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Jihad and conscience

Reader comment on item: Arguing over "Jihad and the Professors"

Submitted by Jiri Severa (Canada), Feb 6, 2003 at 10:32

Dear Mr. Pipes,
I am a subscriber of your newsletter and had long interest in the history and traditions of Islam (dating back to my visit as a nineteen-year old to Soviet Bukhara a Samarkand). I am not a specialist; by profession I am a computer engineer, but my interest is serious and I am fairly well read.
Naturally, as a civilized, educated Westerner I was shocked by the silly, sycophantic or manipulative "Islam-is-peace" opinions which prevailed after 9/11 in the media. I was delighted to find you exist, and by all signs, keep busy debunking the "professors".
I personally have no doubts that Bernard Lewis is correct when he states that there was but one meaning of "jihad" the first four centuries of Islam, and it was that meaning which obliterated the culture of Latin North Africa and reduced the Christianity of the East to pitiful remnants. It is also eminently interesting to observe that the inward-looking jihad emerges during the crusades (with 'Bahr al-Fava'id', cca 1150-1160), when the Arabs like the Jews a thousand years before them interpret their military setbacks as stemming from the lack of sincere devotion to God. The kind of "overview" that the new meaning of jihad supplied, namely a rational assessment of one's own and the enemy's strength, led then to a considerable shift in the Islamic world-view, namely the insertion of Dar al-Sulh (territory of truce) between the black and white Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam.

Jiri Severa


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