Sharia Comes to Libya (Thank You America)
by Tarek Fatah
If George Bush's adventures ended up handing Iraq on a silver platter to America's enemies in Iran, President Obama's softer and gentler imperialism has been the catalyst that stands to deliver North Africa into the hands of the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood. Dumb and Dumber could hardly ask for a better cast.
After over 5,000 dead American soldiers and over a trillion dollars spent fighting the "war on terrorism," what happened in Benghazi on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 sums up the colossal failure of U.S. foreign policy vis-à-vis the Muslim world.
Standing before cheering crowds, and in the shadow of war crimes committed by his troops, the new interim leader of Libya, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, declared in his 'liberation' address that Sharia law would govern the new Libya. Sharia is of course the source of the doctrine of jihad that triggered the attack on America on 9/11.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil was careful in not uttering the word 'jihad' that is obligatory to anyone following the application of Sharia in the public domain. Jalil instead trumpeted the more salacious aspect of Sharia:
"We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic Sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified. This includes changing marriage laws to allow men to more easily take on a second wife."
America and NATO had not just helped place an Islamist regime in Tripoli, but had driven the country a full 40 years back by introducing polygamy in a society that had long ago rejected the institution. As if the prospect of multiple wives was not enough, Jalil sent the crowds into what the Washington Post reporter Mary Beth Sheridan described as "thunderous applause" when he proclaimed the introduction of Sharia banking. "The interest [on loans] will be ruled out. You will not pay it anymore," he promised. (Ironically his promise of interest-free banking came at a time Canada's leading interest-free Sharia institution went bankrupt.)
Free money and free sex; new Libya was on a roll. Jihad, or holy war against the infidel, an integral part of Sharia, would have to wait and better remain unsaid. Al-Qaeda supporters were smiling. The most prominent among them is Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the bearded former emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
As for the secular liberal Libyans, people like Mahmoud Jibril, Mahmoud Shammam, and Ali Tarhouni, who sold the revolution to the West and made NATO intervention politically palatable, they were now in the back seat or totally eclipsed. Remember Iran in 1979?
U.S. and Sharia in Libya
For the U.S., this is not the first time it has had to deal with Tripoli invoking Sharia as its guiding principles in foreign and domestic policy.
The two countries first made contact in 1785 when Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had to deal with Abd al-Rahman al-Ajar, the representative of the pasha of Tripoli to sort out a dispute the Libyans felt was their right under Sharia's laws of jihad.
What transpired between the two American founding fathers and the nobleman from Tripoli would be the United States' first exposure to the sense of entitlement with which most Muslim rulers governed -- and still do. These caliphs and sultans considered their rule to be a God-given trusteeship, with an obligation to conduct first dawah* and then jihad† as part of Sharia.
In the late 18th century, the United States had no navy, while the North African Muslim states, including Tripoli, had a combined naval strength that rivalled their European neighbours and facilitated the largely undocumented European slave trade -- white men enslaved to work in Africa.
In the 1780s American merchant ships in the Mediterranean, having lost the protection of the British Navy, were subject to attack by pirates and slave traders from Morocco, Tripoli, Tunis, and Algiers. Jefferson and Adams, recognizing the limits of U.S. naval power, were meeting with Abd al-Rahman al-Ajar to offer him a tribute of $25,000 in exchange for his protection. The French were already paying. Jefferson told al-Ajar that although the United States was "eager to avert bloodshed" and therefore willing "to offer a treaty of lasting friendship with Tripoli," he was intrigued and wanted to know under what moral authority the Muslim nobleman was demanding the bribe.
Tripoli's ambassador gave the two Americans a crash course in Sharia as laid into law by medieval Muslim theologians, who did not consider such a tribute as a bribe, but rather an interim arrangement until the non-Muslim party accepted the invitation to Islam or was conquered by force of arms.
Ambassador al-Ajar told the two Americans:
"It was... written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their [Muslims'] authority were sinners, that it was their [Muslims'] right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle would surely go to paradise."
Jefferson and Adams were taken aback. They had just glimpsed the mindset that drew inspiration from the medieval application of jihad. Most Muslim rulers from the earliest caliphates to the Ottomans of the 18th century self-righteously saw themselves as saviours of the human race, "Shadows of God on Earth," and thus entitled to rule.
From the perspective of the Tripoli official, the United States was a non-Muslim Christian entity. It was perfectly justifiable for him to ask for the tribute, since the United States had not accepted the Muslim caliphate's invitation to Islam.
The link between "inviting the infidels" to the fold of Islam and demanding a tribute if they turned the invitation down was sanctioned by most medieval Islamic scholars in the ninth and 10th centuries. Imam Muslim (d. 875) -- in his collection of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, Sahih Muslim -- indicates that a dawah is the first of three "courses of action" to be undertaken prior to war with non-Muslim enemies. In 1368, Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri wrote the classic work of Shafi Islamic law, Umdat as-salik (Reliance of the Traveller). In his book, al-Masri is quite frank about the link between dawah and jihad:
"The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax jaziyah -- which is significance of their paying it, not the money itself -- while remaining in their ancestral religions) and the war continues until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax in accordance with the word of Allah Most High."
The doctrine of Sharia sanctioned armed jihad against the non-Muslim "enemy" would take on a more robust and political form in the early 20th-century interpretations among such Islamist scholars as the trio mentioned earlier in this chapter: Hassan al Banna, Abul Ala Maudoodi, and Syed Qutb.
These men have laid the foundation of a new form of jihad, patterned on the tradition of the underground communist parties of Europe and at times resembling the anarchists of the 19th century. Today, it has evolved into a form of a death cult, where the highest level of Islamic worship is to die and leave this world to its "satanic existence." This blending of the death cult and jihad has translated into the martyrdom sought by so many brainwashed young Muslim men and women.
While many Islamists in the West are careful about what they say to the media, Islamists from the Muslim world are not so guarded. Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani was a Sharia judge in Pakistan's Supreme Court and one of the world's most respected Islamic scholars. The learned judge, who advises many multinational companies on Sharia banking and halal investments (like the one proposed by the new Libyan leadership) is a regular visitor to Britain, where in 2007 he declared in a The Times interview that Muslims should wage military jihad "to establish the supremacy of Islam" worldwide.
He told the newspaper that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practise Islam, but only until they gain enough power to engage in battle. He told the prestigious Times:
"The question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not. If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?"
He then proceeded to answer his own question:
"Even in those days... aggressive jihads were waged... because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah."
The booklet Call to Jihad by the founder of Jamaat-e-Islami is sold in most Islamic bookstores in North America and is distributed by Muslim youth organizations on campuses. Maudoodi urges young Muslims to consider themselves under attack if any Muslim country is threatened.
He writes that it is "the categorical injunction of the Islamic shariah that whenever an enemy attacks any part of darul Islam (the Muslim world), Jihad for its defence becomes obligatory (fard) on every Muslim."
Maudoodi makes another significant clarification. He writes that even though jihad is separate from qetal (warfare), they are complementary. He says warfare may end, but jihad does not. He writes:
"In terms of Shariah or Islamic Law, Jihad and Qetal are two separate things. Qetal is actual warfare and clash of arms of the fighting forces against the armies of the enemy. The Jihad on the other hand means the struggle as a whole -- the entire war effort which the nation collectively puts forth in order to achieve the objective for which war takes place. In the course of Jihad, Qetal is, at times, put off or temporarily suspended, but Jihad goes on and continues until the object for which it was undertaken is realized."
Another prominent Islamist, the Egyptian Syed Qutb had this to say about sharia in his book, Milestones:
"Any place where Islamic shariah is not enforced and where Islam is not dominant becomes the Home of Hostility (Dar-ul-Harb)... A Muslim will remain prepared to fight against it, whether it be his birth place or a place where his relatives reside or where his property or any other material interests are located."
With the installation of Islamists in Libya, the election of so called "moderate" Islamists (whatever that means) and the upcoming Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, Osama bin Laden must be smiling in his watery grave at the bottom of the Arabian Sea. With Dumb or Dumber at the wheel, the American ship is headed for disaster while the rest of us cannot get up from our slumber.