First it was the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, announcing that acts of Islamic terrorism would no longer be referred to as "Islamic terrorism," but as "anti-Islamic acts." Now, via Jihad Watch, we learn that our Secretary of State –who is in charge of our foreign relations at a time when we are at war with Islamic jihadists– may be set to ban the use of the words "jihad" and "jihadist" at State:
The argument, of course, is the old Streusand/Guirard claim that by using the word jihad, we’re validating the jihadist claim to be waging jihad. Of course, it’s ridiculous to think that the U.S. State Department carries any validating authority within the Islamic world to determine what is Islam and what isn’t. This would be the first time that unbelievers have set the meaning of Islamic theology for Muslims.
Also, the claim is that by using the word "jihad," we are insulting the peaceful Muslims who are waging the daily jihad of the struggle against sin, the struggle against the dirty dishes, etc. And that’s great, if that’s what any Muslim actually believes is the sum and substance of jihad, but it is an understanding of jihad that is at odds with the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence. Will Muslims be insulted by a reference to other Muslims using the traditional primary meaning of jihad? Answer: probably. But that doesn’t negate the traditional status of that meaning, or the influence of that traditional view in the Islamic world.
This is the "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" approach: if we don’t mention the problem, it won’t be as threatening. Maybe it will even go away.
If I wanted Fantasyland, I know where I can go. But wishing on a star isn’t going to make the threat of jihadist Islam go away, nor will refusing to bluntly name it defuse it. We are at war with people –not an abstract "terror," but people– who take to heart the Qur’anic injunctions to make war on the unbelievers (us) until they either convert or submit:
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. But if they cease, then lo! Allah is Seer of what they do. (Qur’an 8:39)
Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, then making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (is the ordinance). (Qur’an 47:4)
Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Qur’an 9:5)
Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. (Qur’an 9:29)
That last is the famous "Verse of the Sword," which is widely held by mainstream Muslim authorities to abrogate all the peaceful verses that come before it in the Qur’an. It is even taught thus in children’s books. And these four are but a few of dozens of examples of verses in the Qur’an and tales in the Hadith that command offensive jihad against non-believers. Again, us.
It does us no good to pretend that the acts of terrorism committed against us are not rooted in mainstream Islamic theology; the terrorists themselves are well-versed in Islamic theology and law. The see themselves as holy warriors –jihadis* or mujahideen– waging jihad** in the name of Allah and as the latest executors of a religious duty stretching back more than 1,300 years to Muhammad himself. For our leaders to pretend otherwise is an act of ideological appeasement and intellectual self-disarmament.
How are we supposed to fight, let alone win, if we lack the intellectual clarity and fortitude to name the enemy?
**(Oops. Did it again.)