Interviews with Daniel Pipes
Jihad: The Fight Over Meaning
CHRIS BURY: Joining me now, Dr. Maher Hathout is a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a civil rights organization for American Muslims. A retired cardiologist, Dr. Hathout is the author of a new book entitled "Jihad Versus Terrorism." He joins us from Los Angeles. Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank, and the author of "Militant Islam Reaches America," a book being published later this summer. He joins us from Livingston, New Jersey.
And Mr. Pipes, this young man at Harvard, is giving a speech in which he says, look, the definition of "jihad" has been, essentially, corrupted by militant Islamists, and that doesn't have much to do with moderates like me. What's wrong with him saying that at Harvard?
Mr. DANIEL PIPES (Middle East Forum): What's wrong, Chris, is that it's a fabrication. Jihad has historically meant, almost always one thing-which is expanding the territories ruled by Muslims through armed warfare. That's what it's meant. Now I'm happy to see a development occur whereby it means something more spiritual. But we have to start by acknowledging that that's the real meaning of the word, the historic meaning of the word, the traditional meaning of the word, and we can't ignore it. And this young man is ignoring it.
BURY: Dr. Hathout, one of the criticisms that is being leveled at this speech is that while it tries to install a new definition of jihad, it fails to criticize the more violent strain of that word.
Dr. MAHER HATHOUT (Muslim Public Affairs Council): Yeah, let me address a couple of basic things. I don't think that the definition of Islam is up to Daniel Pipes or to anybody else, it is up to the Muslims according to their text and according to the language of their text to put their definitions. And it is unfair that every time someone wants to broaden the definition to project the right perspective-the broad perspective, jihad, somebody jumps and says, 'Don't believe him. This is not what he means. He's lying, basically.' This is wrong. The second thing is the issue of what that person is going to say or not going to say. This is censorship in the greatest institution of intellectuality, which I think is a very degrading situation.
BURY: Doctor, let me interrupt just there because, Harvard, as I understand it, is letting this young man go ahead with his speech. So I don't see how it's censorship.
Maher Hathout of MPAC
BURY: Mr. Pipes...
Mr. PIPES: I'm sure that Dr. Hathout-I'm sure that Hathout-Dr. Hathout is an excellent cardiologist, but he knows very little about the history of Islam which is my subject. And by the way, I got my BA and....
Dr. HATHOUT: It's my subject, too. It is my subject, too.
Mr. PIPES: ...degrees from Harvard-excuse me, I didn't interrupt you. I got my BA and PhD from Harvard, so I say this with regret. But the fact is, historically speaking-I speak as a historian, jihad has meant expanding the realm of Islam through armed warfare. A cardiologist is not an authority on that subject.
Dr. HATHOUT: No, I am authority on that because I study it...
Mr. PIPES: You're a....
Dr. HATHOUT: ...and I think your definition is wrong. And your reading it wrong.
BURY: Mr. Pipes, without casting aspersions on the credentials of anybody here tonight, what about the broader point that we heard in Dave Marash's piece that this young man is interested in fostering some kind of understanding, that he wants to be able to say, 'Look, I believe in the Constitution and the Quran and you non-Muslims have to understand that there are more of us than there are of the terrorists.' What's wrong with him trying to start a dialogue like that?
Mr. PIPES: I would be delighted if he started a dialogue based in truth. But it's based on a deceit, and the deceit is the problem. He's pretending that Islam-that a jihad is not what it is. He's pretending that the attacks on Americans, notably in September, but many, many other times, are not jihad. Osama bin Laden understands what jihad is. Ayatollah Khomeini understands what jihad is. It's attacking infidels to spread the territory of Islam.
BURY: Dr. Hathout, let me bring you in here. Is it a fair point to suggest as this young university graduate-soon to be graduate-does that jihad really is about a personal, spiritual quest. After all, we have organizations with names like Islamic Jihad, that certainly mean something else. Is this view a bit naive?
Dr. HATHOUT: I will never say that jihad is only a struggle for self-purification. I say this is the peak form of jihad. This is the full-range of jihad. And if Mr. Daniel Pipe reads the definitions in the text, it talks about the measure of jihad, which is the self-struggle, it talks about other forms of jihad, like intellectual jihad using the book. It talks about financial jihad, using the wealth and the money and the resources. And it talked about confrontation of jihad, against those who fight against us to push us away from our religion or kick us out of our homeland. This, we are not apologetic to say that jihad is just a spiritual trip into self-purification. No. It is a full range of things. But once someone tries to suppose the full range, somebody else jumps in and says, 'No, no, you are lying, you are using the word in deceit,' etc. This is what we mean by jihad and we are saying it.
BURY: Mr. Pipes, so let me-let me bring you in here just a minute. Beyond the content, which we've discussed tonight, and as you mentioned you are an alumnus of Harvard, do you object to the very idea of this speech being delivered in this setting-this commencement setting?
Mr. PIPES: This is really what I'm upset about, Chris. It's not so much about what one young man is saying, it's what Harvard, this major American institution is doing. My analogy is if in 1943, a German-American had wanted to give a commencement speech about "My American Kampf," and the university had let him do it, it is absolutely abhorrent. Harvard must decide on which side it is in this war. Harvard does not allow ROTC to be present on its campus. Harvard does allow fund-raising for radical Islamic groups. Harvard does encourage this young man to give this speech, which is based on a fallacy, apologizing for jihad. I think Harvard needs to look very hard at its own soul and understand where it stands in the war on terror.
BURY: Dr. Hathout, very quickly, just a few seconds left, is jihad too loaded a topic for such a thing as a commencement address?
Dr. HATHOUT: Not at all. As a matter of fact, this is an opportunity to let people be exposed to different meanings to a broader perspective, and let someone speak out. This is his right. This is America, people. This is not a totalitarian regime. Let the person speak. If we don't like what he said, we can challenge him. But to try to...(unintelligible)...
BURY: All right Dr. Hathout, we are-we are out of time. I'm sorry. Thank you very much for joining us, and Daniel Pipes as well.
|Hathout's position on the word Jihad [169 words]||L. H. Ebrahim||May 25, 2005 16:54||22421|
|Hate gets us no where [111 words]||Melanie May||Jan 20, 2003 08:01||5863|
|Jihad distortion [265 words]||Demosthenes||Dec 5, 2002 20:19||4443|
|FIGHT FOR PEACE [44 words]||SAJID.QADRI||Sep 9, 2002 04:44||2355|
|Reflect on what you just said, sir. [142 words]||Fizza Ahmed||Apr 30, 2011 03:57||2355|
|Islam and islamic imperialism [60 words]||dhimmi no more||May 1, 2011 06:32||2355|
|re: Quranic Verses [235 words]||Ed||Sep 7, 2002 12:02||2329|
|Hey Ed You hav a nice way of misrepresenting the message of Holy Quran [303 words]||tariq||Jan 1, 2006 14:02||2329|
|Doublespeak [13 words]||Melvin A. Fechter||Jun 17, 2002 22:14||827|
|About claim of Pipes casting aspersion on credentials [77 words]||lila imas||Jun 14, 2002 05:26||768|
|Parallel from India [139 words]||Bhuvan Chaturvedi||Jun 12, 2002 02:58||694|
|Some consistency needed [150 words]||Irfan Khawaja||Jun 11, 2002 12:53||669|
|Reply to M. Hanna: "Dr Hathout's lies" [166 words]||Arthur Hutchinson||Jun 9, 2002 15:46||616|
|Jjihad in theory or jihad in practice? [46 words]||Scot||Jun 8, 2002 17:29||611|
|Spiritual Jihad [52 words]||Albert Soued||Jun 8, 2002 10:02||608|
|DrPipes is defending Israel more than the Israeli PM is [212 words]||Jeff Bercovitch||Jun 8, 2002 08:38||607|
|No to Crusade! No to Jihad! --- Yes to liberty! [220 words]||Yehudit Hirsch||Jun 8, 2002 03:10||606|
|Turkey's Jihad [104 words]||Gerald Gerjekian||Jun 8, 2002 00:13||605|
|Old World Thinking [390 words]||John Hadjisky||Jun 7, 2002 23:58||604|
|Go Tell it to the Jihadists [143 words]||Fig||Jun 7, 2002 22:45||603|
|Muslims you are not my brothers [64 words]||Muslim||Mar 31, 2007 17:13||603|
|using the wrong name of jihad. [72 words]||Abdul Jalal||Feb 25, 2009 01:28||603|
|His Master's Voice [82 words]||Abd El-Massih El Masry||Jun 7, 2002 21:04||601|
|Whose Homeland? [301 words]||Nick Wiesenfeld||Jun 7, 2002 19:55||600|
|The fight over meaning [232 words]||Jamal Khan||Jun 7, 2002 18:30||599|
|My "Crusade" [138 words]||B Kostynuik||Jun 7, 2002 11:59||594|
|Listener's Ear [103 words]||Carson Koch||Jun 7, 2002 11:43||593|
|Reply to M.Hanna: "Dr Hathout's lies" [162 words]||William J. Sturm||Jun 7, 2002 06:37||590|
|Fairy Tales [92 words]||Philip Platcow||Jun 7, 2002 00:37||587|
|Proper etiquette on "Nightline" [68 words]||Irving D. Cohen||Jun 7, 2002 00:07||586|
|From the Meaning of Jihad to its Application [66 words]||RG Fulton||Jun 6, 2002 23:33||585|
|Jihad by Moslems [84 words]||F. Shawki||Jun 6, 2002 23:08||584|
|Quranic Verses? [23 words]||C.D.||Jun 6, 2002 22:55||583|
|jihad at harvard [292 words]||robert fusfeld||Jun 6, 2002 22:23||582|
|YAY Daniel Pipes! Well said! (throwing hat up in air)!~ [269 words]||Jen T Stays||Jun 6, 2002 18:48||581|
|The earliest example of radical Islam / Jihad in America [166 words]|
w/response from Daniel Pipes
|Howard Hyman||Jun 6, 2002 17:35||578|
|The Other Side of the Coin [42 words]||D Allen||Jun 6, 2002 14:14||575|
|Why the spite? [411 words]||Amjad M. Khan||Jun 6, 2002 13:00||574|
|Jihad and the Crusades [82 words]||Harold Richman||Jun 6, 2002 12:11||572|
|I disagree with you on this one [716 words]||Garry Prior||Jun 6, 2002 11:50||570|
|All is Not Right in Cambridge [399 words]||Sharon Epson||Jun 6, 2002 11:26||569|
|Radical Chic at Harvard [119 words]||Laina Farhat-Holzman||Jun 6, 2002 11:22||568|
|Excellent Work [49 words]||Mike Saweres||Jun 6, 2002 10:25||567|
|Right on, Dr. Pipes! [27 words]||Mildred Mallek||Jun 6, 2002 10:21||566|
|What is the truth of the matter? [96 words]||Mark Tyler||Jun 6, 2002 10:01||565|
|No complaint from ACLU and Americans United For Separation of Church and State? [100 words]||Debbie Walls||Jun 6, 2002 09:48||564|
|Dr. Hathout's Lies [103 words]||M Hanna||Jun 6, 2002 09:26||563|
|Hippocratic or Hypocritical [229 words]||S. Dingfelder||Jun 6, 2002 09:20||562|
|The credentials of a cardiologist [198 words]||Dr. Eric Schnipper||Jun 6, 2002 07:35||559|
|The Poet Game [52 words]||Stanley N. Futterman||Jun 4, 2002 10:37||537|
|Let's value and spread the common good - love, peace, and tolerance [72 words]||ibn qamar||Oct 31, 2007 06:53||537|
Support Daniel Pipes' work with a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes