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the Message Continues ... 9/40
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" There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism, but there have always been muharibun or Muslim terrorists. And there is no such thing as "holy war," certainly not as a translation of jihad, but there are extremists who claim that their extremism is holy, when in fact they are only exhibiting the supreme sin in Islamic thought, which is arrogance. Arrogance is incurable, because arrogance denies itself. The Muslim terrorists are muharibun, guilty of hiraba. Classical jurists state there can be no greater evil and no greater sin, other than blaspheming against God. If there is to be a clash both within and among civilizations, the major cause will be not Islam or any religion, but the
extremists in every religion who commit hiraba. They have a name, and to name an evil is to expose it for what it is. "
-- Dr. Robert Crane
New Frontiers in Conflict Management: Part ii
---A "Grand Strategy" to Wage Jihad
Against Terrorist Muslims who would Hijack Islam by Dr. Robert Dickson Crane
" This paper was presented on September 26, 2004, at the Center for Global
Studies, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, as part of the 33rd
Annual Conference of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS). This
presentation introduced Panel 8, entitled "Dialogue, Peacemaking, and Justice," in
support of the conference theme: Revisioning Modernity: Challenges and
Possibilities for Islam.
Dr. Crane co-founded Washington's first foreign policy think-tank, the
Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1962. Since then he has
specialized on long-range global forecasting, including analysis of entire
civilizations and their interacting paradigms of thought. He earned a Doctor of Laws
(J.D.) from Harvard Law School in 1959 in international investment and
comparative legal systems. President Nixon appointed him Deputy Director of the
National Security Council in January 1969, and President Reagan appointed him in
1981 as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates responsible for two-track
diplomacy with the Islamist movements of the Middle East and North Africa. He
may be contacted at email@example.com. "
The Mother of All Black Sheep
What Bishop Richard John Neuhaus calls Osama bin Laden's "monistic
fanaticism" is mild compared to the messages that were distributed by the Saudi Embassy
in the form of a new Qur'an to hundreds of mosques in America immediately
before 9/11. This official Saudi version of the Qur'an calls not only for war
against the infidel, meaning also Americans, but for their enslavement.
This Qur'an, known as the Hilali/Khan translation or merely as the Khan
Qur'an, employs the spurious technique of abrogation to eliminate passages that
recognize the legitimacy of diverse religions and that call for interfaith
cooperation. The official Wahhabi scholars are troubled by such passages as Surah
al Ma'ida 5:69, which reads, "Surely, those who believe (in the Oneness of
Allah and His Messenger Muhammad and all that was revealed to him from Allah), and
those who are Jews and Christians - whosoever believes in Allah and the Last
Day and works righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve."
The Saudis invoke the doctrine of abrogation, which has been rejected by most
Islamic scholars throughout history, by asserting that God changed His mind
and overruled this passage by a later one in Imran 3:85, which reads, "Whoever
seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the
Hereafter he will be among the losers." The authors of the Khan Qur'an
interpret this by asserting that Islam means submission to the official Saudi view
rather than submission to God, Who in Surah al Ma'ida 5:69 above explicitly
spells out the only three requirements for submission to God, namely, belief in
God, belief in divine justice, and the practice of good works. Through resort
to the doctrine of abrogation more than two hundred times, which feeds on
itself, and by means of such circular reasoning the Saudi clerics have managed to
gut the Qur'an and harness what is left of it to their own political agenda.
Once the basic principles of Islam are conveniently eliminated, the Saudi
commentators in this Khan Qur'an are free to advocate the enslavement of
non-Muslims. They cite Surah Ali Imran 3:110 and translate it as: "You [true
believers in Islamic monotheism and the real followers of Prophet Muhammad and the
Sunnah] are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind." Then comes the
official comment, which reads, "This means the best for the people, as you bring
them with chains on their necks till they embrace Islam (and thereby save them
from the eternal punishment in the Hell-fire and make them enter Paradise in
Their scholarly support for this interpretation is a sahih hadith from Abu
Huraira. This prolific reporter of hadith was known as a misogynist who put his
own spin on whatever he remembered or thought he remembered from the sayings
of the Prophet Muhammad, regardless of whether this spin was consistent with
Ancient spin leads to modern spin which has led in Saudi Arabia to the
creation of a reigning pseudo-religion that mocks everything Islamic. In no century
of Muslim history and in no Muslim culture have self-proclaimed Muslims
preached and proselytized such a bizarre distortion of divine revelation. For
their own political purposes, the leaders of Saudi Arabia have produced the mother
of black sheep among religions, which in turn has given birth to raging lions
that threaten to devour their creators.
Exposing Extremists on their Own Grounds
In their efforts to expose the extremists among Muslims, the
counter-terrorists run the risk of buying into the same distortions of the Qur'an that feed
terrorism. They interpret the Qur'an just as the terrorists do and thereby lend
them support, when they should be attacking the terrorists' distortion of
their own religion.
For example, terrorists like to deny that they are terrorists by claiming
that the word terrorism is subjective. They claim that the term is used
indiscriminately by their enemies to attack political opponents. It would be more
effective to accuse the terrorists of hiraba, which is the classical Arabic word
for terrorism and has a precise definition.
The term hiraba refers to public terrorism in a war against society and
civilization. In legal terminology it is defined as "spreading mischief in the
land," but its precise meaning, as defined by Professor Khalid Abou el Fadl, is
"killing by stealth and targeting a defenseless victim in a way intended to
cause terror in society." This is the Islamic definition of terrorism. It is
the very opposite of jihad. A cognate word, from the common root hariba meaning
enraged, is harb, which means enemy or war, as in Syed Qutb's Dar al Harb.
In order to counter the extremists, one must hoist them by their own petards
by using classical Islamic terminology to show that they are frauds. There is
no such thing as Islamic terrorism, but there have always been muharibun or
Muslim terrorists. And there is no such thing as "holy war," certainly not as
a translation of jihad, but there are extremists who claim that their
extremism is holy, when in fact they are only exhibiting the supreme sin in Islamic
thought, which is arrogance. Arrogance is incurable, because arrogance denies
The Muslim terrorists are muharibun, guilty of hiraba. Classical jurists
state there can be no greater evil and no greater sin, other than blaspheming
against God. If there is to be a clash both within and among civilizations, the
major cause will be not Islam or any religion, but the extremists in every
religion who commit hiraba. They have a name, and to name an evil is to expose
it for what it is.
The extremist Muslims recite and distort various portions of the Qur'an to
support their extremism, of which three are their favorites.
The first is Surah al Ma'ida 5:51, which has been translated by the six major
translations of the Qur'an into English, namely, Arberry, Pickthall, Dawood,
Yusuf Ali, Ahmad Ali, and now El-Halali/Khan, as follows: "O, you who believe
[in the message of Muhammad], do not take Jews and Christians as friends.
They are friends to one another, and the one among you who turns to them is of
them. Truly, God does not guide wrongdoing folk."
The extremists like to give the term awliya the meaning of friends, when, in
fact, it means much more than that. The singular, wali, means guardian, one
to whom one entrusts one future and one's faith. Wali is one of the 99 names
of God that Muslims often recite. A cognate meaning of wali, with emphasis on
the first syllable, and also one of the names of God, is "ruler," one to whom
The extremists support their favorite distortion of this text by ignoring the
circumstances of this particular revelation. According to one of the
earliest and most famous historians and commentators, Al-Tabari, who died in the
third Islamic century, this verse was revealed shortly after the Makkans had
driven the Muslims out because Muhammad opposed the profitable pilgrimage of
neighboring tribes to visit the many gods set up in and around the Ka'aba. Although
the Makkans were much more powerful militarily than the small group of
Muslims who emigrated to Madina, the Makkans feared their growing popularity.
Therefore the Makkans attacked Madina with a relatively overwhelming force.
Since it was the practice then to secure one's own personal survival and the
survival of one's tribe or clan by making alliances with other tribes, many
Muslims started to seek such alliances with Jewish and Christian tribes. This
would have split the umma or community in Madina and caused the annihilation of
the Muslims. In this case, the proper translation of awliya would be
protectors or guardians.
The extremists among the Muslims today, however, like the translation of
"friends" because this supports their ghetto mentality of confrontation with the
outside world and suspicion of every Christian and Jew as a enemy. This is
the perfect justification for demonizing entire civilizations and even one's
next door neighbor as part of the Dar al Harb. From this it is not a great step
The second favorite distortion by the Muslim extremists, and one pounced upon
by those who confuse Islam with extremist Muslims, is Baqara 2:191: "And slay
them wheresoever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned
you out." This is a favorite of the suicide bombers in the Holy Land, whose
ultimate aim is to drive the Jewish population into the sea.
This selection out of context ignores the immediately preceding verse, 2:190,
which reads: "Fight in the way of God against those who fight you, but
transgress not the limits. Truly, God does not love the transgressors [of limits]."
Again, the historical context is also necessary to put the "slay them" verse
in perspective. It does not refer to all non-Muslims and very specifically
not to Jews and Christians. The object of the verse are the mushrikun or
polytheists who were driving the Muslims out of their homes in Makkah. By universal
definition in Islamic law, Christians and Jews are not polytheists but People
of the Book, with whom Muslims are free to intermarry.
In fact, these two verses, 2:190-191, are often cited by Islamic jurists as
the first instance in which the Qur'an forbid all war and violence except in
self-defense and within strict limitations, which were spelled out in other
parts of the Qur'an and in the whole body of later scholarship during the
classical period of Islamic civilization.
As David Dukake points out in his chapter, "The Myth of a Militant Islam," in
Lumbard's edited book, Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition:
"Al-Tabari gives many accounts detailing the limits placed upon the muhajidun
[wagers of jihad]. He says, for instance, that the cousin of the Prophet of
Islam, Ibn 'Abbas, commented upon Verse 190 as follows: 'Do not kill women, or
children, or the old, or the one who greets you with peace, or the one who
restrains his hand from hurting you, and if you do this then you have
transgressed.' Another tradition related by Al-Tabari comes from the Ummayad Caliph
'Umar ibn 'Abd al 'Aziz or 'Umar II [at the end of the first Islamic century],
who explained the meaning of 2:190 as:'Do not fight he who does not fight you,
that is to say women, children, and monks'."
The hadith that prohibit exactly what the suicide bombers are doing to
innocent Jews in the Holy Land and the suicide bombers did to the Christian women
and children in the North Ossetian village of Beslan in the year 2004 are much
too numerous to detail, but many are quoted in Dukake's chapter on "The Myth of
Most Muslims are familiar with these many hadith, which is one reason why
they are so horrified that any self-proclaimed Muslims would support suicide
bombers in the name of Islam. The best way to marginalize Muslim extremists is to
turn the tables on them and show that in their ignorant rage they are trying
to hijack their own religion.
The third favorite distortion of the Qur'an by those who allegedly base their
crimes upon it is Surah al Taubah 9:73: "O Prophet, perform jihad (jahid)
against the unbelievers (kafirin) and the hypocrites (munafiqin), and attack
them (akhlu)." The Muslim extremists rightly believe that this is directed
against Muslims as the hypocrites, but they are clearly distorting the meaning when
they say that this verse requires war against all Christians and Jews as
unbelievers. The Qur'an does often refer to Christians and Jews as unbelievers,
but it distinguishes usually (only a few verses from each other) between those
who have a disease in their hearts and those who don't. In verses 2:105,
5:78, 98:1, and 98:6, for example, it clearly prefaces the term unbelievers
referring to the People of the Book with the preposition min, which means "among"
the People of the Book. Extremists, like the Hisb al Tahrir, whose reason for
existence is to institute a global Caliphate to rule the world, deliberately
leave out the qualifying adjective "among" when translating this verse, thereby
deliberately corrupting the Qur'an.
The extremists simply overlook other verses that talk about the Christians
and Jews who do not have a disease in their hearts or else they claim that they
were abrogated. Especially embarrassing for the extremist Jew haters are
verses 113-115 of Surah Ali Imran: "Not all of them are alike. Of the People of
the Book are a group that stand (in prayer), rehearse the signs of God
throughout the night and prostrate. They believe in God and the Last Day; they
enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, and they hasten in (all) good works.
These are among the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be
rejected of them, and God knows the God-fearing ones."
The distortion by the extremists goes even further. They insist on
translating the imperatives jahid "wage jihad" and ahklut "attack or cause pain" in the
sense of offensive military warfare. Perhaps the best translation of the
Qur'an, by Muhammad Asad, renders Surah al Tauba 9:73 as: "O Prophet! Strive hard
against the deniers of the truth and the hypocrites, and be adamant with
them." Asad comments, "The imperative jahid is obviously used here in its
spiritual connotation, implying efforts at convincing both the outspoken believers
and the waverers, including the various types of hypocrites spoken of in the
preceding passages." He adds that the word akhlut means, "Do not compromise with
them in matters of principle."
The historical context is important in understanding the meaning of such key
terms as umma or "community" and jihad. Extremists interpret the term
community exclusively in reference to Muslims and jihad exclusively in reference to
non-Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad first used the term umma in reference to all
the citizens of Madina, who were Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Perhaps the
first reference in the Qur'an to jihad in Surah al Hajj 22:39-40 was to defend
Jews and Christians, as well as Muslims.
Prior to the revelation of this verse in Surah al Hajj, the Muslims were told
to avoid all violence even in self defense, because their initial task was to
purify themselves and not yet to transform society by promoting justice.
Verses 39-40 were revealed as the Muslims were leaving Makkah in the migration to
Madinah in the expectation that they would be attacked militarily. They
read: "Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being
wrongfully waged - and, verily, God has indeed the power to succour them, that is,
those who have been driven from their homelands against all right for no other
reason than their saying, 'Our Sustainer is God!' For, if God had not enabled
people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches
and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which God's name is abundantly
extolled - would surely have been destroyed [ere now]." The call to jihad was not
for the destruction of other faiths and peoples, but to preserve places of
worship for all the People of the Book, including Muslims.
The Constitution of Madina, which governed the first Muslim civil community
together with the Jews and Christians, spells out the permanent state of common
identity as follows: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!
This is a writing of Muhammad, the prophet, between the believers and Muslims
of Quraish and Yathrib and those who follow them and are attached to them and
who fight along with them. They are a single community distinct from other
people. … Whosoever of the Jews follows us has the (same) help and support … so
long as they are not wronged [by Muhammad] and he does not help [others]
against them. … Between them [Muslims and Jews] there is help (nasr) against
whoever wars against the people of this document. Between them is sincere
friendship (nas'h wa nasiha) and honorable dealing. …"
Christians were prominent in the jihad waged against the enemies of Islam,
because, as Lumbard puts it, the point of the jihad was not to establish a world
populated only by Muslims; it was to create a social order in which the
freedom to practice the worship of God was guaranteed for all Muslims as well as
for the People of the Book." He concludes, "Traditional Muslims saw all of life
in terms of balance. … It has primarily been certain modernized Muslims,
whose influences are not the traditional teachings of the faith, but the attitudes
and excesses of modernity (only cloaked with turbans and beards), who have
transgressed all limits and discarded the Balance that is true Islam."
The Challenge of Transcendent Justice
The paradigm of radicalism and resulting resort to violence as a solution of
first resort has passed from the twentieth century, the most violent in human
history, into the present one, like a hurricane mutating from a Category Four
to a Category Five or beyond the scale to a Category X. In order to address
this monumental threat, Muslims, as well as everyone else, need what the
British called a "grand strategy" that orchestrates all dimensions of civilizational
dynamics. The followers of every religion can best address the impending
dissolution of civilization by reviving the core vision of their classical past.
This is the vision of a transcendent justice that derives from an ultimate
truth beyond the power and authority of human beings.
Among all the legal systems of the world, the principles of transcendent
justice have been most beautifully articulated in classical Islamic thought.
These constitute a sophisticated code of human responsibilities and corresponding
Unfortunately, in the Muslim world, especially in its Sunni portion, this
enlightened legal system has been dead for six hundred years. Probably not one
Muslim extremist in a thousand has ever even heard of the Islamic code of human
rights. The task of Muslims in the world today is to revive the best of this
classical Islam, just as it is the task of Americans, including American
Muslims, to revive the equivalent in traditionalist or classical America. If
there is to be a future for civilization, this project of recovering the best of
the past in order reliably to build a better future must be a joint venture.
The starting point in reviving transcendent justice and applying it should be
recognizing that the transcendent sources in revelation, natural law, and
human reason (known in Islamic philosophy as haqq al yaqin, 'ain al yaqin, and
'ilm al yaqin) can be the starting point. The transcendent approach looks upon
the details of the law, known in Arabic as the ahkam or rules and regulations,
from the starting point of the whole. The details can be understood and
intelligently applied only as applications of higher principles. The opposite
approach looks at the whole, if at all, from the starting point of the details.
In the transcendent approach, analysis takes precedence over synthesis. In
its opposite, synthesis takes precedence over analysis, often without any
Many centuries of the best Islamic scholarship developed Islamic
jurisprudence into an elaborate and sophisticated holistic framework of human
responsibilities and rights. The holistic system of Islamic philosophy and its expression
in shari'ah thought is primarily educational and inspirational, focused on
transcendent justice, in contrast to the positivist systems of tyrannical and
totalitarian governance which serve primarily to consolidate the status quo with
all of its injustices. The holistic regards the use of any force to assure
compliance as a failure of the system, and it reveres non-violence though not
to the extent of absolute pacifism. The positivist system, on the other hand,
tends to regard the monopoly of violence and its application by the power of
established government as rule by law and as the very definition of justice.
As some Muslims use the term, justice can even mean revenge.
According to some classical Islamic scholars, seven universal principles of
law, known variously as kulliyat or universals, maqasid or purposes, and
dururiyat or essentials, best reflect the architectonics of human rights and
constitutional law in Islamic thought. The art of these maqasid as part of the
science of 'usul al fiqh (especially in the form of istislah) was initiated by the
Prophet Muhammad but was first systematically developed by Imam Jafar and Abu
Hamid al Ghazali. It reached its zenith in the writings of Abu Ishaq al
Shatibi in the later 1300s and then suddenly died out. These universal principles
finally were revived again toward the end of the twentieth century, among
others, by Sa'id Ramadhan of Geneva, Switzerland, who married the daughter of
Hassan al Banna, and by their son, Tariq Ramadhan, at the beginning of the
twenty-first century as part of a movement to marginalize the extremist movements
that threatened to hijack religion in all of the world's traditions.
The first universal principle is haqq al din, which provides the framework
for the next six in the form of respect for a transcendent source of truth to
guide human thought and action. Recognition of this absolute source of truth
and of the responsibility to apply it in practice are needed to counter the
temptations toward relativism and the resulting chaos, injustice, and tyranny that
may result from the de-sacralization of public life.
The next six can be viewed as pairs. The first pair deals with human
sovereignty. The first of this pair is haqq al nafs, which is the duty to respect
the human person as the source of all sovereignty, subject only to the higher
sovereignty of God.
A second order principle or subordinate goal of the first purpose in this
pair is known as haqq al haya, which is the duty to respect life. This provides
the framework for the third-order principles or hajjiyat of the just war
doctrine. It also provides that the human embryo is sacred from the moment of
conception, regardless of when the soul is breathed into the body.
The second maqsud of this first pair is haqq al nasl, which is the duty to
respect the nuclear family of husband and wife as the basic building bloc of
society and to respect the community at every level all the way to the community
of humankind as important expressions of the person.
The next pair deals with the institutional means to maintain the sovereignty
of the person and of communities. The first maqsud of this pair is haqq al
mal. This is the duty to respect the right of private property in the means of
production, a right that Muslim socialists during the era of the Cold War did
their best to eliminate. This maqsud requires respect for institutions that
broaden access to capital ownership as a universal human right. This requires
reform in the sense of perfecting the institutions of the global financial
system in order to improve access to credit based on future, not merely on past,
The second maqsud of this second pair in the Islamic framework of human
rights is haqq al hurriyah. This requires respect for self-determination of
persons and communities through political freedom, including the concept that
economic democracy through expanded capital ownership is a precondition for the
political democracy of representative governance. All the great Islamic scholars
were imprisoned, often for many years, for teaching this Islamic code of human
rights, but particularly for insisting on this principle of freedom and its
four subsidiary or second-order principles or hajjiyat of khilafa, shura, ijma,
and an independent judiciary.
The third set of universal principles of justice deals with the means to
promote human dignity through social justice. The first of this pair is haqq al
karama or respect for personal dignity, especially through two hajjiyat or
subsets of legal guidance, namely, religious freedom and gender equity.
The last of this third pair is haqq al 'ilm or respect for knowledge. The
second-order principles of this universal principle of justice require freedom
of thought, press, and assembly, so that all persons can fulfill their purpose
to seek knowledge wherever they can find it.
These basic principles of human responsibilities and rights are universal.
They form the core of human aspirations and they provide the basis for a global
traditionalist movement led by enlightened Muslims, Christians, Jews,
Buddhists, and all others who acknowledge an ultimate source of transcendent truth,
who accept the accountability of each person and community for one's deeds in
this life, and who perform good works out of love for the Infinite, whether
known as Allah, God, Jehovah, or other word, and out of love for its finite
expression in every human being.
VIII. Applying Transcendent Justice in Chechnya
American foreign policy has advocated a political solution to the warfare in
the Caucasus. This could apply both to the former republics that became
independent states and in the autonomous regions that were smaller and lower in
rank in the Leninist formula of power to the people and therefore did not qualify
for independent statehood when the Soviet Union imploded. Since the peoples
of this region are both Christian and Muslim, the political solution might be
an Abraham Federation, as has been advocated for decades as a one-state
solution to the dilemmas of the Holy Land.
This might obviate the political embarrassment that compromise might cause
the Russian leadership in addressing the currently insoluble dilemma of
terrorism emanating from Chechnya and from other peoples of the Caucasus that aspire
to greater self-determination. If it were based on the Islamic code of human
rights, this would undercut the Muslim extremists who are even more unwilling
than the hard-line Russian leaders to "surrender."
The solution must be more than merely political, because often economics
is an unspoken but influential factor in conflict resolution. The terrorists
claim that Russia is interested in Chechen oil, just as similar terrorists in
Iraq insist that the United States wants to occupy Iraq permanently in order
to steal its oil. There is a simple answer to these conspiratorial extremists.
Privatize the oil resources in individual voting shares to every citizen of
the federation, whether it is a federation of the Caucasus or of Iraq, with
provision that the shares cannot be sold for twenty years until a true ownership
mentality has taken hold.
Since ideas shape history over the long-run, the framework for such
ambitious undertakings must be rooted in the ideas of transcendent justice. The
basis for both these political and economic solutions to the conflict
highlighted by Chechen terrorism must be respect for the sovereignty of the person as
the source for all higher political sovereignty. This would give rise to the
principle of subsidiarity, taught especially in classical Roman Catholic moral
theology, whereby problems are solved at the lowest level of human society
wherever possible and only then at ascending higher levels. This reduces the role
and importance of state sovereignty, which is more of a cause than a cure for
much conflict in the world.
This revolutionary approach, if advocated by the spiritual leaders of the world as mediators and supported by the United States, would make the terrorists of the world irrelevant. Our task is not to stop evil, which can't be done, but to promote good, which can marginalize evil and overcome it.
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