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Debating Islam (18 Apr 2015 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Its Understanding of Jihad




By Abdelfattah Kadiri

 15 April 2015

 Tokyo – In the last decades, many Islamic movements have claimed Jihad as the basis of their doctrine. This article strives to deal with the issue of Jihad particularly. It focuses specifically on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria/Sham (ISIS) and its understanding of Jihad.

It moves on to analyze different understandings of the Holy Texts: the Quran and the Traditions of the Prophet (Hadith) that relate to Jihad. In other words, the article brings forth verses from the Quran and Hadith that ISIS uses to justify its actions. It concludes with a glimpse of the open letter written by celebrated Muslim scholars explaining their points of view on Jihad, attacking innocent people and elaborates on their attitudes towards the Islamic State in general.

The main questions of the research:

What has Jihad stood for in history, and how does ISIS understand it? What kinds of Qur’anic verses do they rely on? What types of Hadith do they use in their justifications/interpretations?

Jihad throughout History

Jihad/Holy War is always linked to religion, and has been one of the tools used to defend religion and its followers. However, with time, the notion might have changed in order to serve some states’ or groups’ goals. In early Islamic history, the permission of Jihad was given to Muslims as a means of defending themselves from persecution and injustice, namely referring to the Qureshi tribe’s treatment of Muslims. Allah in the Quran says:

“Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory.” Surat Al-Haj [22:39]

Moreover, the last time Jihad was used officially was by the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. The Ottoman Empire, as an example, invoked Jihad as a mean to motivate people to fight effectively to defend its subjects. The Ottoman Empire considered states including Britain, France, and Russia enemies. In this vein, in his article “Jihad”, David Motadel argues, “The holy war was thus not a religious conflict in the classic sense, waged between ‘believers’ and ‘infidels’. As only Britain, France, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro had turned hostile to the caliphate, only they could be considered enemies of Islam.” [1]

ISIS is one of the newest groups that has cited Jihad as the basis of its doctrine, and has been manipulating the term ‘Jihad‘ as a tool for achieving its goals whether those goals are religious or not.

I have tried to focus mostly on Al-Baghdadi’s speeches, but unfortunately, there are not many of them. In his first speech in which he announced himself caliph, he did not deeply discuss the meaning of Jihad, so I turned to other videos published in the name of the Islamic State. Furthermore, I focus less on secondary sources because they may introduce ISIS in a way that does not align with ISIS’s beliefs, hence why I have avoided them.

Definition of Jihad for ISIS:

Firstly, I would like to start by citing Alireza Doostdar, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He opens his article “How Not to Understand ISIS” by stating, “I should begin by emphasizing that our knowledge of ISIS is extremely scant. We know close to nothing about ISIS’ social base. We know little about how it made its military gains, and even less about the nature of the coalitions into which it has entered—from other Islamist rebels in Syria to secular Ba‘athists in Iraq. ‘Beliefs’ are made simply to fill the explanatory void.”

ISIS uses the term ‘Jihad’ in all its speeches, but does not discuss its interpretation of the term. Even Al-Baghdadi does not specify what he means by ‘Jihad’ in his first speech as caliph. However, we can interpret the meaning of Jihad from their actions and selected speeches posted on YouTube that elaborate on their beliefs and doctrines, one of which is by a member of ISIS named himself, Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi Al Quraych Al Husayni. This video states the most important pillars of their doctrine.

Firstly, they believe that all manifestations of polytheism must be destroyed. Secondly, Rafida ‘Shiites’ are apostates; as they do not apply various Islamic rules, they should be killed. This explains why ISIS is killing many Shiites. Thirdly, they believe all magicians (not differentiating between the practice black magic or other forms) are not Muslims, and therefore should be killed. Fourthly, they believe all people who bear witness (shahada) are Muslims except those who, they deem, believe in sacrilege.

However, they fail to mention these nullifiers of Islam, leaving these matters to their own jurisdiction. Fifthly, all Muslims must reject secular law and go back to the Islamic courts that are in the Islamic State, anyone who goes to other courts is a non-Muslim. Sixthly, secularism, communism, nationalism, etc. are clear blasphemy and against Islam. As a result, all parties that participate in political life, even Islamic parties, are none Muslims and all participants occupying positions in those parties are non-Muslims. However the subjects in question are considered Muslims until ISIS has evidence that shows the opposite. Seventhly, those who help ISIS’s enemies are targets. Eighthly, Jihad is obligatory for each person. Ninthly, all states that apply secular law, even Muslim states, are non-Muslim and should be fought in order to kill the rulers and their helpers. In addition, fighting Muslims who follow secular law takes precedence over fighting non-Muslims.

In the analysis, I focus on Qur’anic verses and the sayings of the Prophet that Al-Baghdadi and his followers rely on in order to legitimize their crimes against innocent people.

Qur’anic verses that have been cited by Al-Baghdadi:

Al-Baghdadi cites as many verses as possible in order to motivate people to fight for ISIS’ cause, specifically verses that call for enforcing Islamic rules. What is interesting about his first speech is that he does not delve into the explanations and interpretations of these verses, which may imply he does not recognize scholars who spend their entire lives interpreting/studying the Quran. Moreover, this indication is an opportunity for his opponents to discredit Al-Baghdadi and his followers as they do not have the ability to understand the Quran and the Hadith properly as they were intended. Furthermore, per his speech, Al-Baghdadi seems to focus more on verses that promote violence to serve his purpose of using violence against others. Here are some examples of the verses that he cites during his speech:

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. Surat Al-Baqarah [2: 216]

And fight them until there is no fitnah (disbelief and polytheism) and [until] the religion, all of it, is for Allah. And if they cease – then indeed, Allah is Seeing of what they do. Surat Al-‘Anf?l [8: 39]

We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidence and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice. And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that Allah may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. Surat Al-?ad?d [57: 25]

Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion, which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient. Surat An-N?r [24: 55]

So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers. Surat ‘Ali `Imran [3:139]

[It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know. He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence. That is the great attainment. And [you will obtain] another [favor] that you love – victory from Allah and an imminent conquest; and give good tidings to the believers. Surat As-Saf [61: 11,12,13]

Sayings of the Prophet cited by ISIS:

From my observation watching their videos, I did not come across many Hadiths; leading me to believe the scarcity of Hadiths is either because they have enough Quran verses justifying their actions, or they consider the Quran as the foundation, therefore rendering the need to cite Hadiths unnecessary. However, Al-Baghdadi does cite the Prophet’s military preparations against the Qurashies during Ramadan. In addition, the video outlining the doctrine of the Islamic State mentions one Hadithreferencing statues and graves. Nevertheless, if we are to compare the use of Qur’anic verses versus hadith, we can see that ISIS relies heavily on Qur’anic verses as opposed to Hadith.

Some Figures ISIS Considers Role Models:

There is not much known about ISIS’ role models as its leaders rarely cite Islamic figures, thereby strengthening their opponents’ argument that ISIS interprets Qur’anic verses and Hadith literally without using scientific tools scholars have used from Islam’s earliest days in order to explain the Quran and theHadith properly. The only instance in which ISIS has cited a known scholar was Ibno Hazm Thahiri ‘(d 1064), who is known for his literal interpretation in dealing with religious texts in his discourse, and he is known for refusing several sources of Tachrie (legislation) such as analogy.

In conclusion, in line with popular belief and media representation, ISIS relies on violence and strives to justify its actions through religious texts, which have negatively influenced Islam’s image. Instead of demonstrating mercy, solidarity, tolerance, and other honorable characteristics of Islam, ISIS has done its utmost to deform the image of Islam which Muslims all over the world have sought to correct.

In response, many Muslim scholars have written an open letter to ISIS with the intention of conveying just how wrong the Islamic State is, which one hundred and twenty-six scholars have signed to date. In this open letter, scholars invalidate the caliphate that was declared by Al-Baghdadi and his followers; they also assert that one cannot ignore the Islamic sciences while interpreting Islamic texts. In addition to re-establishing the Islamic policy toward killing innocent people, which Islam strictly prevents, the letter reminds ISIS and other readers that no one has right to force people to convert to Islam.

In one of his YouTube speeches (published September 20, 2014), signatory Hamza Yosef declares the Islamic State and its followers non-Muslims. He says that they are Ahlo Iblis (people of Satan). Yosef brings forth several Hadiths that describe a group of people who will act against people and religion, and he says that these descriptions apply exactly in the case of ISIS.

Hamza Yousef says in the translation of this Hadith: “Stay put and do not go out then you will see weak insignificant people. They are not notable. They have no learning they have no scholars among them. Their heart like pieces of iron, and they, in another Hadith, show no mercy towards their enemies; they are the people of dawla (state). They will not have any covenant. You cannot trust them with anything they say. They call for the truth, but they are not from the people of the truth. Their names are Abu Bakr, Abu Omar etc. and they do not go by their real names. They go back to towns and places such as Al-Baghdadi, Alanbari Al Misri etc, and they do not go by tribes as Arab used to do. They have long hair wearing it like women. They start fighting each other.”

[1] Motadel, David. “Jihad 1914.” History Today 64, no. 9 (September 2014): 41-42. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed October 19, 2014). Photo

Source: http://www.moroccoworldnews.com/2015/04/155782/islamic-state-iraq-syria-isis-understanding-jihad/

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/debating-islam/abdelfattah-kadiri/islamic-state-in-iraq-and-syria-(isis)-and-its-understanding-of-jihad/d/102529




  • Bedi ji,

    First read the following  articles and then if you have any questions remaining unanswered, then I will answer them.

    The Story of the Prophetic Mission of Muhammad (Pbuh) In the Qu’ran (Part 4): The Medinian Period

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/19/2015 9:32:33 AM

  • How do you explain the following militant verses of The Quran:

    Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing...
    but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful.   And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone.  But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)" 
    Quran (2:244) - "Then fight in the cause of Allah, and know that Allah Heareth and knoweth all things."
    Quran (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."  
    Quran (3:56) - "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
    Quran (3:151) - "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority". 
    Quran (4:74) - "Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward."  
    Quran (4:76) - "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…"
    Quran (4:89) - "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."
    Quran (4:95) - "Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward "  
    Quran (4:104) - "And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain..."  
    Quran (5:33) - "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"
    Quran (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"  No reasonable person would interpret this to mean a spiritual struggle.
    Quran (8:15) - "O ye who believe! When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. (16)Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey's end."
    Quran (8:39) - "And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion should be only for Allah"  
    Quran (8:57) - "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember."  
    Quran (8:67) - "It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land..."
    Quran (8:59-60) - "And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah's Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape.  Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy."
    Quran (8:65) - "O Prophet, exhort the believers to fight..."
    Quran (9:5) - "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."  

    Quran (9:14) - "Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people."
    Quran (9:20) - "Those who believe, and have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah's way are of much greater worth in Allah's sight. These are they who are triumphant."   

    Quran (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."  Verse 9:33 It is He Who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad ) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam), to make it superior over all religions even though the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) hate (it).

    Quran (9:30) - "And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"
    Quran (9:38-39) - "O ye who believe! what is the matter with you, that, when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, ye cling heavily to the earth? Do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter. Unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and put others in your place."  
    Quran (9:41) - "Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah! That is best for you if ye but knew."  See also the verse that follows (9:42) - "If there had been immediate gain (in sight), and the journey easy, they would (all) without doubt have followed thee, but the distance was long, (and weighed) on them" 
    Quran (9:73) - "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination."  
    Quran (9:88) - "But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper."
    Quran (9:111) - "Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme." 
    Quran (9:123) - "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."
    Quran (17:16) - "And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction."   
    Quran (21:44) - "We gave the good things of this life to these men and their fathers until the period grew long for them; See they not that We gradually reduce the land (in their control) from its outlying borders? Is it then they who will win?"
    Quran (25:52) - "Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness..."   
    Quran (33:60-62) - "If the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and the alarmists in the city do not cease, We verily shall urge thee on against them, then they will be your neighbors in it but a little while.  Accursed, they will be seized wherever found and slain with a (fierce) slaughter."   This passage sanctions the slaughter (rendered "merciless" and "horrible murder" in other translations) against three groups: Hypocrites (Muslims who refuse to "fight in the way of Allah" (3:167) and hence don't act as Muslims should), those with "diseased hearts" (which include Jews and Christians 5:51-52), and "alarmists" or "agitators who include those who merely speak out against Islam, according to Muhammad's biographers.  
    Quran (47:3-4) - "Those who disbelieve follow falsehood, while those who believe follow the truth from their Lord... So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives)... If it had been Allah's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost."  
    Quran (47:35) - "Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost (Shakir: "have the upper hand") for Allah is with you,"   
    Quran (48:17) - "There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war). And whoso obeyeth Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; and whoso turneth back, him will He punish with a painful doom." 
    Quran (48:29) - "Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves"   
    Quran (61:4) - "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way"  This is followed by (61:9): "He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist."  
    Quran (61:10-12) - "O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a commerce that will save you from a painful torment. That you believe in Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ), and that you strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know! (If you do so) He will forgive you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow, and pleasant dwelling in Gardens of 'Adn - Eternity ['Adn (Edn) Paradise], that is indeed the great success."  
    Quran (66:9) - "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end."  

    By Satbir Singh Bedi - 4/19/2015 6:15:43 AM

  • Curious Traveler,
    The only points of contention and debate as far as the Quran is concerned are the verses relating to fighting and the verses relating to relationship with the Kafirin. The Conceptual Framework is based on a  correct of understanding of these verses and therefore there is no question of any verse contradicting the same.
     The correct translation of verse 8:72 is:
    Innal lazina amanu -Those who believed
    wa hajaru - and emigrated
    wa jahadu - and strove/struggled
    biamwalihin - with their possessions
    wa anfusihim - and with their lives
    fi sabilillah - in the way of Allah
    Yusuf Ali mistranslates the same as:

    Those who believed, and adopted exile, and fought for the Faith, with their property and their persons, in the cause of Allah

    wa jahadu has become "and fought for the faith" when it simply means "and strove hard in all earnestness"

    Yusuf Ali and others may have considered that since "in the cause of Allah" is there in the verse, it is OK to interpret Jahadu as fight for the faith! If jahadu had been merely mistranslated as "fight" it would not have mattered. To mistrasnlate it as "fight for the faith" is what creates a problem since then fighting for the faith needs no further justification and anybody who indulges in the activity is a good Muslim. This is clearly not its meaning.

    This is a point that I want to impress upon so that there is no scope for misunderstanding. There is no verse in the Quran that asks the Prophet to:
    1. Fight for the faith
    2. Fight to end kufr
    3. Fight to establish the truth of Islam.

    Every verse regarding fighting is for fighting in the cause of Allah and what this means is defined in several verses as fighting to end either religious persecution or any oppression. These verses are faith neutral. If the oppressed are mushrik and the oppressors call themselves Muslim, fighting against the oppressor to end oppression would be fighting in the cause of Allah.

    The mistranslations are responsible for considering the word "Jihad" as a holy war for the defense of the faith of Islam alone and this is unwarranted and amounts to attributing words/meanings to Allah that are not there in the Quran.

    You cannot therefore accuse the extremists of misinterpreting when the bulk of the mainstream of every sect follow the same mistranslated text and meanings. A clean up job is a must
    Arguments of context, exceptional conditions, defensive war  etc are weak arguments which cannot overcome the ill effect of mistranslation. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/18/2015 11:45:53 PM

  • Naseer, thank you for those articles.

    I already read your article on Surat Al-'Anfāl's translation and I found it very convincing.

    As you said in a previous discussion, it's about testing this conceptual framework to other surahs. And I'm sure we can. It is more natural to the Qur'an's universal appeal to mankind.

    By Curious Traveler - 4/18/2015 11:03:56 PM

  • Dear Curious Traveler,

    with what I have said in the previous comment read the following article:

    The Extremist Mentality: Debunking the Ideological Flaws

     Dr. Shawki Allam, The Grand Mufti of Egypt needs to first clean up the ideological flaws in his own theology before he starts making sense. Else, his article is mere rhetoric. As I have shown the flaws are in Islamic theology itself and the extremist is merely extreme in degree. Unless we accept and correct the mistakes, we can make no impact.

    He cannot cover up those flaws through sophistry and arguments such as:"the tools of comprehending the Quran or Hadith, the rules of inference, the objectives of Islamic law and its principles." blah! blah! blah!"the tools of comprehending the Quran or Hadith, the rules of inference, the objectives of Islamic law and its principles." blah! blah! blah! The tools of comprehending the Quran are very simple and straight forward. Just stick to the literal meaning and avoid interpreting while translating.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/18/2015 9:53:40 PM

  • Dear Curious Traveler,

    I have shown that if we stick to the clear meaning of the Quran and do not deviate from it, then we do not even have to know the context of any verse or Surah beyond what is available in the verse or its preceding and succeeding verses alone.

    When the Quran is mistranslated, that is when people resort to all kinds of arguments to mitigate the ill effect of the mistranslation by trying to justify the mistranslated meaning by all kinds of arguments of context and exceptional conditions and fail miserably. The extremists and the Islamophobes just brush aside these arguments as those of apologists.

    People do not attack the mistranslation because these are taken to be correct since some of the biggest guns have collectively mistranslated.

    A mistranslated verse can never be justified by any argument of context or exceptional condition and the only way is to accept that the great scholars and imams have erred and correct the meanings.

    Please read my article that brings out the issue clearly with reference to the verses 8:36 to 8:38. This article mentions 8:39. The error in translating 8:39 follows the error of mistranslating 8:38.

    . You would wonder and think all this is fine but what about those whose language is Arabic? They read the Tafsir of Ibn Kathir or Al Jalayalan or some other acclaimed Mufassir and the devil is in these Tafsirs because of which many translators have mistranslated.

    The verses to watch out for are also 8:72, 8:74, 8:75 which use the word "jahadu" (derivative of jihad) which simply means "to strive" which if translated as "to fight for the faith"  makes "Jihad" holy war. This is simply a mistranslation and you know how common it is for people to think that "Jihad" means holy war and this is because there are dozens of scholars who have mistranslated. The ill effect of the mistranslation cannot be overcome by saying that "Jihad" is holy war alright but the prophet talked about the minor jihad and major jihad and major jihad is a spiritual jihad blah! blah! blah!.

    All this talk about context, allegorical verses, defensive war etc are poor arguments that cannot cover up for the ill effect of a mistranslated verse. The only option is to come up with a clean version sticking faithfully to the text of the Quran meaning a strictly literal translation.

    So when people talk about literalism, they are actually talking about taking  a mistranslated verse literally !

    When I talk about literalism, I am talking about taking the clear and correct meaning in the Quran.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 4/18/2015 9:17:11 PM

  • It's sad and unfortunate that terrorists invade the pages of the Qur'an and forcefully place themselves in an allegorical recreation of the context-specific battles of the prophet. They not only ignore the nuances of each battle, but they do much harm to the sanctity of Islam. Every atrocity they commit is a black mark on the faith they claim to represent.

    As King Abdullah said, defeating ISIS is going to be a generational struggle. And it's going to take a huge paradigm shift in the simple-minded brain of a terrorist to realize that the greatest danger to his faith is not the "disbelievers" but himself.

    But I think we're up to the challenge.

    By Curious Traveler - 4/18/2015 1:19:27 PM

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