Thank God Someone Is Listening to Us – Terrorism Is Not Jihad

Thank God Someone Is Listening to Us – Terrorism Is Not Jihad

The U.S. Government recently issued a statement asking that government officials be cautious in their use of language as it may actually be against the interests of the U.S. to use terms that connect the religion of Islam with the acts of criminals.  The governments suggests the use of more accurate and non-inflammatory language.  A recent Homeland Security Report even sharply rebuked John McCain’s ‘Islamic Extremism’ rhetoric.  Of course, Islamophobes like Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald don’t approve, but they also thought Islamo Fascism Awareness Week was a good idea.

The governments new awareness that words have meaning has been attacked as caving in to Muslim pressure by a number of groups and individuals who currently make a nice living defining Islam and Muslims.  As an American Muslim who loves both Islam and America, I say “Thank God Someone Is Finally Listening to Us – Terrorism Is Not Jihad”.  Perhaps now we can work together to combat the very real problem of extremism and terrorism.

When the media or individuals use Arabic terms such as jihad for acts of terrorism, or when they attach the word Islam in front of a word as in Islamo-fascism, Islamic terrorism, those words have an effect.  They have an effect right here in America by linking the religion of Islam and terrorist acts in the mind of ordinary citizens.  They have an effect on Muslims who are struggling to make clear to those Muslims who attempt to justify their crimes by some false interpretation of Islamic teachings that we do not accept their claims.  They have an effect on Muslims worldwide who because of the use of language like Islamo-Fascist, have come to view the “war on terror” not as a war on al Qaeda, but as a war on Islam itself.

Criminal political movements like al-Qaeda who attempt to convince other Muslims that their actions are somehow “Islamic” attempt to call their terrorist acts Jihad, and when their false claims are echoed in the media in the West, that adds some legitimacy to their claims, at least for uneducated Muslims.

There have been lots of folks who have said that they have no problem with Islam, their problem is with Islamism or Islamists.  This however is problematic even in the definition of the terms.  The online dictionary and thesaurus gives the following definitions:

Dictionary:  Islamism:  1. An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.  2. The religious faith, principles, or cause of Islam.
Thesaurus:  1. Islamist – a scholar who knowledgeable in Islamic studies bookman, scholar, scholarly person, student – a learned person (especially in the humanities); someone who by long study has gained mastery in one or more disciplines.  2. Islamist – an orthodox Muslim Islam, Muslimism – the civilization of Muslims collectively which is governed by the Muslim religion; “Islam is predominant in northern Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and Indonesia”

The truth is that when you add the word Islam in front of words like fascist, extremist, terrorist, etc.  Or, when you allow criminals like Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda to redefine the words Jihad and Shahed, then you are giving the impression to all the millions of Muslims in the world that you think that OBL and al Qaeda are correct in their attempts to give an Islamic justification for their criminal actions.  They are not correct.  Terrorism is not Jihad, it is Hirabah.  A martyr is a person who dies in the cause of God, most certainly not someone who dies committing an act of terrorism.

Terrorism is not a legitimate part of jihad according to traditional Islamic scholars, and mainstream Islamic scholars, and ordinary Muslims regularly attempt to point this out because they are aware that the only appeal to reason that might influence extremists who claim an Islamic justification in any way is the appeal to Islamic teachings.

If you must use an Arabic word, use the correct word HIRABAH which is the word that would correspond to these acts of terrorism.  But, why use an Arabic word at all in English?

When Muslims have attempted to clarify the position of Islam, they have often been misunderstood.  The following statement by Paul Barrett is typical of this deep misunderstanding of Islam and Muslims:

“But Hathout’s characterization of the attack also includes one of those troubling asterisks. When he says he reviles the 9/11 hijackers, he also tries to deny that they are Muslims. “If those people claim to be Muslims,” he says, “this is against every fiber in Islam.” In his circular reasoning, real Muslims can have no connection to terrorism because Islam forbids such violence. Ergo, Muslims didn’t carry out 9/11 since anyone who could do such a thing is not a real Muslim. This verbal feint could suggest evasiveness to some listeners.”

As a Muslim, I absolutely understand and agree with what Maher Hathout was attempting to express.  Any person who could carry out the 9/11 terrorist act could not understand Islam, and no matter what distorted reasoning they followed to convince themselves that there was any possibility of justifying such an act, they were wrong.  And, if there are any others out there who are following the same line of reasoning or attempting to convince others of that reasoning, they are wrong.  Any extremist political ideology masquerading as Islamic is wrong and must be resisted by all Muslims.

The American Muslim has been publishing articles on this distinction between hirabah and jihad for many years, and will hopefully publish many more.  After 9/11 American Muslims were forced to come to terms with the fact that there were some people who also considered themselves Muslims whose view of what it means to be a Muslim and to follow Islam was completely unrecognizable and abhorrent to us.  It was a shock to hear those people use words that hold deep spiritual meaning and beauty for us in a way that turned the meanings of those words on their heads.  We must counter this false message and find ways to reach those who have been brainwashed into believing that there is any validity in this false understanding preached by groups such as al Qaeda.


A Call to Harabah, Aziz Poonawalla

A detailed fatwa – Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians, Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti

A spiritual jihad against terrorism, Sheila Musaji (5 parts) _against_terrorism_part_i/

A Time for Introspection: “The worst enemies of Islam are from within”, Hamza Yusuf _introspection_the_worst_enemies_of_islam_are_from_within/

The Amman Initiative: A Theological Counter-Attack Against Terrorism, S. Abdallah Schleifer _initiative_a_theological_counter_attack_against_terrorism/

Attitudes of Ignorance, Parvez Ahmed

Bushspeak:  Dark and Garbled Words, John Chuckman dark_and_garbled_words/

Colloquium: Truth in Language and the War on Words _truth_in_language_the_war_of_words_and_an_iraqi_constitution/

“Creative Destruction”: Exposing the Ideological Roots of Modern Terrorism, Dr. Robert Dickson Crane _destruction_exposing_the_ideological_roots_of_modern_terrorism/

Dance of Deception, James M. Wall _of_deception/

The Evolution of ‘Jihad’ in Islamist Political Discourse, Farish A. Noor _of_jihad_in_islamist_political_discourse/

Freedom as Ideology and Counterfeit Coinage: Why We Must Attend to the Meaning of Words, Jeremy henzell-Thomas _as_ideology_and_counterfeit_coinage_why_we_must_attend_to_the _meani/

Hirabah versus Jihad, Dr. Robert D. Crane _hirabah_versus_jihad/


Home-grown imams fight home-grown extremism, Aftab Ahmad Malik

Is media coverage of Arabs, Islam Good?, Magda Abu Fadil

Is there such a thing as religious terrorism?, Sheila Musaji _such_a_thing_as_religious_terrorism/

Islam: Religion or Ideology?, Imam Zaid Shakir _or_ideology/

Islamic Fascists?  Deceptive Labels & Propoganda are Counterproductive, Sheila Musaji _fascists1/

Islamic or Muslim Terrorism and Extremism:  Are they all Contradictions in Terms?, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas _or_muslim_terrorism_and_extremism_are_they_all_contradictions_in_te/

‘Islamic terrorism’ an insult that distorts reality, Jimmy E. Jones _terrorism_an_insult_that_distorts_reality/

Islamophobia and Arabophobia: Laying The Groundwork – Us vs. Them, Sheila Musaji islamophobia_laying_the_groundwork_us_vs_them/

Jihad, Empire, and the Ethics of War and Peace, S. Parvez Manzoor _and_the_ethics_of_war_and_peace/

Jihad, Islams Struggle for Truth, Vincent Cornell _struggle_for_truth/

Jihad and the Modern World, Dr. Sherman Jackson _the_modern_world1/

Jihad Gone Wrong, Khaled Abou El Fadl _khaled_abou_el_fadl_jihad_gone_wrong/

Jihad: Its True Meaning and Purpose, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi _true_meaning_and_purpose/

Jihad or Hiraba?

Language and war in the Middle East, Ali Alarabi _and_war_in_the_middle_east/

McCain hasn’t gotten the message and is still referring to “Islamic” terror 438135169/1002

Media coverage of Serbian Belgrade Embassy attack an example of selective religious identification, Sheila Musaji when_terrorism_has_no_religion/

The Muslim Community:  Where We Stand 1994, Hamza Yusuf muslim_community_where_we_stand_1994/

Muslim scholars reject bin Laden’s idea of Jihad

Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence:  People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words, Sheila Musaji _violence_christian_non_violence_people_in_glass_houses_should_ not_th/

New Frontiers in Conflict Management: A Grand Strategy to Wage Jihad Against Terrorist Muslims, Dr. Robert D. Crane _in_conflict_management_a_grand_strategy_to_wage_jihad_against/

New Muslim think tank to counter extremism – The Quilliam Foundation

Oxymorons in the News Media, Enver Masud _in_the_news_media/

The Paranoid and Abhorrent Obsession with Muslims in the Media, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas paranoid_and_abhorrent_obsession_with_muslims_in_the_media/

Peace and Justice in Islam, Imam Zaid Shakir justice_in_islam/

Religious Authority, Extremism, and the Amman Message, H.A. Hellyer

Spencer, the NDU scholars, the securocrat and his books, Yusuf Smith scholars_the_s#more

Terrorism, Jihad, and the Struggle for New Understandings, Dr. Antony T. Sullivan terrorism_jihad_and_the_struggle_for_new_understandings/

Terrorism:  It’s Not Jihad, It’s Unholy Hirabah, Jim Guirard not_jihad_its_unholy_hirabah/

The Use and Abuse of Jihad in the Muslim World, Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina to_offensive_warfarethe_use_and_abuse_of_jihad_in_the_muslim/

VIDEO:  Tackling Extremism, Hamza Yusuf

War on Terror Rhetoric Sounds Like a War on Islam, Parvez Ahmed _terror_rhetoric_sounds_like_war_on_islam/

When in doubt call if Jihad, Svend White doubt_call_it_jihad/

Will Islamophobes Be Allowed to Obtain Their Ultimate Goal?, Dr. Abdul Cader Asmal islamophobes_be_allowed_to_obtain_their_ultimate_goal/

Winning the War of Ideas, Dr. Hesham Hassaballa winning_the_war_of_ideas/

You Say Jihadi, I Say Extremist, Zahed Amanullah