"....So, when you clash with the unbelieving Infidels in battle, smite their necks until you overpower them, killing and wounding many of them…when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind them firmly, making them captives… you are commanded by Allah to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidels until they submit to Islam." Koran 47:4
The events unfolding in Israel may seem unfathomable, and indeed, are beyond human understanding. People around the world are trying to understand the motivation behind such savagery.
Yet, what may appear to be inexplicable slaughter and pure evil has religious underpinnings that have no parallel in Western tradition or morality. Al-siyar is “international law” under Islamic Shariah Law. It has two primary components: Dar-al-Islam and Dar-al-Harb. Dar-al-Islam is the “House of Islam (peace from a Muslim’s perspective), while Dar-al-Harb is the “House of War.”
To an Islamic fundamentalist, all the world is either under Islamic/Shariah rule or it is subject to the “land of war.” Whenever an Islamic leader has it within their power to do so, their duty is to bring the land of the infidels under Islamic control. By fulfilling this obligation, the Islamic leader aims to unite the entirety of the Islamic world, the “ummah,” in their holy endeavor.
As I pursued a master’s degree in International Law at the University of Virginia in 1991, I strove to understand why Saddam Hussein was about to engage in war against the United States of America, the most powerful army on the face of the earth. I concluded Hussein did not think he could win outright; all he had to do was put up a stand…and survive. By doing so, Hussein was confident the global Islamic “ummah” would feel compelled to coalesce and support him.
Ten years later Osama bin Laden pursued the same objective when he directed Al-Qaeda terrorists to fly airplanes into buildings in the United States on 9-11. He hoped this outrageous terrorist attack would spark a worldwide Islamic uprising against the “Great Satan.” The “Little Satan,” Israel, would then be easy pickings.
Now, twenty years later, Hamas and Iran are taking their turn trying to unite the “ummah” against the infidels. The best way to crystalize the Islamic world is to initiate Jihad – to fight an Islamic holy war, justified by the Koran. The timing of this particular terrorist attack shows desperation. A much anticipated Israeli-Saudi agreement, in the works, would have undermined many ongoing Iranian efforts to annihilate Israel.
So, why would anyone kill and decapitate babies or take innocent humans hostage? The Koran prescribes how to conduct Jihad: “smite their necks until you overpower them…bind them firmly, making them captives…you are commanded by Allah to continue carrying out Jihad against the unbelieving infidel until they submit to Islam.”
I visited Israel not long ago and had the chance to talk with the Minister of Defense. He asked, “Who are Israel’s neighbors?”
I responded, “Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.” Puzzled by his question, I asked him, “Why? Who do you see as your neighbors?”
He answered, “Hezbollah, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Fatah, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups.”
His response gave me new perspective on the Middle East and Israel’s predicament. Nation-states are compelled to play by some rules; terrorist organizations have no rules. I asked the Defense Minister how peace might be secured and he provided this intriguing insight:
“One can never reconcile the religious differences between Jews and Muslims. All Israel can do is manage the problems, not solve them. We have managed for 75 years, and we will need to do so for another 75 years. Over generations, we might learn to live with one another.”
Israel had been on a path toward wider acceptance in the Middle East, having concluded peace agreements with Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Sudan, Morocco and Bahrain. Airline flights had begun between Jerusalem and Dubai. But now, Hamas Islamic fundamentalists have thrown down the most unimaginable Jihadist gauntlet to destroy those agreements. Whose side will those governments now take?
Middle East dictators, leaders and terrorists understand one thing: raw power. Israel has no option but to respond with overwhelming force to protect their citizens. The match to the Middle East tinder box has been lit. Problems might be managed; crises can be an entirely different story. The world will be mesmerized to see if this horrific circumstance and its aftermath can be managed.