Jihad as a misunderstanding

I’m finishing up writing a book on Islam and science. While working on it, I collected an awful lot of stuff that I can’t use. This quotation, for example, discussing the early conquests of the Islamic Empire:

Now they had, by the order of God, to make Islam known to the outside world, but there was no telecommunication system or press or any other mass medium of communication. There was only one course to take, namely, personal and direct contacts, which meant that they had to cross the borders. But they could not do that in small or unarmed groups. So they had to move in large protected groups which must have appeared like an army, but was not an army in the real sense. [Hammudah Abdalati, Islam in Focus (Riyadh: World Assembly of Muslim Youth, n.d.)]

All that business that looked like holy war and conquest in the early centuries — just a misunderstanding, see?

I guess that’s one way to maintain the myth that the conquered peoples uniformly “chose Islam.” On the other hand, at least Abdalati is embarrassed by the notion of jihad and conquest, which isn’t a bad thing…

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13465226720552401950 Sastra

    I’m sitting here with a killer case of laryngitis and reading this quote made me laugh so hard I barked out loud. Such apologetics are clearly excellent therapy for the phlegmatic.

    Antiseptic statements that “our religion is about love and peace” seem remarkably like politicians’ assurances that you should vote for them because they are “in favor of a strong, healthy America.” Unless you know specific content, you’ve learned absolutely nothing. It could mean anything.