Footage has emerged of Paris jihad murderers Salah Abdeslam and his brother Brahim dancing at a Brussels nightclub several months before they murdered 130 people. The UK’s Daily Mail, always determined to ignore the jihadi mindset and motivations and misrepresent both as quite other than what they are, took this as another indication that jihadis in general are not what they claim to be: “Video shows the extremists eight months before the massacre in Paris, seemingly enjoying the Westernised lifestyle ISIS claims to despise.” As always, however, reality is different from the mainstream media’s presentation of it.
We have seen this several times before, going all the way back to 9/11, when it came to light that Mohammed Atta and several of the other jihadi hijackers had been at a strip club not long before the attacks. This indicated, we were told, and have been told many times since, that contrary to their own claims, jihad terrorists are not pious Muslims acting upon the exhortations in the Qur’an and Sunnah to make war against unbelievers. On the contrary, goes this claim, these terrorists have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, and are simply reacting to the alleged evils of the West. Because after all, what pious, believing Muslim engaged in an act of jihad would risk sullying his soul in a strip club and thereby detracting from the spiritual value of his jihad?
This question, however, betrays in itself a lack of understanding of Islamic theology – a lack of understanding that continues, all these years after 9/11, to hamstring our response to the jihad threat. What is understood by precious few counter-terror analysts is that a pious, believing Muslim who is about to engage in a momentous act of jihad may very well engage in activity that Islamic law would deem sinful, and do so freely and knowingly.
The reasons for this are set out in the Qur’an and Hadith. The Qur’an teaches that if one’s good deeds outweigh one’s bad deeds on the “scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection,” one will enter Paradise:
“And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no soul will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth. And sufficient are We as accountant.” (Qur’an 21:47)
When one’s deeds are weighed in these scales, the weightiest deed of all is waging jihad for the sake of Allah. Muhammad himself explains that the best of all deeds is jihad, and thus it outweighs all others:
“The Prophet said, ‘A single endeavor of fighting in Allah’s Cause is better than the world and whatever is in it.’” (Bukhari 4:52:50)
“A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad in reward.’ He replied, ‘I do not find such a deed.’” (Bukhari 4:52:44)
In light of all this, Salah and Brahim Abdeslam may well have known that they were going to commit jihad mass murder when they went dancing in Brussels several months before their killing spree. If they had been planning at that point to go killing for Allah in jihad, they could enjoy a night out and even a beer or two, knowing that the sinfulness of it all would be far outweighed by their jihad.
Friends of the brothers recount, however, that their turn to Islam came after the night out captured on video: “I saw Salah joke, smoke, drink and play cards. If anything, he liked women. He was something of a ladies man and I heard he had a girlfriend at one point.” However, “that was the last time I saw them drink. Brahim started to become more religious. He would attend Friday prayers at the mosque but otherwise pray at home.”
Whether the jihad brothers actually became more religious after this night out or were already in the process of doing so, once again we see another frequently recurring phenomenon that is often denied: Muslims becoming devout in their observance of Islam and then becoming jihad murderers. And when they killed all those infidels in Paris, the Abdeslam brothers could be sure that whatever sins they had committed that night in Brussels, and any other nights that hadn’t been captured on video, they were far outweighed on Allah’s scales of judgment by the blood of 130 non-Muslims killed for his cause. Their place in Paradise was secured.