Jihad a Duty in Islam

As a student of Islam, off and on (mainly off), for over forty years, it is my contention that Osama bin Laden (Usamah Bin-Muhammad Bin-Laden) represents A true, not THE true, understanding of Islam. Just as Christianity has many mainstream varieties, so does Islam, and Osama stands within one of those mainstreams. Also, within Islam, as within Christianity, huge numbers of people who profess to be believers have, at best, only a superficial knowledge of their religion. An American Muslim may be utterly sincere if he says that Osama's war does not in any way represent Islam or the teachings of Muhammad and the Koran.

In Islam, Jihad has multiple meanings, ranging from the individual's war with his own sinfulness, to levying a special tax on non-Muslim monotheists, such as Christians and Jews, to waging literal war in defense of Allah, his Prophet Muhammad and Islam.

The issue for Osama and for millions of Muslims is what they view as a modern version of the medieval Crusades, the non-Muslim occupation of Islam's Holy Land. The holiest site in Islam is Mecca, followed by Medina, then Jerusalem. Israel is understood to be a surrogate state of the West, propped up by billions of dollars in aid from the United States. The actions of the Israeli military against Palestinians are seen as having at least the tacit approval of the United States. (Sometimes this view is inverted, with many Muslims believing that it is Israel who controls the foreign policy of the United States.  For example, some believe that the fundamental reason why the United States invaded Iraq and overthrew its leader was to protect Israel rather than due to the national security interests of the United States.)

Furthermore, due to the huge oil resources on the Arabian Peninsula, the United States has maintained a military presence in Saudi Arabia since 1943, when President Roosevelt negotiated this. In the wake of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, that presence was radically increased, leading to the establishment of actual United States military bases within Saudi Arabia itself, the Holy Land of Islam. This is not without offence to many devout Muslims, for example, on June 25, 1996, a truck-bomb killed nineteen American servicemen at the Khobar Towers on King Abdul Aziz Air Base near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Americans, with its women in the military, "exposing their bodies" (like prostitutes) and driving motor vehicles, are seen as effeminate scum. "What real man would allow a woman to do his fighting?" they would ask.

For a significant number of Middle Eastern Muslims, these things give a legitimate basis for leaders to declare a jihad against Israel and the United States. In Islam, where there is no tradition of the separation of religious institutions and the state, religious leaders can declare such a war, with or without, the cooperation of the civil government of a particular nation, such as Saudi Arabia. Indeed, to many Arabians, the Saudi regime has forfeited its claim to be the legal government, because of its failure to enforce a theonomically strict version of Islamic law and for having allowed the United States to maintain its military presence there.

For many Muslims the only point of division has to do with the methodology used in carrying out that legitimate war, and even where there is division, many Muslims view the United States as very hypocritical in our condemnation of "terrorism" after our use of nuclear weapons against the women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Such "collateral damage" is viewed as a necessary evil of modern war. We justified it; so do they. For the mujahedeen, lacking sophisticated matériel, such as stealth bombers, seizing civilian aircraft to use as weapons of war is seen as legitimate.

For those of us who profess to follow the Lord Jesus, we should show kindness toward others, even our enemies, praying for them and blessing them. Understanding the Islamic meaning and tradition of jihad, in no way justifies racism or persecution of Muslims, but it is imperative that Western Christians understand the foe that the West faces. It is why I have pasted part of the full text of Usamah bin Muhammad bin Laden’s Declaration of War below. The whole is rather lengthy, running twenty-three pages printed out; it was once on The Washington Post’s website.

Bob Vincent



Ladenese Epistle: Declaration of War

'Expel the infidels from the Arab Peninusula'

Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places (Expel the Infidels from the Arab Peninsula)

A Message from Usama Bin Muhammad Bin Laden to his Muslim Brethren All over the World Generally and in the Arab Peninsula Specifically

Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and ask for his pardon. we take refuge in Allah from our wrongs and bad deeds. Who ever been guided by Allah will not be misled, and who ever has been misled, he will never be guided. I bear witness that there is no God except Allah-no associates with Him- and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger . . . ..

It should not be hidden from you that the people of Islam had suffered from aggression, iniquity and injustice imposed on them by the Zionist-Crusaders alliance and their collaborators; to the extent that the Muslims blood became the cheapest and their wealth as loot in the hands of the enemies. Their blood was spilled in Palestine and Iraq. The horrifying pictures of the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon are still fresh in our memory. Massacres in Tajakestan, Burma, Cashmere, Assam, Philippine, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Erithria, Chechnia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina took place, massacres that send shivers in the body and shake the conscience. All of this and the world watch and hear, and not only didn't respond to these atrocities, but also with a clear conspiracy between the USA and its' allies and under the cover of the iniquitous United Nations, the dispossessed people were even prevented from obtaining arms to defend themselves.

The people of Islam awakened and realised that they are the main target for the aggression of the Zionist-Crusaders alliance. All false claims and propaganda about "Human Rights" were hammered down and exposed by the massacres that took place against the Muslims in every part of the world.

The latest and the greatest of these aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet (ALLAH'S BLESSING AND SALUTATIONS ON HIM) is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places -the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka'ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims- by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies. (We bemoan this and can only say: "No power and power acquiring except through Allah").

Under the present circumstances, and under the banner of the blessed awakening which is sweeping the world in general and the Islamic world in particular, I meet with you today. And after a long absence, imposed on the scholars (Ulama) and callers (Da'ees) of Islam by the iniquitous crusaders movement under the leadership of the USA; who fears that they, the scholars and callers of Islam, will instigate the Ummah of Islam against its' enemies as their ancestor scholars-may Allah be pleased with them- like Ibn Taymiyyah and Al'iz Ibn Abdes-Salaam did. And therefore the Zionist-Crusader alliance resorted to killing and arresting the truthful Ulama and the working Da'ees (We are not praising or sanctifying them; Allah sanctify whom He pleased). They killed the Mujahid Sheikh Abdullah Azzaam, and they arrested the Mujahid Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen and the Mujahid Sheikh Omar Abdur Rahman (in America) . . . ..

Through its course of actions the regime has torn off its legitimacy:

(1) Suspension of the Islamic Shari'ah law and exchanging it with man made civil law. The regime entered into a bloody confrontation with the truthful Ulamah and the righteous youths (we sanctify nobody; Allah sanctify Whom He pleaseth).

(2) The inability of the regime to protect the country, and allowing the enemy of the Ummah - the American crusader forces- to occupy the land for the longest of years. The crusader forces became the main cause of our disastrous condition, particularly in the economical aspect of it due to the unjustified heavy spending on these forces. As a result of the policy imposed on the country, especially in the field of oil industry where production is restricted or expanded and prices are fixed to suit the American economy ignoring the economy of the country. Expensive deals were imposed on the country to purchase arms. People asking what is the justification for the very existence of the regime then? . . . ..

(8) Shari'a law was suspended and man made law was used instead . . . ..

As stated by the people of knowledge, it is not a secret that to use man made law instead of the Shari'a and to support the infidels against the Muslims is one of the ten "voiders" that would strip a person from his Islamic status (turn a Muslim into a Mushrik, non believer status). The All Mighty said: {and whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are the unbelievers} (Al-Ma'ida; 5:44), and {but no! by your Lord! they do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find the slightest misgiving in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission} (An-Nissa; 4:65) . . . ..

On that basis, and in compliance with God's order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims:

The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, "and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together," and "fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God."

This is in addition to the words of Almighty God: "And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? -- women and children, whose cry is: 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will help!'"

We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths, and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson . . . ..

©© 2001 The Washington Post Company