The Religion & Culture Web Forum
War As Worship, Worship As War
John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature
University of Chicago
1 Ali al-Timimi, “The Muslim World: Where Is It Heading?” Part 4. Audio version of an undated speech in London. Downloaded the last time on July 17, 2006. Transcriptions from audio prepared by Michael Sells, July 17, 2006, from http://www.uponsunnah.com/tamimi.php.
Because audio- and text-files migrate frequently from site to site, all web-based bibliographical information in this essay is subject to change. As of November 4, 2006, the four audio-files for Ali al-Timimi, “The Islamic World: Where Is It Heading?” were available at: http://www.sunnahonline.com/ilm/audio/altimimi_index.htm. They were also available at http://nadeem.lightuponlight.com/indexaudios1.html, under the title “The Muslim World: Where Is It Heading?” In the spring of 2005, I downloaded the same audio-files of Timimi’s from http://www.islamicawakening.com/authors.php?authorlist=22&, but they are no longer on this site, although many other Timimi pieces were still posted. As of July 17, 2006, the audio-files of the speech were available at http://www.uponsunnah.com/lectures.php, but as of September 16, 2006, the site “uponsunna” has been offline. Audio-files of sixteen of Timimi’s addresses can be found at: http://is.aswatalislam.net/DisplayFilesP.aspx?TitleID=2081&TitleName=Ali_at-Timimi.
2 See his http://www.islam-guide.com/, specifically, http://www.islam-guide.com/frm-further-reading.htm.
3 Interpretation of the Noble Qur’an in the English Language (Riyadh: Maktabat al-Salam, 1972), translated by Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali, Professor of Islamic Faith and Teachings, Islamic University, Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia. In the discussions below, I used the pagination of the Fifteenth Revised Edition, December, 1996.
4 Shaykh Abudlaziz bin Abdullah bin Baz. Bin Baz was Grand Mufti (President of Islamic research, Ifta, Call and Propogation) in Riayad and Shaikh Umar Fullata, General Secretary of Islam University, al-Madinah al-Muwarraha. The Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Fataawa (in Arabic, al-Lajnah ad-Daa'imah lil-Buhooth al-'Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa), otherwise known as the Council of Senior Scholars.
5 That version included an appendix by former Saudi chief justice Abdullah bin Humaid extolling the virtues of armed jihad, but, although the Bin Humaid preface drew protests for its call to jihad, the Khan and Hilali text itself offers a more comprehensive and comprehensively militant version of religion than the brief comments in Bin Humaid’s treatise.The Khan and Hilali version can be found at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an website at http://www.qurancomplex.org/. Note that in the recent electronic version the interpolation of Jews and Christians has been removed from the Fatiha, but not from the many other verses in the Qur’an in which Khan and Hilali inserted it. I do not have information on the date the King Fahd center amended the Fatiha translation. The emendation likely represents an increased Saudi sensitivity to the more obvious displays of militancy in its publications, but without any commitment to revise the overall tone or substance of the Khan or Hilali text as a whole or replace it with another authorized translation.
6 Khan and Hilali reinforce their identification of Jews with those who are punished with transformation into monkeys through their interpolation-based translation of 5:60: “Shall I inform you of something worse than that, regarding the recompense from Allah: those (Jews) who incurred the Curse of Allah and His Wrath, and those whom (some) He transformed into monkeys and swines.” By fixing the meaning of what the author of the Qur’an left open and by directing the wrath passages onto Jews, the two translators create an implacable conflict identity. A case has been made for interpreting the polemic of 7:166 regarding the monkeys and pigs as referring back to the story recounted only three verses earlier, in 7:163. In that verse, God tested his people on their loyalty to the divine command to observe the Sabbath ban on work, by bringing about a situation where fish appeared in the river only on the Sabbath, a situation that led some to violate the Sabbath by catching the fish for food. Classical commentators interpret the identity of those tested as the ancient Israelites and the identity of those transformed into monkeys and pigs as those who failed that test. The Qur’anic verse 2:65 reinforces such a reading when it recalls God’s chastisement of a group that transgressed the Sabbath rule by saying to them: “Be monkeys, brought low.” Qur’anic interpreters differ over whether such statements should be read literally, as indicating the actual physical transformation of the Sabbath-breakers, or more figuratively, implying judgment.
7 In 60:13, the two translators once against emend the text to include a specific reference to Jews: “O you who believe. Take not as friends the people who have incurred the Wrath of Allah (i.e. the Jews).
9 See The Sahih Bukhari, translated by M. Muhsin Khan, available at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/.
See Volume 1, Book 12, Number 749, available at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/012.sbt.html.
“Narrated Abu Huraira: 'Allah’s Apostle said, “Say 'Amen’ when the Imam says 'Ghair-il-maghdubi 'alaihim wala-ddal-lin; not the path of those who earn Your Anger (such as Jews) nor of those who go astray (such as Christians);’ all the past sins of the person whose saying (of Amin) coincides with that of the angels, will be forgiven.”’” A similar hadith attributed to Abu Hurayra occurs in Bukhari’s chapter 60 given over to “Prophetic Commentary on the Qur’an): Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 2, available at: http://www.masmn.org/documents/Hadith/Sahih_Bukhari/060.htm. There Khan refrains from interpolating “The Jews” and “The Christians” into the words from the Fatiha. See http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/bukhari/052.sbt.html.
Narrated Abu Huraira: 'Allah’s Apostle said, “When the Imam says: 'Ghair-il-Maghdubi `Alaihim Walad-Dallin (i.e. not the path of those who earn Your Anger, nor the path of those who went astray (1.7)),’ then you must say, 'Ameen,’ for if one’s utterance of 'Ameen’ coincides with that of the angels, then his past sins will be forgiven”’” (interpolation by M. Muhsin Khan).
10 See Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Baz, “The Obligation to Hold as Enemies the Jews, the Polytheists, and Other Infidels” (wuj?bu `ad?wati al-yah?d wa l-mushrik?n wa ghayrihim min al-kuff?r), see: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/index.php?pg=mat&type=article&id=312. Although “the Christians” do not appear in the title of the epistle, they appear throughout the text along with the Jews and other infidels. One key passage reads as follows: “They [various Qur’anic verses cited by Bin Baz and others he suggested could be cited] provide a clear demonstration of the obligation to despite the infidels—Christians, Jews, and other Polytheists—and the obligation to hold them as enemies until they believe in Allah only, and the [these verses] also indicate the prohibition against friendship (mawadda) toward them or holding them as patrons. This entails despising them and being wary of their tricks (mak?’idim). This is solely because of their disbelief in Allah and their enmity toward his religion and their enmity toward his intimates and the deceit they wage against Islam and its people.
A key technique of Bin Baz, Khan, and Halili is to read the Arabic term “min” in a particular fashion. The phrase “min al-yah?d was al-nas?ra” (from/of the Jews and Christians) can mean “those from among the Jews or Christians” or it can mean “all of the Jews and Christians,” depending how it is interpreted. In condemnation of disbelief, the Qur’anic verses can be read as condemning those among the Jews and Christians who are disbelievers and other infidels, or condemning the Jews, Christians, and other disbelievers. Thus “the Jews” and “the Christians” can be viewed in Qur’anic language as open to interior distinction (some believing in Allah or the one God, others not, some hostile to Islam and its prophet, others not) or they constitute homogenous qualities. Thus, how an interpreter interprets the partitive “min” can make the difference in which of the two possibilities is chosen. Throughout his epistle, Bin Baz makes it clear he reads the “min” as meaning that Jews and Christians, by nature, as categories, are among the groups of disbelievers and that the duty to despite them, be wary of their deceits, and hold them as enemies until they believe in Allah alone, means that as long as they remain Jews and Christians, it is the obligation of every Muslim to consider them enemies.
For the later fatwa arguing that one kind of peace (“sulh”) with Jews and infidels does not require holding them in friendship (mawadda) or taking them as awliya’ (patrons in a patron-client relationship), see Abdullah ibn Baz, “Peace with Jews or Other Infidels does not entail taking them as Friends or holding them as Patrons,” (al-sulh ma`a l-yah?di aw ghayrihim min al-kuff?r l? yalzimu minhu mawaddatuhum wa l? mawl?tuhum). Date 8/19/1415 Hijri (1994) [1/21/1995 AD]. See: http://www.binbaz.org.sa/index.php?pg=mat&type=fatawa&id=1948.
14 Lest there be any doubts about the message of the Khan and Hilali version of the Qur’an, the two translators offer the following interpolation-based version of the divine command for the Muslims to prepare their war-horses for the conflict: And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy (8:60; Khan and Hilali, 235, available at: http://www.qurancomplex.org/).
15 Book 041, Number 6985: translation of Siddiqi, available at: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/041.smt.html. cf. the translation from the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an website at: http://www.qurancomplex.org/.
16 Editor’s note: the essay’s argument will continue in subsequent chapters of the book, currently in progress. Part I will examine religious militancy and conflict identity through the writings and speeches of major figures. Part II will focus on the geopolitical role of American power in the world and the religious militancies that have formed around that power. In so doing, the author does not intend to take a position on metaphysical issues, such as whether any religion or religions in general are peaceful or violent, the correct reading of any particular tradition, or whether material conflicts give rise to religious militancies or vice-versa.
N.B.: Arabic script in the notes has been removed to facilitate web display.