The Double-Edged Sword of Jihad

LIBYAIslamic nations are again learning that the jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who preach it; that “holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels”—whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam—but can also be used to fight “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.

In an unprecedented move and following Egypt’s lead, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain recently withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar, largely due to its Al Jazeera propaganda network which, since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been inciting chaos in the region.

According to a March 7 Reuters reports, “Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, in a move that could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies….  Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fuming over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, and resent the way Doha has sheltered influential cleric Yusuf Qaradawi, a critic of the Saudi authorities, and given him regular airtime on its pan-Arab satellite channel Al Jazeera.”

Qaradawi, of course, has been an Al Jazeera mainstay for many years, regularly preaching jihad against Israel and other “infidels”—telling millions of Muslim viewers to “obey the prophet, even if he tells you to kill.”

Back then, Qaradawi was not a problem for the Gulf States.

However, since the Egyptian June 30 Revolution saw the ousting and subsequent banning of the Muslim Brotherhood, and ever since the Brotherhood’s supporters—chief among them Qaradawi, through his Al Jazeera program—have been inciting violence in the region, especially in Egypt and Syria, the jihad is spinning out of control; and the Gulf monarchs know that, if not contained and directed, it can easily reach them.

For if jihadis are fighting fellow Muslims in Egypt and Syria—under the accusation that they are not “true” Muslims—what is to stop them from targeting the Gulf monarchies in the same context?

Thus, although the Saudis originally promoted the jihad against the Syrian government—sending and supporting militants, both Saudi and otherwise—in a complete reverse, the Arabian kingdom has just designated several of these jihadi organizations, including the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, as “terrorist” organizations.

This move, according to Reuters, “underscored concern about young Saudis hardened by battle against Assad coming home to target the ruling Al Saud royal family—as has happened after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

And so history repeats itself.  Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and helped create al-Qaeda.  But once the “distant” infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.

This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one—not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders—are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad.  If non-Muslims are, as “infidels,” de facto enemies of Islam, any Muslim can be accused of “apostasy” whenever they break this or that Sharia command, and thus also become enemies of Allah and his prophet.

A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad even validates this: “This umma [nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell.”  When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, “al-jama‘a,” that is, the group which most literally follows the example or “sunna” of Muhammad, a thing not so simple to do.

Moreover, the first large scale jihads were against apostates—the Ridda [“apostasy”] Wars.  After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were still willing to remain Muslim, but had second thoughts about paying zakat money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr.  That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.

Indeed, Qaradawi himself, while discussing the importance of killing any Muslim who apostatizes from Islam on a live Al Jazeera program, correctly declared that “If the penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.”

All this further explains why nations like Saudi Arabia fund and support external jihads—to keep the zealots away from them, busy fighting distant infidels (a “better them than me” mentality).

But now that the Egyptian military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Jazeera, Qaradawi, and many others are inciting millions of Muslim viewers to wage an increasingly broadening if not reckless jihad in the region—Qaradawi recently went so far as to call on the U.S. to fight against Muslims for the sake of Allah—the Gulf states know they better act now before they are engulfed in chaos.

Accordingly, on March 7, and in the context of recalling their ambassadors from Qatar, the Saudi Interior Ministry issued a statement saying that “those who insult other countries and their leaders” or who “attended conferences or gatherings inside and outside (the country) that aim to target the security and stability and spread sedition in the society,” would be punished—a clear reference to those many voices calling for a grand jihad in the region.

This is the great irony of Islam—one of the many balancing acts Muslim nations and leaders must live with.  As Muslims, they must of course agree to the Islamic duty of jihad against enemies, real or imagined, and help promote it.  In this sense, jihad can be a powerful and useful weapon.  Saudi Arabia, for example, is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th-20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).

The Saudi argument was, ironically, the same as the current argument made by the jihadi forces the Saudis are now trying to neutralize—that the Turks and Arab tribes were not “Islamic” enough.

Yet now it is the Muslim Brotherhood and its many allies who are accusing the Saudis of not being Islam enough.

Such is the double-edged sword of jihad.   All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets—preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.)  For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.

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  • UCSPanther

    States like Saudi Arabia supporting Jihad is akin to someone standing on top of a dry haystack in a barn and tossing a lit match onto the floor.

    There is a good chance that the haystack would catch fire and that individual would be trapped on the burning stack.

  • Dyer’s Eve

    Sounds like the chickens are coming home to roost. Maybe Moslems should be careful of what they pray for. They might just get it!

    • kikorikid

      “careful of what they pray for”
      Yes, they should consider that but it is what
      they pay for that counts. It is simple and easy to find
      literal proscriptions from the Quran stating-Kill the Infidel!
      It is, however, the liberality provided by oil wealth that
      gives paychecks to Jihadis and buys their Death equipment.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    I still ask, a decade later, why are we friends with Saudi Arabia? They are jihad central. We made the mistake of backing them in the Afghan war with Russia, but we should know better after 9/11. Republicans are just as bad as Democrats. Even FrontPage is relatively silent.

    Dore Gold wrote an excellent expose, “Hatred’s Kingdom.” It’s a classic that few know about.

    • Tradecraft46

      There have been advantages. However those related to oil. When the US becomes less dependent on Saudi, then we will see a radical change in policy.

      I think one reason Obama is so lax on Iran is simply as a way to scare the Saudis, the prime Iranian target. Do not forget that the people actually living over the Saudi oil are Shia.

      • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

        Oil is an excuse. We don’t need them; they need us (i.e. a buyer). They can’t eat oil; they need to sell it because they have nothing else. It doesn’t matter who they sell it to. It’s sold “into the market.”

        Adam Smith described the process: in the free market, buyers and sellers don’t know each other or even like each other. I explained it here long ago: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/2005/06/saudi-problem.html

        Now that we have fracking do you see any change? No? Neither Dem or Repub are talking about declaring Saudi Arabia an enemy. Neither has the guts to criticize Islam in any form or guise.

        • Tradecraft46

          What you have to understand is that people don’t generally say anything, they just act or help others to do so.

          • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

            Not quite sure what you’re saying here, TC.

      • herb benty

        Sunni ?

        • Tradecraft46

          What we have to understand is the Sunni have a lot of Shia subjects and they live over the oil.

          People are never going to beat the drum, but rather, you just let other people do what they want to do: that is the definition of covert action.

          There is no need to build a domestic consensus, as there is no dispute about how horrid Saudi is, the only question is their utility. That goes, and they will find that we are otherwise engaged. That is why they are asking Pakistan for troops, and will probably try to get their nucs.

          • herb benty

            Do you think you make sense?

          • Tradecraft46

            Since you don’t you probably are a ZBW: you don’t have the background.

            Why should I waste my time on someone who doesn’t know the culture, geography or anything else. If I tried all I would be doing is wasting my time.

          • herb benty

            I rest my case…..ha, ha, ha.

  • Bamaguje

    “Saudi Arabia has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization” – Reuters.

    But Obama coddles the Islamist group.

  • Gee

    The leftists and Islamofascists have been claiming for decades “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” which was a phrase invented by the KGB to justify their support of terrorism during the Cold War.
    Reality is one man’s terrorist is everybody’s terrorist

  • A Z

    Schadenfreude! :)

  • 1Indioviejo1

    Raymond, you mention historical facts about Muslims killing each other from the beginning, but it hasn’t helped one bit. The world is still suffering the Satanic Cult and it seems like they are on the move all over the world. Is there an answer to this plague?

  • Newspaniard

    One dead muslim is one less killer on the streets. Let them get on with killing each other now that they are running out of non-muslims to kill.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    Indeed, Qaradawi himself, while discussing the importance of killing any Muslim who apostatizes from Islam on a live Al Jazeera program, correctly declared that “If the penalty for apostasy was ignored, there would not be an Islam today; Islam would have ended on the death of the prophet.”

    Question: Is a religion that executes apostates a religion or a cult? What other religions also executes apostates besides Islam?