Islam is as much a political force as it is religious. And this is common with mmost religious movements prior to this modern age. For most of humanity’s history, religions played and intrinsic rôle in the political life of a polity. However, while most other religious movements have accepted the separation of religion and poltics, Islam retains this belief that religion and state cannot be separated. Indeed, one fundamental purpose of Islam was to establish the way (شريعة shari’ah) to a just society through it’s religious laws (called, thus, the “shari’ah”). Thus, an Islamic state is a legitimate state.
Among Shiites there is a dispute whether a legitimate Islamic state can be established. Some say they must wait for the return of the Hidden Imam. Others say agents of the Imam may establish a provisionary state until he reappears. Others believe that a truly legitimate, authentic Islamic state may be established by the Imam’s agents before he reappears.
For many Shiites, the legitimate Islamic state died with Muhammad. His supposed successors prevented the rightful sucessor from taking his place at the head of the Islamic state and when his turn came, supporters of these usurpers attempted to overthrow him. They likewise killed the son of the rightful successor (by the way, who was evidently علي بن ابي طالب ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin). And since then they have been trying to kill the rightful bearers of authority.
But this has not always been the case. The Fatimids (Isma’ili Shiites) established a potent caliphate to rival the Sunni one. The Qizilbash claimed be led by the Imam, and established a Shiite empire (forcing all their non-Shiite subjects to convert), which reunited Persia and made it Shiite. But these were exceptions that proved the rule: Shiites cannot establish a legitimate Islamic state. Either they fail or their Sunni enemies defeat them (or their Sunni enemies defeat them by making them fail).
This should explain why the notion that cresting an Islamic state was not only possible and permissable but that there is a way and structure and organized manner to do so, was so shocking, novel, and captivating.
Despite centuries of doctrine otherwise, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini capitalized on the Shiites’ yearning for political deliverance and unveiled before them the way to their salvation: Velayat-e Faqih.
When someone dies, there are a number of conventions Jews use.
One is, upon hearing the death of someone, is to pronounce the “blessing”: Barukh Dayan emes. It means, “Blessed [be] the True Judge.” It is unique among the “blessings” of Judaism in that it does not follow the usual pattern (“Barukh atta haShem…” “Blessed art Thou, O L-rd”). In fact, it has none of the proper names of God. It seems a little strange, but is an important reinforcement of the belief that God is just, truly just, in all He does.
As it is written: “HaShem nosan, v’haShem loqoch; y’hi sheim haShem m’vorokh” (Iyyov 1:21), which means “the L-rd gave, (and/then) the L-rd takes away; blessed be the name of the L-rd” (Job 1:21).
After the names of the deceased, various honorifics are added. This is part of honoring the dead. (There are some abbreviations or statements added after the names of evil people who have died as well, but I won’t get into it.) The most common is a”h from “alav hashalom” or “aleha hashalom”, which means “upon him be peace” and “upon her be peace” respectively. It may be used for anyone.
Another honorific is: z”l from “zichrono livrakha” or “zichronah livracha” which means “may his memory be a blessing” and “may her memory be a blessing”, and sometimes translated as “of blessed memory.” It is often used for rabbis or other prominent people who have died.
Another one is ztz”l from “zecher tzadiq livrakha” which means “may the memory of the righteous be a blessing”. This is used for particularly prominent and/or pious people.
Tomorrow: the Kaddish.
Dedicated to the memory and zechus of Cranky z”l. May the souls of the the deceased merit a place in Gan Eiden. Omein.
Hu ya’asei sholom bimoromov, Hu ya’asei sholom oleini v’al kol Yisroeil. V’imru: omein. Omein!
Of Good and Bad Atheists
I was a little surprised to make a discovery. I asked a few atheists I admire some questions. Turns out that many of Maher’s opinions about religions and religionists are shared by other atheists. This surprised me because these atheists did not so openly express their disdain for religion and religionists. I think this is a key point: bad atheists broadcast their disdain and arrogance to all who would listen, particularly religionists, while good atheists treat even religionists with respect and deference.
Good atheists, like my friends, also realize that reality isn’t black and white. Religion has its good parts and its bad parts; likewise, rationalism has its good parts and its bad parts. Religionists and rationalists pose threats to various people and interests, and one cannot demonize either side.
I admire these atheists. There are a number of atheists I admire, some of whom are S. Weasel, Uncle Badger, Steamboat McGoo, Ace, and WickedPinto. (I don’t know if Jeff Goldstein is an atheist or agnostic, but I admire him too.) These people are very tolerant of religionists. Every now and then, they will make sharp criticisms of religions and religionists, but they do this for everyone. They are fair and balanced. Such as good atheists. We religionists can get along well with them, despite deep differences.
An excellent example is the Prophetess of the West, Oriana Fallaci. She was a staunch atheist. But one man she admired greatly was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. She was a ceaseless critic of the Catholic Church but praised where it did things well. Good atheists realize the nuances of reality, while bad atheists (who tend to be overwhelmingly liberal, ironically) see things monochromatically.
Bad atheists are of a complete different breed. They are the ones who are corrupting the image of atheists. I had a friend in college who was a devoted (devout?) atheist, and most of us religionists initially avoided her. When we realized that her atheism doesn’t affect how she deals with us, we hung out with her. She was an awesome person, and while she would express how she disagreed with what we believed and did, she tolerated our beliefs and practices. She never tried to change us, and she never preached to us.
And this is the irony. Bad atheists, like Maher, are not much different from the people they are attacking. I classify them as evangelical, fundamentalist atheists, for such is what they are. They are evangelical in that they have this zeal to preach the Gospel of I-Don’t-Know (explicitly admitted to by Maher) to all and sundry. They want to convert all the world to their Gospel. How is this different from Christian Evangelical missionaries?
They have The Truth, which they adhere to. Maher showed an evident lack of open mindedness, which is ironic considering he was accusing the Christians of being idiotically close minded. He couldn’t even entertain a conflicting viewpoint: if it did not conform with The Truth, it was falsehood, a heresy, and he attacks it. How are these different from fundamentalists?
Like the religionists he attacks, he holds to completely false stories and beliefs, such as that more people have died in the name of God than any other cause, or that Christian fundamentalism is informing US government policy. Like the fundamentalists, no matter what evidence is brought to refute him, he will not budge. Bad atheists become no different from those they attack.
Good atheists are out there. And many of them have quite valid points. Let us religionists not assume all of them are bad atheists, like Maher. We can live in peace: the extremists on both sides don’t want us to, but then we shouldn’t be listening to them.
To my atheist friends: Thank you for being such wonderful people. I am blessed to call you “friend”, even if it’s virtually. You have enriched my life and my understanding of humanity.
To my religionist friends: Keep the faith. Idiots like Maher cannot bring us down. If we are built on a foundation like a rock, then floods and storms will not be able to shake us.
To both: Let us cooperate and deal well with each other, and not let the malevolent amongst us to sour our relations. Life is too short to waste it on useless and counterproductive battles or generating or wallowing in ill will.
Do religionists have an undue influence in politics?
Maher complained that Christians, Jews, and Muslims get their way from Congress because they make enough noise. He pointed out that 16% of Americans identify as unaffiliated with any religion. (Sidenote: someone should tell Maher that “unaffiliated” does not mean “atheist” or “anti-religion”.) 16% is more than the Jews and Muslims in America, and so if the rationalists raised their voices, they’d get their way too and have their rights protected.
Problem is that rationalists are getting their way to the detriment of religionists. It is because of rationalists’ campaigns against any and all public manifestation of religion that the battle between religionists and rationalists has become so sharp. They want all crosses, stars of David, and crescents hidden; but they want to flaunt their fishes of Darwin and anti-religious platitudes and pithy statements with impunity. They want to punish religionists’ statements they find offensive, all the while being free to offend religionists with impunity. They want to stop religionists from enacting laws consistent with religionists’ values, while they want to enact legislation consistent with their anti-religious values.
See the irony? Read the rest of this entry »
Of Talking Snakes and Virgin Births and Men in Whales
In his large, almost-the-entire-movie segment on Christianity, Maher focuses on certain Biblical events which he claims to be representative of Christian gullibility. Three such events are: the belief in a talking snake in the Garden of Eden, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and Jonah living in a whale. He also rails on creationism.
Maher completely misunderstands the value and purpose of these stories. Even if they are true, they are not used to create doctrine or effect people’s lives. They may be illustrative, allegorical, or explanatory – but they do not occupy a central place in the lives of believers. If the entire religion were based on and around such fanciful tales, then Maher would have a point. But as it is, in a regular sermon, one talks about sin, repentance, redemption, belief, trust, obedience, love, charity, hope, faith, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Maybe it’s because of the church I am in, but I have never heard an entire sermon or talk that revolves around any of these fanciful tales. They exist to teach a lesson, and what’s important is what we learn from them, not whether they are true. Read the rest of this entry »
Of Agendas and Biases
Maher spends the vast majority of his time on Christians and Christianity, and most of his criticisms are very focused on Christian beliefs and scriptures. In contrast, he seems weak and ineffective when he speaks with Jews and Muslims. For that matter, his level of challenging and mockery towards Judaism and Islam is far less than what he expends on Christianity.
And even then, a bias shows up. Read the rest of this entry »
The Fallacy of Rationality = Peace
Rationalists (as opposed to “religionists”) claim that if only people were rational, sensible, intelligent, and used their minds, all of the folly of religions would vanish. Furthermore, all of the violent, divisive, murderous brain-washing tendencies of religions and religionists would likewise vanish. What will remain would be a world where people were rational, sensible, intelligent, and peaceful. There would be no more religion to divide people and make them kill each other. There would also be no religion to distract people from what matters.
I find this to be quite interesting. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend of mine wanted to watch Bill Maher’s Religulous. He has been slowly returning to activity in the Church. I tried to persuade him that this might not be a movie he may want to go to, but he said he’s going to see it in any case. So whether I go with him or not, he’s going to watch it. I decided to go with him so that if he has any doubts or questions, I can help him. I did not want him to go alone or without someone who would help set his mind at ease when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The movie was interesting.
My friend told me that the movie convinced him about the truthfulness and relevance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the complete opposite of what Maher wanted to accomplish. He and I were the only ones who did not clap at the end. I was so relieved that the movie did not lead away my friend, who already had his doubts and questions about faith. My friend loves rationality, and I was worried that Rationalism Evangelist Maher would get to him. But it was just the opposite. I thank and praise God and His Holy Spirit, and the power thereof, which not only survive such onslaughts but become stronger.
The fundamental error in Maher’s movie, aside from his political and environmental and religious agendas and biases, is a complete ignorance of what religion is, what rôle it plays, and its intrinsic nature in human society and psyche.
Over the next few days, I will elaborate on these points. I will not speak from the perspective of a “religionist” but rather from the perspective of one who has studied religions for decades and who has an undergraduate degree in religion.
Bottom line: Don’t watch it. It’s dreck.
Qasim-Shahi Nizari Ismaili Shiite Muslims form an interesting bunch, a very unique movement within Islam. Rather than simply being a sect, they view themselves as a طريقة tareeqah (lit., “path”), which term is used for Sufi orders.
One thing that sets them apart is that they do not fast during the month of رمضان (ramadaan in Arabic, ramzaan in Urdu), which just ended. Rather then go into the historical reasons why this is so (which refers to the قيامة qiyaamah under their imam حسن على ذكره السلا hassan ‘alaa dhikrihi-s-salaam (lit., “Hassan, peace upon mention of him”)), I’ll mention the current interpretation of this practice.
Ismaili Shiite Islam believes that every law or rule has an obvious or public aspect (ظاهر, zaahir) and a hidden aspect (باطن, baatin). In the laws of fasting (صوم sawm in Arabic, روزه roza in Persian and Urdu), the outer aspects involve hunger. The inner aspects involve good behavior and deprivation. Ismailis, who believe that many of the outer requirements are done away, follow and practice the inner aspects of these rules. So, rather than making themselves hungry for a month, they develop good character and piety throughout the year.
Despite being such a radical departure of normative Islamic practice and rules, it seems the spirit of Ismaili Islam cleaves closer to the good purposes of Islamic practices.
I was going to hold off on going off on Obama but I am increasingly becoming irked if not extremely displeased.
A few days ago, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that said “Got Hope?” I thought to my self, “Now that’s a clever Christian bumper sticker.” Slowly, though, from the car’s other bumper stickers, horror began to dawn on me. I felt the Spirit rushing away as I realized what the bumper sticker referred to.
It referred to Obama.
That was the last straw. How can a man be so successful whose campaign is practically a large parade of iniquity, false witness, falsehoods, and now blasphemy?
I have heard Obama speak. As I mentioned to my father, his rhetoric reminds me of other rhetoricians, like Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini. All based on stirring emotions, to lead the proles forward in obeying the Glorious Word of the Leader. But does words have any substance? He’s nothing but sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.
Change and hope. Hope and change. What about them? How will he implement them? It’s just words he uses to whip up a frenzy. Mindless, zombie-like frenzy.
No one has become so enamored with and enthralled (in the latter case, a good word to describe this phenomenon) by Hillary Clinton or John Edwards or John Kerry or Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani or John McCain. We see this enthrallment to some degree among some Paulbots and fewer Huckabites, but nothing compared to the ridiculous adulation poured out on Obama. Honestly, it’s almost like they’re hailing a god incarnate. What is he, the Hidden Imam? Jesus Christ returned to Earth? Maitreya? All we need now is for some Jews to come out and proclaim him to be the Messiah. Der schwarze Moshiach, nu? We’ll probably discover he’s a Goa’uld System Lord.
There are many black Americans who would make good presidential candidates, even if I may not agree with their politics. If Obama is the best we can do, we’re in serious trouble.
As a person who studies religions, the almost religious frenzy and adulation towards Obama is very, very concerning. I can see it very well. I’m surprised that others haven’t caught on. This is a matter of grave spiritual and national concern.
As election times comes closer, you will see this blog become more political. Once the lines are drawn, I want people to be more aware of what’s at stake. I want to put this race in greater context.
Nice Deb covered this situation in her post “Petition to Defrock Pfather Pfreaky”. News from “Update: Michael Pfleger removed from his position at St. Sabina Catholic Church.” by Defending. Contending.
Statement from Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, courtesy of the website of the Archdiocese of Chicago:
STATEMENT OF FRANCIS CARDINAL GEORGE, O.M.I.,
ARCHBISHOP OF CHICAGO
June 3, 2008
To put recent events in some perspective, I have asked Father Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina’s Parish, to step back from his obligations there and take leave for a couple of weeks from his pastoral duties, effective today. Fr. Pfleger does not believe this to be the right step at this time. While respecting his disagreement, I have nevertheless asked him to use this opportunity to reflect on his recent statements and actions in the light of the Church’s regulations for all Catholic priests. I hope that this period will also be a time away from the public spotlight and for rest and attention to family concerns.
I hope also that the life of St. Sabina’s parish may continue in uninterrupted fashion. Fr. William Vanecko, Pastor of St. Kilian’s parish, will be temporary administrator of St. Sabina’s and will assure the full complement of ministerial services during this period. I ask the members of St. Sabina’s parish to cooperate with him and to keep him and Fr. Pfleger in their prayers. They are in mine.
See also Chicago SunTime‘s Lynn Sweet’s post “Pfleger removed as pastor of St. Sabina in wake of mocking Clinton at Trinity Church.”
Inspired by a question asked by BrewFan, I believe, in the IB thread: “Isaiah Manuscript On Display”.
Learning about Judaism as understood by Orthodox (and especially ultra-Orthodox, and even more especially haredi ultra-Orthodox) is very difficult because of specialized language and unspoken assumptions. For example, for the furthest right on the Judaism spectrum (which was normative until the rise of Reform and Conservative Judaism), “Torah” (literally “Law”) referred to:
1. The Pentateuch (also known as the Five Book of Moses, specifically the books known to English-speaking people as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, and known in Hebrew as B’reshis (In-the-Beginning), Shemos (Names), Vayiqra (And-He-Called), B’midbar (In-the-Wilderness), and Devarim (Words)); or
2. The Law as written (Torah she bi-khtav, Torah that is written) in the scrolls (Sifrei Torah) and as passed down orally (Torah she be-al-peh, Torah that is from the mouth) in Talmud (Mishnah and Gemara).
Thus, Torah could refer to a few books from the Hebrew Bible or to the entire corpus of authoritative literature (the entire Hebrew Bible and the Talmud), which comprises a lot of written material. If one includes the Midrashim, as most on the far right of the Judaism spectrum do, then “Torah” comprises a few hundred books.
The importance of the non-Biblical literature should not be underestimated.
A criticism I have read and heard a number of times during my studies of Judaism, lodged against ultra-Orthodox Jews, is that they do not study and are little aware of the Hebrew Bible. To a degree, this is true. The Hebrew Bible is studied insofar as the weekly portions (singular: parshah, plural: parshiyos) are read and studied. Nevertheless, even the weekly portions are not extensively studied in such great contextual depth as other Jews and non-Jews are wont to do. Instead, when ultra-Orthodox refer to “studying Torah”, they usually mean studying Talmud or Midrashim. This is because it is believed that the words of the Written Torah (the Hebrew Bible) are explained authoritatively and practically by the extra-Biblical authorities, which comprise the Oral Torah. Thus, although not part of the scrolls, these books and commentaries are just as authoritative as the part of Torah written on scrolls. Indeed, a common assumption is that if one studies the Written Torah, one must study the corresponding elements of the Oral Torah in order to grasp what it’s talking about, while if one studies the Oral Torah (which quotes and refers to the Written Torah), one need not bother with the Written Torah. It is as if the Written Torah is just the framework for the Oral Torah.
And no cannot discount the Oral Torah. Let us use an example. Torah says (Deuteronomy 6:8-9):
Uqshartom l’os al yodekho, v’hoyu l’totofos bein eineikho. Ukhsavtom al-m’zuzos beisekho uvish’oreikho.
Translated as (KJV):
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Or as (Artscroll):
Bind them as a sign upon your arm and let them be tefillin between your eyes. And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.
A more literal translation would be:
And bind them as a sign upon your hand, and let it by totofos between your eyes. And write it on the post of your house and upon your gates.
What on earth does this mean and, more importantly, how is it implemented? While the Written Torah provides no details whatsoever, the Oral Torah has pages and pages of details, from how it is to be done, from what materials, how those materials are to be prepared, what requirements makes an item for use in this endeavor valid and invalid, and so on. It is nothing short of amazing that from a few words from the Written Torah, we get the intricate ritual items known as tefillin (and, frankly, unless one has studied what tefillin are and what rules are behind their construction and use, it is not possible to appreciate how intricate and detailed this is). The point being that the Oral Torah fills in the very, very many blanks left by the Written Torah.
Modern-day Judaism, even the far left forms, are all a product of Talmudic Judaism (or, properly, Rabbinic Judaism, as the Rabbis created Talmud).
Pirqei Avos says in its very first verse:
Moshe qibeil Toro mi-Sinoy, umsoroh li-Hoshua’, vi-Hoshua’ lizqeinim, uzqeinim linviim, unviim m’soruoh l’anshei kh’neses hagedolo.
Moses received Torah from Sinai, and he passed it on to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets passed it on to the Men of the Great Assembly (Sanhedrin).
As a bit of trivia, the rest of the verse says:
Heim omru sh’losho d’vorim: hevu m’sunim badin, v’haamidu talmidim harbei, vaasu s’yog latoro.
They say three things: Be generous in justice, accumulate many students, and make a fence around Torah.
S’yog la-Toro refers to the practice of creating rules around key rules so that the key rules will not be violated. Thus, it is forbidden to walk on grass on Shabbos because doing so might push a seed into the soil, thereby planting a seed, and planting is forbidden as active/creative work on Shabbos.
So if you ask a Jew, “What is Torah?” the answer depends on many things, and in the end it may refer to a few books from the Hebrew Bible or to a veritable library, all of which contains the revelation of God as passed down successively through generations of experts and teachers known as the Sages. The Torah inked on the scrolls is the same as the Torah given by God to Moses orally (which he passed down, as Pirqei Avos demonstrates) and passed down to Jews today, now also in written form (the volumes of Talmud and Midrashim).
Now, “Torah” literally means “law” but specifically to authoritative law or the sources of Jewish law (the Written and Oral Toros). It is from Torah that Jewish law (“halakha”) is derived. And so “Torah” refers to a more abstract notion while “halakha” refers to specific examples. Thus, when explaining the origin and justification of why the straps (“retzuos”) of the tefillin have to be black, the response is “halakha l’Moshe mi-Sinai” (“the law given to Moses from Sinai”, in other words it was revealed as is without any explanation or extrapolation) rather than “Torah l’Moshe mi-Sinai”.
As the confrontation between The West and the Muslim world continues, another battle is raging on.
In The West, Muslims are free to share the message of Islam with anyone who will listen. And they get converts too. Unfortunately, this is not reciprocal: Christians are forbidden in some Muslim states and strongly discouraged in others to teach or preach Christianity to Muslims. Many Christians abide by these rules (a novel idea) because they are in the minority and, for the most part, Christians believe in obeying and following the law even if it is inconvenient.
But Christians in The West are becoming more sophisticated in developing tools with which to share the Gospel with Muslims in The West. As Christians cannot preach to Muslims in their lands, they seek to share the Gospel with those Muslims in The West. Muslims cannot outlaw preaching by Christians to Muslims in The West.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been putting a lot of time, effort, and money in developing literature in the languages of the world with which to share the Gospel. One recent effort along these lines was the complete retranslation of the Book of Mormon into Urdu. This is significant because the vast majority of Urdu-speakers are Muslims. These are efforts that portend a massive effort to share the Gospel with such peoples.
There were stories going around that Pope Benedict XVI will pray at Ground Zero, New York, for the conversion of Muslims to Christianity. I noticed that people would comment online that while this is commendable, this is a bad move as it endangers Christians, particularly Christian leaders, in Muslim lands. Someone offends Muslims and nuns, priests, and Christians are killed by mobbing hordes of Muslims.
(While this may be controversial, I would like to say that any such Christian who dies like this or for such reasons is a martyr. Christianity is built on the foundation of martyrs.)
Pope John Paul II called for a new evangelization. This was taken by most Catholics to refer to bringing lapsed Catholics back into the Church and to bring non-Catholic Christians into the Catholic Church. But increasingly, especially under Pope Benedict XVI, this is turning into promotion of efforts to evangelize non-Christian peoples.
A number of people who know about jihad by force ask why the facts about jihad, especially jihad by force, are not made clear by Muslims and scholars of Islam, why misrepresentations abound rather than the truths thereof. There are three reasons for this: strategic dissimulation, ignorance, and embarrassment. Let us look at each in reverse order. Read the rest of this entry »
Section Four: A Brief Note on Textual Sources
Much has been said about the textual sources of jihad by force (hereinafter simply “jihad”) in Islam. This is, of course, and important question or issue because like the other “revealed religions” (mainly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, although perhaps Zoroastrianism and some Hindu movements may be included), what the textual sources say determine orthodoxy and orthopraxy (correct belief and correct practice respectively). This issue in Islam will now be discussed along with brief remarks on what Jewish and Christian scriptures and textual sources say about war. Read the rest of this entry »
Section Two: Comparison with Other Religions
An issue often brought up by Muslims (and the odd non-Muslim) seeking to legitimize jihad by force (hereinafter simply “jihad”) or to deflect criticism thereof, is the issue of holy war in Judaism and Christinity. The issue of holy war and violence in the Scriptures of Jews and Christians will be dealt with in a few days. Today we will discuss war in Judaism and the Crusades. (Scriptural issues will be dealt with in a later post.)
(This is the fourth version of this post: the last three were quite long. There is much to discuss when it comes to war in Judaism and Christianity, but simply not enough space to discuss them in detail here and then compare them to jihad. But as war in Judaism and Christianity are issues that are worth our attention and scrutiny, especially what with people revising history to demonize Jews and/or Christians or otherwise inaccurately protray war in Judaism and Christinity, it is a series I am thinking about doing later. Nevertheless, I apologize if the issues here are not more fully described.) Read the rest of this entry »
Section Four: The Types of Engagement in Jihad
Most people seem to believe that Muslims divide jihad into two main types: jihad against the self (jihad bi-n-nafs: literally, “jihad against/by the self”) and jihad by force (jihad bi-s-sayf: literally, “jihad by the sword”). While this may be true for some, and especially for the more technical and academic types (whom the common Muslim knows nothing about), in the general Muslim world, there are different types of involvement of jihad but all to the same end. That is, those who actually fight jihad with sword or gun or missile or IED are at an equal level of those who support or supply their needs in doing this. That is, one need not be on the battleground to fight jihad: facilitating jihad is just as good. Examples of facilitating jihad are donating money, acquiring arms for the fighters, encouraging the fighters, promoting jihad and the causes thereof, spreading awareness of jihad, and encouraging others to support or fight in jihad. As such, some characterize this support as “jihad bi-l-a’maal” (jihad by acts), “jihad bi-l-maal” (jihad with property), and “jihad bi-n-nafs” (jihad with one’s self, meaning dedicating one’s self to fighting jihad, meaning doing the actual fighting on the battlefield). Interestingly, only the people of the last category may claim the title (or have the title applied to them) of “mujahid” or one who fights/conducts/does jihad. See how one term is used by some to refer to a spiritual activity while many others integrate it in describing types of jihad by force?
Section Three: Jihad in Popular Islam
There are three distinct trends with regard to jihad as perceived by the average Muslim: that among Shiites, that among Sufis, and that among Sunnis. Read the rest of this entry »
Section One: Definition
Literally, “jihad” means “to make an immense struggle”. As one may struggle in a number of issues for various causes, the struggle for Allah and Islam, which Islam concerns itself with, is technically known as “jihad fi sabeeli-llah” (“struggle in the path/cause of Allah”). However, by now in the greater Muslim world, and especially among the common or average Muslims, “jihad” is understood to refer to “jihad fi sabeeli-llah” without it having to be specified. Read the rest of this entry »
Hah! It’s still Monday!
So, what I thought would be two longish posts has turned to be quite longer than I expected (which is simply foolish of me as I should by now know how long-winded I can be). In a way, this may be a good thing. This way I can make many points I have made and wanted to remake as well as new points I wanted to make.
In order that my readers will spared book- or treatise-length posts, I have divided what I wrote into four parts with the first two further divided into sections. The last two are sort of appended issues. The first and second parts each have four sections. I will post a section a different day. And so:
Wednesday, February 6: Section 2, Part I
Thursday, February 7: Section 3, Part I
Friday, February 8: Section 4, Part I
Saturday, February 9: Section 1, Part II
Sunday, February 10: none
Monday, February 11: Section 2, Part II
Tuesday, February 12: Section 3, Part II
Wednesday, February 13: Section 4, Part II
Thursday, February 14: Part III
Friday, February 15: Part IV
One of the things that motivated me to post these posts was Nice Deb‘s “California Textbook Teaching PC Version Of ’Jihad’”.