Islamic history, religion

More Ibn Taymiyyah, Jihad, the Mongol invasion; acceptance or retaliation

Jihad, a struggle for inner peace

A couple of entries ago, see www. I wrote about a 14th century, theologian, Ibn Taymmiyyah. I recently gained more information about his doctrine and his influence on the Muslim religion and culture. This appears to centre around the controversial 6th Pillar of Islam; Jihad (holy war).

There are two interpretations of Jihad, the popular and arguably a majority view holds, that ”war” refers to an internal struggle to find peace, while the widely publicised interpretation refers to an external and violent form of warfare against the unfaithful. As we know, it is the second definition, that informs the actions of the mercenaries in Syria and the media, which reports their actions.

Islam was, to a degree, established, through warfare waged against other religions. As it colonised neighbouring countries it absorbed different philosophies and ideas. Though Ibn Taymiyyah was popular and appeared to be a thoughtful and kind man he was a strong advocate of the second interpretation of Jihad.

The Mongol invasion

I don’t want to backtrack too far as this blog is diverse to say the least, still it is worth mentioning the backdrop to the doctrine adopted by Ibn Taymiyyah. He was born shortly after the end of the Mongol invasion, which left much of the middle east in devastation. The Abbasid Khalifa, based in Bhagdad, was a mere shell and hadn’t been able to battle the Khan family and its armies as they plundered the country’s infra-structure.

The Khans moved through Syria into Palestine destroying everything in their wake, books were thrown into the river Tigress, irrigation canals and farms were destroyed and whole regions were depopulated due to the phenomenal death rate. It was the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, which saved the holy sites of Mekka, Medina and Jerusalem, as the Mongols were defeated by the Marmaluke Sultanate based in Egypt.

The Marmalukes wished to regain power but the Khans had converted and under Islamic doctrine, one Muslim nation did not wage war on another. Ibn Taymiyyah solved this dilemma, when he conjectured, that the Khans were renegades and not legally Muslim.

Though I agree, with the sentiments expressed by the authors Daniel Benjamin and Seven Simon, that Ibn Taymiyyah ”planted the seed of revolutionary violence in the heart of Islamic thought”, it is easy for me to say, not having lived in the aftermath of such devastation.

When Syria does find peace, the people will probably be expected to live with what the ”Islamists” have created. I don’t blame the Marmlukes for retaliating, when they did but the behaviour of the  mercenaries and the western powers, operating in modern day Syria is unforgiveable. Syrian Muslims did not recently convert or plunder another country, no excuse.


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