Saturday, August 21, 2004

Al Qaida's Platform

I reject the insistence that al-Qaida, in launching terror attacks on America, was motivated by narrow geopolitical goals in response to specific American governmental policies. Sept. 11, and the attacks that led up to it, were jihad, a reverse crusade to shake the power of the secular/Christian West and elevate that of Islam.

Some people would tease out from al Qaida's rambling pronouncements, justifications and declarations of war a list of defined demands. This suits their wishes, because the passages they commonly pluck from Bin Laden's tapes and fatwas mention Israel, American military forces, and U.S. corporations -- favorite targets of the domestic left in any case.

So should we take everything al Qaida says at face-value? If bin Laden and his allies are true pious Muslims, would they write boldfaces lies and assert them as their true policy -- if such lies might weaken their enemy by encouraging the dissent in his ranks?

You bet. Bin Laden can be entirely consistent with his faith, and lie his butt off to disguise purposes or win advantage in a war; in fact, in many cases he'd be obliged to do so by God.

I've mentioned before the " 'Umdat al-Salik wa 'Uddat al-Nasik" ("Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper.") Here is some of what it says about lying:

"Lying is permitted in war, settling disagreements, and a man talking with his wife or she with him. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable by lying, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible and obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory.

"Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate against one so that he will forbear to do so; it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can be obtained through lying. But it is religiously more precautionary in all cases to employ words that give a misleading impression, meaning to intend by one's words something that is literally true, in respect to which one is not lying, while the outward purport of the words deceives the hearer, though even if one does not have such an intention and merely lies without intending anything else, it is not unlawful in the above circumstances."

"Giving a misleading impression means to utter an expression that ostensibly implies one meaning while intending a different meaning the expression may also have, one that contradicts the ostensive purport. It is a kind of deception. It often takes the form of the speaker intending a specific referent while the hearer understands a more general one, as when a person asks a householder, 'Is So and so here?' to which the householder, intending the space between himself and the questioner rather than the space inside the house, replies, 'He is not here.' "

"Scholars say that there is no harm in giving a misleading impression if required by an interest countenanced by Sacred Law that is more important than not misleading the person being addressed, or if there is a pressing need which could not otherwise be fulfilled except through lying." [p.745]

The goal of al-Qaida is to re-establish the caliphate across the entire Islamic world, by overthrowing secular or Western-supported regimes, either alone or with allied extremists.

Then, once the Islamic order is restored, it can continue the march to world Islamization that was derailed in the Middle Ages.