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U.S. Islam, Jihad, and our Ignorance


“Ignorance kills. In war, ignorance brings defeat, especially for those who are sworn to support and defend us,” writes Stephen Coughlin in his latest book Catastrophic Failure: Blindfolding America in the Face of Jihad. Coughlin continues, “While ignorance is not a crime for the average person, it is for professionals concerning subject matter that is the object of their professions. Why shouldn’t this hold true for national security professionals? For them, one requirement is that they know the enemy by undertaking real threat identification of entities that constitute actual threats to the Constitution and people of the United States.”

The refusal to account for the doctrinal elements of Islam in our national security analyses constitutes the professional malpractice that Coughlin was alluding to as our threat doctrine has been reduced to strategic incomprehension and incoherence. In wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris that took the lives of 130 and injured 350 others, Coughlin ominously warned back in April that this strategic incoherence in the War on Terror “will increasingly be measured by news stories that reveal senior leaders’ inability to answer basic questions about the nature of the enemy and his environment. It will also manifest itself in official responses to terrorist attacks that become progressively less reality-based.” Yet, as Americans, Parisians, and virtually every citizen living within Western society grows more outraged by yet another failure of intelligence in stopping the latest jihadist attack, “those professionally and constitutionally tasked with keeping them safe continue to lack awareness, understanding, and even professional curiosity about the doctrines that drive the enemy to action,” notes Coughlin.

For our enemies, the implementation of Islamic law known as sharia is both the objective and the basis in which they routinely states their justification for attack. Our enemy openly declares that they are engaged in a global jihad as Islamic law serves as their doctrinal driver to commit murder in order to establish an “Islamic state”, or Caliphate, governed by Islamic law.  Osama bin Laden stated the following in 2002:

Muslims, and especially the learned among them, should spread Shari’a law to the world — that and nothing else. Not laws under the “umbrella of justice, morality, and rights” as understood by the masses. No, the Shari’a of Islam is the foundation. … In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the lands of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their system of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts Shari’a from being publicly voiced among the people, as was the case in the dawn of Islam. … They say that our Shari’a does not impose our particular beliefs upon others; this is a false assertion. For it is, in fact, part of our religion to impose our particular beliefs upon others. … Thus whoever refuses the principle of terror[ism] against the enemy also refuses the commandment of Allah the Exalted, the Most High, and His Shari’a.

“Jihad in the cause of Allah” is what the enemy claims it is doing, whether it be the now deceased leader of al-Qaeda or the current leader ofISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. To the exclusion of all other reasons, including “underlying causes” such as economic deprivation, “climate change”, or poverty, the root cause always traces back to Islam itself and the enemy doesn’t just make this claim. What the jihadis say they will do tracks exactly with what they do.

The concepts of jihad given expression by so called “extremists” can be found in the body of Islamic law as defined by recognized authorities and authoritative sources as the legal description has remained consistent across the 1400 year span that incorporates today’s recognized authorities. Defined as “warfare against non-muslims to establish the religion,” the rules of Islamic law pertaining to jihad have remained consistent regardless of whether it was defined by an eighth century Arab, a ninth century Uzebki, a 12th century Spaniard, a 14th century North African, or even a 20th century Arab, Pakistani, Indian, Malaysian or American. “All conformed to the idea that jihad does not end until the world has been made the dar al-Islam,” notes Coughlin, adding “because there is agreement among the scholars on the status of jihad, it belongs to the fixed inner sphere of Islamic law that can never be changed.

“Yet, the requirement of jihad neither begins nor ends with the kinetic aspects of warfare. Coughlin notes that Islamic law divides the world into two states, dar al-Islam (the house of Islam and peace) and dar al-harb (the house of War, which is the world of the infidel and the region of perpetual warfare) with jihad being an unabrogable obligation for Muslims until the dar al-harb is eliminated and the people of the book ‘pay the jizya (tax) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (Qur’an 9: 29).” Anyone who comes from the dar al-harb has the status under Islamic law of harbi (enemy). As a country not governed by Islamic law, the United States resides in the dar al-harb, therefore we Americans are harbi.

To elaborate on this concept, Coughlin cites Majid Khadduri, a professor at John Hopkins University who wrote War and Peace in the Law of Islam(1955) and published his translation of the classic 8th-century treatise Shaybani’s Siyar (1966). The Siyar is among the oldest testaments on international relations and the law of war in Islamic law. Khadduri in War and Peace in the Law of Islam writes:

It follows that the existence of a dar al-Harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; that the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-Harb is reduced to non-existence; and that any community accepting certain disabilities must submit to Islamic rule and reside in the dar al-Islam or be bound as clients to the Muslim community. The universality of Islam, in its all-embracing creed, is imposed on the believers as a continuous process of warfare, psychological and political if not strictly military.

It’s imperative to understand this concept for even when a fighting jihad is not underway, a “continuous process of warfare” is waged at the psychological and political levels. Khadduri states this as a matter of doctrine— because the “dar al-harb is ultimately outlawed under the Islamic jural order; … the dar al-Islam is permanently under jihad obligation until the dar al-harb is reduced to non-existence.” It is from this context that those who believe, as our current adminstration repeatedly reminds us, that we are “not at war with Islam” can be refuted as Islam has and will continue to remain at war with us as a continuous process of psychological, political, and kinetic warfare.

Through this concept of Islamic warfare, a substantial effort is placed on the “preparation stage”, the object of which is to induce a collapse of faith in the cultural, political, and religious institutions underpinning the target. A very clear example of this doctrine is Pakistani Brigadier General S.K. Malik’sThe Quranic Concept of War. As Coughlin explains, “In the Quranic Concept of War, Malik emphasized the importance of laying the groundwork for successful military operations. He explained this preparatory stage as a ‘dislocation of faith’ in the target nation’s sense of security and in the capability of its leaders to defend its territory. The inability of the target


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