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One man's self-defense is another man's predilection

Reader comment on item: Jihad and the Professors

Submitted by Giovanni Platti (United States), Mar 1, 2003 at 01:19

Several commentators responding to this article have attempted to argue that the military interpretation of "jihad" applies only to "self-defense". I suppose the intent of these commentators is to assure us that this proves Islam does not justify terrorism against non-believers.

This would not be very comforting to hear, even if it were true. "Self-defense", like "beauty", is in the eye of the beholder. A Muslim predator would hardly have to exert himself to redefine the word "jihad" in such a way as to justify the commission of violent acts against innocent non-Muslims. That is how paranoid people operate. Indeed, it is probably true to say that Islamists feel genuinely threatened by Western, and especially American, civilization. The latter offers a powerful and overwhelming challenge to the cruelly repressive, authoritarian environment under which Muslim radicals think we have a religious obligation to live.

I think that those who seek to turn our heads from the blatantly aggressive meaning of the word "jihad", and its historical interpretation by Muslims as a license to violate and oppress other people, are flailing desperately to place a fig leaf over an ugly and embarrassing deformity in the Muslim soul that has been exposed by the events of September 11, 2001. The truth is that "jihad" is a truly foul word that can never be beautified by the seemingly moderate, perfumed rhetoric of the disingenuous, and perhaps cowardly Muslims who are too frightened to look at the countless skeletons in the Islamic world's closet.
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