Qanta A. Ahmed

Israel’s jihad remains my jihad, the IDF my soul soldiers

For Hamas, there is only the killing, the maiming, the violations, the debasing. It was there all along, but we didn’t want to see it.
IDF security forces patrol in the southern city of Sderot, October 11, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90
'Be not afraid, for you go not alone.' IDF security forces patrol in the southern city of Sderot, October 11, 2023. (Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90

Ten years after I wrote so, Israel’s jihad remains mine. Ten years on, now closer to sixty than not, I am beginning to understand that my jihad, like Israel’s, is a lifelong undertaking. My struggle is Israel’s struggle; our struggle is our compass, our true north, our true religion.

As an observant pluralist Muslim who rejects all forms of Islamism – radical Islam – whether nonviolent or not, I remain on a personal crusade to delegitimize every Islamist who claims to speak for me, who claims to speak for Islam, who dares injure or slay any of God’s viceregents on earth – my fellow mankind.

Atrocities committed against the Jewish people are atrocities committed against me; atrocities committed against Israelis are atrocities against me; atrocities against all of humanity.

When Islamism kills one life, it kills all mankind. We all are now slain by this barbarity, if not in flesh, in soul. We are all killed in our spirit when our brethren are laid lifeless, be they Jew, Muslim or other. But in our anger, in our fury, in our right to avenge the radical Islamists, we rise and we reclaim and we restore justice. This too is our jihad.

In these short days, I have listened to the fear, anger and outrage of my beautiful friends in Israel: bankers, entrepreneurs, commanders. But in this moment, they are suddenly made in their grief, three fragile Jewish Israeli savtas. This war finds deep in me a sorrow, a rawness, a pain which I have not previously known. Israel’s jihad is now personal to me unlike any other.

I am not Israeli. I am American. I am British. I am Muslim. I am Pakistani, but deep inside in these short days, my flesh and blood have become Israeli and ache for my brethren who wear the olive green uniform and leave my savta-sisters to fight my jihad.

Not even a day after the barbarity, a 35-year-old member of the IDF Engineering Corps bid farewell to his mother, wife and children and is already gone to defend and to fight we don’t know where, we don’t know how, and when he calls his mom he encourages her not to worry. I charge her to not look into the abyss.

In Ramat Gan, sun-worn and 70, the retired IDF commander has already signed up as a volunteer reservist. For some time it has been hard for us to talk on the phone because of his hearing, but he knows the operational theory of the Quran and understands the minds of Hamas and Hezbollah, his Arabic is better than almost anyone I know. His knowledge of the Quran outstrips nearly every Muslim I have known. With his wife, his family has served Israel from its genesis, with 62 years of IDF military service and counting.

As their jihad against Islamism is lifelong, so too must be mine.

The veil is fully off.

A bottomless ravine of hate

Hamas is radical revolutionary jihadism fueled by Islamist ideology. Hamas is ISIS. I repeat to millions of viewers, there is no such thing as a Hamas militia or a Hamas military wing – their entire ideology is nihilist. Every action is war-making. There is only terror. There is only violence on a hollow scaffolding of ideology; nihilism on a bed of dehumanization; Islamism as totalitarianism.

Islamism as totalitarianism has never been more distilled. Even ISIS cavorted with a sinew of self – a ‘caliph’ figure, a territorial caliphate of monstrosities; a smattering of manifestos; a grotesque effigy of a fictitious past transmogrified into a heinous reality.

Today, six years after the war with ISIS ended, we see ISIS as it was intended to be, the seed of a new dimension of collective terror that has grown and rooted itself deeply in the Middle East.

Hamas in Gaza has shown us the true horror of these Islamists. In the killing of women, children, the elderly, the disabled, babies; we see you clearly. We do not flinch as we see you. We look into the horror of your hate. There is no self; only void. We peer through their gaze to see what they see.

There is no self, neither us nor them; neither Israeli nor Palestinian. There is only void and death; there is no faith for the Islamist; there is only killing, mutilation, rape, desecration, abduction and objectification. There is no Islam that was revealed to us, there is only an imposter totalitarian façade. Like the aging narcissist, the visage is crumbling away to reveal the deep cold lakes of self-hate within; to reveal that, for Hamas, there is no Palestine for the Palestinians, there is no statehood, no sovereignty, no future, no prosperity, no peace. There is only killing, maiming, violations, debasing. The only abundance is the swelling rivers of accumulated delight in the suffering of the Jew, and all who befriend her; deep within the hollow there lies a void where once a human soul made its home, leaving only an excavated imprint – a bottomless ravine of hate.

There is no Muslim in Hamas, only the Islamist, no Islam, only Islamism: all-consuming, never sated; only the hollowness left by the erasure of self in pursuit of erasing the Jew; the dehumanization of Muslims rendered Islamists, believers rendered husks. As they dehumanize the Jew they dehumanize themselves, a loss of life force in pursuit of the erasure of Jewish life; all this nihilism to make way for the fascist apocalypse; the erasure of all morality to commit genocide. Hamas has become the new Nazi. It was there all along, but we didn’t want to see it.

Ten years lends clarity. Wisdom. And hope never leaves the soul, but it is time I admitted the enemy will never be appeased. The IDF is waging jihad not only to defend the State of Israel from Islamist annihilation; the IDF is waging my jihad. The tanks and the gunships and the trajectories of the Iron Dome, the footsoldiers and the pilots in the air and the naval divisions in the sea; they wage not only my jihad as a Muslim who fights Islamism; they fight the jihad of the Yazidi; they fight the jihad of the Kurd; they fight the jihad of the Uighur; they fight the jihad of little red riding hoods in Malala’s Mingora; they fight the jihad of the Sufi; the Hazara; the Ismaeli; the Bahai; the Rohingya; they fight for the child soldiers snatched back from the Taliban; they fight for the child soldiers reclaimed from ISIS; they fight for the girls abducted by Boko Haram; they fight for us all.

Abu Hurairah has recounted that the Prophet Mohammed Messenger of God has said of his pious believers in the face of hostility: “When I love him, I become his hearing with which he hears; his seeing with which he sees; his hand with which he strikes; and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks something of me; I give him; and if he asks of me my refuge, I protect him”

As the IDF prepares to turn Hamas into ashes; to defend all human life from these fascist nihilists who desecrate God’s creatures, God’s earth, who tear apart God’s vicegerent, God’s worshippers, God’s children, God’s infants, know that Hamas is not meeting merely the IDF in battle, Hamas is making war with God himself for beside all the IDF, stands God.

I have become you

While you are six thousand miles from where I am now, to every man and woman in Israel’s defense forces, I am both with you and I have become you. You are fighting my jihad. You are fighting for the Muslim, for the Christian for the Catholic for the Protestant, for the Druze, for the fellow Jew, for the Bahai, for the Hindu, for the Buddhist; for the Yazidi; for the Uighur; for the Rohingya; for the agnostic; for the atheist; you fight for us all. But you do not fight alone

Be not afraid, for you go not alone. The IDF goes with God. Alongside you, beside you and above you, and beneath you, within you and surrounding you My LORD is your Lord, He is your Shade, your Shelter, your Commander. You are invincible because so is Our Lord. You are victorious for He will triumph. Never forget: In slaying forty babes even perhaps as – God help us – their mothers looked on, Hamas has brought God’s war against themselves, Hamas that showed unfathomable cruelty to pious souls even in their cradles.

Tonight Hamas does not know its war is with God. But soon it will be revealed.

You, my IDF soul soldiers, go not alone into the tunnels, into the war, into the labyrinth, into the dark. You go with God, he goes with you, you go into His light and with His strength. He will shepherd you back to Peace in ways we cannot know, vanquishing Islamism we, none of us, know how.

And when it is done, Hamas will be none, and we will be one.

About the Author
Qanta Ahmed, MD, is a senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, a life member, Council on Foreign Relations and an Honorary Fellow at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. She is the author of 'In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom'
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