imagined, useless.  Old fashioned warfare—invasions and conquests (as copiously documented in Sword and Scimitar)—was necessary.
Today, many Muslims remain committed to the jihad against and subjugation of the West.  But whereas they cannot—they also need not—resort to conventional war.  Words, words, and more words—twisted and false and yet still manipulating the West—are sufficient.


RAYMOND IBRAHIM is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007).
Ibrahim’s writings, translations, and observations have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times Syndicate, CNN, LA Times, Fox News, Financial Times, Jerusalem Post, United Press International, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, and Weekly Standard; scholarly journals, including the Almanac of Islamism, Chronicle of Higher Education, Hoover Institution’s Strategika, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, and Middle East Review of International Affairs; and popular websites, including American Thinker, Bloomberg, Breitbart, Christian Post, Daily Caller, FrontPage Magazine, NewsMax, National Review Online, PJ Media, and World Magazine. He has contributed chapters to several anthologies and has been translated into dozens of languages.
Among other media, he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, and NPR; he has done hundreds of radio interviews and some of his YouTube videos (here and here for example) have received over a million views each.
Ibrahim guest lectures at universities, including the National Defense Intelligence College, has briefed governmental agencies, such as U.S. Strategic Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and has testified before Congress regarding the conceptual failures that dominate American discourse concerning Islam and the worsening plight of Egypt’s Christian Copts.
Ibrahim’s dual-background—born and raised in the U.S. by Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East—has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former. His interest in Islamic civilization was first piqued when he began visiting the Middle East as a child in the 1970s. Interacting and conversing with the locals throughout the decades has provided him with an intimate appreciation for that part of the world, complementing his academic training.
After a brief athletic career—including winning the 1993 NPC Los Angeles Bodybuilding Championship as a teenager—Raymond went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. (both in History, focusing on the ancient and medieval Near East, with dual-minors in Philosophy and Literature) from California State University, Fresno. There he studied closely with noted military-historian Victor Davis Hanson. He also took graduate courses at Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies—including classes on the history, politics, and economics of the Arab world—and studied Medieval Islam and Semitic languages at Catholic University of America. His M.A. thesis examined an early military encounter between Islam and Byzantium based on arcane Arabic and Greek texts.
Ibrahim’s resume includes serving as an Arabic language and regional specialist at the Near East Section of the Library of Congress, where he was often contacted by and provided information to defense and intelligence personnel involved in the fields of counterterrorism and area studies, as well as the Congressional Research Service; and serving as associate director of the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia think tank.
He also often functions as a journalist and has been a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution and news analyst for a variety of media.  His knowledge of Arabic and familiarity with Middle Eastern sources have enabled him to offer breaking news.  Days before the Obama administration blamed an anti-Islamic movie for Muslim uprisings against a U.S. consul and an embassy in Libya and Egypt respectively, Ibrahim showed that the demonstrations were pre-planned and unrelated to the movie.  Similarly, he was first to expose an Arabic-language Saudi fatwa that called for the destruction of any Christian church found on the Arabian Peninsula.
Raymond Ibrahim is currently Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center; Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute; and Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.