“People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not”

We have been struck with a couple of comments over the past month that provided a door into the perspective on the world of some of our enemies and friends in the Islamic world.

The first example is from the enemy side, from Hani Al-Siba’i, head of the London Center for Islamic History, as reported by MEMRI, and previously mentioned here. It is a fascinating discussion of how Muslim radicals see the world, their “pure” version of Islam, and the killing of innocents, and you should read it all. In this passage, he is responding to a comment about some clerical assembly in Saudi Arabia that was engaged in splitting hairs, forbidding some killings of civilians while expressly saying “Jihad in Iraq is allowed against soldiers.” Hani wants nothing to do with half-measures:

The term “civilians” does not exist in Islamic religious law. Dr. Karmi is sitting here, and I am sitting here, and I’m familiar with religious law. There is no such term as “civilians” in the modern Western sense. People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not.

Dar al-Harb, Dar al-Islam. You either live in the house of war or the house of submission to Islam. Ibn Warraq has a brief primer on those nasty things said in the Koran and the Hadith to be permitted to be done to those who reside in the lands ruled by unbelievers. If you begin your thoughts with the understanding that the Koran is literally the word of God as passed from Gabriel to the Prophet, and that the mission of the religion is to conquer and rule the world with a very specific set of laws outlined in the book and sayings of the Prophet and the sharia legal tradition, and that the submission of the world may be accomplished by Jihad or Holy War, then you must come to the conclusion that our enemy is not deranged, but logical. If the means seem barbaric at times, who are you to question the will of God rather than submit to it? If you think that the killing of civilians is wrong, then perhaps that is because you have, consciously or unconsciously, a Judeo-Christian concept of good and evil. That concept is from a worldview totally and utterly different from that of Mr. Hani: your subjective feelings about what is good or bad are irrelevant to submission to the will of God.

The second passage is from The Mesopotamian blog, and it was quoted early this month by Roger Simon. It concerned whether it was theologically correct for the new head of the Iraqi government to than President Bush for the liberation of Iraq. Since Bush is an Infidel, would it not be contrary to the Koran for a believer to abase himself in front of a Kafir?

The occasion for this discourse is the “theological problem” raised by some of the 21st century pious against Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, the Head of the Government, The gist of this problem is this: ‘ It is not permissible for the believer to humiliate himself to the Kafir [the unbeliever in Isalm]; and the thanks that Jaafari has given to President bush is demeaning oneself to the Kafirs, as they believe ‘ ….”

You need to read the whole passage with its theological arguments for and against thanking Bush to understand the depth to which such debates are taken. We’ll give away the punchline here:

“ ….. Thus I was rejoiced and my sad heart filled with happiness when the head of our government pronounced the words of thanks and gratitude towards the noble American people and the magnificent president Bush. I do not reaveal a secret when I say that I was mesmerized in front of the TV screen during the press conference of President Bush and Dr. Jaafari, despite the fact that I knew beforehand the prepared words that Mr. Al Jaafari was to say …… that he has shown to some members of his cabinet before the trip, …….. I was afraid that our man might hesitate to pronounce what has been agreed ….. and that he might improvise something else in the last moment as he has been known to do often …….. Doubt began to creep on me and I feared that he was not going to do it. And I began to ask myself: what if Al Jaafari behaved as a pious islamist, and not as Head of Government, and did not thank those who saved our people and liberated us from the Baathists?

This question of thanking Bush and America is discussed with utter seriousness, and illustrates something very important. Religion has both a role and a reach in Islamic life that it simply does not have in the West, among both our enemies and our friends. The first part of this has to do with what Muslim kids are brought up to believe. Irshad Manji in a piece about the London bombings:

We Muslims, including moderates living here in the West, are routinely raised to believe that the Koran is the final and therefore perfect manifesto of God’s will, untouched and immutable…..I stand with those who insist that certain Koranic passages are being politically exploited. Damn right, they are. The point is, however, that they couldn’t be exploited if they didn’t exist.

Manji discusses what she calles the “superiority complex” of Islam, from the belief in the literal truth of the Koran. We wish to point out here the depth of involvement of the religion in everyday life. If the Judeo-Christian tradition has ten commandments, sharia has a million commandments regulating daily life, marriage and family structure.

For any Muslim who is paying attention, Islam is not the hour-on-Sunday deal that Christianity is for quite a few Christians. The template that we have for religion by living in Dar al-Harb is inappropriate for understanding Dar al-Islam, both that of our friends as well as our enemies.

2 Responses to ““People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not””

  1. Dean Esmay Says:

    The problem being, here, that “Dar Al-Harb” is not a term from the Koran, it’s an imputation from later Muslim scholarship.

    I have yet to find anything in the Koran at all that does not have an equally-disturbing counterpart somewhere in the Bible. And if you think of religion as strictly separate and a sort of hour-a-week sort of thing for Christians or Jews, you don’t know enough Christians or Jews. And if you think there aren’t many secularist Muslims, you don’t know anywhere near enough Muslims.

    What is required here is dialogue with those folks in the Muslim world who don’t hate us or want to kill us. There are lots of those. But we aren’t going to get off on a very good start with them if we start with a bunch of prejudicial assumptions–so please, try to be cautious.

  2. Oligonicella Says:

    ‘The problem being, here, that “Dar Al-Harb” is not a term from the Koran, it’s an imputation from later Muslim scholarship.’

    Yes, and some Christians think “God moves in mysterious ways” is from the Bible. You’re point would be what? That what are obviously a significant minority of Muslims are using supporting beliefs to justify killing and maiming?

    You will get them to drop those ‘later’ additions how?

    The article stands because such a great majority of Muslims believe as it states. Why else the dearth of outcry of horror and outrage amongst the Muslim world for the horror visited on them and others by the rabid amongst their religion?

    When I notice a majority of Muslims calling terrorists “bad Muslims” just as the majority of Christions call those from their religion who murder “bad Christians”, then I shall entertain they can be reasoned with. Mostly I remember hours of footage from the entire Muslim world laughing, singing and cheering at the destruction of the WTC.

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