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Validating Major Coughlin By: Andrew G. Bostom
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, January 24, 2008


The very courageous and forthright Dr. Tawfik Hamid has written a must read analysis in the Jerusalem Post, entitled “The development of a jihadist’s mind.” Although Dr. Hamid—a former member of the jihadist organization, al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya (Jamaah Islamiyah)—faces overwhelming obstacles, not the least of which will be the flimsy basis for his own, albeit desperately needed, re-interpretations of core Islamic theology/jurisprudence vis a vis the jihad, and its corollary institution, dhimmitude, he is possessed of unusual candor, and insight.

Dr. Hamid even voices concerns about the much ballyhooed “Qur’anist” movement, including the lionized Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, executed in the Sudan in 1985 on a politicized “apostasy” charge. And Hamid’s concerns about Taha, specifically, are well justified.

Taha was extolled in a September 2006 essay by the New Yorker’s shallow and self-important writer George Packer, for his “radically peaceful vision of Islam.” Apparently Packer never read Taha’s defining work, “The Second Message of Islam” (readily available in an English translation by Taha’s fawning acolyte, and Islamic Shari’a-promoting apologist, Abdullah an-Naim) before writing his distressingly stupid puff piece on the Sudanese “Qur’anist.”  These extracts from “The Second Message of Islam” reveal that the man whom Packer celebrated as the ecumenical “anti-Qutb” (i.e., Sayyid Qutb, the prolific 20th century Egyptian Qur’anic commentator, and jihad theorist)—Mahmoud Taha—was in fact just more disingenuous than his presumptive polar opposite, Qutb. Taha proclaims these bowdlerized pieties (in “The Second Message of Islam”) on Islam’s violent Medinan emergence as a polity:

Islam used persuasion for thirteen years in propagating its clearly valid message…When the addressees failed to discharge properly the[ir] duties…the Prophet was appointed as their guardian…once they embraced the new religion [i.e., by coercion]…the sword was suspended…and [they] were penalized according to new laws. Hence the development of Islamic Shari’a law…

And Taha further had the temerity to compare the jihad-genocide waging historical “sword of Islam” to a surgeon’s scalpel—an unconscionable immoral equivalence to this physician:

In justifying the use of the sword, we may describe it as a surgeon’s lancet, and not a butcher’s knife…We [the Muslims] have enacted fighting with the sword in order to curtail the freedom  of those who abuse it, so the sword brings them to their senses, thereby allowing them to earn their freedom and benefit from their life [note: “freedom as perfect slavery to Allah”, the Sufi notion of Ibn Arabi, perhaps?]

But Taha’s true sentiments towards non-Muslim infidels are in the end, not concealed from anyone who cares to look. He in fact justifies—consistent with mainstream Islamic jurisprudence—their historical subjugation by violent jihad:

Suffering death by the sword in this life is really an aspect of suffering hell in the next life, since both are punishments for disbelief…for the disbelievers the law of war, and hardship of iron.

Dr. Hamid has examined contemporary jihadist ideology by “immersion” in order to better comprehend the nexus between such teachings, and acts of violence. The conclusions of this former jihadist, turned introspective analyst, provide a remarkable validation of  Major Coughlin’s own extensive independent findings (summarized earlier, here, and here), about the extent and prevalence to which the Muslim mainstream religious institutions teach, and successfully inculcate classical jihadist ideology.

It is a bitter irony that while Major Coughlin has apparently been terminated by the Pentagon for sharing his “hard to refute” and well-received analyses within the military, Hamid—a jihadist turned reformer—validates Coughlin’s thesis, stating plainly that,

These doctrines [of jihad] are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue: They are central to the [Islamic] faith and ethics of millions of Muslims, and are currently being taught as part  of the standard curriculum in many Islamic educational systems in the Middle East as well as in the West.

Moreover, there is no single approved Islamic textbook that contradicts or provides an alternative to the [Qur’anic, and other sacred text] passages I have cited [advocating jihad violence, misogyny, Jew-hated, enslavement and rape of female war prisoners and the beating of women]. It has thus become clear to me that [jihadist] ideology is largely what is responsible for the so-called “clash of civilizations.”

The seminal modern scholar of Islamic civilization, S.D. Goitein, warned almost sixty years ago, in 1949, speaking of the Arab Muslim world generally, in particular Dr. Hamid’s Egypt:

Islamic fanaticism…is now openly encouraged…writers whose altogether Western style …have been vying with each other for some time in compiling books on the heroes and virtues of Islam…What has now become possible in educated circles may be gathered from the following quotation from an issue of the ‘New East’, an Arab monthly periodical describing itself as the ‘organ of the academic youth of the East’[emphasis added]:

“Let us fight fanatically for our religion; let us love a man-because he is a Moslem; let us honor a man- because he is a Moslem; let us prefer him to anyone else-because he is a Moslem; and never let us make friends with unbelievers, because they have nothing but evil for us.”

And a decade later, in 1958, Lebanese Law Professor Antoine Fattal, perhaps the greatest scholar of the legal condition of non-Muslims living under the Shari'a, lamented—(much as Dr. Hamid laments now),

No social relationship, no fellowship is possible between Muslims and dhimmis...Even today, the study of the jihad is part of the curriculum of all the Islamic institutes. In the universities of Al-Azhar, Nagaf, and Zaitoune, students are still taught that the holy war is a binding prescriptive decree, pronounced against the Infidels, which will only be revoked with the end of the world..." [Emphasis added]

Lebanese-American political scientist, lawyer, and jihad terrorism expert, Dr. Walid Phares recently expressed his puzzlement, at one level over the Coughlin affair: “I don't understand why is there so much intellectual commotion about this matter in the West and in the US.”

He added, “Muslim scholars and historians agree that the theological texts have also a military dimension. In Islamic studies there is no debate about that. So why is there one in non-Muslim research and political circles, particularly in America? Major Coughlin was studying the texts used by the Jihadists to call for military action.”

Phares argues that although politicians might attempt to separate Islam from Jihad for their own purposes, “the study of the theological roots of Jihad is something else, and that is an academic not a political issue.”

But perhaps Dr. Phares had already expressed matters most appositely a decade ago in his  The Palestine Times, November, 1997, essay entitled, “Jihad is Jihad”:

In the Christian world, modern Christians outlawed crusading; they did not rewrite history to legitimize themselves. Those who believe that the jihad holy war is a sin today must have the courage to de-legitimize it and outlaw it as well.  

Sadly, almost fifty years after Dr. Phares’ scholarly Lebanese predecessor Antoine Fattal made his observations (in 1958), the sacralized hatred of jihad is still being inculcated as part of the formal education of Muslim youth in Egypt, the most populous Arab country, and throughout the Arab Muslim, and larger non-Arab Muslim world. We in the West must press our political and religious leaders to demand that such bellicose, hate-mongering “educational” practices be abolished in Islamic nations, under threat of severe, broad ranging economic sanctions.

Ignoring Dr. Hamid’s observations, and worse still firing Major Coughlin, are delusional and dangerous steps in the opposite direction.


Andrew G. Bostom is a frequent contributor to Frontpage Magazine.com, and the author of The Legacy of Jihad, and the forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.



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