A Primer on Jihad

, Spencer Irvine, Leave a comment

In the May 27 book event at the Heritage Foundation, author Andrew McCarthy explained the purpose in writing his book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. As a former federal prosecutor after the failed 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Andrew McCarthy’s experience in dealing with (what he terms) “Islamist” terrorists shaped the viewpoint he presented in his book.

McCarthy maintained that the Islamist thinking of jihad is “a perfect reflection of a ground-up civilizational movement,” where the Islamist society is built from the person, then the community, until it ultimately becomes a Muslim nation. He believed that the “World Trade Center bombing [in 1993]…was…a declaration of war [of Islamists] against the United States.”

In the course of investigating the defendants who attempted to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993, he found that “every day [there] would be a new, fantastical, crazy plot” in their minds to destroy American interests. To illustrate the determination and thinking of the Islamist defendants, he said, “the reason they wanted to blow up the United Nations was because, as we all know, it was a tool of American influence in the world.”

Also, McCarthy alleged that “this government [under Obama] is hell-bent on not allowing us to look at the ideology that’s behind these attacks” because when one analyzes the Islamic ideology, “you will realize that Islamic doctrine cannot be reasonably divorced from Islamic terror.” America needs to “come to grips with what they [Islamists] believe, and what they plan, and what they think,” McCarthy claims. “If you asked any ten people in the United States, ‘oh, what is jihad?’ I would be shocked if one person could give you the right answer,” McCarthy claims. Some believe or characterize jihadists “as if they blew up buildings for no other reason than to blow up buildings,” McCarthy says. McCarthy places himself between two extremes; the “revisionist” and “apologist” extreme that jihad is an “internal struggle to become a better person” against the other that declares jihad “is holy war, it has always been a holy war…means combat…killing people…mass murder.” He acknowledged that both have a “kernel of truth,” but are missing the overall perspective.

Jihad, McCarthy avers, is “the divine mission to spread shariah…the Islamic law code.” Islam “aspires to much more than governing the spiritual realm” while Western religions solely govern the spiritual conduct of their followers, McCarthy points out. He went on to explain the history of the Koran, and the issues surrounding interpretation of jihad that pits Western intellectuals and Islamic reformers against strict adherents of the Koran. Due to the strict wording of the Koran, and the belief that the Koran is the “verbatim word of Allah,” there is little “wiggle room” for Islamic reformers, McCarthy observes. The first part of the Koran is where you can find many of the passages “that apologists in the West like to cite [to show] how tolerant and pacific Islam is.” However, the second part of it is where “all of the really difficult stuff for us…is located”. McCarthy emphasized the Islamic “doctrine of abrogation” where the second and more difficult part of the Koran supersedes the first part, legitimizing Islamist terrorism. It does not help, McCarthy recognized, that Western intellectualism and reason are viewed with skepticism in Islamic circles, making it a “hard sell” for Islamists. In the end, McCarthy lamented that the contents of his book would be considered “provocative,” even though “all of this information has been in plain sight to us.”

Spencer Irvine is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.