July 24, 2007 – “Jihad in the way of Allah, for the cause of Allah, can be pursued either with your financial resources or your bodily strength when you go to fight the enemy in the battlefield. So jihad, the highest form, is fighting in the cause of Allah.”
These words did not emanate from a Middle Eastern mosque. They aired on a “multi-faith” Canadian TV channel last week. The speaker was Israr Ahmad, who operates a bookstore and religious seminary in Lahore, Pakistan. Ahmad is also the leader of Tanzeem-e Islami, a group that wants to transform Pakistan into a fundamentalist Islamic state and to make it a base for Islam’s eventual global domination.
After a listener complained about the broadcast, reporting that it stated Muslims have the obligation to wage jihad until Islam dominates the world, station head Mark Prasuhn offered this lame defense: “Definitely, the viewer is correct. [Mr. Ahmad] does make the point about, you either contribute financially or through your body, and he uses the word fight. But none of this, as far as I could see, is in any way correlated or referenced to the present day. It is strictly a historical context and reading of the Koran by a Koranic scholar.”
Prasuhn’s defense of his station’s broadcast is wrong for two reasons.
First, it is the disingenuous defense that Muslim apologists often level against critics of Islam: that they take things out of context, while Islam’s pronouncements about Jews, Christians, and jihad are tied to specific historical situations. The problem with this defense is that even today, in the world’s most prominent and respected mosques, these same teachings are wrenched from their context and applied to the present. Today’s Jews are called “apes and pigs,” today’s Christians are “idol worshippers,” and today is the day of jihad. This is only natural, since Islam considers the Qur’an God’s eternal word not limited by time or place.
Second, a familiarity with Mr. Ahmad’s own writings makes his intentions clear. He predicts the “global domination of Islam,” calls Jews “parasites,” claims the Holocaust is their “divine punishment,” and looks toward the “total extermination” of the Jewish people. He writes in his book Lessons from History that Pakistan will spearhead Islam’s revival because only Pakistan “has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony.” He predicts that Islamic rule will emerge in four stages: the Ultimate World War in the Middle East, the appearance of the Anti-Christ, the extermination of the Jews, and the “domination of Islam over the entire globe.”
So it is safe to conclude that in his broadcast Ahmad was not referring to ancient history.
Such expressions of religious hatred are becoming increasingly common, even in the West. Those who preach it do not predict the domination of “Islamism,” an unfortunate euphemism whose purpose is to deny an ugly truth. They are speaking of Islam. We may call it radical Islam, in the hope that other forms of Islam exist and will begin to assert more influence. But there can be no doubt that it is Islam.
My preferred term for “Islamism” is “radical Islam.” My preferred term for “Islamist” is “Islamic extremist.” These terms respect the Muslim authorities who so interpret their religion. They, not non-Muslims, have the right to tell us what Islam is. As Melanie Phillips stated,