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April 26, 2003

The truth about jihad

An expert in these matters discusses who can and who can not have a "right" to declare jihad. Seems many non-eligibles getting into the declaring jihad game.
[...]One more important point: The person who declares jihad must enjoy a large measure of recognition as the "a'alam al-ulema" (The Most Learned of Theologians), at least within his immediate community. And he must be in a position to personally take the lead, to risk his own life and the lives of those near to him (aqruba-ihum), in the enterprise. It is not possible to tell the Iraqis, or the Palestinians, "Go, kill and get killed so that we can applaud from a safe distance!"

The gentlemen whose jihad declarations we have discussed lack such qualifications. Bin Laden is an adventurer on the loose. Fadhlallah, a politician rather than a theologian, does not enjoy consensus even among Lebanese Shiites. Tantawi, an employee of the Egyptian government, lacks the independence required of theologians. As for Saddam, Al-Sahhaf and Uday, now fugitives, their jihad consisted of running to the nearest hole in which to hide.

The non-Muslim world, especially in the West, must beware: The conditions that must be present and the rules that must be applied before jihad is declared are so complex that one can hardly imagine a situation in which they would be applicable today.

The vast majority of Muslims ignored the numerous calls for jihad coming from individuals who have no right to do so. Those who declared jihad in support of Saddam must be treated as politicians, not religious leaders, and treated as any other politician anywhere. They use the term "jihad" as many in the West use the term "crusade," for example as "a crusade against genetically modified food" and so on.

Next time you hear someone declaring jihad on behalf of Muslims, you can be sure that he is a politician using a sound bite for good effect -- not a theologian expressing a serious Islamic position.[more]