Our followers ‘must live in peace until strong enough to wage jihad’
One of the world’s most respected Deobandi scholars believes that aggressive military jihad should be waged by Muslims “to establish the supremacy of Islam” worldwide. Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani argues that Muslims should live peacefully in countries such as Britain, where they have the freedom to practise Islam, only until they gain enough power to engage in battle. His views explode the myth that the creed of offensive, expansionist jihad represents a distortion of traditional Islamic thinking. Mr Usmani, 64, sat for 20 years as a Sharia judge in Pakistan’s Supreme Court. He is an adviser to several global financial institutions and a regular visitor to Britain. Polite and softly spoken, he revealed to The Times a detailed knowledge of world events and his words, for the most part, were balanced and considered. He agreed that it was wrong to suggest that the entire nonMuslim world was intent on destroying Islam. Yet this is a man who, in his published work, argues the case for Muslims to wage an expansionist war against nonMuslim lands. Mr Usmani’s justification for aggressive military jihad as a means of establishing global Islamic supremacy is revealed at the climax of his book, Islam and Modernism. The work is a polemic against Islamic modernists who seek to convert the entire Koran into “a poetic and metaphorical book” because, he says, they have been bewitched by Western culture and ideology. The final chapter delivers a rebuke to those who believe that only defensive jihad (fighting to defend a Muslim land that is under attack or occupation) is permissible in Islam. He refutes the suggestion that jihad is unlawful against a nonMuslim state that freely permits the preaching of Islam. For Mr Usmani, “the question is whether aggressive battle is by itself commendable or not”. “If it is, why should the Muslims stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why did Islam not stop it in the past?” He answers his own question thus: “Even in those days . . . aggressive jihads were waged . . . because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of the religion of Allah.” These words are not the product of a radical extremist. They come from the pen of one of the most acclaimed scholars in the Deobandi tradition.