By Reza Shah-Kazemi
20 August 2015
The Greater Jihad
While the Emir fought French colonialism militarily, in the following century, another great Sufi master in Algeria, Shaykh A^mad al-¢AlawÏ, chose to resist with a peaceful strategy, but one which pertained no less to jihad, in the principal sense of the term. One has to remember that the literal meaning of the word “jihad” is effort or struggle, and that the greater jihad was defined by the Prophet œ as the jih¥d an-nafs (the war against the soul). The priority thus accorded to inward, spiritual effort over all outward endeavours must never be lost sight of in any discussion of jihad. Physical fighting is the “lesser” jihad and only has meaning in the context of that unremitting combat against inner vices, the devil within, that has been called the greater jihad.
One contemporary Sufi master vividly contrasts the kind of inner warfare that characterizes the true “warriors of the spirit” from the mass of ordinary believers. He does so in connection with the Qur’anic distinction, within the category of those who are saved in the Hereafter, between the companions of the right (a|^¥b al-yamÏn) and the foremost (as-s¥biq‰n):57
Every Muslim is at war with the devil. As regards those of the right, however, this warfare is desultory and intermittent, with many armistices and many compromises. Moreover the devil is aware that as fallen men they are already to a certain extent within his grasp, and having by definition no faith in the Divine Mercy, he cannot foresee that they will escape from his clutches in the life to come. But as regards the foremost, he feels them actually throwing off his domination in the present, and they even carry the war into his territory. The result is a terrible retaliation.…58
The individual’s moral and spiritual effort in this inner struggle is a necessary but not sufficient condition for victory; only by means of heaven-sent weapons can the war be won: sacred rites, meditations, incantations, invocations—all of which are summed up in the term “remembrance of God.” In this light, the strategy of the Shaykh al-¢AlawÏ can be better appreciated. It was to put first things first, concentrating on the “one thing needful” and leaving the rest in God’s hands. It might be seen, extrinsically, as an application, on the plane of society, of the following esoteric principle, enunciated by one of his spiritual forbears, Mulay ¢AlÏ al-Jam¥l: “The true way to hurt the enemy is to be occupied with the love of the Friend; on the other hand, if you engage in war with the enemy, he will have obtained what he wanted from you, and at the same time you will have lost the opportunity of loving the Friend.”59
The Shaykh al-¢AlawÏ concentrated on this love of the Friend, and of all those values connected to this imperative of remembrance, doing so to the exclusion of other, more overt forms of resistance, military and political, against the French. The Shaykh’s spiritual radiance extended not just to a few disciples but, through his many muqaddams (spiritual representatives), to hundreds of thousands of Muslims whose piety was deepened in ways that are immeasurable.60 The Shaykh was not directly concerned with political means of liberating his land from the yoke of French rule, for this was but a secondary aspect of the situation: the underlying aim of the French “mission civilisatrice” in Algeria was to forge the Algerian personality in the image of French culture;61 so, in the measure that one perceives that the real danger of colonialism was cultural and psychological rather than just territorial and political, the spiritual indomitability of the Shaykh and his many followers assumes the dimensions of a signal victory. The French could make no inroads into a mentality that remained inextricably rooted in the spiritual tradition of Islam.
Lest this approach be regarded as a prescription for unconditional quietism, one should note that the great warrior, the Emir himself, would have had no difficulty whatsoever in asserting its validity: for even while outwardly engaging with the enemy on the battlefield, he was never for a moment distracted from his remembrance of the “Friend.” It was without bitterness and rage that he fought; and this explains the absence of any resentment towards the French when he was defeated by them, submitting to the manifest will of God with the same contemplative resignation with which he went into battle with them in the first place. If one suspects this account is romanticizing or that it overstates the Emir’s capacity to deal with the exigencies of a brutal war whilst simultaneously plumbing the depths of contemplative experience, the following account is useful; it is written by a Frenchman, Léon Roche, who entered the inner circle of the Emir’s entourage by pretending to have converted to Islam. During the siege of ¢Ayn M¥dÏ in 1838, Roche was traumatized by the fighting and killing, and he sought out the Emir; entering his tent, he pleaded with the Emir to help him. He later wrote about what happened:
He calmed me and had me drink an infusion of schiehh (a kind of absinthe common in the desert). He supported my head, which I could no longer hold up, on one of his knees. He was squatting in the Arab fashion. I was stretched out at his side. He placed his hands on my head, from which he had removed the haik and the chechias, and under this gentle touch I soon fell asleep. I awoke well into the night. I opened my eyes and felt revived. The smoky wick of an Arab lamp barely lit the vast tent of the amir. He was standing three steps away from me. He thought I was asleep. His two arms were raised to the height of his head, fully displaying his milky white bernous and haik which fell in superb folds. His beautiful blue eyes, lined with black lashes, were raised. His lips, slightly open, seemed to be still reciting a prayer but nevertheless were motionless. He had come to an ecstatic state. His aspirations towards heaven were such that he seemed no longer to touch the earth. I had on occasion been granted the honour of sleeping in Abd al-Kader’s tent and I had seen him in prayer and been struck by his mystical transports, but on this night he represented for me the most striking image of faith. Thus must the great saints of Christianity have prayed. 62
From this account, one sees that the following “official” description of the Emir, given as the conclusion to a pamphlet defining army regulations in 1839, was not simply pious propaganda:
Il Hadj Abdel Kader cares not for this world, and withdraws from it as much as his avocations permit.… He rises in the middle of the night to recommend his own soul and the souls of his followers to God. His chief pleasure is in praying to God with fasting, that his sins may be forgiven.… When he administers justice, he hears complaints with the greatest patience.… When he preaches, his words bring tears to all eyes, and melt the hardest hearts.63
This remarkable combination of roles—warrior and saint, preacher and judge—recalls perhaps the greatest model of all Muslim Mujahideen, ¢AlÏ ibn AbÏ >¥lib, cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Mu^ammad œ. This paragon of wisdom and virtue stands forth as the most compelling holy warrior in the Islamic tradition. As Frithjof Schuon puts it, “Ali appears above all as the ‘Solar Hero,’ he is the ‘Lion’ of God; he personifies the combination of physical heroism on the field of battle with a sanctity wholly detached from the things of the world; he is the personification of the wisdom, both impassive and combative, which the Bhagavad-Gita teaches.”64
One of the great lessons of principled warfare, of “fighting in the path of God,” imparted by ¢AlÏ was immortalized by Rumi in his poetic rendering of the famous incident in which ¢AlÏ sheathed his sword instead of finishing off his defeated enemy, who had spat at him in a last gesture of defiance. Although the immediate spiritual significance of the action is clearly ¢AlÏ’s refusal to kill on the basis of personal anger—the warrior must be detached from self, and fight wholly for God—it is also given a deeper metaphysical meaning by Rumi. In his MathnawÏ, Rumi turns the incident into a sublime commentary on the Qur’anic verse, “Ye slew them not, but God slew them. And thou (Muhammad) didst not throw when thou threwest, but God threw.”65 The last part of the verse refers to the throwing by the Prophet œ of a handful of dust in the direction of the enemy before a battle. But the verse as a whole alludes to the reality that the true, ontological agent of all actions is God Himself; man’s actions are good only if he is conscious of this, and insofar as he is effaced in this consciousness. Rumi puts the following words into the mouth of ¢AlÏ, who replies to the question of the baffled, defeated warrior on the ground, “Why did you not kill me?”:
He said, “I am wielding the sword for God’s sake, I am the servant of God, I am not under the command of the body.
I am the Lion of God; I am not the lion of my passion: my deed bears witness to my religion.
In war I am (manifesting the truth of) thou didst not throw when thou threwest: I am (but) as the sword, and the wielder is the (Divine) Sun.
I have removed the baggage of self out of the way; I have deemed (what is) other than God to be non-existence.
I am a shadow, the Sun is my lord; I am the chamberlain, I am not the curtain (which prevents approach) to Him.
I am filled with the pearls of union, like a (jewelled) sword: in battle I make (men) living, not slain.66
Blood does not cover the sheen of my sword: how should the wind sweep away my clouds?
I am not a straw, I am a mountain of forbearance and patience and justice: how should the fierce wind carry off the mountain?”67
The true warrior of Islam smites the neck of his own anger with the sword of forbearance;68 the false warrior strikes at the neck of his enemy with the sword of his own unbridled ego. For the first, the spirit of Islam determines jihad; for the second, bitter anger, masquerading as jihad, determines Islam. The contrast between the two could hardly be clearer.
Let us also note in connection with the irresistible example of ¢AlÏ’s combination of heroism and sanctity, the crucial connection he establishes between victory in the inner war against the enemy within, on the one hand, and the principle of compassion, on the other. This emerges from the metaphor given by ¢AlÏ for the battle that is waged in the soul, and for the soul: the intellect, he says, is the leader of the forces of ar-Ra^m¥n (the Compassionate); al-haw¥ (whim, caprice, desire) commands the forces of ash-shay~¥n (the devil); the soul itself is between them, undergoing the attraction of both (mutaj¥dhiba baynahum¥). The soul “enters into the domain of whichever of the two will triumph.”69
The soul’s fundamental energy is not to be destroyed but converted and redirected, away from the transient objects of individualistic desire, and away from “ashShay~¥n,” (Satan) towards the one, true object, that expressed by “ar-Ra^m¥n.” It is compassion and mercy that prevail against the enemy, at whatever level, and this compassion is perceived by the intellect in its normative state; it is when the intellect is clouded by whim and caprice that this compassion is replaced by passion, bitterness, and rage. The enemy is thus fought on its own debased terms instead of on the higher ground of principle: instead of remembering the “Friend,” one gives the enemy the satisfaction of victory through the very means employed in the battle. One is no longer fighting for God because one is no longer fighting in God.
Finally, let us note the following sayings of ¢AlÏ that help to underline the priority which must be accorded to the spiritual struggle over the outward material one:
Struggling against the soul through knowledge—such is the mark of the intellect.
The strongest people are those who are strongest against their own souls.
Truly, one who fights his own soul, in obedience to God and desisting from sinning against Him, has the rank of the righteous martyr in God’s eyes.
The ultimate battle is that of a man against his own soul.
He who knows his soul fights it.
No jihad is more excellent than the jihad of the soul.70
The episodes recounted here as illustrations of authentic jihad should be seen not as representing some unattainably sublime ideal but as expressive of the sacred norm in the Islamic tradition of warfare; this norm may not always have been applied in practice—one can always find deviations and transgressions—but it was continuously upheld in principle, and, more often than not, gave rise to the kind of chivalry, heroism, and nobility of which we have offered a few of the more striking and famous examples here. The sacred norm of chivalric warfare in Islam stood out clearly for all to see, buttressed by the values and institutions of traditional Muslim society. It can still be discerned today, for those who look hard enough, through the hazy clouds of passion and ideology.
It is far from coincidental that both the Emir and Imam ShamÏl—not to mention other noble warriors who resisted the imperialist aggression of the West, such as ¢Umar Mukht¥r in Libya, the MahdÏ in Sudan, ¢Uthm¥n dan Fodio in Nigeria—were affiliated to Sufism. No one need claim that Sufism encompasses Islamic spirituality in an exclusive manner; but no one can deny that the spiritual values of Islam have been traditionally cultivated and brought to fruition most effectively and most beautifully by the Sufis. And it is these spiritual values that infuse ethical norms—in whatever domain—with vivifying grace, the grace without which the acts of heroism and nobility surveyed here are scarcely conceivable. Sufism did not invent the spiritual values of Islam; it merely sought to give life to them, from generation to generation. An important definition ofTasawwuf is quoted by ¢AlÏ al-HujwÏrÏ (d.456/1063) in his Kashf al-Mahjoob (Disclosure of the Veiled), one of the most important early manuals of classical Sufism: “Today, Sufism is a name without a reality; formerly it was a reality without a name.”71 In other words, the values proper to Sufism are deemed to have been present at the time of the Prophet œ and his companions, where their reality was lived rather than named. After giving us this definition, al-HujwÏrÏ adds that those who deny Sufism are in fact denying the “whole sacred law of the Apostle and his praised qualities.”72
Now, it might seem surprising to assert that a denial of Sufism is tantamount to a denial of the whole sacred law; but the stress here should be on the word “whole.” For, if Islam is reduced to merely a mechanical observation of outward rules, then it is not a religion in the full sense; or, it is a religion without inner life: hence we find the great alGhaz¥lÏ naming his magnum opus Revival of the sciences of religion; and, it is clear from his writings that the spiritual values proper to Sufism provide this inner life of religion.
It is also the Sufis, traditionally, who have most deeply assimilated the universality proper to the Qur’anic message. It is no surprise, then, that those most steeped in Sufism were the ones most sensitive to the sanctity of human life, to the innate holiness of the human being, whatever his or her religion; nor is it a surprise that those most hostile to Sufism are those who demonstrate the most appalling disregard for the inviolability of human life. It is becoming increasingly obvious to intelligent observers of the Muslim world that those most inclined to violence are members of deviant takfÏrÏ73 offshoots of various radical movements that are not only purely “ideological” but also most hostile to Sufism and to many of the values held most sacred within the spiritual tradition of Islam.
Now, such vehement opposition to the spiritual values of the tradition cannot but entail a desacralisation of religion at its core; and this, inevitably, goes hand in hand with a rejection of the sacredness of other traditions. The political vilification of the religious “other” is all the more easily accomplished in a climate where the integrity of the sacred within one’s own tradition has already been undermined. From attacking the sacred within oneself, it is but a short step to destroying the religious other. One who has become insensitive to the sacred within one’s own tradition is unlikely, to put it mildly, to be respectful of the religious other. Sufis, such as those we have presented here, on the contrary, are keenly aware not just of the intrinsic holiness of the religious other but also of the sacred manifestations within the religion of the other. The Emir, upon being confronted by the Church of Madeleine, uttered these words: “When I first began my struggle with the French I thought they were a people without religion.… Such churches as these would soon convince me of my error.”74
What we are witnessing today is the result of a long process of desacralisation that has been working itself out within the body politic of the Muslim world: self-righteousness masquerading as virtue, sanctimoniousness replacing sanctity, sacrilege taking the place of religion—such is the spectacle that unfolds as Islam is being reduced from a way of salvation to the pretext for a this-worldly, political ideology with a religious façade. This reductionism is most apparent in that tiny minority of political extremists who claim to represent the Muslim umma (community), but who manifest only the most violent consequences of the spiritual decline within the Ummah. However, it should be stressed that the reason why the extremists act in the name of the religion is that the majority of Muslims are still “religious,” to whatever degree. In other words, the extremists’ recourse to religious vocabulary in the effort to legitimize jihadist ideology is itself a testimony to the continuing salience of religion in the Muslim world.
The body politic of the Muslim world has indeed been infected by a poison which is now running riot within it; but it is also receiving, from without, violent assaults which are further weakening the body in its effort to eliminate the poison. What Muslims need to do is to diagnose the poison and show that the tendency to resort to terrorism is a poison afflicting Islam; it is not a product of the essence of Islam. To make such a diagnosis is part of the battle against terrorism—indeed; the real “war on terror” is being fought on this field, between Muslims themselves. The greatest warriors in this battle are those who fight intellectually to reclaim Islam, to revive its deepest and most noble ideals, in whose light the extent of the deviation currently being paraded as “Islamic” can be clearly seen. But the efforts of those Muslims struggling intellectually for authentic Islam, and doing so in God, are certainly not helped by the demonization of Islam in the West nor by the policies that exacerbate, even if inadvertently, that demonization process, and thus further alienate moderate Muslims all over the globe. Such policies only make the poison more virulent and further weaken the antibodies.
For example, Khaled Abou El-Fadl—one of the most effective and scholarly voices in America calling for tolerance within Islam, and rejecting all forms of violence, doing so on the basis of the juristic tradition itself—has been labelled a traitor by many unthinking Muslims. They say that at a time when Muslims are being slaughtered all over the world (Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, Xinjiang, Iraq, etc.), to speak of the need for Muslims to be tolerant is not only a bad joke, it is turning a blind eye to the intolerance of the West, and thus acquiescing in the tyranny of the West. To this, Abou El-Fadl replies bravely that tolerance is at the heart of the Islamic ethical tradition and that “If the Muslims’ response … is to become alienated from their religious morality, then Muslims have lost something that is far more important than the political struggle—they have lost their moral grounding.”75
Those who have indeed lost their moral grounding, and who consequently resort to violence in the name of Islam, can only do so on the prior basis of having already reduced the sacred essence of the religion to its outer forms. Such a reduction from the essence to the form—paradoxically but inevitably—impoverishes all forms; for, deprived of the vivifying sap of their sacred roots, forms wither away—or else collapse in on themselves in violent self-destruction: enter the suicide bomber.
The Emir bewailed the paucity of “champions of truth” in his time; in our own time, we are confronted with an even more grotesque spectacle: the champions of authentic jihad being blown to pieces by suicide-bombers claiming to be martyrs for the faith. One of the truly great Mujahideen in the war against the Soviet invaders in Afghanistan, Ahmed Shah Massoud, fell victim to a treacherous attack by two fellow Muslims, in what was evidently the first stage of the operation that destroyed the World Trade Centre. It was a strategic imperative for the planners of the operation to rid the land of its most charismatic leader: a hero who could credibly be used by the West as a figurehead for the revenge attack on Afghanistan that was provoked, anticipated, and hoped for, by the terrorists. But, politics aside, the reason why Massoud was so popular was precisely his fidelity to the values of noble warfare in Islam; and it was this very fidelity to that tradition that made him a dangerous enemy of the terrorists—more dangerous, it may be said, than that more abstract enemy, the West. To present the indiscriminate murder of western civilians as jihad, the values of true jihad needed to be dead and buried.
The murder of Massoud was thus doubly symbolic: he embodied the traditional spirit of jihad that needed to be destroyed by those who wished to assume its ruptured mantle; and it was only through suicide—subverting one’s own soul—that this destruction, or rather, this apparent destruction, could be perpetrated. The destruction is only apparent in that, on the one hand,
They destroy [but] themselves, they who would ready a pit of fire fiercely burning [for all who have attained to faith].76
And on the other hand:
Say not of those who are slain in the path of God: They are dead. Nay, they are alive, though ye perceive not. 77
Let it also be noted that, while it is indeed true that the martyr (ash-Shahid) is promised Paradise, the true Shahid is one whose death bears witness (shah¥da) to the truth of God. It is consciousness of the truth that must animate and articulate the spirit of one who “fights in the Path of God”; fighting for any cause other than the truth cannot be called a “jihad,” just as one who dies fighting in such a cause cannot be called a “martyr.” Only he is a martyr who can say with utter sincerity, “Truly my prayer and my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, Lord of all creation.” (6:162)
1 This is an expanded version of an article entitled “Recollecting the Spirit of Jih¥d,” in Islam, Fundamentalism and the Betrayal of Tradition, ed. Joseph Lumbard (Bloomington, IN: World Wisdom, 2004).
2 One of the best answers to this question is contained in the series of essays on jihad by S.¢Abdallah Schleifer. He mounts an excellent critique of the political reduction of jihad, using as his basis “traditional Islamic consciousness,” and including, as a case-study of jihad conducted according to this consciousness, the little known muj¥hid in the struggle against the colonization of Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, ¢Izz al-DÏn al-Qass¥m. This case-study forms part 1 of the series, which was published in Islamic Quarterly 23, no.2 (1979). Part 2 of the series is “Jih¥d and Traditional Islamic Consciousness,” Islamic Quarterly 27, no.4 (1983). Part 3 is in Islamic Quarterly 28, no.1 (1984); part 4 is in Islamic Quarterly 28, no. 2 (1984); and part 5 is in Islamic Quarterly 28, no. 3 (1984). For an important rebuttal of the false conception of jihad as aggressive and perpetual warfare, see also Zaid Shakir, “Jihad is Not Perpetual Warfare,” in Seasons—Semiannual of Zaytuna Institute 1, no.2 (Autumn-Winter 003–2004): 53–64.
3 Quoted in Stanley Lane-Poole, Saladin and the Fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem (Beirut: Khayats Oriental Reprints, 1964), 232–3. (Originally published in London, 1898.) It is not irrelevant to note here that, as Titus Burckhardt says, the Christian “knightly attitude towards women is Islamic in origin.” See his Moorish Culture in Spain (London: Allen & Unwin, 1972), 93. Simonde de Sismondi, writing in the early nineteenth century, asserts that Arabic literature was the source of “that tenderness and delicacy of sentiment and that reverential awe of women … which have operated so powerfully on our chivalrous feelings.” Histoire de la littérature du Midi de l’Europe, quoted in R. Boase, The Origin and Meaning of Courtly Love (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977), 20.
4 Lane-Poole, Saladin, 233–4.
5 Quoted in Thomas Arnold, The Preaching of Islam (London: Luzak, 1935), 88–9.
6 Qur’an 2:256.
7 Qur’an 76:8–9.
8 Qur’an 2:216.
9 Qur’an 48:29.
10 Qur’an 2:190.
11 Qur’an 3:159.
12 Qur’an 7:156 (emphasis added).
13 Qur’an 17:10.
14 Qur’an 55:1–3.
15 Martin Lings, Muhammad—His Life According to the Earliest Sources (London: ITS and George Allen & Unwin, 1983), 297–8.
16 Qur’an 41:34.
17 Arnold, Preaching of Islam, 81–2.
18 A copy of the document is displayed to this day in the monastery, which is the oldest continually inhabited monastery in Christendom. See J. Bentley, Secrets of Mount Sinai (London: Orbis, 1985), 18–19.
19 See A. Guillaume, trans. The Life of Muhammad—A Translation of Ibn Is^¥q’s SÏrat Ras‰l All¥h (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 270–77.
20 Qur’an 22:39–40.
21 Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 8.
22 S.A. Schleifer, “Jews and Muslims—A Hidden History,” in The Spirit of Palestine (Barcelona: Zed, 1994), 2.
23 Quoted in Schleifer, “Jews and Muslims,” 5.
24 Burckhardt, Moorish Culture, 27–28.
25 Despite the fact that Maimonides suffered at the hands of the al-Mohhads, during a rare episode of persecution in Muslim Spain, the next stage of his career—as physician to Saladin—manifested his continuing loyalty to Muslim rule.
26 Quoted in Schleifer, “Jews and Muslims,” 8.
27 Qur’an 3:84.
28 Mark Cohen, “Islam and the Jews: Myth, Counter-Myth, History,” in Jerusalem Quarterly 38 (1986): 135.
30 Qur’an 2:62.
31 Qur’an 3:113–14.
32 Qur’an 5:8.
33 Cited in W.B. Quandt, Revolution and Political Leadership: Algeria, 1954–68 (Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1969), 4.
34 See Roger Garaudy, Un dialogue pour les civilisations (Paris: Denoël, 1977), 54–65, for this and many other official accounts of such atrocities. This is cited from Rashid Messaoudi, “Algerian-French Relations, 1830–1991” in Algeria—Revolution Revisited, ed. Reza Shah-Kazemi (London: Islamic World Report, 1997), 6–46.
35 Ibid., p. 10.
36 See Mohamed Chérif Sahli, Abdelkader—Le Chevalier de la Foi (Algiers: Entreprise algérienne de presse, 1967), 131–2. See also our essay “From Sufism to Terrorism: The Distortion of Islam in the Political Culture of Algeria,” in Algeria—Revolution Revisited, 160–92 where several of these points were first made. 37 Cited in Michel Chodkiewicz, The Spiritual Writings of Amir ‘Abd al-Kader (Albany: State University of New York, 1995), 2. This selection of texts from the Emir’s Maw¥qif reveals well the other side of the Emir: his inner spiritual life, lived out as a master of Sufism. In this work, the Emir comments on Qur’anic verses and hadith, as well as upon Ibn al-¢ArabÏ’s writings, doing so from a rigorously esoteric perspective. Indeed, the Emir was designated as the w¥rith al-¢ul‰m al-akbariyya, inheritor of the Akbari sciences, those sciences pertaining to the Shaykh al-Akbar (the greatest master), Ibn al-¢ArabÏ. See pages 20–24 for this little known aspect of the Emir’s function.
38 See Charles Henry Churchill, The Life of Abdel Kader (London: Chapman and Hall, 1867), 295. 39 Cited by Benamar Aïd, “Le Geste de l’Emir: prisonniers de guerre” in Itinéraires—Revue semestrielle éditée par la Fondation Emir Abdelkader 6 (2003): 31.
40 Ibid., 32.
41 Ibid., 33.
42 Cited by the Comte de Cirvy in his work, “Napoleon III et Abd el-Kader”; see “Document: Un portrait de l’Emir par le Comte de Cirvy (1853)” in Itinéraires 5 (2001): 11.
43 Qur’an 2:190; see the important treatise by the late Shaykh of al-Azhar, Ma^m‰d Shalt‰t, in which jihad in Islam is defined in entirely defensive terms. The treatise, Al-Qur’¥n wa’l-qit¥l, was published in Cairo in 1948, and presented in translation by Peters under the title “A Modernist Interpretation of Jihad: Mahmud Shaltut’s Treatise, Koran and Fighting” in his book, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1977), 59–101.
44 Churchill, Life, 314.
45 This incident is recorded in Boualem Bessaïeh, “Abdelkader à Damas et le sauvetage de douze mille chrétiens,” in Itinéraires 6 (2003): 90.
46 Qur’an 4:135.
47 Churchill, Life, 318.
48 Qur’an 60:8.
49 Cited by Mgr. Henri Teissier (Bishop of Algeria) in “Le sens du dialogue inter-religions,” Itinéraires 6 (2003): 47.
50 Qur’an 2:10.
51 Like the Emir, Imam ShamÏl was regarded with awe not only by his own followers but also by the Russians; when he was finally defeated and taken to Russia, he was fêted as a hero. Although occasionally embroidered with romanticism, Lesley Blanch’s Sabres of Paradise (New York: Caroll and Graf, 1960) conveys well the heroic aspect of ShamÏl’s resistance. For a more scholarly account, see Moshe Gammer, Muslim Resistance to the Tsar: Shamil and the Conquest of Chechnia and Daghestan (London: Frank Cass, 1994). On Chechnya, see our own Crisis in Chechnia—Russian Imperialism, Chechen Nationalism and Militant Sufism (London: Islamic World Report, 1995), which offers an overview of the Chechen quest for independence from the eighteenth century through to the war of the mid-1990s, with a particular stress on the role of the Sufi brotherhoods in this quest.
52 That is, a dhimmÏ, a non-Muslim who enjoys the dhimma, or “protection” of the Muslim state
53 Cited by Bessaïeh, “Abdelkader à Damas,” 91–2 (translation modified). See also Churchill, Life, 321–2.
54 Quoted in Churchill, Life, 323.
55 One of the key aims of the educational system outlined in Plato’s Republic is to teach the “guardians” of the state how to be stern against enemies and at the same time gentle towards their own people (as noted above, the Muslims are described as fierce against the disbelievers, and merciful amongst themselves). It is for this reason that such arts as music are taught alongside the martial disciplines. Warriors such as the Emir and Imam ShamÏl perfected this combination of roles, thanks to the intrinsically balanced virtues proper to the spirit of Islam. In modern warfare, by contrast, fighting an “enemy” seems to be impossible without an ideology which dehumanizes and demonizes him, whence the continuing atrocities in our “postenlightenment” age.
56 We have developed this theme further in the essay “Selfhood and Compassion: Jesus in the Qur’an—An AkbarÏ Perspective,” in The Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi Society 29 (2001).
57 See Qur’an 56:8–10.
58 Ab‰ Bakr Sir¥j ad-DÏn, The Book of Certainty (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1992), 80. See also the essay by S.H. Nasr, “The Spiritual Significance of Jih¥d,” chapter 1 of Traditional Islam in the Modern World (London: Kegan Paul International, 1987); and also the section of this book which is entitled “Traditional Islam and Modernism,” which remains an important principal critique of modernist and extremist thought in Islam.
59 Quoted by the Shaykh al-¢ArabÏ ad-Darq¥wÏ, founder of the Darq¥wÏ branch of the Sh¥dhiliyya Sufi order. See Letters of a Sufi Master, trans. Titus Burckhardt (Bedfont, Middlesex: Perennial Books, 1969), 9.
60 See the essay by Omar Benaissa “Sufism in the Colonial Period” in Algeria: Revolution Revisited, ed. R. Shah-Kazemi (London: Islamic World Report, 1997), 47–68, for details of this religious influence of the tariqa of the Shaykh on Algerian society.
61 Alexis de Tocqueville bitterly criticized the assimilationist policy of his government in Algeria. In a parliamentary report of 1847 he wrote that “We should not at present push them along the path of our own European civilization, but in their own.… We have cut down the number of charities [i.e. religious waqf institutions], let schools fall into ruin, closed the colleges [i.e. madrasas] … the recruitment of the men of religion and of the [Shar¢Ïa] law has ceased. We have, in other words, made Muslim society far more miserable, disorganized, barbaric, and ignorant than ever it was before it knew us.” Quoted in CharlesRobert Ageron, Modern Algeria, trans. Michael Brett (London: Hurst, 1991), 21.
62 Léon Roche, Dix Ans à travers l’Islam (Paris: 1904), p.140–1. Cited in M. Chodkiewicz, Spiritual Writings, 4.
63 Cited in Churchill, Life, 137–8.
64 Frithjof Schuon, Islam and the Perennial Philosophy (London: World of Islam Festival, 1976), 101. Schuon also referred to ¢AlÏ as the “representative par excellence of Islamic esotericism.” See The Transcendent Unity of Religions (London: Faber and Faber, 1953), 59.
65 Qur’an 8:17.
66 Cf. the following verse in the Bhagavad-Gita: “Who thinks that he can be a slayer, who thinks that he is slain, both these have no [right] knowledge: He slays not, is not slain.” Hindu Scriptures, trans. R.C. Zaehner (London: Dent, 1966), 256.
67 The Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, trans. R.A. Nicholson (London: Luzac, 1926), book 1, p. 205, lines 3787–3794. The parentheses are inserted by Nicholson. See Schleifer’s comments on Rumi’s account of this episode in “Jih¥d and Traditional Islamic Consciousness,” 197–9.
68 As Rumi says, continuing ¢AlÏ’s discourse; see book 1, p. 207, line 3800.
69 Cited by ¢Abd al-W¥^id ®midÏ in his compilation of sayings of Imam ¢AlÏ, Ghurar al-^ikam (Qom: Ansariyan Publications, 2000), 2:951, no.9. Cf. “The intellect and passion are opposites; the intellect is strengthened by knowledge, passion by caprice. The soul is between them, pulled by both. Whichever triumphs, has the nafs on its side.” (Ibid., no. 10)
70 Ibid., 1:208–11, nos. 20, 17, 8, 23, 26, 28. In our forthcoming publication, Justice and Remembrance—Introducing the Spirituality of Imam ¢AlÏ (London: IB Tauris, 2005), we develop these themes in the context of “the spirit of the intellect” in ¢AlÏ’s perspective.
71 ¢AlÏ al-HujwÏrÏ, The Kashf al-Mahj‰b—The Oldest Persian Treatise on Sufism, trans. R.A Nicholson (Lahore: Islamic Book Service, 1992), 44.
72 Ibid., p. 44.
73 Those given to performing takfÏr, i.e. the declaration that someone is a k¥fir (disbeliever)
74 Churchill, Life, 295.
75 Khaled Abou El-Fadl, The Place of Tolerance in Islam (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 98.
76 Qur’an 85:4–5. We follow Muhammad Asad’s translation of these elliptical verses. See The Message of the Qur’¥n (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1984), 942.
77 Qur’an 2:154.
Dr. Reza Shah-Kazemi is a Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London. He is founding editor of Islamic World Report, and has written and edited several books and articles on such topics as the Qur’an and Interfaith Dialogue, Comparative Religion, Jihad in Islam, Sufism and Shi’ism. He is working on a new English translation of Imam ¢AlÏ’s Nahj al-bal¥gha; and his book, Justice and Remembrance: An Introduction to the Spirituality of Imam Ali, is due to be published by IIS/IB Tauris in the autumn of 2005. His doctoral dissertation, a comparative study of Shankara, Ibn ¢ArabÏ, and Meister Eckhart, is due to be published in the winter of 2005 under the title, Paths to Transcendence by World Wisdom Books.
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