Jihad and Jihadism

Jihad in its various forms and stages is obligatory upon Muslims. Jihadism is a product of US opportunism. Jihad is always for self-actualisation, eradication of mischief and eliminating oppression with a focus on spiritual aspect at all levels. Jihadism is a double edge sword used for self aggrandisement and expansion of the American rule through the use of lies and indiscriminate force with a narrow focus on worldly gains only.

For Muslims, it was a Jihad in Afghanistan. However, for the US, with no relation to Islam and sympathy for Muslims whatsoever, it was simply promotion of violence to weaken an arch enemy, the Soviet Union. It was pure Jihadism, a selective practice and policy without any concern for the people under occupation.

Today, Jihadism and Jihadists are mere labels that the US uses as a bogyman to criminalise resistance to its illegitimate occupations and to justify the policy of total domination through its “war on terrorism.”

The purpose of sponsoring Jihadism in Afghanistan was not to spread Islamic faith, defend Muslims or reap rewards in the hereafter. If it were Jihad based on the Islamic concept, it should have been launched and sponsored by the US simultaneously in Kashmir, Palestine and Afghanistan. Relying on Jihadism then and now is simply to extend sovereign American power.

There is no concept of Jihadism in Islam. In the strict dictionary sense, as a suffix, -ism means "action, process; practice". As a noun, “ism” means a "doctrine; theory; system of principles". In the real world the meaning of -ism is not as simple. There is a concept of oppression associated with -ism. It needs a thorough examination to understand how -ism related oppression affects oppressed people and if there is any place for it in Islam. There is a concept of power -” power-over and power-with -” associated with “ism.”

When a person or a group of people has power over another person or group, the person or group with power-over

a) can control or make the other group do something, whether that group wants to or not

b) have more privilege ¾ status, social recognition, and freedom to do what they want than the other group

c) have more resources or wealth and receive better treatment than the other group

d) have the authority to define or describe the other group.

Here comes the concept of oppression: the “ism.” The “power-over” that one group uses against another is oppression, equivalent to “ism,” as in “racism,” “sexism,” or “adultism.” Oppression, or “ism,” is a name for how the powerful use that power to control the weak ¾ hurt them, make them feel bad, or get something from them ¾ or receive better treatment and more resources than them; all for the worldly objectives.

Of course any group or nation can hurt or mistreat the other. Any people can be prejudiced about the other, making stereotypical assumptions about each other. What makes mistreatment into oppression is prejudice plus power. Prejudice is one of the products of Nationalism and Patriotism. The reason there is no place for any ism in Islam is that there is no place for prejudice in Islam.

The Qur’an describes origin of prejudice (15:33, 15:39-40, 2:34); warns of division on the basis of prejudice (3:103, 42:13, 6:159, 8:46, 21:93, 35:28, 49:10 ); forbids not to mock, judge or hurt another because you think you are better than the other (49:11, 31:18) and advises to discern people by piety, not prejudice (49:13).

Since prejudice plus power is considered equal to an “ism,” Jihadism is considered Muslims’ prejudice against non-Muslims combined with the military power-over non-Muslims. It is considered just like prejudice against young people plus power-over that makes adultism, or prejudice against people of color plus power-over that makes racism. The same negative simplicity is applied to the term Islamism which means Islam’s inherent prejudice against non-Muslims which is combined with the religious and military power-over to oppress and dominate all others.

The US apparently supported the Islamic concept of Jihad against the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan. Yet very few know that it was simply the US sponsorship of Jihadism (American prejudice against communism combined with military and economic muscle to over-power the Soviet Union) that started long before there was a need for Muslims to join Jihad.

In an interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, the former national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, made a stunning confession:

"According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet Army invaded Afghanistan, December 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention-¦ We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would." [1]

Earlier, the former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs, From the Shadows, that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahideen in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet intervention. The question is: From where did come these Mujahideen when there was no time for Jihad indeed?

Having encouraged the Soviets to invade Afghanistan -” just like luring Saddam into Kuwait -” the US armed itself with a pretext for motivating, mobilizing and arming a population for Jihadism against the occupation forces, which they rightly considered as Jihad.

An aspect of the US Jihadism was to produce -” which are now called -” Jihadists through extensive dozes of Jihad to children under the guise of education. The Washington Post’s Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway report about this process of spreading, what the US now labels as “Jihadism”:

"In the twilight of the Cold War, the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation. The "Primers", which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books…" [2]

Unlike the ongoing efforts to eliminate the Islamic concept of Jihad from school curriculum around the Muslim world, Stephens and Ottaway identify how the US governmental and educational organizations were involved in actually developing Jihad-focused textbooks. They write:

"Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtu, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID [Agency for International Development] grant to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994."

Under this Jihadism project, the images and talk of resistance to occupation were craftily intermingled with regular education:

"Children were taught to count with illustrations showing tanks, missiles and land mines, agency officials said. They acknowledged that at the time it also suited US interests to stoke hatred of foreign invaders."

An examination of a textbook produced shocking results:

"An aid-worker in the region reviewed an unrevised 100-page book and counted 43 pages containing violent images or passages."

The writers of the Washington Post story go on to provide an appalling example of the material:

"One page from the texts of that period shows a resistance fighter with a bandolier and a Kalashnikov slung from his shoulder. The soldier’s head is missing. Above the soldier is a verse from the Koran. Below is a Pashtu tribute to the mujaheddin [sic], who are described as obedient to Allah. Such men will sacrifice their wealth and life itself to impose Islamic law on the government, the text says."

The United States’ Jihadism successfully transformed Afghan children into true freedom fighters. None of the present analyst, obsessed with using the word Jihadism and Jihadists, wrote a single word to condemn the US ways to promoting violence. Many of the presently labeled “Jihadists” live on from that period to join or morally support the resistance against new occupations.

When it was Jihadism on the part of the US, almost all Muslims accepted it as the US role in Islamic Jihad. Now, that the US considers Muslims Jihad as Jihadism and terrorism, no one is ready to point out that it is the extension of the same Afghan resistance which the US is reaping at a much higher cost than its cost of cultivation.

In the Muslim world, resistance to the US occupation is as much Jihad today as it was in the 80s. The same requests for God to avenge the occupiers’ actions pour down from mosque minarets, and according to Neil MacFarquhar of the New York Times (April 24, 2004), “some women university students wear Osama bin Laden T-shirts under their enveloping robes” -” not for what the US blames him, but for his logic of calling the oppressed into action: to resist occupations. The calls to resist oppression are based in Islamic teachings, which the US sponsored Jihadism inculcated in Muslim mind for so long to its own disadvantage.

Now that the US comes to reap the whirlwind, many Americans consider attacks on US occupation forces a shocking and unsettling crime. Many thousand civilians were killed in Mujahideen attacks on Kabul and other cities where people chose not to leave their homes. The Saudi Interior Ministry then chose not to issue statements like these: “May God curse you, you vermin, you people of filth and not Jihad."

Muslims could never launch such an effective campaign for Jihad as the US did for Jihadism. Most of those who resist the Anglo-American occupations today rely on the same momentum of 1980s and the same theological underpinnings to justify their actions against occupation.

At the government levels, Muslim countries have quickly shifted from American Jihadism to American anti-Jihad mode for their own sustainability. Saudi Arabia was one of the Chief financer of Jihad in Afghanistan. Now, for the advisor to the Saudi ambassador to Britain Mujahideen are mere “jihadis.” Musharraf claims to be fighting Jihadists for the interest of Pakistan.

Pakistan has not only sealed its border but is also acting like an occupying force in its own land to subdue any assistance to the freedom fighters in Afghanistan. On the other hand, Saudi officials say they are ensuring that the border with Iraq is sealed. They have installed heat sensors to detect movement.

The US and its allies in Jihad against the Soviet Union have a troubled history with preaching Jihad in the past and facing Jihad in the present. Actually, Jihad was officially sanctioned by almost all governments around the world against the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. They thought they could rid themselves of the Red Menace, but instead their sponsorship of some basic principles of resisting injustice and oppression has now started to haunt them.

To discredit resistance in Iraq and turn it into a global threat, American analysts don’t hesitate to call it a movement for establishing Khilafah. Robert Spencer writes: “Iraq is just one battlefield of many: Muslim militants all over the world are moved today to murder and mayhem for the sake of the caliphate.” [3]

In his latest column, Spencer argues: “If he [Bush] began to use the word ‘jihad’ the way those he identifies as terrorists and evildoers do, he could in one stroke remove charges of opportunism and lack of focus from the Democrats’ arsenal. For this is in fact the war we’re in: a war against people who identify themselves as jihadis, not as terrorists.” [4]

In other words, freedom fighters’ war to end Soviet Union’s occupation in Afghanistan was Jihad and the US war against the same freedom fighters is a “war on terror-¦ a defensive action against global jihadists.” [5]

Identifying Jihadists and terrorists is further simplified in the light of Ronald Reagan’s definition of communists. Spencer believes, a Jihadist is “someone who reads the Qur’an and Sunnah” and anti-Jihadist is “someone who understands how these Islamic texts are used to recruit and motivate terrorists.” [6] Going by the same definition, the US officials were the greatest Jihadists -” immersed in Jihadism -” who used Islamic text better than anyone else to motivate and recruit what the Soviet Union considered as terrorists.

In short, Mujahideen, greeted in the White House, were the force to achieve freedom in Afghanistan. Now, a 180-degree turn shows “freedom is under attack by the warriors of jihad.”

Jihadism and Islamism are the weapons for what the US analysts are bent on proving as the US war with Islam. They proudly quote former Muslims, such as Ibn Warraq: “There are very useful analogies to be drawn between communism and Islam,” says Ibn Warraq. “Communism has been defeated, at least for the moment; Islamism has not, and unless a reformed, tolerant, liberal kind of Islam emerges soon, perhaps the final battle will be between Islam and Western democracy.”

It is encouraging that Ibn Warraq didn’t use any prefix with Islam, such as “fundamentalist,” “extremist,” or “radical” Islam. It is a straight forward war with Islam and those Muslims “who read the Qur’an and Sunnah.” This must be enough to give an idea that Jihadism was used as an ideological tool to intensify war against the Soviet Union. It is now used as a demonising label to consolidate occupation and eliminate any resistance.

In short, Jihadism have two variant meanings in the contemporary world. It is a label for the enemies of the US occupations in its imperial quest for global domination. Jihadism could suddenly change from a demonizing label to become a "holy war" sponsored by the US in case, say France occupies Saudi Arabia or Kuwait tomorrow. It would become a legal, compulsory, communal effort to redeem the territories occupied by France.

The path away from state-terrorism, conquest and enslavement lies in the US government forthrightly acknowledging the historic role of its Jihadism, followed by apologies to Jihadism’s victims, developing a base for nonviolent resolution of the global issues with justice and (the hardest part) actually ceasing to wage wars, which are no more than Jihadism through GIs and allies -” a struggle in the cause of worldly gains at the expense of innocent lives.

Unfortunately, such a process of redemption is not now under way; the US Jihadism will probably continue until the war lords in Washington are defeated by the superior wisdom of the American public. Only when the US Jihadism is defeated will ordinary Americans finally find their voice and truly begin the hard work of moderating America.


[1]. Blum, Bill (translater), "Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski", January 15-21, 1998, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/konformist/message/2429.

[2]. Stephens, Joe and David B. Ottaway, "From the USA, the ABCs of jihad", Washington Post, March 23, 2002.

[3]. Robert Spencer, “The War is Over; The Jihad Isn’t,” FrontPageMagazine.com, August 18, 2003.

[4]. Robert Spencer, “Jihad: The Real Terrorist Enemy,” FrontPageMagazine.com, February 19, 2004.

[5]. Ibid. Spencer, Feb 19, 2004.

[6]. Ibid. Spencer, Feb 19, 2004.

Author’s latest book, “The Musharraf Factor: Leading Pakistan to Inevitable Demise,” is now available.

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