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May 21, 2008

On Jihad And Euphemism: Calling Radical Islam By It's Name...

Topics: Understanding Islam
"Islamists are not waiting for "infidel" Americans to define jihad for them; they defined it themselves, a very long time ago." - Tawfik Hamid
The Bush administration has recently come to the rather naive determination that a concerted effort should be made to make certain terms effectively off-limits in official communications - words like "Jihadist" and "Mujahedeen" (which should be replaced by "violent extremist" or "terrorist") and "Islamo-fascism." In the eyes of the administration, the use of such terminology boosts support for radicals by giving them an air of religious credibility, and turning off moderate Muslims who might otherwise sympathize with our anti-terror cause.

In addressing this tragically flawed understanding of the war on terrorism in which we are now engaged, David Thompson has a piece titled Naming the Devil in which he quotes what Tawfik Hamid, a Muslim reformer - who once counted himself among the world's Islamists and jihadists before turning away from terrorism and toward liberalism, has to say about jihad and the perils of euphemism:

Yes, the word "jihad" has several, including some peaceful, meanings - but that doesn't change the fact that most authoritative Islamic texts and systems of jurisprudence maintain that its primary meaning is "warfare to subjugate the world to Islam"... And it is simply a fact that jihad, as taught by Sunni Islam's four schools of jurisprudence, is either a war to defend Muslims or to impose Islam on non-Muslims. It may be uncomfortable to admit these facts - and doing so may run certain risks. But it is true, and the costs of ignoring reality are far higher than the benefits of glossing over it.
David goes on to offer that although the theology of the past needn't define a religion's future, it's hard to see how a more functional form of Islam can be coaxed into existence on an institutional scale without a searching critique of its founder and his behavior. And therein lies the intimate flaw of Islam; the source of so much dysfunction and extraordinary insecurity. Therein also lies the dangerous flaw of the administration's decision to "rosy up" Islam and it's on definitions.

Catch the rest of David's commentary on the matter of calling radical Islam by its name - here ...

Posted by Richard at May 21, 2008 2:37 PM

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