Propellants of Terrorism - Islamism fuels jihad, integral to the vocabulary of Islam

In response to the requests by the Governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat to approve special laws for dealing with terrorism, the Union Home Minister Shivaraj Patil retorted that existing laws would suffice. This highlights a profound misconception about jihadi terrorism prevailing in the Government and the intelligentsia -- that terrorists are lawbreakers who can be dealt with by law enforcement authorities.

The jihadis see it very differently: they recognise as legitimate no laws other than those sanctioned by the shariat (Islamic code). The goal of jihad is to wage a continuous war until the whole world is brought under the sway of Islam governed by the shariat. To fight terrorism it is necessary first to understand this ideology and the associated military doctrine. Terrorism is not a crime wave but an ideological war on all fronts. We will have only ourselves to blame if we fail to see this fundamental truth.

Dictionary of Islam defines jihad as: "A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad (the prophet). It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Quran and in the traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined especially for the purpose of advancing Islam..."

The same point is made by Muslim authorities, both ancient and modern. Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), arguably the greatest thinker produced by Islam saw jihad as an aggressive war of expansion with the 'universal' mission to convert everyone: "The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defence... Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations."

According to the influential modern thinker Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), the intellectual father of Al Qaeda: "...wherever an Islamic community exists... it has a god-given right to step forward and take control of the political authority... When god restrained Muslims from jihad for a certain period, it was a question of strategy rather than of principle..." We need look no further to understand what motivates the terrorists. It has nothing to do with grievances over Godhra, Palestine or anything else as some jihad apologists would have us believe.

When we come to the use of terror as an instrument of policy, we have the seminal work The Quranic Concept of War by the Pakistani Brigadier SK Malik to guide us. In his effusive foreword, the late General Zia-ul-Haq wrote that the book "...brings out with simplicity, clarity and precision the Quranic philosophy on the application of the military force, within the context of the totality that is jihad."

This means that jihad, "the most glorious word in the vocabulary of Islam," is nothing less than total war. According to Brigadier Malik, "the prophet's operations... are an integral and inseparable part of the divine message revealed to us in the Quran. ...The war he planned and carried out was total to the infinite degree. It was waged on all fronts: internal and external, political and diplomatic, spiritual and psychological, economic and military."

Another point made by the author is that the war should be carried out in the opponent's territory. "The aggressor was always met and destroyed in his own territory." In this Orwellian language, an 'aggressor' is anyone who stands in the way of jihad, that is to say anyone who defends himself. Terrorism is its underlying military doctrine. "The Quranic military strategy thus enjoins us to prepare ourselves for war to the utmost in order to strike terror into the heart of the enemy..."

It doesn't stop here, for Brigadier Malik assures us: "Terror struck into the hearts of the enemy is not only a means, it is the end in itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent's heart is
obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved... Terror is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose upon him." For justification, he cites the Quran (Anfal 59-60): "Against them (non-Muslims) make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war to strike terror (into the hearts of) the enemies of allah and your enemies..."

One can see that the primary sources from the Quran and the early commentators like Ibn Khaldun to modern exponents like Sayyid Qutb and Brigadier Malik leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to jihad and the role of terrorism -- whether the goal or the tactics employed.

India's politicians and thinkers must face up to this reality and prepare to fight a long war against a relentless adversary.

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