Al-Anbar Awakening: How Muslims Confronted the Hirabah

Amy Procter at Bottom Line Up Front offered this analysis yesterday on the lessens of the Al-Anbar Awakening:

As for “jihadists”, I offer a correction.

Terrorism in the name of Islam is NOT Jihad, it is Hirabah.

Hirabah technically means rebellion and terrorism, which is considered heresy within Islam. Acts of hirabah are capital crimes in Islam. It contains the principle of Jihad but carries out acts of “persuasion” to meet its objective.

Knowing the difference between the two is not only appreciated by moderate Muslims, but it is also what won Anbar Province. You’ll hear Democrats say U.S. troops had nothing to do with it and that Iraqis just got sick and tired of al-Qaeda. That’s partially true, but last fall the 1st Armored Division waged counterinsurgency in Anbar Province before GEN Petraeus was the MNF-I commander.

Essentially, chaplains, who imams and sheiks see as equals because they are educated clergy, welcomed meetings with chaplains and their representative (the ch. assistant). They began forging relationships, clergy (chaplains) to clergy (sheiks and imams) and this relationship coupled with troops living among the people and leaving the super FOBs (Forward Operating Bases or huge military compounds where they retreated since 2004 allowing the enemy to plant IEDs and terrorize the population) is what helped win the salvation of Anbar Province.

The main distinction that contributed to the success of Anbar was religious understanding. Our understanding that in Islam there is no separation of church and state and that so-called Muslims who are suicide bombers and terrorists are not really Muslim at all, but apostates and heretics of the faith.

This understanding and our use of the terms (jihad and hirabah) helped alienate terrorists like al-Qaeda from the Muslim population and marginalize their efforts. In doing so, we showed consideration for the Muslim religion, no matter what our personal opinions may be on the religion itself, and persuade good Muslims to support the effort against apostates like Osama bin Laden.

Calling terrorism “jihad” may be more en vogue than referring to it as “hirabah”, but we risk legitimizing the likes of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah in the Islamic world if we refer to their terror as jihad. It’s murder, terrorism, apostasy, heresy and hirabah. This is how the war on terror can be won; Muslims want to stop the assault on their religion as much as the rest of us do.

Killing innocent civilians in the name of Allah is not Jihad and Muslims know it… they’re simply waiting for us to understand this as well.

My husband is active duty and an OIF vet. We have a friend serving with MNF-I in Iraq. He’s MAJ Guidry, a Muslim. He e-mailed me not long ago and said this:

I had the privilege of meeting and talking with an Iraqi SF (Security Force) LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) who operates in Anbar Province. I asked him specifically what his thoughts are about engaging religious leaders (Imams) here in theater. He was very receptive and excited about such an endeavor. Here are a few things that he shared with me:

– Imams are VERY influential leaders in the community and MUST be engaged.

– Imams welcome the opportunity to talk with American “imams” (meaning chaplains) as brothers.

…The most eye-opening thing he said was that many Imams are intimidated constantly by ‘bad guys’. If they openly preach in support of CF they are killed. If they preach neutral sermons they are threatened and asked why they do not encourage support for the insurgency, and they are threatened with death if they do not show public support of insurgent groups. The bad guys do this because THEY ARE AFRAID of the influence and power of the Imams and faithful, devout congregations.

Since 2001, we’ve been complaining that moderate Muslims have been silent about terrorism. In the past year several years movements within Islam have surfaced such as No Terror and This is not Us as moderate Muslims strive to condemn terrorism and apostasy. The Pope has said as much as well.

It comes down to this: do we want to win the war by understanding and defeating our enemy and collaborating with Muslims who reject terrorism or do we want to have a “carpet bomb Muslims” attitude and paint the moderates into a corner of choosing between us and terrorists?

We really need to capitalize on this understanding.

Iraqi-American Haider Ajina adds this:

Greetings Jim,
Hirabah is what the Koran refers to as those who create mischief or bring Rot and disorder to the land. This is not physical Rot it means social Rot or societal Rot. Koran 5:33 Surah Al-Maeda.

The comments (by Amy) confirms what I have read about the Anbar reawakening plan. It also reminds me of how religious leaders (Christians {eastern church and western} , Muslims {Shiite & Sunni} and Jews {Ashkenazi & Saferdi}) interacted with each other when I lived in Iraq.

And by the way the Koran in 5:33 puts those who fight God and his messengers (the ultimate sinners) equal to those who bring mischief to the land. Thus making the Hirabahs just as evil as those who fight God and his messengers.

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