The hijabbed feminist heroine Linda Sarsour is in the center of another controversy, and the Leftist establishment media is again rushing to defend her. This time, she called for “jihad” against President Trump.
The whole controversy, says Sarsour and her defenders, is just another indication of conservatives’ ignorance and “Islamophobia.”
But it isn’t: she really did incite violence.
Sarsour’s call for jihad came in the midst of her denunciation of the Trump administration at the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) over the July 4 weekend. Sarsour said:
Why, sisters and brothers, why are we so unprepared? Why are we so afraid of this administration and the potential chaos that they will ensue on our community?
Invoking Muhammad, she said:
A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad.
I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House.
She not only denounced Trump, but the idea that Muslims in America should assimilate:
Our number one and top priority is to protect and defend our communities. It is not to assimilate and to please any other people in authority … Our top priority, even higher than all those priorities, is to please Allah, and only Allah.
The establishment media rushed to defend her. Time explained: “Women’s March Organizer Linda Sarsour Spoke of ‘Jihad.’ But She Wasn’t Talking About Violence.” The Wrap published a piece titled: “3 Things Conservatives Got Very Wrong About Linda Sarsour’s Speech.” The Huffington Post gloated: “Linda Sarsour Said ‘Jihad’ In A Speech And Conservatives Freaked Out.” ThinkProgress mocked those ignorant, racist conservatives: “A Muslim activist referenced jihad and the right freaked out because they don’t know what it means.” CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill tweeted: “The people disagreeing with @lsarsour clearly don’t understand what Jihad means.”
[I] sent not a call to violence, but a call to speak truth to power and to commit to the struggle for racial and economic justice.
I was speaking to an all-Muslim audience; as an American, I should be free to share and discuss scripture and teachings of my beloved Prophet.
Worst of all to her was the sullying of the reputation of “jihad”:
Most disturbing about this recent defamation campaign is how it is focused on demonizing the legitimate yet widely misunderstood Islamic term I used, “jihad,” which to majority of Muslims and according to religious scholars means “struggle” or “to strive for.” This term has been hijacked by Muslim extremists and right-wing extremists alike, leaving ordinary Muslims to defend our faith and in some cases silenced.
Linda Sarsour is not stupid, and likely knows what Islamic tradition actually has her “beloved Prophet” saying: “I have been made victorious through terror” (Bukhari 4:52.220). Muhammad told his followers to offer non-Muslims three choices: conversion to Islam; subjugation to Islamic hegemony, as signified by the payment of a poll tax (jizya); or death:
Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war … When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. … If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Muslim 4294)
Islamic tradition also depicts Muhammad saying:
I have been commanded to fight against people so long as they do not declare that there is no god but Allah, and he who professed it was guaranteed the protection of his property and life on my behalf except for the right affairs rest with Allah. (Muslim 30)
If one does not profess belief in Allah, his property and life are not protected.
Sarsour also must know that there is an entire chapter of the Qur’an entitled “Booty,” or “The Spoils of War” (al-Anfal). What spoils ensue from “a word of truth spoken in front of a tyrant ruler or leader”? If jihad is simply a word of truth spoken in front of a tyrant, how is a Muslim supposed to make Jews and Christians “pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an 9:29)? If jihad means only to “struggle” or “strive,” why have millions of Muslims worldwide joined violent jihad groups?
Why are there any violent jihad groups at all? Why is this misunderstanding of jihad so widespread?
A professedly devout and knowledgeable Muslim, Linda Sarsour must know about all the many exhortations to violence in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and the doctrines of jihad warfare taught by all the schools of Sunni jurisprudence. When Sarsour says that “this term has been hijacked by Muslim extremists and right-wing extremists alike,” she is attempting not just to intimidate people into dismissing the idea that jihad involves violence for fear of allying with hated “right-wing extremists,” but also to liken foes of jihad terror to its proponents, thereby stigmatizing resistance to jihad terror as “far-right extremism.”
Of course, the centrality in Islamic law of jihad as warfare against unbelievers does not in itself mean that Sarsour was inciting violence against Trump. But Sarsour certainly knows what Muslims are doing in the name of jihad around the world today. When she says, “I hope that when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad,” she may mean a non-violent standing up, but she has to know that when other Muslims who know the real meaning of jihad in Islam hear that, they will hear it as a call to violence.