Linda Sarsour’s jihad against Trump: here’s why she really is inciting violence
By Robert Spencer
Linda Sarsour said it at the convention of the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) over the July 4 weekend. She denounced the Trump administration, saying: “Why, sisters and brothers, why are we so unprepared? Why are we so afraid of this administration and the potential chaos that they will ensue on our community?” Invoking Muhammad, she said: “A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad.” She added: “I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.”
She also went on to say: “Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our communities. It is not to assimilate and to please any other people in authority…Our top priority, even higher than all those priorities, is to please Allah, and only Allah.”
Sarsour’s words were highly charged, and have understandably caused a controversy. Sarsour herself claimed that the widely-circulated clip of her calling for jihad against Trump was misleadingly edited: “Right wing tries to demonize my leadership. Editing videos is their favorite pasttime” — and she tweeted a link to her full speech. In another Tweet, she claimed the mantle of Martin Luther King: “My work is CRYSTAL CLEAR as an activist rooted in Kingian non-violence. This is y my teams r effective cause we r powerful w/o violence.” And in keeping with the tried-and-tested practice of Islamic supremacists all over the West, she claimed victim status: “Stay focused and pray for the protection of those on the front lines of the movements for justice. We are under threat.”
Meanwhile, the Leftist media, ever ready to circle the wagons and rally around one of their own, no matter how egregious the offense committed, is pulling out all the stops to defend Sarsour and heap contempt on the racist, right-wing yahoos who dare to think that her words constitute an incitement to violence against President Trump.
“Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour Spoke of ‘Jihad.’ But She Wasn’t Talking About Violence,” Time Magazine reassures us. The Wrap tells us about “3 Things Conservatives Got Very Wrong About Linda Sarsour’s Speech.” The Huffington Post affected a gloat: “Linda Sarsour Said ‘Jihad’ In A Speech And Conservatives Freaked Out.” Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed tweeted a transcript of Sarsour’s remarks, with the comment: “Hey you people scare-sharing Linda Sarsour’s speech, read this transcription, which I just made because you all are trash misquoting her.”
CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill tweeted: “The people disagreeing with @lsarsour clearly don’t understand what Jihad means.” The Huffington Post likewise said that those who were concerned about Sarsour’s words were ignorant fools:
The word “jihad” has long been misused and misunderstood by both Muslim extremists and people seeking to spread hatred against Muslims. But for the majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, “jihad” is a word that literally means “to struggle.” It’s a concept within Islam that represents a commitment to serve God, and to be good to yourself and your neighbors. It can be personal, like struggling to get through a rough workday, or overarching, like striving to seek justice for all people.
As Sarsour recounted in her speech, the Prophet Muhammad is said to have described the best form of jihad as “a word of truth in front of a tyrant, ruler or leader.”
Likewise The Wrap:
Many non-Muslims mistakenly believe the word “jihad” means “holy war,” when in fact, it means “struggle” or “striving,” according to the Islamic Supreme Council of America. “It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslims or believer, as well as working to inform people about the faith of Islam,” the Council said. “Jihad is not a violent concept. [It] is not a declaration of war against other religions.” Also, “The concept of jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence … Scholars say this misuse of jihad contradicts Islam.”
In her speech, Sarsour quoted a passage in the Quran where the Prophet Muhammad explains that the best form of jihad or struggle is “a word of truth in front of a tyrant rule or leader …” Sarsour followed with, “I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts that from us as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers…” She then cited “fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.”
Though she did make a not-so-subtle reference to President Trump and his constituents, Sarsour in no way incited violence against them. In using the word “jihad,” she merely encouraged her audience to stand up to discrimination.
Yes, in Islam jihad is a spiritual struggle. The Shafi’i legal manual (the Shafi’is are a school of Islamic jurisprudence) ‘Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), which has been certified by al-Azhar, the foremost authority in Sunni Islam, as conforming to the “practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community,” devotes one paragraph to jihad as spiritual struggle. Then it spends seven pages on jihad as warfare. It makes it quite clear that jihad is warfare against non-Muslims:
Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word ‘mujahada’, signifying warfare to establish the religion. And it is the lesser jihad. As for the greater jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said as he was returning from jihad,
“We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.”
The scriptural basis for jihad, prior to scholarly consensus is such Koranic verses as:
(1) “Fighting is prescribed for you” (Koran 2:216);
(2) “Slay them wherever you find them” (Koran 4:89);
(3) “Fight the idolators utterly” (Koran 9:36);
and such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
“I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah.”
and the hadith reported by Muslim,
“To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.’”
What’s more, if jihad is simply a word spoken against a tyrant, then why is there an entire chapter of the Qur’an entitled “Booty” or “The Spoils of War” (al-Anfal). What spoils ensue from a word of truth spoken in front of a tyrant ruler or leader? If jihad is simply a word of truth spoken in front of a tyrant, how is a Muslim supposed to make Jews and Christians “pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29)? If jihad is simply a a word of truth spoken in front of a tyrant, why have thousands upon thousands of Muslims worldwide joined violent jihad groups? Why are there any violent jihad groups at all? Why is this misunderstanding of jihad so widespread?
Now: does the centrality in Islamic law of jihad as warfare against unbelievers mean that Sarsour was inciting violence against Trump? Not directly. But Linda Sarsour isn’t stupid. Nor is she unaware of what Muslims are doing in the name of jihad around the world today. When she says, “I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad,” she herself may mean a non-violent standing up, but she has to know that when other Muslims who know the real meaning of jihad in Islam hear that, they will hear it as a call to violence. She must know that when she says that “our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our communities” and that “our top priority, even higher than all those priorities, is to please Allah, and only Allah,” that some Muslims will think of how pleased Allah is with the deaths of unbelievers, since he has guaranteed Paradise to those who “kill and are killed” for him (Qur’an 9:111).
All the damage control of the Leftist media, heaping contempt upon conservatives for being so stupid as to think that jihad involves violence, is simply more of the denial and willful ignorance regarding jihad that the political and media elites constantly force upon us. The truth they refuse to realize, and smear us as “Islamophobes” for realizing, is that Muslims worldwide who commit violence against unbelievers regard that violence as a form of jihad, and know that the Qur’an and Sunnah teach warfare against unbelievers.
Linda Sarsour no doubt knows this as well, and as such, knew just how incendiary her words really were. And if a Muslim decides to wage jihad, in its Qur’anic and traditional sense, against President Trump, she should be held legally responsible for this incitement.