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The War is Over; The Jihad Isn’t By: Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, August 19, 2003


A “wide range of militants,” says the New York Times, is streaming into Iraq, eager for a showdown with American troops. Mullah Mustapha Kreikar, leader of the Muslim terrorist group Ansar al-Islam, declaimed from his safe haven in Norway on the religious character of the struggle: “The resistance is not only a reaction to the American invasion, it is part of the continuous Islamic struggle since the collapse of the caliphate. All Islamic struggles since then are part of one organized effort to bring back the caliphate.”

Only one percent of the Norwegian population is Muslim — around 50,000 to 60,000 people in all. It’s safe to say that only a minority of those are working actively with Kreikar for the restoration of the caliphate. Accordingly the Norwegian authorities who granted Kreikar political asylum may be excused for their unawareness of or indifference to his ultimate goals. However, if they thought of them (as Western analysts are wont to do) as dreamy, outlandish, preposterous, or even quaint, they were dead wrong. Iraq is just one battlefield of many: Muslim militants all over the world are moved today to murder and mayhem for the sake of the caliphate.

The caliph was for Sunni Islam the successor of Muhammad as the leader of the Muslim community; the caliphate was abolished by Kemal Ataturk’s secular Turkish government in 1924. Islamic theology makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular, and for Sunni Muslims the caliph was something like a combined Generalissimo and Pope, although he never wielded anything comparable to the Pope’s spiritual authority. Michelangelo’s patron, Pope Julius II, earned the dubious honor of going down in history as the “warrior pope”; by contrast, the overwhelming majority of the successors of the Prophet were warrior caliphs.

No accident there. It is not an invention of the Wahhabi demons du jour, but a provision of classic Islamic law (the Sharia) that the Caliph has not just a right, but a responsibility to wage war. One manual of this law, Umdat al-Salik (published in English as Reliance of the Traveller) stipulates that “the caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians . . . until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.” The “non-Muslim poll tax” is the most conspicuous feature of a system, carefully delineated in this manual, of organized oppression and second-class (dhimmi) status for religious minorities in lands ruled by the Sharia. Umdat al-Salik carries an endorsement from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the most respected and influential voice in all of Sunni Islam.

A manual from a different school of Sunni jurisprudence states that the caliph must “make jihad against those who resist Islam after having been called to it until they submit or accept to live as a protected dhimmi-community — so that Allah’s rights, may He be exalted ‘be made uppermost above all [other] religion’ (Qur’an 9:33).” Without a caliph, those who resist Islam have less to fear; Islamic radicals around the world have therefore long viewed the abolition of the caliphate as an immense tragedy, and its reestablishment as a prerequisite of a worldwide resurgence of Islam.

The intellectual father of all modern-day Muslim radicals, the Egyptian Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949), decried the end of the caliphate because it separated “the state from religion in a country which was until recently the site of the Commander of the Faithful.” Al-Banna characterized the end of the caliphate as part of a larger “Western invasion which was armed and equipped with all [the] destructive influences of money, wealth, prestige, ostentation, power and means of propaganda.” Al-Banna founded the first modern radical Muslim organization, the Muslim Brotherhood.

Another influential radical theorist, Sayyid Abul A‘la Maududi (1903-1979), founder of the Pakistani hardline party Jamaat-e-Islami (Muslim Party), envisioned a unified Islamic state that would steadily expand throughout the subcontinent and beyond: “The Muslim Party will inevitably extend invitation to the citizens of other countries to embrace the faith which holds promise of true salvation and genuine welfare for them. Even otherwise also if the Muslim Party commands adequate resources it will eliminate un-Islamic Governments and establish the power of Islamic Government in their stead.” This was, according to Maududi, exactly what Muhammad and the first caliphs did. “It is the same policy which was executed by the Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) and his successor illustrious Caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them). Arabia, where the Muslim Party was founded, was the first country which was subjugated and brought under the rule of Islam.”

Such views have long since come to the West. In 1999, Abu Hamza al-Masri, the one- eyed, hook-handed radical who was then imam of London’s Finsbury Park mosque, spoke at a London conference dedicated to lamenting the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the caliphate. “Islam needs the sword,” he said to shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is great) from the crowd of 400 Muslims. “Whoever has the sword, he will have the earth.”

Abu Hamza is a close associate of Omar Bakri and the radical British Muslim group Al-Muhajiroun. Bakri has declared his desire to see “the black flag of Islam” — that is, the battle flag of jihad — “flying over Downing Street.” Like Bakri and Al-Muhajiroun in Britain, in Germany Shaker Assem and the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir) work to reestablish the caliphate and institute the Sharia. Declares Assem: “People who say there is a conflict between Sharia and Western democracy are right.”

Restoration of the caliphate and the global expansion of Islamic rule and Islamic law was also a goal of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. In 1996 Mullah Omar wrapped himself in the cloak of Muhammad, which lies in a shrine in Afghanistan, as the Taliban proclaimed him the “new caliph” and Emir ul-Momineen, or Commander of the Faithful. In May 2002 a U.S. official noted that their plan was to “take over the whole country” of Afghanistan, and then “expand the caliphate.”

This is the vision that moved Oregon resident Maher “Mike” Hawash to leave his wife and three children after 9/11 in order to make his way to Afghanistan and try to join with the Taliban in its fight against the United States. Hawash, who has pleaded guilty to trying “to willfully supply, directly or indirectly, services to the territory of Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban or to the Taliban,” was a naturalized American citizen and, according to the Wall Street Journal, just an ordinary guy. He “had fully integrated himself into the mainstream community where he lived. In many respects he had attained the American dream. He owned his own home and was respected at microchip-maker Intel, one of the U.S.’s preeminent high-tech giants. He was exceptionally popular and known in the community for his volunteer activities.”

What happened to Mike Hawash? According to the Islamic terrorism expert Daniel Pipes, in 2000 “he became noticeably more devout. He grew a beard, wore Arab clothing, prayed five times a day, and regularly attended mosque. He also became noticeably less friendly. Further inquiry found that Hawash paid up his house mortgage (interest payments go against Islamic law) and donated over $10,000 to the Global Relief Foundation, an Islamic charity subsequently closed for financing terrorist groups.”

Likewise the late Ziad Jarrah, one of the September 11 terrorists. On Friday, a girlfriend of Jarrah named Aysel Sengun testified in a trial of another radical Muslim that Jarrah “was a lovely man, very nice, rather introverted. He only became really religious at the end.” She added that he was at first “very western oriented,” but as he became more religious, another side of him emerged. He began to speak often of jihad: “It was the holy war for him. It meant fighting, not using words.” Another friend of Jarrah testified: “He told me it was the greatest joy for a Muslim to wage a holy war.”

It’s intriguing that Hawash and Jarrah become serious about Islam and then started engaging in terrorism. Who taught these guys about Islam, anyway? The Christian Right? Where was Ibrahim Hooper to tell them that they were getting the Religion of Peace all wrong? Americans must face the unpleasant fact that radical Islam is taught in mosques all over the world by devout Muslims who are well-versed in the Qur’an and Islamic tradition. If it’s really a discredited fringe group, as Hooper and Co. would have us believe, or a localized phenomenon of Saudi Wahhabi oil money, well, somebody forgot to tell the radicals themselves.

How many more former ordinary guys like Hawash and Jarrah are entering Iraq now to fight the latest stage of jihad? American officials are actually hoping that any who are so inclined will make the trip. The commander of American ground forces in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, said on CNN’s Late Edition: “This is what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity. . . . But this is exactly where we want to fight them. . . . This will prevent the American people from having to go through their attacks back in the United States.”

Nonetheless, Americans shouldn’t rest easy just yet. There is no way to tell how many Muslims in the United States and Western Europe are dedicated to jihad for the reestablishment of the caliphate and the resumption of Muslim glory, but it is certain that this particular jihad isn’t even close to being over. Muhammad Youssef of Britain’s Al-Muhajiroun reassured Westerners that “we don’t believe in armed struggle to end man-made law” — that is, all law besides the Sharia. Instead, “we believe in creating a powerful fifth column.” Mike Hawash and Ziad Jarrah (if he were still with us) could give lessons on just how to do so.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of eight books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs, is available now from Regnery Publishing.



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