Guest Column: A brief history of jihad

Jihad is much in the news these days, but it’s nothing new. Islam’s first jihad began in the 7th century C.E., waged by Arabian Muslims against Arabian non-Muslims who revered certain rocks believed to contain divine power, and who worshiped Uzza, the goddess of the morning star; Manah, the goddess of destiny; and Hubal, the moon god. This polytheistic religion and monotheist Islam considered each other heretical. Instead of respecting each other’s diversity, they went at it with swords.

Mohammed had been a battlefield commander in addition to a prophet. He wasn’t the type of holy man who turned the other cheek and died for somebody else’s sins.

Following Mohammed’s demise, holy Muslim warriors jihaded against non-believers across the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, the Balkans, parts of Italy, the south of France, India and China. Spreading the faith with the sword was considered legitimate missionary activity.

Holy Muslim warriors besieged Vienna twice, razed the Catholic monastery at Monte Cassino in Italy, burned the then-largest Buddhist library in the world in India, but were defeated in France at the Battle of Tours in 732. Finally, they were driven from Spain in 1031, were attacked by the Crusaders beginning in the 11th century, were stopped during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, and sank in the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Many historians of religion believe that jihad is an essential component of Islam. Wherever substantial populations of Muslims have resided, there usually was jihad. Present hotspots include Kashmir, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chechnya, Somalia, Sudan, the Philippines and the entire Middle East, not to mention bombings in London, Madrid and Mumbai, Paris riots, 9/11, assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, and various other instances of Muslims targeting and killing civilians.

The modern jihadist rationale is: horrible crimes have been committed against us by infidels, so anything goes. Their deepest spiritual impulses condone suicide bombing infidel women and children in civilian areas, instead of cutting a deal and making peace like rational human beings. Holy Muslim warriors even jihad against each other, such as Shiites and Sunnis shooting, bombing and slitting throats in Iraq.

Can there possibly be any legitimate moral justification for murdering innocent women and children in crowded civilian areas? Does it make sense to equate suicide bombers with retaliation for suicide bombers? Is it honorable for holy Muslim warriors to take cover behind Muslim women and children in residential communities, causing them to get killed collaterally? Is everything really relative, and nothing matters except winning the next election?

Many Americans seem not to know what the Holy Koran actually says. For example, Sura 47, approximate verse 4:

When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds…

In plain English, chop off lots of heads and enslave the survivors. Yet, many Americans consider Islam not so different from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism, although none of the latter advocate holy wars today.

The Holy Koran, Sura 5 approximate verse 56, states clearly:

O believers, take not Jews and Christians as friends; They are friends of each other. Whoso of you makes them his friends is one of them. God guides not the people of the evildoers.

Holy Muslim warriors believe the Koran literally. But, according to what I hear on National Public Radio and read in various periodicals, many Americans apparently believe that suicide bombers probably are decent human beings whose deplorable behavior somehow has been provoked by the wickedness of Israel, America, capitalism, colonialism, racism, globalism, George W. Bush, etc. Therefore, the only possible solution is to give suicide bombers more or less whatever they want, provided they promise to leave us alone. Unfortunately, the history of the 20th century has proven conclusively that you can’t appease extremists; they always demand more.

Lenny Levinson is the author of 83 mostly pulp fiction novels, mainly in the category of high adventure. He lived in New York City for 42 years, but is now a resident of Mt. Morris.

From the Oct. 11-17, 2006, issue

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