Friday, May 08, 2015

Cole Bunzel - Selected Passage on Jihad - From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State

Cole Bunzel
Epoch Times

In "Part I: Doctrines" of From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State, Cole Bunzel looks at the Islamic State's pursuit of both defensive and offensive jihad, though he first briefly shows just how restrictive the IS's version of Salafi Islam is:
The Islamic State's texts and speeches emphasize a number of doctrinal concepts. The most prominent of these stipulate: all Muslims must associate exclusively with fellow "true" Muslims and dissociate from anyone not fitting this narrow definition; failure to rule in accordance with God's law constitutes unbelief; fighting the Islamic State is tantamount to apostasy; all Shi'a Muslims are apostates deserving of death; and the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are traitors against Islam, among many other things.(28) Importantly, the Islamic State anchors these concepts in traditional Salafi literature, and is more dogmatic about their application than al-Qaeda.

The group's approach to the doctrine of jihad also bears a distinctly Salafi imprint. Traditionally, jihadis, including those in al-Qaeda, have espoused "defensive jihad," casting their militant acts as defensive in nature.(29) They perceive the Middle East to be under attack by secular "apostate" rulers and their Western "crusader" backers. The Islamic State also advocates for "defensive jihad." As former Islamic State leader Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi once observed, "The rulers of Muslim lands are traitors, unbelievers, sinners, liars, deceivers, and criminals."(30) What is more, he said in 2007, "[we believe that] fighting them is of greater necessity than fighting the occupying crusader."(31)

The Islamic State also emphasizes the offensive form of jihad, which in the Wahhabi tradition is premised on the uprooting of shirk, idolatry, wherever it is found.(32) For example, in a 2007 speech Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi quoted a Wahhabi-trained scholar on the purpose of jihad: "The end to which fighting the unbelievers leads is no idolater (mushrik) remaining in the world."(33) In another speech, Baghdadi explicitly emphasized the importance of "offensive jihad," which he defined as "going after the apostate unbelievers by attacking [them] in their home territory, in order to make God's word most high and until there is no persecution." Consistent with Wahhabi doctrine, "persecution" is understood to mean idolatry.(34) [Bunzel, From Paper State to Caliphate, page 10]

28. See Majmū', 70–75, 15, 82, 14, 37–38, and 60.
29. The classic formulation of such defensive jihad was given by the Egyptian Muh. ammad 'Abd al-Salām Faraj (d. 1982), translated in Johannes J.G. Jansen, The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat's Assassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East (New York: MacMillan, 1986). 30. Abū 'Umar al-Baghdādī, "Wa'd Allāh," Mu’assasat al-Furqān, 22 September 2008. Transcript in Majmū', 76–82. 31. Baghdādī, "Qul innī 'alā bayyina min Rabbī," Mu’assasat al-Furqān, 13 March 2007. Transcript in Majmū', 12–16. 32. On the traditional classifications of "offensive jihad" (jihād al-t.alab) and "defensive jihad" (jihād al-daf') see Patricia Crone, God's Rule: Government and Islam (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 297–298 and 363–373. 33. Abū ‘Umar al-Baghdādī, "Adhilla 'alā 'l-mu’minīn a'izza 'alā 'l-kāfirīn," Mu’assasat al-Furqān, 22 December 2007. Transcript in Majmū', 50–58. The scholar in question is a Mauritanian named Muh. ammad al-Amīn al-Shinqīt.ī (d. 1973). 34. Baghdādī, "Fa-ammā 'l-zabad fa-yadhhab jufā'an," Mu’assasat al-Furqān, 4 December 2007. Transcript in Majmū', 43–50. [Bunzel, From Paper State to Caliphate, page 10]
I'm glad to see this distinction between two types of warring jihad laid out so clearly, though I would add that the Islamic State's offensive jihad is in principle directed at the entire non-Muslim world as guilty of shirk, i.e., idolatry, and I would speculate that for an Islamist group as narrow as the IS, every unbeliever is by implication one of the "apostate unbelievers," for the Islamic view is that every child is born a Muslim but if raised in a non-Muslim home becomes an unbeliever, which is why Muslims refer to a convert not as a "convert," but as a "revert," for the unbeliever simply returns to an innate belief in Allah.

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