Islam's Hatred of the Non-Muslim
by David Bukay
Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2013, pp. 11-20 (view PDF)
It is accepted as a truism by many liberals and multiculturalists and touted by much of the Western media that the "clash of civilizations" between the West and the Islamic world is a clash of values between a secular, tolerant, post-Christian world and a minority (albeit a large one) of Muslims, fundamentalists, and literalists who pervert the meaning of their faith-traditions. The Qur'anic verse, "There is no compulsion in religion," is frequently invoked to prove that Islam is not the intolerant, subjugating religion that Islamist clerics like Yusuf Qaradawi or terrorists like Osama bin Laden make it out to be. The belief is that "Islam," as former president George W. Bush said not long after the 9-11 attacks, "is peace."
But what if Bush's statement, along with the mainstream view, ignores the reality of Islam's central tenets? Are the Islamists' beliefs really only a warped minority position or are they a truer reflection of the inherent nature of the Muslim faith-system? Can the West ever reach a modus vivendi with an Islam that by its very nature considers Western civilization an unclean "other" that must be brought into the orbit of Islam through subjugation at best or destruction at worst?
Despite attempts to reframe the meaning of jihad for Western audiences, as in this ad on a Chicago bus, classic Muslim commentators are clear: Jihad reflects the normal relations existing between the believers and the infidel. Islam sees jihad as the means of creating peace by subjugating all others and enforcing Islamic order. A pax Islamica covering the globe is the aim of jihad, which is thus a just war.
A closer examination of Islam's central tenets is called for, one that gets past the feel-good nostrums of multiculturalism and that engages the Muslim belief-system on its own terms, beginning with one of the most fundamental of those tenets, the doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara (love and hate for the sake of God).
Love and Hate for the Sake of Allah
In the introduction to the 2005 exposition of al-Wala wal-Bara by Muhammad Qahtani, Sheikh Abdar Razaq Afifi, deputy president of the Department of Guidance and a member of the Board of Great Ulema of Saudi Arabia, declares:
The subject matter is of paramount importance and utmost interest: Firstly, it is concerned with one of Islam's main foundations, which has two major prerequisites of true faith: al-Wala is a manifestation of sincere love for Allah, his prophet and the believers; al-Bara is an expression of enmity and hatred toward falsehood and its adherents. Both are evidence of true faith. Secondly, it has been written at a very crucial time where Muslims are no longer aware of those qualities which distinguish the believers from the nonbelievers; their faith has become so weak; and they have taken the disbelievers as their friends while displaying enmity toward the believers.
Qahtani's English publisher adds the following:
It is impossible to provide a literal translation in English of the al-Wala wal-Bara, but the meaning of this Arabic term indicated, on the one hand, drawing near to what is pleasing to Allah and His Messenger and, on the other hand, withdrawing from what is displeasing to Allah and His Messenger.
Al-Wala wal-Bara means then total loyalty to Islam and total disavowal of anything else. It is one of Islam's main foundations and is of paramount importance, second only to Tawhid, acknowledgement of the oneness of God. Total allegiance and love are only to be given within the Islamic community, and rejection, hate, and enmity against the other is commanded, based upon Qur'anic foundations:
Say: "If you love Allah then follow me that Allah may love you and forgive your faults… Allah does not love the infidels. … They are the residents of Hell, and will there forever abide."
Al-Wala wal-Bara doctrine originated in the pre-Islamic Arab tribal system from which it was passed on to the umma (Islamic community). The constructs of love and loyalty were extended to the family and the hamula (clan) while suspicion and hatred was directed toward those outside the clan, the "other" who did not embrace Muhammad's teachings. The Islamic umma has evolved into a super-tribe by way of religious linkage.
The medieval exegete Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328 C.E.), one of the authorities cited most by Wahhabis and Salafists, expressed al-Wala wal-Bara this way:
Whoever loves for the sake of Allah, and hates for the sake of Allah, and whoever seals a friendship for His sake, or declares an enmity for His sake, will receive the protection of Allah. No one may taste true faith except by this even if his prayers and fasts are many.
A real-world application of this conceptual framework was provided by Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Baz, formerly chief mufti of Saudi Arabia, who issued a fatwa (religious ruling) before the 2003 Iraq war prohibiting seeking help from the infidels (kuffar) in jihad and urging Muslims to hate non-Muslims and show animosity toward them.
Islam and Infidels
The issue of the Muslim's relationship with the infidel is one of the most important in Islam. The amount of attention devoted to the infidel is huge: 64 percent of the total Qur'an addresses that relationship while 81 percent of the Sira (chronological biographies of Muhammad) and 37 percent of the Hadith (sayings attributed to Muhammad) focus on this as well. In sum, nearly two thirds of Shari'a (Islamic law) is devoted to the infidel.
What comes through clearly by examining this subject is that Islam is not about universal brotherhood, as is often claimed, but about the brotherhood of believers, members of the umma. The flip-side of this is a total denunciation of the "other." There are more than four hundred verses in the Qur'an alone that describe the torment in hell that Allah has prepared for the infidel. The Qur'an dehumanizes infidels: They are vile animals and beasts, the worst of creatures and demons; perverted transgressors and partners of Satan to be fought until religion is Allah's alone. They are to be beheaded; terrorized, annihilated, crucified, punished, and expelled, and plotted against by deceit. Believers must be in a constant state of war with the infidel.
According to Ibn Taymiya:
Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is entirely for Allah [2:189, 8:39] and the word of Allah is uppermost [9:40], therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought. Whosoever contends with Muhammad deserves death.
The Qur'anic pedigree for this view is unambiguous. In the spirit of al-Wala wal-Bara, Muslims are to be compassionate with one another but ruthless to the infidel. The infidels must not be taken as friends. "Hostility and hate" exist between them forever until the infidel "believe in Allah alone." They are a hated and cursed people; vile and evil-doers; disgraced and misguided. Even one's relatives should not be taken as friends if they are not Muslim. As Bernard Lewis has put it:
Islam is still the ultimate criterion of group identity and loyalty. It is Islam that distinguishes between self and other, between insider and outsider, between brother and stranger … the ultimate definition of the other, the alien outsider and presumptive enemy, has been the kafir [infidel].
The Qur'an says that all other religions are cursed by Allah. All those who join idols or false gods to Allah, or invent lies about Him, or deny Allah, or change even one word of Allah's book, or do not believe in Allah's messenger Muhammad are to be "seized wherever found and slain with a slaughter."
Judaism and Christianity are rejected and not acceptable to God since he has sent his final messenger to the entire world, who has revealed their errors. To love God is to reject those who reject Him.
O believers do not hold Jews and Christians as your allies. They are allies of one another; and anyone who makes them his friends is surely one of them; and Allah does not guide the unjust.
The practical applications of this are delineated by the Hadith:
Narrated Ibn Umar: Allah's apostle said: "I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's apostle."
There are approximately seven hundred verses in more than fifty Qur'anic suras that have direct and explicit negative references to the Jews; together with the other major books of Islam, they comprise in total 9 percent of the total Shari'a. The characterizations employed against Jews are situated in the attitude toward the "other" that al-Wala wal-Bara perpetuates.
Jews are cursed forever, having been transformed into apes and swine (or apes alone). The ultimate sin committed by the Jews is that they are the devil's minions, and if they do not accept the true faith of Islam, they will burn in hellfire. Jews conceal the truth, being "the vilest of all creatures," most wicked with hearts harder than stones. By perverting the words of God, Jews corrupted the scriptures and killed the prophets. Jews are "fond of lies," "devour the forbidden," and are "cowards, vulgar, and fools." They are the worst of God's creation; rats are, in fact, "mutated Jews." From an operational standpoint, the Hadith takes these views and offers a prescription for their application (albeit sometime in the future):
The hour will not be established until you fight the Jews, and the stone and the tree behind which a Jew will be hiding will say: "O Muslim! O Servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, so come and kill him."
As for Christianity, Islam believes that it is a corrupted and distorted religion based on myths and legends. Jesus is a Muslim prophet; Christ's divinity is a blasphemy and thus the foundations of Christianity are false. Christians have invented lies about God by ascribing partners to Him, which is the worst of sins. For that, they too are condemned forever to Hell. Jesus will one day come back and destroy Christianity by breaking the cross, and on the Day of Judgment, he will be a witness against them.
As a final act before his death, Muslim tradition claims that Muhammad ordered an ethnic cleansing of Jews and Christians from Arabia. Whether that took place under the auspices of the Muslim prophet or happened in some other fashion, the reality is that Jews have been banished from the territory of Arabia and that Saudi Arabia—the modern nation-state that occupies that peninsula—bars all Jews from dwelling in its borders to this day.
Supremacy of the Muslim and the Way of War
The logical outcome of this world-view is the Islamic imperative to subjugate the world through the establishment of a universal umma. Since Allah's word (as transmitted by Muhammad) is inherently superior, man-made laws are intrinsically sinful and must be replaced by the Shari'a. It would be wicked and embracing al-Bara to permit humanity to ignore the perfect law of Allah, and thus it is a religious duty to create the most perfect world by political or other means.
As Islam is the perfect religious system, consisting of God's wisdom from the beginning of time and thus above and beyond all other religions, Muslims are the best of all peoples, and their reward is a luxurious life in Paradise. Dawa, often translated as "preaching" or "teaching," is more literally an "invitation" to humanity to accept Islam as the only true religion and submit to its dictates. Alternatives, such as allowing others to wallow in their ignorance, would essentially be doing the opposite of al-Wala wal-Bara, something no good Muslim (who knows better about the superiority of his faith) should do.
The imperative that flows from this is that killing or being killed for the sake of Islam is a hallowed duty:
Behold, Allah has bought of the believers their lives and their possessions, promising them paradise in return, [and so] they fight in Allah's cause, and slay, and are slain: a promise which in truth He has willed upon Himself in [the words of] the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur'an. And who could be more faithful to his covenant than Allah?
Being God's chosen people, Muslims need have no guilt or remorse toward the infidels. The world is divided into two distinct realms: Dar al-Islam (the house of submission) and Dar al-Harb (the house of the sword), and the normal and only justified relationship between the two is a state of perpetual war. There can be no peace with non-Muslims, only temporary truces. Islam's concept of a just war is any war directed against the infidels, whatever its causes and circumstances, since fighting the infidel is always morally justified and religiously legitimized.
Jihad reflects the normal relations existing between the believers and the infidel. Islamic wars are futuhat, derived from the Arabic root for "open" in the sense that they open the world to the call of Islam; wars instigated by the infidel are hurub, derived from the Arabic root for "anger." Any territory conquered during jihad by Muslims is waqf, never to be returned, while territory conquered by the infidel is considered occupation that must be returned by force. By this reasoning, territorial expansion through war by Muslim forces is not aggression but fulfillment of the Qur'anic command to disseminate Islam.
Islam then sees war as the means of creating peace by subjugating all others and enforcing Islamic order. A pax Islamica covering the globe is the aim of jihad, and therefore, it is a just war. A hudna or truce does not imply the abandonment of jihad but rather a suspension of hostilities, a dormant status from which a leader may revive fighting at any time at his will. For the Muslim, a permanent peace is a theological state to be achieved for the sake of the good (al-Wala) rather than a political one, which is no more than a temporary truce to gain strategic advantage.
Love, Hate, and Prayer
Five times a day, Muslims declare their total allegiance and submission to God by reciting the opening verses of the Qur'an. While the first six verses seem unobjectionable, verses 6 and 7 take on a different complexion in light of the doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara:
 Guide us to the straight path,  the path of those whom you have favored, not of those against whom there is wrath, nor of those have gone astray.
One of the earliest Qur'anic exegetes, al-Tabari (838-923), explained in his Commentary on the Qur'an that "those against whom there is wrath" are the Jews while "those who have gone astray" are the Christians.
This view is maintained to this day as can be seen in recent translations of the Qur'an by al-Hilali and Khan endorsed by the Saudi government and circulated in bookstores, mosques, even prisons. Thus, notwithstanding the extensive whitewashing of the inherent prejudice within Islam in an attempt to portray Jews and Christians as honored and protected "people of the book" (ahl al-Kitab) rather than plain infidels, one of the central pillars of the Islamic faith maintains that Jews and Christians are the "other" to be avoided if one is to live by al-Wala wal-Bara.
In fact, Muslim jurists are careful to make this distinction: Under Islamic rule, and only under Islamic rule, are Jews and Christians to be considered ahl adh-Dhimma, a protected group of second-class citizens designated as such because of their connection to the "Book" (the Bible). When Jews and Christians reside outside Islamic rule (as do Jews in the State of Israel), then they are no longer ahl adh-Dhimma but infidels.
The "Saved Sect"
Loving and hating for the sake of Allah is not only mandated for members of other faith groups but has an internal component as well. The practice of declaring other Muslims infidel (takfir) due to insufficient piety is widely practiced by Salafists and Wahhabis and used by jihadists to justify the use of violence against other Muslims.
Jihadists frequently point to a saying attributed to Muhammad:
This community will be split up into seventy-three sects, seventy-two of them will go to Hell, and one will go to Paradise, and it is the majority group.
They, along with Muslim fundamentalists, believe they are that "Saved Sect" (at-Ta'ifa al-Mansura), the only group possessing the correct Islamic beliefs. The concept of takfir, propounded by Ibn Abd al-Wahhab (founder of the Wahhabist movement), includes the command that anyone who does not show sufficient levels of wala (allegiance to his view of true Muslim belief) and adequate bara (rejection of non-Muslims, including the wrong kind of Muslims) is at risk of committing apostasy.
A jihadist web forum quotes Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, aka "Dr. Fadl" and Abdul Qadir bin Abdul Aziz, mentor of al-Qaeda's current leader Ayman al-Zawahiri:
The most important duties of …[the Saved Sect] in this age are to wage jihad against the apostate rulers who have changed the rules of Allah and who govern Muslims using heretical man-made laws … the Salafi-Jihadists are at-Ta'ifa al-Mansura who have been promised victory against its enemies and the enemies of Islam.
The linkage to al-Wala wal-Bara could not be made clearer on another popular jihadist Internet forum:
Who are at-Ta'ifa al-Mansura? Al-Bukhari says they are the people of knowledge. Other scholars say they are Ahl al-Hadith [Sunna]. Al-Nawawi says: They are those who enjoin good and forbid evil [al-Wala wal-Bara].
The doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara is used to distance Muslims from infidels but at the same time to identify other Muslims as being taghut (idolaters). As the Saved Sect, Salafist-jihadist groups are believed to have the divine right to judge other people's levels of observance and to kill them if necessary. Muslims have an obligation to struggle against idolaters who do not follow what Allah has revealed.
Labeling groups taghut is at the heart of the jihadists' struggle against Muslim regimes that do not comply with their Islamic conceptions, and the doctrine legitimizes their terrorist attacks. In their view, this is grounded in a hadith: "Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him." Salafi-jihadists can accuse any ruler who implements a political system that conflicts with their exact interpretation of Islam of being takfir.
Doctrine of al-Fitra
The doctrine of Fitra encompasses the Islamic concept of human nature. Fitra is the natural predisposition of all humans to recognize that there is but one God and, by extension, to submit to His will. Islam is called Din al-Fitra, the religion of human nature, because in the Muslim view, its laws and its teachings are relevant to the entire universe and all human beings.
In line with this doctrine is the belief that all of mankind is innately Muslim. All babies who come into the world are born Muslim and only their inconsiderate or ignorant parents have changed their religion. The supposed proof for this view comes from the Old and New Testaments: All Jewish and Christian patriarchs and prophets were actually Muslims who preached Islam from the outset, and who clearly testified that Muhammad is the messenger of God and the "Seal of all Prophets."
Thus, Abraham is said to have prayed, "Make us submit, oh Allah to your will" while Jacob's sons later declare: "We shall worship your Allah and the Allah of Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac, the one and only Allah, and to him we submit." Moses is said to have exclaimed: "O my people, if you do believe in Allah place your trust in him if you are obedient. They answered: We have placed our trust in Allah."
The appropriation of biblical figures into the fold of Islam extends further to Christianity. Mary is told that Jesus will declare,
Surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serve Him; this is the right path. But when Jesus perceived unbelief on their part, he said, who will be my helpers in Allah's way? The disciples said: We are helpers (in the way) of Allah: We believe in Allah and bear witness that we are submitting ones.
Like the church fathers who scoured the Old Testament for proofs that Jesus Christ had been foretold by the prophets, Muslim exegetes also find testimony to Muhammad and his truth in the Old and the New Testaments. The biblical promise to one day raise up another prophet for the Children of Israel is interpreted as foretelling the coming of Muhammad as the "seal" of all prophets. The Song of Moses found in Deuteronomy 33:2—"The Lord came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran"—is similarly reinterpreted: Sinai is said to be the place where Moses received the Taurat (Torah), Seir the place where Jesus received divine revelation while Paran is a mountain range in the area of Mecca where God manifested himself to mankind for the last time through his revelation to Muhammad. Muslim exegetes also quote Isaiah 42:1-4, Psalms 72:8-17, and Micah 4:1-2 as further proofs of Muhammad's prophethood and superiority.
On the face of it, Fitra would seem to contradict the understanding of al-Wala wal-Bara. Al-Wala wal-Bara is divisive; Fitra is inclusive. Al-Wala wal-Bara rejects the other: Fitra annexes the other. However, a close examination demonstrates that Fitra affirms the practical application of the former through a totalist approach. Both understand the world as being under the sway of Allah and the superiority of Islam as being evident. The Fitra doctrine is intended to prove Islam's superiority by declaring that the innate religion of all mankind (as testified to by both Old and New Testament prophets in words and deeds) is the religion embodied in Muhammad's message. All other faith-systems are hence inferior. This is precisely what is advanced by the al-Wala wal-Bara doctrine—drawing near to Allah's word and rejecting all that He hates—especially the corrupted beliefs of the other.
The doctrine of al-Wala wal-Bara is critical to understanding the Islamic world-view and its perception of the other as it is second only to attesting to tawhid, the oneness of God, for the faithful. Faith is incomplete without it, and it is the criterion used to distinguish between believers and the enemies of Islam. Tawhid will never be achieved on earth until believers apply al-Wala wal-Bara through adherence to Muhammad's way of life (as-Sirat al-Mustaqim).
Since it is the deepest Islamic obligation to have all recognize the truth of Muhammad's message, it is a Muslim duty to impose Shari'a on humanity. The infidels who resist Islam are thus responsible for the persistence of violence and the absence of world peace. It is they who force Muslims to take defensive measures to protect the truth of Islam through jihad, if necessary. Submission is the only solution to world peace, and it is in the best interest of humanity for the other to lose his otherness. This self-image helps explain why multitudes of Muslims react violently at almost every situation in which the honor of their prophet or their faith seems to be belittled while simultaneously complaining of being victims of oppression, aggression, racism, and the new and custom-made bête noir, "Islamophobia."
David Bukay is a lecturer in the school of political science at the University of Haifa.
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 George W. Bush, remarks, Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2001.
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 Ignac Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981), pp. 50, 230-1; Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), pp. 98-9; Ira Lapidus, "Historical, anthropological, methodological, and comparative perspectives: Tribes and State Formation in Islamic History," in Philip S. Khoury and Joseph Kostiner, eds., Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 30, 34.
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 Derives from hadith of Sijistani, Sunan abu-Dawud, vol. 3, no. 4580.
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