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Saint Augustine
Islamist Jihad in the 21st Century - Conclusion
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Article Index
Islamist Jihad in the 21st Century
Islamist Theoreticians
Islam: A Religion of Both Peace and War
The Islamic Law of War
Understanding Jihad
Radical Islam and Holy War
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Conclusion: The Islamists Will Continue to Present a Grave Threat to Free Peoples

Terrorism depends upon the sudden and random killing of innocents to gain political advantage. Zuhur references numerous texts from the Qur’an and hadiths that expressly forbid the indiscriminate killing of innocents.128 Islamic radicals defend such wholesale tactics by asserting that “their victims are not innocent people” but collectively responsible for the affronts to Islam.129 Others argue that these earlier verses protecting innocents are “abrogated’ by subsequent “sword verses.” Further, radicals blame Muslim governments for not acquiescing to Islamist demands, leaving them no other options against a more powerful foe. The claim that such actions are, in reality, a recompense for the sufferings of Muslims, and that this is war and in war innocent people die.130

Islamists have rejected or radically reinterpreted orthodox teaching. Jihad is practiced as unrestrained warfare against both non-Muslim and apostate Muslims alike. Terror methodologies are a necessity in the confrontation of injustice. It is an “obligation that Muslims cannot ignore…assassinations, deception, kidnappings – these acts which are either justified or excused by the realities of the struggle that contemporary Muslims are commanded to undertake.”131

Zuhur points out that such doctrine, which labels a “Muslim as a non-Muslim (takfiri),” denies the legitimacy of the entire Muslim world (jahili, non-Muslim condition), and that the sole solution of jihad (holy war) “factionalizes‘ the Umma. “It distorts the classical definitions of war against apostates, unbelievers, rebels, and brigands, and misdirects the debate over the nature of the collective or individual duty to jihad.132

Islamism is, depending upon the observer, both a natural outgrowth of Muslim theology and a heretical mutation of the true faith. What is abundantly clear to non-Muslims is that Islam is not a monolith with a univocal expression. There exists today a multitude of voices and organizations within the Islamic religion, all claiming to speak for the world’s 1.7 billion Muslims.

This has been a necessarily brief summary of the Islamic and Islamist concept of war, and of the current practice of Islamist terrorism. In it, I have attempted to contrast the orthodox and the Islamist positions and their views on the practice of jihad as war. I have also sought to cite important voices in the development of the Islamist ideal. In order to respond effectively to this very serious threat, we in the West need to become much more aware that the phenomenon of global Islamist aggression will continue to consume the attention of military and political leaders, our peoples, and much of our energy and resources, for the foreseeable future.

Wylie W. Johnson has served as the Senior Pastor of The Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield, Pennsylvania, since May 1997. Ordained in 1982, he served five years as Assistant Pastor at First Baptist Church, Metuchen, New Jersey; followed by 10 years in the active Army Chaplaincy prior to coming to Springfield. His education includes a D.Min. (Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia); M.Div. (Denver Seminary); MSS (U.S. Army War College), and a B.A. (The King’s College, New York).

He retired in 2012. His last assignment was service as the Command Chaplain for the Military Intelligence Readiness Command of the U.S. Army. He is a veteran of five conflicts and a master parachutist. In his Army career, Chaplain Johnson served in Honduras, Korea, the Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Germany, Afghanistan, and Iraq, as well as numerous locations in the continental United States.


1.  In the Arabic language, kafir means “hypocritical or heretical“; a verbal variant, taqfir, is “to declare someone a hypocrite or heretic.”

2.  Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (New York: Basic Books, 2003), p. 3.

3.  Literally, “struggle”

4.  Lewis, Bernard. “The Roots of Muslim Rage” (The Atlantic, September 1990, accessed February 03, 2009) available from; internet.

5.  Friedman, Thomas L. From Beirut to Lebanon (New York: Anchor Books, NY 1989); p. 89.

6.  Muslims cite their scripture: “you are the best of all nations.” Qur’an 3:110 [also used by Bin Laden] which Muslims believe is absolutely true but incongruent with their present circumstances.

7.  Umma - all Muslim people of faith regardless of nationality.

8.  Shenk, David W. Journeys of the Muslim Nation and the Christian Church: Exploring the Mission of Two Communities (Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 2003); p.24.

9.  Kadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam (New York: AMS Press, 1979); p. 63.

10. Ibid, Shenk, p. 225.

11. Ibid, p. 49.

12. Barber, Benjamin R. “Jihad vs. McWorld” in Conflict After The Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace. updated 2nd edit. Richard K. Betts, edit. (New York: Pearson Longman, 2005); p. 623-24.

13. Garfinkle, Adam. "How We Misunderstand Terrorism." (E-Note from FPRI. 11 Sep 2008. Foreign Policy Research Institute, accessed 08 March 2009).

14. Ibid, Garfinkle.

15. Exemplified by Shi‘i Ayatollahs Abul Qasim al Khu‘I, Mirza Hosein Na‘ini, and Ali al-Sistani.

16. Ibid, Garfinkle.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon. p. 177-178.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid, p. 176-177.

21. Ibid, p. 79.

22. Ahmad, Jala Al-i & Hamid Algar Occidentosis: A Plague From the West (North Haledon, NJ, Mizan Press, 1984). The term ‘westoxification‘ originated in this book also, ‘Occidentosis.‘

23. Berman, Paul. “The philosopher of Islamic Terror” in the New York Times, March 23, 2003.

24. Ibid, Berman.

25. Hourani, Albert. A History Of The Arab Peoples (New York: MJF Books, 1991); p. 398.

26. Ibid, Berman.

27. Qutb, Sayyid. Social Justice in Islam (Oneonta, NY: Islamic Publications International, 2000); p. 261.

28. Ibid, p. 26.

29 Ibid, Berman.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid, Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, p. 19.

32. Ibid, p. 30.

33. Ibid. p. 37.

34. Qutb, Sayyid. Basic Principles of the Islamic Worldview, Islamic (North Haledon, NJ: Publications International, 2006); p. 97

35. Ibid, p. 6.

36. Ibid, Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, p. 262.

37. Ibid, p. 35.

38. Ibid, Qutb, p. 269-70.

39. Ibid, Karsh, p. 215-216.

40. Ibid, Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, p. 52.

41. Ibid, Benjamin, p. 60.

42. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 64.

43. Jihad – literally, “struggle”

44. This statement is from a Christian perspective only, Muslims regard the Qur’an to have been handed down from God in a complete and perfect form that admits no human motivations.

45. Karsh, Efraim. Islamic Imperialism: A History (New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2007); p. 5.

46. Ibid, Karsh, p. 5.

47. Ibid.

48. Ibid, Karsh, p. 23.

49. Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations? Conflict After the Cold War: Arguments on Causes of War and Peace, updated 2nd edit. Richard K. Betts, edit. (New York: Pearson Longman, 2005); p. 38-39.

50. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 52.

51. In fact, non-Islamic peoples (dihimini) were obliged to pay the jizyah (the poll tax) which was a very lucrative income for the empire.

52. Ibid, Karsh, p. 212.

53. Ibid, Huntington, p. 40.

54. Ibid, p. 40.

55. Ibid.

56. Christian Zionism, an offshoot of this movement, militantly supports the (Jewish) Zionist ideal and radically opposes any Palestinian claim to the land of Israel.

57. Ibid, Oren, p. 141.

58. Ibid, Lewis.

59. Ibid.

60. Muslim warriors whose primary motivation is to either defend or expand the Islamic faith.

61. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 3.

62. Zuhur, Sherifa D., Youssef H Aboul-Enein. Islamic Rulings on Warfare (Carlisle PA: Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, accessed Feb. 3, 2009, p. 1.); available from; internet.

63. Kadduri omits mention that the Muslim Law of Nations (Siyar) was not articulated for some 200 years after Muhammad, although it was founded upon Muhammad‘s example and the Qur'an.

64. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 16.

65. Ibid, p. 14.

66. Ibid, p. 24.

67. Ibid, p. 25.

68. Ibid, p. 26-7.

69. Ijtihad – making an independent interpretation of texts in the Quran or Sunnah.

70. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 36.

71. Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon. The Age Of Sacred Terror (New York: Random House, 2002); p. 117.

72. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 44.

73. Ibid, p. 44-5.

74. Ibid, p. 69-70.

75. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 71-72.

76. Ibid, Zuhur, p.2.

77. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 69.

78. Ibid, p. 102.

79. January 30, 2009.

80. In Islamic Just War teaching, this is the defense of Islam as a religious duty.

81. Ibid, Barber, p.623.

82. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 55-56.

83. Ibid, p. 60.

84. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 56-57.

85. Ibid, Karsh, p.66.

86. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 80.

87. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 59.

88. Ibid, p. 53-54.

89. The outstanding case of apostasy was the secession of the tribes of Arabia after the death of Muhammad. Abu Bakr, the first caliph, warned them first to return to Islam, and those who did not return were severely fought, especially by Khalid ibn al-Walid, who burned a great number of them in spite of objections raised regarding the penalty of burning. The leaders of the apostated tribes were severely punished and most of them were slain. An eminent chronicler, al-Baladhuri, reports that nobody escaped death save those who returned to Islam. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 74.

90. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 84-87.

91. Ibid, p. 64.

92. Ibid.

93. Johnson, James Turner. The Holy War Idea In Western And Islamic Traditions (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997); p. 37-39.

94. Ibid, Barber, p. 625.

95. Ibid.

96. Ibid.

97. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 59-60. [Q.IX,74].

98. Ibid, p. 94.

99. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 67.

100. Ibid, p. 67-8.

101. The Two Holy Places are Medina and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

102. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon, p. 140-141.

103. Ibid, Kadduri, p. 94.

104. Johnson, Douglas V. and John R. Martin, “Terrorism Viewed Historically,” Defeating Terrorism: Strategic Issue Analyses. John R. Martin, ed. (Strategic Studies Institute, January 2002, 1-5); p. 3.

105. Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (New York: Basic Books, 2003), p. 133.

106. The other five pillars of Islam are shahadah (profession of faith), salah (ritual prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm (fasting during Ramadan) and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

107. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon. p. 49-50.

108. Ibid, p. 48.

109. Ibid.

110. Ibid, p. 79-80.

111. al-Zawahri as cited in Kiras, James D. “Irregular Warfare: Terrorism and Insurgency” Strategy in the Contemporary World: An Introduction to Strategic Studies. Eds. John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, Colin S. Gray (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); p.164.

112. This is the title given to the first four successors to Mohammad.

113. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon, p. 48.

114. Joint Operating Environment 2008: Challenges and Implications for the Future Joint Force (United States Joint Forces Command, November 2008); p. 35.

115. Roper, Daniel S. Global Counterinsurgency: Strategic Clarity for the Long War (Carlisle PA: Parameters: US Army War College Quarterly, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3, Autumn 2008); p. 99.

116. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon, p. 120.

117. Brachman, Jarret M. & William F. McCants. "Stealing al-Qaida's Playbook." (Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. February 2006. p. 7, accessed August 03, 2009); available from'da's%20Playbook%20--%20CTC.pdf; internet.

118. Many lesser known or remembered additional attacks were accomplished in a wide variety of nations over this same period.

119. Mahnken, Thomas G. Strategic Theory and Strategy in the Contemporary World: An Introduction to Strategic Studies. Eds., John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen and Colins S. Gray (New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2007. 66-81); p. 70.

120. Ibid, Elshtain, p. 11.

121. Ibid, Benjamin & Simon, p. 29-30.

122. Ibid, Elshtain, p. 11.

123. Ibid, Zuhur, p. 13.

124. Ibid, Elshtain, p. 43.

125. Ibid, p. 43.

126. Ibid, Zuhur, p. 13.

127. Ibid, p. 13.

128. Ibid, p. 22.

129. Evans, Ernest. The Mind of a Terrorist: How Terrorists See Strategy and Morality (World Affairs, Washington, Spring 2005, Vol. 167, Issue 4, p. 175-180).

130. Ibid, Evans, p. 175-180.

131. Kelsay, John. Islam and War: A Study In Comparative Ethics (Louisville, KY: Westminster: John Knox Press, 1993); p. 106-107.

132. Ibid, Zuhur, p. 29.


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Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 18:55