In early 2005, a well-known Muslim apologist named, Jamal Badawi, offered $1 million to anyone who could prove that the Qur’an contained the words, “Holy War.” Whether he actually had the money to put up is somewhat in question, but his intention was to make people believe that Jihad is not advocated in the Qur’an and that the terrorists are somehow tragically mistaken when they wage their campaigns of holy war in the cause of Islam.
So successful is this myth, that it has been repeated on popular television shows, such as “Criminal Minds.” Many now believe that not only is holy warfare not advocated by the Qur’an, but that the word, “Jihad” must not appear in it either, since Jihad has come to mean “Holy War” (most especially by those who kill in the name of Allah).
In fact, not only is the word “Jihad” mentioned in several places within the Qur'an, such as the infamous Sura 9 (which includes the “Verse of the Sword”), there are over 150 calls to holy war scattered throughout the entire text.
So what’s the catch?
Well, when knowledgeable infidels such as Robert Spencer immediately responded to the challenge and went to collect their prize, Mr. Badawi was forced to reveal the fine print on his offer. You see, he wasn’t talking about the concept of holy war. He only meant the exact Arabic phrase, “Holy War.”
And what about “Jihad?” Well, this doesn’t count, according to Mr. Badawi, because technically it can be used in a context that doesn’t mean ‘holy war’ (even if that is not how it was interpreted in Muhammad’s time, nor in ours). "Jihad" is like the word “fight,” which can be used in a benign sense (as in, “I am fighting a craving to call Mr. Badawi a disingenuous hack”).
If “Jihad” is holy without war, then “Qital” must be war without the holy. It is an Arabic term that literally means to wage military combat. But, like Jihad, it is most certainly used within the context of holy war, such as in Sura 2: “Fight against them until idolatry is no more and religion is only for Allah.” Mr. Badawi is even on record as admitting that Qital can be a form of Jihad… but even this doesn’t qualify according to the niceties of his offer.
So, although the Qur’an tells believers to “slay the infidels wherever ye find them,” and “smite their necks and fingertips,” showing “ruthlessness to unbelievers,” and 150 other violent admonitions to fight explicitly in the cause of Allah… the Arabic words “holy” and “war” don’t literally appear side-by-side. (Neither do the German words, “concentration” and “camp,” appear consecutively in Nazi documents, by the way).
My, what a hollow victory this is! One has to wonder whether Mr. Badawi sincerely believes that he has a point or if he recognizes this for the shameful word game that it is.
At the very least, people should know that “Jihad” is used within the context of religious warfare time and time again throughout the Qur’an and Hadith, and that, regardless of the exact terminology, Islam’s most sacred texts clearly advocate the sort of holy war that propels modern-day terrorism.