The Hadiths, Jihad and ISIL

Nafi heard from Omar who’d heard his second cousin say that he had heard that the Prophet (PBUH) had said that praying next to a camel was fine, but eating raw garlic was not because Mohamed didn’t like garlic. Imagine the world we’d live in if Mohamed hadn’t liked chocolate, or cinnamon.

After reading the Sahih al Bokhari, considered the most authentic version of Mohamed’s teachings outside the Holy Koran, I have to agree that most Hadiths are indeed peaceful, and an open call to compassion, tolerance and forgiveness, and that Mohamed was a pretty laid back guy who didn’t mind if you missed prayer since you could always make up for it, and didn’t mind if someone urinated in a mosque if one had done so in ignorance.

A friend of mine, in ignorance, walked onto the Kaba’s floor with a cigarette in hand, truly and honestly in mistake, he is French, he was born with a cigarette. A man grabbed him by the ponytail, waving a pair of scissors in his face and said: “I see too much freedom in your eyes.” Clearly some Muslims need to read the Hadiths.

The Hadiths lay out in minute (sometimes conflicting, and often nonsensical) detail the proper behavior for a Muslim, and encourage all the attributes of peacefulness you can imagine. But only towards other Muslims, being kind to everybody doesn’t hurt, but you have no obligation to do so.

Hadiths weren’t actually compiled by Mohamed, but two hundred years after his passing from people who had heard it first or second hand from the Prophet, but as he (PBUH) rightfully announced: A hundred years after his death, all the people alive in his time would be dead.

Over a two hundred year period, anything Mohamed had said, whether he liked garlic or not, (which no sane individual should care about) would have gone down the grapevine of generations and reinterpretation in spite of the author’s attempts to present a unified understanding of teachings compiled over a decade and thousands of miles.

What is often presented as Mohamed’s diary, and therefore an honest account of his thoughts and practical applications of the Koran, often reads like justification for individual behavior a posteriori. See my opening point about the camel. Whether Nafi had heard it from Omar, or his own grandmother is beside the point. Nafi was in a hurry to justify praying by a camel and who better to back him up but the long dead prophet (PBUH)?

The Hadiths are clear as well on what constitutes the best Islam, and the best of Muslims is one whom no Muslim fears neither hand nor tongue.

That courtesy, however, is not extended to non-Muslims.

Holy War is an act of faith, and is second only to belief and precedes the Hadj as proof of devotion (some verses contradict that and place it third after prayer, and being good to your parents). The Hadiths are rife with accounts or anecdotes relating to the field of battle, of Mohamed exhorting his followers to fight and conquer in God’s name, and while he would have gladly led the charge, he stayed behind like a good general would because of his value to his people.

Jihad is holy, it is encouraged, God blesses it and you will be rewarded.

Mohamed preferred to attack in the morning, unless he heard the call to prayer (adhan), which stayed his hand, otherwise, it was open season on whoever stood in his way. The implication of Salat is obvious, if he heard the call, then those people had already accepted Islam and he was proscribed from attacking them.

I understand that Jihad can also mean a spiritual quest, which is, by all standards, the holiest of jihads. When asked, Mohamed is quoted saying that the holiest of wars for women is the pilgrimage, but it also means military conquest in the name of God. Literally.

More troublesome than the open call to arms, is the verse weighing actions against intentions.

According to the Hadiths, your actions matter only in relation to your intentions. Based on this, it is possible to conclude that if your intention is to spread the word of god, all your actions are forgiven. This would include murder, rape, pillaging, all of them, unless in the process you kill or bring harm to other Muslims.

The Hadiths also state that everybody is born Muslim but their parents then make them Jewish, Christian or fire worshipers, by that logic you can’t kill anybody or wage war in God’s name without damning yourself, but what do I know? I only read the thing.

To sum up my reading of the Sahih al Bokhari, if a Muslim were to follow Mohamed’s teachings he could be either the most peaceful man alive, almost to the point of abnegation, or a fanatic brute, it wouldn’t make a difference in the eyes of God as long as no Muslims come to harm.

How does this play out in a modern setting?

According to the Hadiths the Peshmerga are as guilty as ISIL, believe it or not, as any Muslim attempting to kill another is condemned to eternal damnation. That includes the defendant, as in defending himself his intention was to kill another Muslim.

ISIL, the so-called Islamic State, is in a bit of a spiritual conundrum in relation to the Hadiths, on the one hand its actions against non-Muslims in the name of Islam are fine since they’re in the name of Islam, on the other hand they have condemned themselves to an eternity in hell.

Damnation for ISIL couldn’t come too soon, and most people on the planet wish for it at the hands of an F16 or a Kalashnikov, but after reading the first book of Hadiths, the only objective conclusion I can reach is that it justifies ISIL’s ambitions and military conquest, the only thing it condemns is their slaughter of other Muslims.

Influential imams need to weigh into the debate, because every time they argue that there is nothing wrong with the religion, that it is perfect and peaceful, they are lying by omission and in a very real sense ignoring the fact that Islam began with military might. As it stands the Hadiths are a walking contradiction, a contradiction that makes non-Muslims legitimate targets in the name of Islam if one so chooses.

While it is ridiculous to assume that because Mohamed was a warrior/businessman, all Muslims are closet mass murderers/entrepreneurs hell bent on Jihad and Islamic banking, but it is there and while there are more verses dedicated to prayer and devotion than to Holy War, it still looms heavily.

About the Author
Mame Bougouma Diene is a civil servant on permanent vacation even when he works 70 hours a week, who also blogs for the Times of Israel in French. He's French-Senegalese American, loves Israel and the Middle East, would really like to see an end to this intractable mess in his lifetime.