Newsletter #196 – Does the First Amendment protect the religious duty of jihad?

The First Amendment protects our freedom of religion and speech. Does our Constitution also protect preaching the duty of jihad to Muslims?

The certified English translation of codified Islamic sharia law is “Reliance of the Traveller, the Classic Manual of Sacred Islamic Law.” The compilation was authenticated by both the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA) and Al Ahzar University in Cairo, the preeminent teaching center of sharia law.

Islamic sharia law says that both the greater and lesser jihad are mandatory for believers. Islamists call violent jihad the “lesser jihad” and the spiritual struggle the “greater jihad.” But according to the Reliance of the Traveller, Section o9.0 the discussion of “jihad” begins this way:

Jihad means to war against non-Muslims and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion…”

Details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of the military expeditions of the Prophet…,including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others. o9.0

Sharia law imposes a communal obligation regarding this “lesser jihad” recounting that “[i]n the time of the Prophet jihad was a communal obligation after his emigration (hijra) to Medina.” (o9.1). Is the law’s emphasis on the violent jihad because it was Mohammed’s violent Medinian jihad (the offensive jihad), that helped spread Islam? Is it because every Muslim has a religious duty to convert “non-believers” either by persuasion or force?

If Mohammed is the perfect Muslim that all Muslims are to emulate and an imam in a mosque preaches jihad and a worshipper then commits jihad, is the imam’s speech protected religious speech or speech that incites violence which may not be protected by our constitution? For example:

former Islamic Center of Tennessee Imam Abdullah al Ansari directed his listeners (at 5:12), that “He [Allah] told us to fight the Jews and Christians. Fight them until they give jizya.  They give this protective tax from their hands and they are humiliated and subdued. If Islam, true Islam and true Muslims do not rule there will never be justice.” (almost word for word Koran 9:29; Reliance o9.8 – Objectives of Jihad p.602

Boston Imam Abdullah Faarooq exhorted the listening worshippers that “[y]ou must grab on to this rope, grab on to the typewriter, grab on to the shovel, grab on to the gun and the sword, dont be afraid to step out into this world and do your job.”

In 2009, the FBI estimated that “Imams preach jihad and extremism in 10 percent of the 2,000 mosques in the United States.” A 2011 random survey of 100 mosques by the Terrorism Research Initiative, found that 80% of the mosques preached jihad either through sermons and/or materials.

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The California based Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) issues fatwas,(authoritative religious rulings that guide Muslims living in the West) on issues such as condoning death for apostates, marital rape and female genital mutilation.  AMJA also hosts an annual Imams training conference.

Regarding the instigation of offensive jihad in America, an AMJA fatwa translated from Arabic states that the Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time. With our current capabilities, we are aspiring towards defensive jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation. Allah Almighty knows best.

Memphis Imam Yasir Qadhi is a frequent speaker at the AMJA imams training conference. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, the vice-president of Qadhi’s AlMaghrib Institute, is also on the AMJA fatwa committee.

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Sayyid Qutb, a a “leading theorist of violent jihad” and Muslim Brotherhood “intellectual godfather,” promoted offensive/violent jihad to establish Islam’s supremacy over infidels and all other religions. The mosques attended by the Chattanooga jihadist and the one attended by the Boston marathon jihad bombers are both owned by a Muslim Brotherhood organization.

Camouflaged incitement?”

In Incitement in the Mosques: Testing the Limits of Free Speech and Religious Liberty, University of Baltimore Law professor Kenneth Lasson explains that according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brandenberg case on free speech, “…the government could limit speech that is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action that is likely to incite or produce such action.”

He notes that the First Amendment does not protect what he calls “camouflaged incitement” – “…language that can be considered coded speech, guns for hire, inducement by simulation or supplying how-to plans are all suspect.” He suggests that clerics deliver sermons with the intent to “encourage action… Religion moves followers to act on their beliefs.”

Bill Warner’s “Statistical Islam” shows that 98% of the Hadith and roughly three-quarters of the Siras references are to jihad of the sword (the “lesser jihad”).

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So, against the backdrop of violent jihad like 9-11, the Boston marathon bombings, the Chattanooga murders, the Fort Hood killing spree, the murder of Pvt. Andrew Long by Abdulhakim Mohammed, is it incitement to violence when imams read from the Quran, the Sira and Hadith, and claim that Mohammed is the example for all Muslims to follow? Or press believers to follow Islamic sharia law? So, how close in time does the violent jihad have to be to be considered “imminent”? And last but not least, should these imams be protected by the First Amendment if they preach the religious duty of the “lesser” jihad?

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Law professor Kenneth Lasson gives a pragmatic answer: “[t]errorism creates a kind of permanent imminence. When messages advocating murderous violence are heard by large numbers of people, the government should have the authority to stop the speakers. There is no democratic value in protecting clerics who exhort their listeners to kill Jews and Americans wherever you can find them.”