Understanding Jihad: The Milestones Process

In the wake of the Chattanooga shootings and violence across the globe our President and Western leaders continue to stress that Islam is a religion of peace and that those engaged in violence are out of the Islamic mainstream. CIA Director Brennan, early in his tenure contended that that Jihad is a holy struggle to “purify” oneself and that terms such as Jihadist had no place in the discussion.

Director Brennan is correct but ignores the full context of Islamic Jurisprudence in regard to Jihad. There are four major schools of Islamic Jurisprudence; on the key aspects of Islam expert Stephen Coughlin contends that the four schools agree on 75% of core Koranic interpretation. Key agreements center on the centrality of Islam, the need for Islam to dominate all other faiths and the perfect life of the Prophet Mohammed, among many other tenants of the faith. They also agree on slavery, violence and, critically, abrogation.

Abrogation is where Western leaders go astray, missing key aspects of generally accepted interpretations of Sharia within Islam. In the West we prefer to point to Mohammed’s early days where the teachings of Islam were relatively peaceful and, to a degree, inclusive; “no compulsion in religion” being a favorite go to quote from the Koran for the many apologists. In Mohammed’s later days the tone of his revelations changed significantly from “no compulsion” to “kill the unbelievers”. This is explained in Islam as a process. Early Muslims were incapable of absorbing the full scope of Allah’s message and therefore revelations evolved over the 23 year span of Mohammed’s revelations. Abrogation vacates Mohammed’s earlier revelations in favor of the later revelations that justify the violence we see today.

Sayyid Qutb is, perhaps, the most influential modern writer on Islamic Jurisprudence forming the basis of belief and tactics for the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and the vast network of Islamist organizations. In Milestone, Qutb interprets those 23 years and defines the stages of Jihad in terms of milestones.

Brennen is correct as far as he goes. The initial stage of Jihad is one of purification; that purification, the internal Jihad, the internalizing of Islamic teaching carries with it a specific expectation within Islamic Jurisprudence that the believer engage the pathway to the second and third stages of Jihad.

The second stage is the Jihad of “word and pen”; a social, political and cultural Jihad intent on setting the conditions whereby the third, militaristic Jihad can be successful. The investigation revolving around the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas uncovered the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy document for stage two activities in America; “The process of settlement is a ‘Civilization-Jihadist Process’ with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…” . There are over two dozen Islamist organizations, most affiliated and/or creations of, the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal is to mitigate the social and cultural confidence of the target; to utilize to freedoms of Western Civilization to subvert those very freedoms. The situation in England and Northern Europe is overt evidence of the potential power of the phases inherent in stage two Jihad. The grand plan in Europe was in large measure a function of the Euro-Arab Dialogue which established what was, essentially, unlimited immigration from the Islamic world to Europe and evolved into generous public assistance for Muslims refusing to adapt to Western culture.

We, in America, have already entered stage two of the milestones process. The focus on words the government can and can’t use related to violent Jihadism, the refusal of Attorney General Holder to recognize any connection between violent Jihad and Islam, the President’s disastrous speech in Cairo and the politically correct demands of the American Left all deliver the message that our current government refuses to accept the writing on the wall. If anyone misunderstands Islam it is not those who engage in Jihadism, it is our own diplomatic and national security institutions. The insistence on representing Islam as the religion of peace is music to the ears of Jihadists as it proves the success of stage two Jihad.

In the wake of the Chattanooga shootings this week the Marine Corps answer to the problem is to tell Marine recruiters not to wear uniforms in public. This is pure stage two sensitivity, the message being that it is we that must change our behaviors so as to avoid motivating violence. This is representative of the social and cultural weakness, the lack of confidence that stage two is intended to produce.

Stage three represents the violent overthrow or submission of those who resist, well-illustrated by the horrors seen in the behavior of the Islamic State.

We must, based on the realities of Islamic Jurisprudence redefine our terms. Radical Islam is only radical from the outside looking in. 1,400 years of Islamic interpretations of the Koran and the Sunna underlies and supports everything we see today. Organizations such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take specific guidance from the overwhelming consistency of Islamic Jurisprudence and do so carefully; they’re behavior must conform to and be justified by Islam in the interest of their own credibility within Islam. Radical, by our definition is, in reality, main stream for Islam.

While the demand for reformation by truly moderate and secular Muslims is courageous and worthy of respect, very little of what they desire is supported by the dominant thinking in main stream Islam as what they seek of Mohammed’s early period has been abrogated.