Modern Islamic Jihad a Centuries-old Policy
“Too often in the aftermath of these tragedies, whether they occur in Boston or Karachi, I notice people rushing to defend the faith from judgment instead of acknowledging the victims. If a link is considered or even discovered, everyone from the Western media to Hollywood deems that person “Islamophobic” for linking Islam to terrorism.” – Ali A. Rizvi
The following is by Pakistani-Canadian writer, physician and musician Ali A. Rizvi. He offers a unique perspective linking the modern Islamic jihad to an ideology that influenced the policy of Muslim nations for centuries.
An Atheist Muslim’s Perspective on the ‘Root Causes’ of Islamist Jihadism and the Politics of Islamophobia
By Ali A. Rizvi, May 3, 2013
The ambassador answered us that [their right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
The above passage is not a reference to a declaration by al Qaeda or some Iranian fatwa. They are the words of Thomas Jefferson, then the U.S. ambassador to France, reporting to Secretary of State John Jay a conversation he’d had with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, Tripoli’s envoy to London, in 1786 — more than two and a quarter centuries ago.
That is before al Qaeda and the Taliban, before the creation of Israel or the Arab-Israeli conflict, before Khomeini, before Saudi Arabia, before drones, before most Americans even knew what jihad or Islam was, and, most importantly, well before the United States had engaged in a single military incursion overseas or even had an established foreign policy.
At the time, thousands of American and European trade ships entering the Mediterranean had been targeted by pirates from the Muslim Barbary states (modern-day North Africa). More than a million Westerners had been kidnapped, imprisoned and enslaved. Tripoli was the nexus for these operations. Jefferson’s attempts to negotiate resulted in deadlock, and he was told simply that the kidnapping and enslavement of the infidels would continue, tersely articulated by Adja in the exchange paraphrased above.
Adja’s position wasn’t a random one-off. This conflict continued for years, seminally resulting in the Treaty of Tripoli, signed into law by President John Adams in 1797. Article 11 of the document, a direct product of the United States’ first-ever overseas conflict, contained these famous words, cementing America’s fundamental commitment to secularism:
As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext, arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Yes, the establishment of secularism in America back in the 18th century was largely related to a conflict with Islamist jihadism.
So where did Abdul Rahman Adja’s bin Laden-esque words come from?
They couldn’t have been a response to American imperialism (the start of the conflict precedes the presidency of George Washington), U.S. foreign policy, globalization, AIPAC or Islamophobia. Yet his words are virtually identical to those spouted ad nauseum by jihadists today who justify their bellicosity as a reaction to these U.S.-centric factors, which were nonexistent in Adja’s time.
COMMENTS/ANALYSIS: The main point to note is that the anti-western jihad promoted by Islamists is not new nor a result of our current mid-east policies. As in past centuries, those that do not follow Islam are considered the enemies of Islam.
A secondary point is that politically correct secularism (i.e. Treaty of Tripoli, signed into law by President John Adams in 1797. Article 11) does not appease people who belong to a culture immersed in religious doctrine (i.e. sharia). If anything, they simply perceive it as a weakness.
Unfortunately, our political leaders pay little attention to the past. Most rely on a revisionist version of history that does not conflict with their idealistic view of the way things “should be. An excellent example of this, and relating to the above article, was President Obama’s remarks at a August 10, 2012 dinner regarding the description of Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an:
As I’ve noted before, Thomas Jefferson once held a sunset dinner here with an envoy from Tunisia — perhaps the first Iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago. And some of you, as you arrived tonight, may have seen our special display, courtesy of our friends at the Library of Congress — the Koran that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. And that’s a reminder, along with the generations of patriotic Muslims in America, that Islam — like so many faiths — is part of our national story.
Actually, the “reminder” is that Thomas Jefferson used the book to better understand the enemy he, and America, were fighting – Muslims along the Barbary coast.
- President Taqiyya misrepresents “Jefferson’s quran” at White House iftar dinner (atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com)
- Boston and America’s 200-Year-War with Islam (politicaloutcast.com)