Islam and violence

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Islam's doctrines and texts have in some cases been associated with violence. This article deals with the juxtaposition in Islamic law and theology of violence and non-violence by groups and individuals. Attitudes and laws towards both violence and peace exist within the Islamic tradition.

Pacifism in Islam is primarily associated with the Ahmadiyya, Alevi, Mouride, and Sufi sects.[citation needed] Mainstream Islamic law stipulates detailed regulations for the use of violence, including the use of violence within the family or household, the use of corporal or capital punishment, as well as how and when to wage war.

Research continues on the Quran, but the beliefs of Muslims around the world and further related data is also emerging. For instance, the majority of Muslim political leaders and organizations have flatly condemned the attacks of September 11.[1] Early Gallup Poll data suggested that 6.5% of Muslims worldwide thought the 9/11 attacks were mostly justified, while 55.4% thought the attacks were not justified at all.[2] More recently, the Pew Research Center's 2013 poll showed that the majority of Muslims in most Muslim countries oppose terrorism.[3]

Perception of Islam[edit]

Western perceptions[edit]

Sutton and Vertigans describe Western views of Islam as based on a stereotype of it as an inherently violent religion, characterizing it as a 'religion of the sword'. They characterize the image of Islam in the Western world as "dominated by conflict, aggression, 'fundamentalism', and global-scale violent terrorism."[4]

Juan Eduardo Campo writes that, "Europeans (have) viewed Islam in various ways: sometimes as a backward, violent religion; sometimes as an Arabian Nights fantasy; and sometimes as a complex and changing product of history and social life."[5] Robert Gleave writes that, "at the centre of popular conceptions of Islam as a violent religion are the punishments carried out by regimes hoping to bolster both their domestic and international Islamic credentials."[6]

The 9/11 attack on the US has led many non-Muslims to indict Islam as a violent religion.[7] According to Corrigan and Hudson, "some conservative Christian leaders (have) complained that Islam (is) incompatible with what they believed to be a Christian America."[8] Examples of Christian leaders who have expressed such sentiments include Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson.[9] According to a survey conducted by a research group affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, two out of three Protestant pastors believe Islam is a "dangerous" religion.[10]

Islamic views on violence[edit]

In response to these charges, Ram Puniyani assert that, "Islam does not condone violence but, like other religions, does believe in self-defence".[11]

Mark Juergensmeyer describes the teachings of Islam as ambiguous about violence. He asserts that, like all religions, Islam occasionally allows for force while stressing that the main spiritual goal is one of nonviolence and peace.[12] Hood, Hill and Spika write that "(a)lthough it would be a mistake to think that Islam is inherently a violent religion, it would be equally inappropriate to fail to understand the conditions under which believers might feel justified in acting violently against those whom their tradition feels should be opposed."[13]

Similarly, Chandra Muzaffar asserts that, "(t)he Quranic exposition on resisting aggression, oppression and injustice lays down the parameters within which fighting or the use of violence is legitimate. What this means is that one can use the Quran as the criterion for when violence is legitimate and when it is not."[14]

Islamic sources[edit]


Main article: Qur'an and violence

Islamic Doctrines teachings on matters of wars and loves and peace have become topics of heated discussion in recent years. On the one hand, some critics claim that certain verses of the Qur'an sanction military action against unbelievers as a whole[citation needed] both during the lifetime of Muhammad and after.[citation needed] The Qur'an says, "Fight in the name of your religion with those who fight against you."[15] On the other hand, other scholars argue that such verses of the Qur'an are interpreted out of context,[16][17] and argue that when the verses are read in context it clearly appears that the Qur'an prohibits aggression,[18][19][20] and allows fighting only in self-defense.[21][22]


Main article: Jihad

Jihad, an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".[23][24][25]

Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status.[26] In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the 10 Practices of the Religion.

There is controversy regarding the extent of correlation between jihad and violence, and whether some have used confusion over the definition of the term to their advantage.[27]

Middle East historian Bernard Lewis argues that "the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists (specialists in the hadith) understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense."[28] Furthermore, Lewis maintains that for most of the recorded history of Islam, from the lifetime of Muhammad onward, the word jihad was used in a primarily military sense.[29] Although some Islamic scholars have different perspectives on the implementation of Jihad, there is strong consensus amongst them that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against what they see as persecution and oppression.[30][31]

Qur'anic verses in favor of violence[edit]

Main article: Quran and violence

Quran in chapter 9 says,

"Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allah and His Messenger to those of the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah), with whom you made a treaty.[1]

So travel freely (O Mushrikun) for four months (as you will) throughout the land, but know that you cannot escape (from the Punishment of) Allah, and Allah will disgrace the disbelievers.[2]

And a declaration from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day (the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah — the 12th month of Islamic calendar) that Allah is free from (all) obligations to the Mushrikun and so is His Messenger. So if you (Mushrikun) repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape (from the Punishment of) Allah. And give tidings (to Muhammad) of a painful torment to those who disbelieve.[3]

Except those of the Mushrikun with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to them to the end of their term. Surely Allah loves Al- Mattaqun (the pious — see V.2:2).[4]

Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic calendar) have passed, then kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat(charity), then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.[5]

And if anyone of the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Quran), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not.[6]"
Muhsin khan translated Quranverse 9:1-6

"O you who believe (in Allah's Oneness and in His Messenger (Muhammad)! Verily, the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, and in the Message of Muhammad) are Najasun (impure). So let them not come near Al-Masjid-al-Haram (at Makkah) after this year, and if you fear poverty, Allah will enrich you if He will, out of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. [28]

Fight against those who

(1) believe not in Allah,
(2) nor in the Last Day,
(3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger
(4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. [29]
And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! [30]"

Quran chapter 8 says,

"(Remember) when your Lord inspired the angels, "Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes."[12]
This is because they defied and disobeyed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever defies and disobeys Allah and His Messenger, then verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.[13]"

"Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from disbelief) their past will be forgiven. But if they return (thereto), then the examples of those (punished) before them have already preceded (as a warning).[38]
And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah Alone [in the whole of the world]. But if they cease (worshipping others besides Allah), then certainly, Allah is All-Seer of what they do.[39]"

In his tafsir, Ibn Kathir, one of the most well-renown Islamic scholars, explains the verses further:

"Allah then commanded fighting the disbelievers when He said:

(...until there is no more Fitnah) meaning, Shirk. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi`, Muqatil bin Hayyan, As-Suddi and Zayd bin Aslam.

Allah's statement:
(...and the religion (all and every kind of worship) is for Allah (Alone).) means, `So that the religion of Allah becomes dominant above all other religions.' It is reported in the Two Sahihs that Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari said: "The Prophet was asked, `O Allah's Messenger! A man fights out of bravery, and another fights to show off, which of them fights in the cause of Allah' The Prophet said:
(He who fights so that Allah's Word is superior, then he fights in Allah's cause.) In addition, it is reported in the Two Sahihs:

(I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people until they proclaim, `None has the right to be worshipped but Allah'. Whoever said it, then he will save his life and property from me, except for cases of the law, and their account will be with Allah.)"

Scholars' comment in favor of Jihad[edit]

Imam Al-Suyuti (c. 1445-1505 AD) was a famous Egyptian writer, religious scholar, juristic expert and teacher wrote:

"Fight those who don't believe in God nor in the Last Day [Unless they believe in the Prophet God bless him and grant him peace] nor hold what is forbidden that which God and His emissary have forbidden [e.g., wine] nor embrace the true faith [which is firm, and abrogates other faiths, i.e., the Islamic religion] from among [for distinguishing] those who were given the Book [i.e., the Jews and Christians] unless they give the head-tax [i.e., the annual taxes imposed on them] (/'an yadin/) humbly submissive, and obedient to Islam's rule."

—Suyuti, Durr al-Manthur (Beirut Edition), vol. 3, p. 228

About Jihad, leader of the Afghan Jihad, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam wrote:

"Jihad Against the Kuffar is of two Types: Offensive Jihad (where the enemy is attacked in his own territory) ... [and] Defensive Jihad. This is expelling the Kuffar from our land, and it is Fard Ayn [personal religious obligation on Muslim individuals], a compulsory duty upon all ... ...Where the Kuffar [infidels] are not gathering to fight the Muslims, the fighting becomes Fard Kifaya [religious obligation on Muslim society] with the minimum requirement of appointing believers to guard borders, and the sending of an army at least once a year to terrorise the enemies of Allah. It is a duty of the Imam (Caliph) to assemble and send out an army unit into the land of war once or twice every year. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Muslim population to assist him, and if he does not send an army he is in sin.- And the Ulama have mentioned that this type of jihad is for maintaining the payment of Jizya. The scholars of the principles of religion have also said: " Jihad is Daw'ah [Islamic preaching] with a force, and is obligatory to perform with all available capabilities, until there remains only Muslims or people who submit to Islam."

Shaykh Aḥmad Sirhindī (d. 1624) was an Islamic scholar and a prominent Sufi. He is regarded as having rejuvenated Islam, due to which he is commonly called "Mujadid Alf Thani", meaning "revival of the second millennium". He wrote,

"Shariat can be fostered through the sword.

Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths in unthinkable.

The honor of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects kafirs, dishonors the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honor in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs. ... If some worldly business cannot be performed without them, in that case only a minimum of contact should be established with them but without taking them into confidence. The highest Islamic sentiment asserts that it is better to forego that worldly business and that no relationship should be established with the kafirs.

The real purpose in levying jizya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizya, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honor and might of Islam. . . .

Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam"
—A. Sirhindi, Excerpted from Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Agra, Lucknow: Agra University, Balkrishna Book Co., 1965), pp.247-50; and Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal, Quebec: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971), pp. 73-74.

Hadiths about Jihad[edit]

Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik, "O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:8:387 and Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:2:24 see also Sahih Muslim, 1:30,Sahih Muslim, 1:31,Sahih Muslim, 1:32,Sahih Muslim, 1:33,Sahih Muslim, 1:34

On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. clans) the Prophet said, (After this battle) we will go to attack them (i.e. the infidels) and they will not come to attack us."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:59:435 see also Sahih Muslim, 19:4294

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "The example of a Mujahid in Allah's Cause-- and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause----is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:46 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4646

Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah (in the Hereafter) would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in Allah's Cause)."

Narrated Anas: The Prophet said, "A single endeavor (of fighting) in Allah's Cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it. A place in Paradise as small as the bow or lash of one of you is better than all the world and whatever is in it. And if a houri from Paradise appeared to the people of the earth, she would fill the space between Heaven and the Earth with light and pleasant scent and her head cover is better than the world and whatever is in it."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:53 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:50, Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:54

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire (or determination) for Jihid died the death of a hypocrite. 'Abdullah b. Mubarak said: We think the hadith pertained to the time of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)

Sahih Muslim, 20:4696 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4631, Sahih Muslim, 20:4634, Sahih Muslim, 20:4635

A man whose face was covered with an iron mask (i.e. clad in armor) came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first? "The Prophet said, "Embrace Islam first and then fight." So he embraced Islam, and was martyred. Allah's Apostle said, A Little work, but a great reward. "(He did very little (after embracing Islam), but he will be rewarded in abundance)."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:63 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4639

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abi Aufa: Allah's Apostle said, "Know that Paradise is under the shades of swords."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:73 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:72

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: Somebody asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is the best among the people?" Allah's Apostle replied "A believer who strives his utmost in Allah's Cause with his life and property." They asked, "Who is next?" He replied, "A believer who stays in one of the mountain paths worshipping Allah and leaving the people secure from his mischief."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:45 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4652,Sahih Muslim, 20:4653

Narrated Abu Musa: A man came to the Prophet and asked, "A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah's Cause?" The Prophet said, "He who fights that Allah's Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah's Cause."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:65 see also Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:48

Narrated Abu Huraira: 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." Then he added, "Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battle-field, enter your mosque to perform prayers without cease and fast and never break your fast?" The man said, "But who can do that?" Abu- Huraira added, "The Mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders bout (for grazing) tied in a long rope."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:44 see also Sahih Muslim, 19:4315, Sahih Muslim, 19:4314

Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: "Allah's Apostle said, "A time will come upon the people, when a group of people will wage a holy war and it will be said, 'Is there amongst you anyone who has accompanied Allah's Apostle?' They will say, 'Yes.' And so victory will be bestowed on them. Then a time will come upon the people when a group of people will wage a holy war, and it will be said, "Is there amongst you a none who has accompanied the companions of Allah's Apostle?' They will say, 'Yes.' And so victory will be bestowed on them. Then a time will come upon the people when a group of people will wage a holy war, and it will be said, "Is there amongst you anyone who has been in the company of the companions of the companions of Allah's Apostle ?' They will say, 'Yes.' And victory will be bestowed on them."

Sahih al-Bukhari, 5:57:1 see also Sahih Muslim, 41:6904,Sahih Muslim, 20:4717,Sahih Muslim, 20:4712

It has been narrated on the authority of Zaid b. Kbalid al-Juhani that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Anybody who equips a warrior (going to fight) in the way of Allah (is like one who actually) fights. And anybody who looks well after his family in his absence (is also like one who actually) fights.

Sahih Muslim, 20:4668 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4669

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Ishaq, that he heard Bara' talking about the Qur'anic verse:" Those who sit (at home) from among the believers and those who go out for Jihad in the way of Allah are not aqual" (iv. 95). (He said that) the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) ordered Zaid (to write the verse). He brought a shoulder-blade (of a slaughtered camel) and inscribed it (the verse) thereon. The son of Umm Maktum complained of his blindness to the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). (At this) descended the revelation:" Those of the believers who sit (at home) without any trouble (illness, incapacity, disability)" (iv. 95). The tradition has been handed down through two other chains of transmitters.

Sahih Muslim, 20:4676 see also Sahih Muslim, 20:4677

As with all scripture taken out of context, the above quotations require educated interpretation for those believers who are not fundamentalists. Verses of the Qu'ran and Hadith may contradict, qualify, or nullify these verses.[citation needed]

Domestic violence[edit]

The relationship between Islam and domestic violence is disputed. These ideas are somewhat justified with reference to the Qur'an, in one Surah, An-Nisa, 34, which discusses forms of beating in certain circumstances. The passage reads, "Husbands should take full care of their wives, with [the bounties] God has given to some more than others and with what they spend out of their own money. Righteous wives are devout and guard what God would have them guard in the husbands’ absence. If you fear high-handedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great." Some of the scholars allowing "beating" stress that it is a last resort, discountenanced, and must be done lightly so much so not to cause pain or injury.[32] Whether this fully justifies striking women remains controversial.

Modern violence[edit]

According to Islamic scholar Khaleel Mohammed, throughout the world, Muslim intellectuals are punished for criticizing various aspects of traditional and contemporary Islam, citing the case of Muhammad Sa'id al-'Ashmawi, who is being held in Egypt under house arrest for his own protection; Abdel Karim Soroush who was beaten in Iran for raising the voice of inquiry, and Mahmoud Tahawho was killed in Sudan. Rifat Hassan, Fatima Mernissi, Abdallah an-Na'im, Mohammed Arkoun, and Amina Wadud were all vilified by the imams for asking Muslims to use their intellect.[33]

Other examples:

  • Hashem Aghajari, an Iranian university professor, was initially sentenced to death because of a speech that criticized some of the present Islamic practices in Iran being in contradiction with the original practices and ideology of Islam, and particularly for stating that Muslims were not "monkeys" and "should not blindly follow" the clerics. The sentence was later commuted to three years in jail, and he was released in 2004 after serving two years of that sentence.[34][35][36]
  • Christoph Luxenberg feels compelled to work under a pseudonym to protect himself because of fears that a new book on the origins of the Qur'an,[37][38] may make him a target for violence.[39][40] he goes/went by this assumed name in order to protect himself.[41]
  • In recent times fatwas calling for execution have been issued against novelist Salman Rushdie and activist Taslima Nasreen for pejorative comments on Islam.[42]
  • On 2 November 2004, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by Dutch-born Mohammed Bouyeri for producing the 10-minute film Submission critical of the abusive treatment of women by Muslims. A letter threatening the author of the screenplay, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, was pinned to his body by a knife. Hirsi Ali entered into hiding immediately following the assassination, and now is protected by bodyguards.[43]
  • On 30 September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published editorial cartoons, many of which caricatured the Islamic prophet Mohammed. The publication was intended to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship;[44] objectives which manifested themselves in the public outcry from Muslim communities within Denmark and the subsequent apology by the paper. However, the controversy deepened when further examples of the cartoons were reprinted in newspapers in more than fifty other countries. This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence, including setting fire to the Norwegian and Danish Embassies in Syria, and the storming of European buildings and desecration of the Danish and German flags in Gaza City.[45] Globally, at least 139 people were killed and 823 injured.[46]
  • On 19 September 2006 French writer and philosophy teacher Robert Redeker wrote an editorial for Le Figaro, a French conservative newspaper, in which he attacked Islam and Muhammad, writing: "Pitiless war leader, pillager, butcher of Jews and polygamous, this is how Mohammed is revealed by the Qur'an." He received death threats and went into hiding.[47] The teacher was forced into hiding after describing the Qu'ran as a "book of extraordinary violence" and Islam as "a religion which ... exalts violence and hate."[48]
  • On 4 August 2007, Ehsan Jami was attacked in his hometown of Voorburg, Netherlands by three men. The attack is widely believed to be linked to his activities for the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims. The national anti-terrorism coordinator's office, the public prosecution department and the police decided during a meeting on 6 August that "additional measures" were necessary for the protection of Jami, who subsequently received extra security.[49]


"Perhaps the most resounding call to jihad in modern times occurred on 21 January 1979," suggest authors, as the Ayatollah Khomeini announced a Jihad against the US. "The people have absolute confidence in their victory in this holy war (jihad-e moqaddas)," said the Islamic icon.[50]

Ayatollah Khomeini's "Radical Islamic Revolution executed and killed hundreds of thousands of people in the name of Radical Islam."[51]

Iran, under the Ayatollah Khomeini, categorized the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war as a 'Holy war'.[52] "Khomeini's call to jihad incited thousands of Iranian teenagers to volunteer for martyrdom missions."[50] The Basiji movement 'created' child and adult sacrifice as "holy soldiers,"[53] Blessed by Iranian mullahs' regime.[54]

The Basiji ideology enjoys a revival under Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,[53] who is a member.[55] The movement has a nominal strength of 12.6 million, and has been present in schools since it was first created in 1979 by the Ayatollah.[56] Basijis were used in crackdowns in 1999, in 2003[57] and in the brutality of 2009 on protesters in Iran.[58]

The group demands in training intense Quran studies, it calls for "Basij Ethics and Etiquette" and "Major Islamic Commandments." The Basijis have been known to act in defending a strict Islamic conduct.[59] and enforcing Sharia law.[60] often "merging" with Ansar-e Hezbollah men in enforcing Sharia law.[57] In one example, Human rights activists charged that Basiji Islamic militiamen have raped and murdered 26 year old Elnaz Babazadeh for wearing an improper dress.[61]

On 19 August 1979 the Ayatollah declared a jihad against the Kurds in Iran. "Once jihad is declared, all males over 15 must join the fight, the enemy's property is open to confiscation."[62]

"Ayatollah Khomeini played on the messianic overtones of this belief during the Iranian revolution." The ideology of "Twelver" in Shiite Islam (return of the 12th Imam — belief) was invoked by many who believed that the Ayatollah will "return" as their Mahdi (Islamic Messiah). Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad refocuses this belief of the Mahdi's return by public statements and various symbolic actions, Iraq's Shiite al-Sadr's army is called the Mahdi army.[63]


In 1979 Afghanistan, local Muslim rebels began fighting the Soviets army, calling themselves Mujahideen, they used guerrilla war.[64]

Author of the book Holy war Wilhelm Dietl accounted how one Mujahed fighter told him en route to an armed attack in Herat: "We love to kill Russians and to be killed."[65]


Some of the Taliban have fought against the Soviets in the 1980s. They battle to conquer the country.[66] Many Madrassas endorse Jihad in Pakistan and in Afghanistan.[67]

In the 1980s, the Afghan jihad had been financed by Saudi Arabia[68] as well as other countries including the United States of America.[citation needed]

Saddam Hussein[edit]

Saddam Hussein warned of a jihad against the United States in 1991.[69] In 2003, after the March 20 US, British led invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein called for a holy war against "an aggression on the land of Islam." (invoking the Quranic theme: "Fight them everywhere...")[70] The statement accused the coalition forces of waging a war against Islam. His information Minister concluding: "Therefore, jihad is a duty in confronting them... Those who are martyred will be rewarded in heaven. Seize the opportunity, my brothers."[71]

Laskar Jihad[edit]

The paramilitary organisation Laskar Jihad called "to wage a jihad or holy war" into Indonesia's Moluccan islands, and carried out anti-Christian attacks in Sulawesi,[72] the same group was involved in the 1999 violence against Christians and Chinese[73] in East Timor.[74] It has been categorized as "Indonesia's Dirty Little Holy War Holy Terror."[72]


Hezbollah's spiritual guide, Sheik Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah, about whom a witnessing journalist said was behind the hostage crisis in Lebanon in the 1980s,[75] said: "We see ourselves as mujihadeen who fight a Holy War." Justifying bombings, kidnapping, murder.[76]

However British journalist Robert Fisk disputes these claims about Fadlallah:

The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel. Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don't need to be blessed; they think they are doing God's duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah.


Omar al-Bashir[edit]

"In the present conflict in Darfur, jihad is usually interpreted as holy war by the government in Khartoum."[78] The Sudanese National Islamic Front declared in 1992 a jihad, or holy war, against all in the Nuba Mountains who supported the SPLA.[79][80]

Sudan's leader Omar Al-Bashir, in 1997 "declared a jihad (holy war) against" Ethiopia.[81] Accused of genocide he threatened in 2007 "to mount a jihad against United Nations peacekeepers."[82]


The Wahabbists have a long history of fundamentalism and jihad, declaring holy wars on others, to force them into accepting their purified version of Islam[83]

In 2010, a 'Glut of fatwas spurred Saudi king to impose curbs,' Saudi political analyst explaining: "If you endorse jihad, it means you are searching for a war with the rest of the world."[84]

Some militant Islamic movements cite Saudi Wahhabi clerics to justify violence.[85]

Saudi Grand Mufti Ibn Baz repudiated violence. He stated:

From that which is known to everyone who has the slightest bit of common sense is that hijacking airplanes and kidnapping children and the like are extremely great crimes, the world over. Their evil effects are far and wide, as is the great harm and inconvenience caused to the innocent; the total effect of which none can comprehend except Allaah.



Main article: Islam and terrorism

Islamic terrorism is terrorism[87] committed by Islamists, and aimed at achieving varying political ends[88] and the advancement of Islamist goals; for example, Osama bin Laden's stated goal of ending American military presence in the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula,[89][90] overthrowing Arab regimes he considers corrupt and insufficiently religious,[89] and stopping American support for Israel.[91] Bombing in London 7/7 are said to be in retaliation for UK's support in the war in Iraq that began in 2003, though it can't be linked as a motive for Islamic terror plots on London, December, 2001.[92][93] The Islamic terrorism attack in Madrid were "explained" as "inspired by al-Qaeda's call to punish Spain's government for supporting the Iraq war," another motive was given that Spain holds a strong appeal to Islamic militants because the southern region of Andalucia was under Muslim control for almost 800 years, and "Al-Qaeda has called on jihadists to reconquer Spain as part of a broader Muslim caliphate, or kingdom under Islamic rule."[94][95]

At the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Islamic terrorists were told by their handlers in Pakistan "that the lives of Jews were worth 50 times those of non-Jews."[96]

The Qur'an: (8:12): "...cast terror in their hearts and strike upon their necks."[97] The commanded to terrorize the disbelievers have been cited in motivation of Jihadi terror.[98][99][100][101]

A Jihadi cleric:

"Another aim and objective of jihad is to drive terror in the hearts of the [infidels]. To terrorize them. Did you know that we were commanded in the Qur'an with terrorism? ...Allah said, and prepare for them to the best of your ability with power, and with horses of war. To drive terror in the hearts of my enemies, Allah's enemies, and your enemies. And other enemies which you don't know, only Allah knows them... So we were commanded to drive terror into the hearts of the [infidels], to prepare for them with the best of our abilities with power. Then the Prophet said, nay, the power is your ability to shoot. The power which you are commanded with here, is your ability to shoot. Another aim and objective of jihad is to kill the [infidels], to lessen the population of the [infidels]... it is not right for a Prophet to have captives until he makes the Earth warm with blood... so, you should always seek to lessen the population of the [infidels]."[102]

Observers have also argued that the attacks are aimed at propagating Islamic culture, society and values in opposition to perceived political, imperialistic, and/or cultural influences of non-Muslims, and the Western world in particular.[103][104]

There are also historical dimensions to the phenomenon, and the history of Western influence and control after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, is a common stated reason used within some terrorist groups to justify and explain its use of violence as resistive and retributive against western influences.

World domination[edit]

The strive to an 'Islamic Caliphate.' Caliph is translated from the Arabic Khalifa (خليفة ẖalīfä) meaning "successor", "substitute", or "lieutenant". It is used in the Qur'an to establish Adam's role as representative of Allah on earth. Kalifa is also used to describe the belief that man's role, in his real nature, is as khalifa or viceroy to Allah.[105] The word is also most commonly used for the Islamic leader of the Ummah; starting with Muhammad and his line of successors.

Indeed, domination is the ultimate goal of jihadists.[106][107] Al-Qaeda revealed its grand plan towards an Islamic caliphate,[108] - global domination.[109] Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Al-Qaeda in Iraq, has released a statement in which it explains the reasons for its terror campaign:

"We are not fighting to chase out the occupier or to save national unity and keep the borders outlined by the infidels intact," [...] "We are fighting because it is a religious duty to do it, just as it is a duty to take the Sharia [Islamic law] to the government and create an Islamic state."[110]

"Al-Qaeda has called on jihadists to reconquer Spain as part of a broader Muslim caliphate, or kingdom under Islamic rule."[94] Explaining why even Hamas has an eye on Spain.[95] In the early 1990s, the GIA Algerian Armed Islamist Group, which is "well known for its radical positions and the barbaric violence of its operations, announced the restoration of the caliphate and the appointment of a caliph."[111] With Palestinian Islamic party Hamas victory in the 2007 election, a mass gathering followed with Hamas' spokesman calling for a Caliphate.[112] The official said Hamas seeks to create an "Islamic caliphate" in the land.[113][114]

Muslim violence and belief statistics[edit]

Pew research in 2010 found that in Jordan, Lebanon, and Nigeria, roughly 50% of Muslims had favourable views of Hezbollah, and that Hamas also saw similar support.[115] Counter-terrorism researchers suggests that support for suicide bombings is rooted in opposition to real or perceived foreign military occupation, rather than Islam, according to a Department of Defense-funded study by University of Chicago researcher Robert Pape.[116]

Writing for the National Post, Barbara Kay stated that honor killing is not strictly a Muslim phenomenon and that it is enabled by factors including sexism, dowries and a lack of a dependable legal system. Nevertheless, Kay says that the murders are a Muslim phenomenon in the West, where 95% of honor killings are perpetrated by "Muslim fathers and brothers or their proxies". Kay warns that females do not dissent as one might expect either: The women may describe victims of honor killing as having needed punishment.[117]

The Pew Research Center also found that support for the death penalty as punishment for "people who leave the Muslim religion" was 86% in Jordan, 84% in Egypt, 76% in Pakistan, 51% in Nigeria (all very large Muslim populations) and yet lower in some other countries.[115] The different factors at play (e.g. sectarianism, poverty, etc.) and their relative impacts are not clarified.

According to 2006 data, Pew says that 46% of Nigerian Muslims, 29% of Jordan Muslims, 28% of Egyptian Muslims, 15% of British Muslims, and 8% of American Muslims thought suicide bombings are often or sometimes justified.[118] The figure was unchanged - still 8% - for American Muslims by 2011.[119]

Polls have found Muslim-Americans to report less violent views than any other religious group in America. 89% of Muslim-Americans claimed that the killing of civilians is never justified, compared to only 71% of Catholics and Protestants, 75% of Jews, and 76% of atheists and non-religious groups.[120]

New pew polls show most Muslims oppose terrorism in 2013

Gallup poll[edit]

Gallup poll collected extensive data in a project called "Who Speaks for Islam?". John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed present data relevant to Islamic views on peace, and more, in their book Who Speaks for Islam? The book reports Gallup poll data from random samples in over 35 countries using Gallup's various research techniques (e.g. pairing male and female interviewers, testing the questions beforehand, communicating with local leaders when approval is necessary, travelling by foot if that is the only way to reach a region, etc.) [2]

There was a great deal of data. It suggests, firstly, that individuals who dislike America and consider the September 11 attacks to be "perfectly justified" form a statistically distinct group, with much more extreme views. The authors call this 7% of Muslims "Politically Radicalized".[2] They chose that title "because of their radical political orientation" and clarify "we are not saying that all in this group commit acts of violence. However, those with extremist views are a potential source for recruitment or support for terrorist groups."[121] The data also indicates that poverty is not simply to blame for the comparatively radical views of this 7% of Muslims, who tend to be better educated than moderates.[121]

The authors say that, contrary to what the media may indicate, most Muslims believe that the September 11 attacks cannot actually be justified at all. The authors called this 55% of Muslims "Moderates". Included in that category were an additional 12% who said the attacks almost cannot be justified at all (thus 67% of Muslims were classified as Moderates). 26% of Muslims were neither moderates nor radicals, leaving the remaining 7% called "Politically Radicalized". Esposito and Mogahed explain that the labels should not be taken as being perfectly definitive. Because there may be individuals who would generally not be considered radical, although they believe the attacks were justified, or vice versa.[2]

See also[edit]


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