RSS feed for Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

March 23, 2003

jihad ongoing.

TheBit has continued the discussion of jihad on his blog, A Muslim Under Progress. I choose to reply because TheBit has been courteous and respectful as a brother in Islam, and I have nothing but reciprocal respect for him as a muslim. He writes:

As might have been evident, I do not claim to be an upholder of the Classical interpretation (I have a slightly different understanding). Yet, even I would not simply dismiss their interpretation or understanding with the ease with which Aziz seemed to do so. But I do not have the comfort of falling back on my sectarian affiliations and annoucing my sectarian rivals as "wrong". The first three "Sunni" Caliphs (ra) form an integral part of the major divison in Islam, and I am forced to accept their status.

That they engaged in wars of aggression, to gain politial control, is, therefore, an important aid in an understanding of the Qur'an. I did mention that we must try to ascertain the meaning of the words as understood in the cultural environment of Revelation. Evidently, based on a cursory examination of history alone, Jihaad seems to have been understood as a term implying "the utmost use of physical force".

There is an interesting reversal of causality here. My sectarian affiliation as a Shi'a is not the cause for my disagreement regarding the legitimacy of the Sunni Caliphs. I simply adhere to the comand of the Prophet SAW, who said at Ghadir-e-Kum:

man kuntu mawlahu fa `Aliyyun mawlahu

There are over 700 separate isnad (chains of transmission) that record this hadith, from Sunni sources, listed on the Ithna Ashari website,

It is because I follow the words of my Prophet SAW, that I am defined as Shi'a. By referring to my disagreement as "sectarian", TheBit has marginalized my belief in favor of a political assumption. This is my religion, not a game to me.

Therefore I recognize that as a historical fact, three men took the title of Caliph after the death of the Prophet SAW - this is not an opinion, or interpretation, it is fact.

I am NOT compelled or forced to accept their legitimacy as leaders of Islam, however. There is no rationale for assuming their actions had anything to do with Islam - in fact, if you accept the hadith above, then it is an inexorable logical conclusion that they were operating outside Islam from the beginning of their ascension.

Therefore, their wars of aggression are irrelevant to my understanding of the Qur'an, or of jihad. In fact, the Caliphs are utterly irrelevant. They are a dry well from which there will be no water to slake the thirst of theologic inquiry. If TheBit chooses to be forced to incorporate their actions into his understanding of jihad, that is his prerogative. But to assert that their actions impose any meaning on Islam itself is to put cart before horse. Islam was perfected by Allah and given to Muhamad SAW to disseminate to mankind. IT is immune to the actions of its followers. Or its hypocrites.

TheBit also says that we MUST "ascertain the meaning of the words as understood in the cultural environment of Revelation" - this is something new to me. The cultural environment of the Revelation is also irrelevant to Islam. If TheBit chooses to factor it into his understanding then that is also his prerogative, but it is certainly neither necessary nor sufficient.

Ultimately, I am not concerned with how jihad was interpreted by usurpers, or caliphs, or non-muslims. I am not interested in jihad as a cultural, literary, or political tradition. I am solely concerned with jihad as a fundamental part of my religion. There can only be Truth and Falsehood.

permalink | posted by Shi'a Pundit


Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

traffic stats -

html hit counter