Government and Academic Vulnerability to Jihad of the Pen and Tongue
Government and academic critical analysis of Islamic based threats is polarizing and volatile. Internal and external backlash adversely affects the integrity of the analytic process necessitating an understanding of the forces at work and the identification of countermeasures to restore integrity of process.
Islam is a civilization, ideology, culture, body of law, as well as a religion. An argument can be made that no other civilization is as tightly interconnected among its five domains as is Islam. Research into one domain initiates a response from the other four domains. In many cases, critical analysis into sensitive civilizational, ideological, cultural, or legal issues results in the outcries from the religious domain sending researchers and their supervisors into retreat.
Government and academic research share a common process: critical analysis. When critical analysis is focused on Islamic based topics, a peculiar phenomenon occurs that retards analysis and report production that does not occur when critical analysis is focused on other civilizations: Islam objects. This phenomenon peaks when the issue is jihad analysis.
Islam and Jihad as Topics Evoking Reactions from Ideologically/Religiously Committed Peers/Researchers/Supervisors
Islam is simultaneously a civilization, ideology, culture, body of law, and a religion. Each domain contains themes and drivers creating a world view that animates the believer. Remembering that within the Islamic tradition, religion and law come from the word of Allah and the legal and religious domains motivate believers into action, the failure to act has legal and religious implications.
World View. An examination of the Islamic World View, Sunni Tradition, on the issue of jihad, distills down to an understanding that (a) dar-ul-Islam is perpetually at war with its non-Muslim neighbors (Humayun, 2010, p. 93) (Khadduri, 1955, pp. 63-64) (Khadduri, The islamic law of nations; al-shaybani's siyar, 1966, p. 17) (Malik, 1992 , p. 3) (Pruthi, 2002, pp. 3, Vol 1) and (b) that jihad, as a religiously based obligation discharged at the individual level, is a duty until dar-ul-Islam prevails over the non-Muslim world (Brill, 2006, pp. 538-539, Vol II) (Ibn Rushd, 1994, p. 464) (Khadduri, The islamic law of nations; al-shaybani's siyar, 1966, pp. 58, 76-77) (al-Misri, 1994, p. 602). Exploration of Islamic topics is an intellectual battleground for researchers committed to critical analysis and believers who are obligated to protect the ideology from critical analysis. Understanding the motivations of ideologically/religiously committed peers/researchers/supervisors necessitates an understanding of jihad and additional provisions of Islamic law.
Jihad. Jihad falls into four broad categories: Jihad of the Pen, Jihad of the Tongue, Jihad of Wealth, and Jihad of the Sword. Jihad of Wealth and Jihad of the Sword involve funding and fighting and are outside the scope of this paper. Jihad of the Pen and Jihad of the Tongue may be partially characterized by the observation that “the best jihad is speaking the truth to an unjust ruler” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 718) and exerts itself in government and academia. For the purposes of this paper, the term “Jihad of the Pen” and “Jihad of the Tongue” will combine the two types of jihad (Jihad of the Pen and Tongue) and focus on the tension occurring in administrative settings.
Situational Environment. Either in government or academia, there are researchers engaged in critical analysis and, occasionally, an individual who is opposed to the direction the line of inquiry is taking. In academia, this has included thesis and dissertation committee members. The opposing individual can be a peer researcher or a supervisor. In cases where a researcher is addressing a cultural topic, the peer or supervisor who has an affinity for that culture is in a position to protect that topic from critical analysis. The indicators that that protection is being applied against the researcher are subtle but manifest.
Indicators. The indicators of ideologically/religiously committed peers/researchers/ supervisors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The ideologically/religiously committed peer/researcher/supervisor is regarded, either formally or informally, as the office cultural expert and occupies a sensitive position in the review process;
- all culturally relevant products must be reviewed by him and gain his concurrence or be returned for a rewrite;
- accurate, but offending, passages must be revised or deleted diluting the impact of the product;
- he may insist on access to other analytic products to assess their accuracy;
- he may resist the possibility that other views may be culturally accurate, and be dismissive or derisive of those views; and/or,
- he may exert undue, behind the scenes, influence on the review process to retard or kill a critical product.
Rhetorical Defeat Techniques. There are several rhetorical defeat techniques that have been used to retard critical analysis
- Demanding additional evidence. The peer or supervisor makes repeated demands for additional evidence or proof that cannot be readily obtained.
- Diversion. A line of critical inquiry will be diverted to another topic that shifts the analysis away from the original focus.
- Exploiting cognitive dissonance. The peer or supervisor will inject off topic considerations that are intended to confuse and conflict the researcher or his supervisor.
- The “hijack” theme. Invoking the “hijack” theme contending that violent actors have hijacked Islam.
- Manipulating ambiguity. The peer or supervisor may employ a double standard critiquing the researcher’s work. One standard is used to discourage criticism and another standard is used to induce more favorable analysis. The “objective” standard is set aside. Direct questions as part of the critical analysis process will be discouraged or evaded.
- Out of Context Defense. The “out of context” defense contends that the researcher is citing a source or example out of context. The intent is to suppress analysis and redirect the researcher away from the point under analysis.
- Outwitting. The line of inquiry is to be suppressed and the researcher is to be redirected by allegations of racism, Islamophobia, cultural and religious inexperience. In other cases, the researcher or supervisor may be told that the original Arabic does not support the Arab to English translations made by Arabic scholars that form the basis of the researcher’s sources or some such other obfuscation intended to undermine the credibility of the research effort or sources.
- Tactical Denial. Tactical denial is the rejection of a proposition in its entirety rather than acknowledging that a proposition might be partially true. It may take the form of “Islam forbids suicide” which is partially true but does not prohibit martyrdom.
- Victimhood. The researcher may be derailed by assertions that Islam is a victim and that the researcher is simply piling on in a larger pattern of Islamophobia and racism.
- These, and other, techniques are identifiable and raise the question, “Why is this occurring?”
Forces at Work. An argument can be made that Islam has an admirable doctrinal and civilizational self-defense capability. Islamic doctrine, Sunni tradition, originates with Muhammad. His utterances are the basis of the Quran (Khan D. M., 2000) and the hadiths (Khan D. M., 1997). His biography, The Sira, (Guillaume, 1967) is an example to emulate. The doctrine is refined through interpretation by the four Sunni schools of law: Hanaf (Khadduri, The islamic law of nations; al-shaybani's siyar, 1966); Hanbal (ash-Shaybani, 1969); Malik (Ibn Rushd, 1994) (Malik I. i., 2004); and, Shafi (Khadduri, Al-Shafii's Risala, 1997) (al-Misri, 1994). In the United States, the Shafi School is the predominant legal tradition and is articulated with a high degree of clarity and candor in the text, Umdat al-salik (Reliance of the Traveler). It is in the enabling concepts of this doctrinal text that we may find answers to how and why Jihad of the Pen and Tongue is occurring.
Enabling Concepts. There are at least seven enabling concepts that facilitate Jihad of the Pen and Tongue: taqiyya, slander; commanding the right and forbidding the wrong; creating a misimpression, obligatory lying; and, the prohibition against giving directions to someone who wants to do wrong (al-Misri, 1994, pp. 743-744).
Taqiya. Al-Taqiya (variously al-taqiyya, taqiyya) is based on Quran 3:28[i] and 16:106[ii] which encourages precautionary dissimulation to protect the faith from critical analysis. Taqiya is a 7th century tool used to confuse adversaries through deceptive triangulation in which victims are told, for example, that there is no jihad, that the jihad is aimed at another enemy, or that the jihad is a personal striving for self-fulfillment.
Slander. Slander in the Islamic legal tradition is different from the Western legal tradition. In Islam, “slander means to mention anything concerning a person that he would dislike, whether about his body, religion, everyday life, self, disposition, property, son, father, wife, servant, turban, garment, gait, movements, smiling, dissolution, frowning, cheerfulness, or anything else connected with him” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 730). The interpretation originates from
Quranic Sura 49-11[iii] and 49-12.[iv]
‘Do you know what slander is?’ They answered, ‘Allah and His Messenger know best.’ He said, ‘It is to mention of your brother that which he would dislike.’ Someone asked, ‘What if he is as I say?’ And he replied, ‘If he is as you say, you have slandered him, and if not, you have calumniated him’” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 732).
“The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim. He does not betray him, lie to him, or hang back from coming to his aid. All of the Muslim is inviolable to his fellow Muslim: his reputation, his property, his blood. Godfearingness is here (the heart). It is sufficiently wicked for someone to belittle his fellow Muslim” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 732).
- Slander in Publish Works. Slander in published works addresses critical written products. An ideologically committed reviewer who assists in the production, or concurs in the review, of a critical product is aiding and abetting slander (al-Misri, 1994, p. 733).
- Listening to Slander. Listening to slander holds that a believer is obligated to condemn or resist slander. Failure to do so is a sin (al-Misri, 1994, p. 734).
Commanding the Right and Forbidding the Wrong. Commanding the Right and Forbidding the Wrong is predicated on Quranic verses 2:44[v] and 3:104[vi]. Commanding the Right and Forbidding the Wrong is characterized by a seven-step process for protecting Islamic values. The seven steps are: explaining that something is wrong and inducing a voluntary cessation of the wrongdoing; forbidding the act verbally; censuring with harsh words; righting the wrong by hand (breaking musical instruments, invading a house and pouring out wine); intimidation, “Stop this or I’ll…”; assault; and, force of arms (al-Misri, 1994, pp. 713-725). This obligation burdens the ideologically/religiously committed believer in his capacity as an employee/peer and as a supervisor.
Creating a Misimpression. Creating a misimpression is a rhetorical tool for deceiving a listener. It is preferred over lying, which, although severely discouraged, has exceptions. Islamic scholars hold that creating a misimpression is permissible to protect “an interest countenanced by Sacred Law”[vii] (al-Misri, 1994, p. 748). This manifests itself by the ideologically/religiously committed believer giving derailing guidance or advice to the researcher.
Obligatory Lying. Speaking is a means to attain an objective. If an objective can be attained by telling the truth, lying is impermissible. However, if necessary, lying is permitted when needed to attain a permissible goal. More significantly, if necessary, it becomes obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory and there is no other option but to lie[viii] (al-Misri, 1994, pp. 727, 744-747). While there is room to debate whether, and to what extent, a situation requires lying, Muhammad resolves the issue by saying: “He who settles disagreements between people to bring about good or says something commendable is a not a liar” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 744). This manifests itself by very carefully lying to, or about, the researcher to derail or halt his research.
Giving Directions to Someone Who Wants to Do Wrong. This provision is predicated on Quranic verse 5:2.[ix] Examples of wrongly giving directions include showing the way to policemen “when they are going to commit injustice…”; or “teaching questions of Sacred Law to those learning in bad faith” including wanting to apply that knowledge “for some unworthy purpose” (al-Misri, 1994, pp. 743-744) (emphasis added by author). The ideologically/religiously committed peer or supervisor has an obligation to not cooperate with the researcher.
Supervisory Cognitive Dissonance, Denial, and Political Correctness as an Insulator. When these indicators are identified and reported, a second phenomenon occurs that insulates the ideologically/religiously committed peers/researchers/supervisors from effective discovery and corrective action: supervisory/senior supervisory cognitive dissonance, denial and political correctness.
Cognitive Dissonance. Because government service and academia is (generally) a collegial environment, supervisors have difficulty accepting that a trusted subordinate or peer may be an ideologically/religiously committed individual who is also an active agent protecting an ideological/religious doctrine and subverting internal government or academic procedures. When suspicions are raised or complaints are made about ideologically based interference of a researcher’s work product, the supervisor may fall into cognitive dissonance and denial. It is outside the experience of most (U.S. based) government and academic personnel to encounter ideologically driven resistance to critical analysis. The reaction of supervisors encountering the issue for the first time takes the form of off-point deflections: “He’s a Major in the Army!”, “He’s such a nice guy,” “I’d trust him with my life,” “I find that thought offensive” and “Your allegation is out of line.” The supervisor is incapable of recognizing that a long term, trusted individual may be ideologically/religiously committed and compromised and at work in the supervisor’s organization and office. It is just not in the American collegial experience.
Denial. When the evidence mounts, denial asserts itself with the supervisory chain solidifying its dissonance with the mindset that the complainant against the researcher in question cannot be a threat to internal processes and that the real problem is the researcher. At this point action is focused on the researcher, and he is silenced and labeled.
Political Correctness. Even if the supervisory chain overcomes the cognitive dissonance and the denial processes, and elects to take action, the supervisory action may be muted, derailed or stalled because of political correctness. Fears of being labeled Islamophobic or racist have real world, and disproportional, consequences for the immediate chain of command coping with vaguely defined, nebulously occurring indicators and emerging suspicions of Jihad of the Pen and Tongue.
The interaction between the ideologically/religiously committed peers/researchers/supervisors and the researcher is Jihad of the Tongue and Pen. Environmentally, a war is being waged in the office, but the researcher and his supervisory chain may not know it. In such an environment, critical analysis loses.
Recommendations: Administrative Countermeasures
Critical analysis of an Islamic topic can be polarizing and volatile. Some observations and assertions will severely test the comfort level of supervisors and readers because they are being exposed to material at variance with their experience and ideology. There may exist an incomprehensible misconception about the nature of the topic and lacking a criteria for judgment, reviewers and supervisors may likely misunderstand, misstate and misjudge the issues. Adding to this is the deliberate efforts of ideologically committed others seeking to suppress the analysis. The researcher has to provide a new framework for helping readers to understand the issues and the answers. This can be accomplished, in part, by a sound but reinforced, structural approach to the written product’s coverage, sources, citations, footnotes, and bibliographies.
Application of the Standard Principles of Intellectual Inquiry, Coverage, Sources, Citations, Footnotes and Bibliographies. Critical analysis of Islamic topics are uniquely volatile and divisive. That is part of Islam’s self-defense capability. It resists civil discussion and critical analysis. Six procedures facilitate critical analysis, particularly with Islamic topics: application of the standard principles of intellectual inquiry, coverage, sources, citations, footnotes and bibliographies.
Application of the Standard Principles of Intellectual Inquiry. The standard principles of intellectual inquiry include the fallibility principle (accepting the view that one’s own “view may not be the most defensible position on the question”); the truth seeking principle (participants in a discussion should be committed to searching for the truth, examine other positions, and allow others to present evidence in support of their position); and the clarity principle (all discussions, defenses and attacks should be free of any linguistic confusion)
Coverage. Critical analysis is better served if it is grounded in Islamic doctrine as opposed to western theories. Researchers should explore and report on what the doctrine actually says rather than rely on Western interpretations of the doctrine. Treatment of the topic should not only adequately cover the topic but cover it in depth (similar to multiple blankets on a cold night). To do this, address the topic in terms of the topic’s roots in the doctrinal sources: the Sira (biography of Muhammad), the Hadiths (the verbal and non-verbal communications of Muhammad), the Quran (the utterances of Muhammad), and the legal texts of the four Sunni Jurists. For example, while it is common to critique Ibn Taymiyyah, we may not be looking at the inner workings of the Hanbali School of Law
Sources. As a rule, Islamic doctrinal sources are preferable to Western references. Doctrinal sources (the Sira, Hadiths, Quran, and the legal texts of the four Sunni Jurists) should be acquired from Islamic publishing houses to overcome source credibility questions. Core arguments and evidence should be rooted in Islamic doctrinal texts, not Western refractions of Islamic Doctrine, to avoid sourcing criticism. The following graphic illustrates the point.
Figure 1: Source Location
The texts associated with the various Sunni schools of Islamic Law are the following:
The Hanafi School. Khadduri, M. (1966). The islamic law of nations; al-shaybani's siyar. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. al-Marghinani, B.-D.-F., & Nyazee, I. (2006). Al-Hidayah Fi Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (Vol. 1). Bristol England: Amal Press. al-Marghinani, B. a.-D.-F., & Nyazee, I. A. (2008). Al-Hidayah Fi Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (Vol. 2). Bristol, England: Amal Press.
The Hanbali School. ash-Shaybani, A. i. (1969). al-Musnad. Beirut: al-Maktab al Islami.
The Maliki School. Ibn Rushd, A. a.-w. (1994). Bidayat al-mujtahid wa nihayat al-Muqtasid (The distinguished jurist's primer). Reading, United Kingdom: Garnet Publishing. b. Malik, I. i. (2004). Al-Muwatta of imam malik ibn anas: The first formulation of islamic law. (A. A. Bewley, Trans.) Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust.
The Shafii School. Khadduri, M. (1997). Al-Shafii's Risala. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society.
al-Misri, A.I. (1994). Umdat al-salik (Reliance of the Traveler). Baltimore: Amana Publications
As an aside, see if these doctrinal sources are in your Counterterrorism texts; likely they are not. Their absence from the bibliographies should be taken as an indicator that our subject matter experts may not be doctrinally grounded.
Citations. Some writing conventions do not require a page number in an in-sentence citation. Because the research product will come under withering attack, page numbers (optional in American Psychological Association [APA]) are a necessity. Supervisors should make them mandatory. The lack of a page number in a citation invites additional demands for supporting evidence, allegations of ambiguity, and context complaints. The citations should point back to the Quran, the Hadiths, the Sira and the holdings of the four Sunni jurists. Citations outside of these seven sources should include a brief description of the author’s background and additional writing to reinforce his subject matter credentials. When multiple citations are used (creating depth) the page numbers become invaluable for demonstrating that the otherwise contentious point under discussion is, in fact, supported in doctrine. Heavy, very heavy, use of doctrinally based citations insulates the researcher from politicized critics.
Footnotes. Footnotes are essential in fortifying and reinforcing points made in the narrative. Supporting details interrupt the flow of the narrative, and, in polarizing and volatile subjects, the supporting details, such as author credentials, background information or counters to known and expected arguments, should be immediately available to the reader at the bottom of the page. Heavy use of doctrinal footnotes creates analytic depth and fortifies the paper. Heavy footnoting also demonstrates to a critical chain of command and reviewers that the researcher has substantiated his work and shifts the burden to the researcher’s critics.
Bibliographies. A fortified bibliography contains a majority, almost exclusively, of Islamic sources drawing from each of the four Sunni Schools of law as well as the Quran, Hadith and Sira. A preponderance of non-Islamic (Western) texts in the bibliography seriously undermines a researcher’s contention that he is proceeding from a doctrinal understanding of his topic.
Government and academia are being confronted by Jihad of the Pen and Tongue. These manifest themselves in restraining research, critical analysis and document production. Ideologically committed individuals are rational actors within the context of their civilizational norms and have a positive duty to act in the defense of their ideology and doctrine. Their tool is Jihad of the Pen and Tongue. And, their target is the unsuspecting researcher, supervisor, and critical analysis.
al-Marghinani, B. a.-D.-F., & Nyazee, I. A. (2008). Al-Hidayah Fi Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (Vol. 2). Bristol, England: Amal Press.
al-Marghinani, B.-D.-F., & Nyazee, I. (2006). Al-Hidayah Fi Sharh Bidayat Al-Mubtadi (Vol. 1). Bristol England: Amal Press.
Al-Matroudi, A. H. (2006). The hanbali school of law and ibn taymiyyah: Conflict or concilition. London: Routledge.
al-Misri, A. i. (1994). Umdat al-salik (Reliance of the traveller). Baltimore: Amana Publications.
Al-Qardawi, Y. D. (1999). Fiqh az-zakat: a comparative study. the rules, regulations and philosophy of zakat in the light of the quran and sunna. London: Dar Al Taqwa Ltd.
ash-Shaybani, A. i. (1969). al-Musnad. Beirut: al-Maktab al Islami.
Brill, E. J. (2006). The encyclopaedia of islam. (T. B. P.J. Bearman, Ed.) Leiden.
Damer, T. E. (2009). Attacking faulty reasoning. Belmont, California: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
Guillaume, A. (1967). The life of muhammad: A translation of ibn ishaq’s sirat raul allah. Karachi: Oxford University Press.
Humayun, A. (2010). Connivance by silence: How the majority's failure to challenge politically motivated [mis]interpretations of quran empowered radicals to propogate extremism. Bloomington: Xlibris.
Ibn Rushd, A. a.-w. (1994). Bidayat al-mujtahid wa nihayat al-Muqtasid (The distinguished jurist's primer). Reading, United Kingdom: Garnet Publishing.
Khadduri, M. (1955). War and peace in the law of islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Khadduri, M. (1966). The islamic law of nations; al-shaybani's siyar. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
Khadduri, M. (1997). Al-Shafii's risala. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society.
Khan, D. M. (1997). The translations of the meaning of sahih al-bukhari. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Darussalam Publishers.
Khan, D. M.-u.-D.-H. (2000). Interpretation of the meanings of the noble quran in the english language. Riyadh-Saudi Arabia: Dar-us-Salam Publications.
Malik, I. i. (2004). Al-Muwatta of imam malik ibn anas: The first formulation of islamic law. (A. A. Bewley, Trans.) Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Book Trust.
Malik, S. (1992). The quranic concept of war. Delhi: Adam Publishers.
Pruthi, R. (Ed.). (2002). Encyclopaedia of Jihad. New Delhi, India: Anmol Publications.
United States Central Command Red Team. (2008). Freedom of speech in jihad analysis: Debunking the myth of offensive words. United States Army Central Command, Department of Defense. Washington, D.C. : Department of Defense. Retrieved from https://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/198-freedom-of-speech-in-jihad-analysis-debunking.pdf
Unknown. (2002, February 2). Defenses. Retrieved from ci-ce-ct.com: www.ci-ce-ct.com/Feature%20articles/02-12-2002.asp, accessed 16 November 2004.
[i] Sura 3:28. Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Auliya (supporters, helpers, instead of the believers, and whoever does that will never be helped by Allah in anyway, except if you fear a danger from them, And Allah warns you against Himself (His punishment and to Allah is the final return.
[ii] Sura 16:106:Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with faith, but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a great torment
[iii] Sura 49-11. “Oh you who believe! Let not a group scoff at one another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: ‘Oh Sinner” or “O wicked’]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrongdoers).”
[iv] Sura 49:12. “O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Would you hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.”
[v] Sura 2:11: “Do you enjoin piety to others and forget yourselves?”
[vi] Sura 3:104: “Let there be a group of you who call to good, commanding the right and forbidding the wrong, for those are the successful.”
[vii] “Giving a misleading impression means to utter an expression that ostensibly that ostensibly implies one meaning while intending a different meaning the expression may also have, one that contradicts the ostensive purport. It is a kind of deception” “It often takes the form of the speaker intending a specific referent while the hearer understands a more general one, as when a person asks a householder, “Is So and so here?” to which the householder, intending the space between himself and the questioner rather than the space inside the house, replies, “He is not here” (al-Misri, 1994, p. 748).
[viii] "If a praiseworthy aim is attainable by lying but not telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible.” “It is obligatory to lie if the goal is obligatory.” “When, for example, one is concealing a Muslim from an oppressor who asks where he is, it is obligatory to lie about him being hidden.” “Whether the purpose is war, settling a disagreement, or gaining sympathy of a victim legally entitled to retaliate against one so that he will forbear to do so; it is not unlawful to lie when any of these aims can be obtained through lying” (al-Misri, 1994, pp. 745-746)
[ix] Sura 5:2. “Do not assist one another in sin and aggression.”