Spencer, the NDU scholars, the securocrat and his books

Robert Spencer today posted to his blog Jihad Watch a memo by one LTC Joseph C. Myers, Senior Army Advisor at Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, in reply to an article on the American Forces Information Service website by two National Defense University scholars who sought to define Muslim extremists not as jihadists but as spreaders of corruption (mufsidun) and their activities as banditry (hiraba). Myers suggests that anyone who thinks that jihad means personal striving consult Reliance of the Traveller, in which he notes that jihad is re-indexed to “Holy War”.

I’ve got a copy of the Reliance myself, and the quotes around “Holy War” are not Spencer’s, Myers’ or my own, but Shaikh Nuh Keller’s. They are in the index and clearly signify that “Holy War” is not Islamic terminology. Myers alleges that the re-definition of jihad as personal striving is “a later adaptation brought by Shia and Sufi scholars, the influence of ascetics, around the turn of the last millennium as Islam struggled with schism and the Moghul invasion”. Islamic texts, including the Reliance, all discuss jihad as meaning war.

Except, of course, that war means just that. It means fighting the enemy on the battlefield, not by carrying out spectacular destructions of property unrelated to whatever war is at hand. I should point out that many Muslims have misconceptions as to what went on in the World Trade Centre, which was no more than a multi-occupancy office block and was not a place where people sit and “plan world trade”, as one brother suggested to me, nor a “usurious institution” although some of the companies who owned parts of it were banks and insurers. It was not US Federal Government property, but it would not have made the attack lawful even if it was.

The terrorists are “classicists” only in that they belong to a tradition of fringe extremism going back to the dawn of Islam. Someone who speaks only English, and not Arabic or even another Muslim language like Urdu or Persian, can’t be blamed for having only Reliance of the Traveller to go on as an authority on the Shari’a; but Shaikh Nuh has a number of speeches recorded in English, among them the series of MP3s recorded at Friends’ House, London, last year entitled This is Jihad? (currently available here at DeenPort) or this article he wrote shortly after 9/11, or for that matter other articles by other real classicists after the 9/11 attacks, or this fatwa on attacking innocent civilians by another genuine classicist, Shaikh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti.

While the notion that “jihad is only defensive” is indeed a myth, anyone who reads these articles and fatawa should come to the conclusion that terrorism is indeed a species of banditry even if those responsible call it war (and incidentally, our governments can be rather convenient when classifying terrorists as combatants or criminals; the British government made a big thing of classifying convicted IRA terrorists as criminals and refusing them political status, while 9/11 was pronounced an act of war immediately). Indeed, this activity has been the downfall of two Muslim countries (Chechnya and Afghanistan) recently, as marine piracy and slave raiding was the downfall of Islamic states in Africa in the past.

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