The Origins of Global Jihadi Terrorism:
A Framework for Countering Islamic Radicalisation
â€œHe will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyoneâ€™s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.â€
Genesis 16: 12
The Bible, New International Version.
Such is the prophecy foretold in the Bible, where Ishmael, to whom the Prophet Muhammad traces his lineage , is to lead a life in perpetual conflict with his brethren. This prophecy has been cited as an analogy to highlight the greatest challenge that Islam is facing today â€“ jihadi terrorism, which threatens to sow enmity between the Muslim civilisation and the rest of the ...view middle of the document...
The Theological Basis for Jihad
The term â€œjihadâ€ literally means â€œstruggleâ€, particularly for the â€œcause of Godâ€ , and appears numerous times in the Quran, Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) and Sunnah (Islamic practices or habits). Jihad is not always an outward manifestation of war; a distinction is made between the â€œgreater jihadâ€ which involves an individualâ€™s â€œinward spiritual struggle to improve oneself as a Muslimâ€ , and â€œlesser jihadâ€ which is an â€œoutward physical struggle to ensure justice and promote the spread of Islamâ€ . â€œGreater jihadâ€, as its name suggests, is considered to be more important of the two. Muslims often focus on the endeavour of â€œgreater jihadâ€ in the pursuit of self-betterment and the strengthening of their faith.
It follows that any physical action made in the name of jihad falls within the category of â€œlesser jihadâ€. While this form of jihad is of secondary importance, it is the only form of jihad that is demonstrable by practical action, either on an individual or a collective basis. â€œLesser jihadâ€ can be further sub-divided into â€œoffensiveâ€ and â€œdefensiveâ€ jihad . The former aims to â€œpromote, propagate and conquer for Islamâ€ , while the latter authorises the use of force in response to external threats. By Islamic tradition, â€œoffensive jihadâ€ can only be waged by â€œthe Caliph, with the support of the ulama (religious scholars)â€ . â€œDefensive jihadâ€, on the other hand, is only permissible under circumstances that require the need to repel aggression. In the absence of a Caliph since the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Muslims can theoretically only wage â€œdefensive jihadâ€ for the purpose of self-defence.
The Islamic faith mandates that the act of jihad is an obligation, or wajib , but must be conducted within the confines of the conditions laid out in the preceding paragraph of this essay. While self-defence can be understood to be the only ethical basis for jihad in the absence of a Caliph, the paucity of specific contexts for the application of jihad in the modern world has allowed for a variety of interpretations on what constitutes self-defence. This ambiguity has allowed proponents of radical Islamic ideology to articulate their extremist views under the legitimate process of independent judgment, or ijtihad , as well as reasoning by analogy, or qiyas . The name of God is often invoked to lend divine authority to the radicalsâ€™ clarion call for the faithful to embrace their brand of jihad.
Global jihadist terrorism has its ideological roots in Salafism, which is a radical form of Islam that calls for a â€œrevival of the original communityâ€ as described in the Hadith and Sunnah. At the heart of Salafi ideology is 13th century Islamic scholar Ibn Tamiyyaâ€™s concept of tawhid, which affirms God as â€œthe only object of worship and obedienceâ€ . Egyptian theologian Sayyid...