How Radicals Justify Violence: The Logic Behind Islamists’ Resort to Radicalism and Terrorism

Noorhaidi Hasan (UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta) Scholars generally believe that Islamist movements that have ignited the ...

Noorhaidi Hasan
(UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta)

Scholars generally believe that Islamist movements that have ignited the fire of militancy, radicalism and terrorism are not mere ideological problems but form a very complex modern phenomenon that is related to political dynamics, geo-strategic shifts, and the socio-economic issues. The role of religion remains sigfinicant in justifying Islamists’ choice of persisting an exclusive way of behavior— thus making sacrifices and risking being stigmatized—and resorting to violence when necessary. Three key doctrines on which Islamists base their intolerant and anti-system habitual practices, revolutionary stance against regimes in power and violent actions against what is perceived to Muslims’ enemy  include al-wala wa’l barra, hakimiyya, and jihad. Nonetheless, these doctrines, which are identical to current stream of Salafism, are not immediately infused into somebody showing an interest in joining a radical movement and necessarily encourage him to perpetrate terrorism. The recruitment takes a long and complicated process. It normally began with a process of getting acquainted with somebody who had been active in a radical Islamist movement. The movement that flourished on university campuses and nearby areas intentionally targeted youth aged between 15 to 25. They are mostly senior high school and university students as well as drops out who were essentially passive; their interest was aroused only after they unwittingly became targets of the movement’s mission activities. This process occurred primarily through preexisting social networks and interpersonal bonds.
      Lawrence Iannaccone (1994) underscores the significance of social ties in determining one’s engagement in a strict religious movement. He argues that people who lack extensive social ties to friends and family outside the sect are more likely to join (or remain active), and are even more likely to join if they have friends or family in the sect. People with extensive social ties are less likely to join a sect. He further argues that a potential member’s social ties predict the likelihood of conversion far more accurately than his or her psychological profile. This is not the only variable that influences an individual’s propensity to join to a sect. Economic factors also play a role. People with limited secular opportunities, such as those who earn a relatively low income and have limited education or minimal job experience, are more likely to join compared with those who have established economic positions. This pattern is associated with a cost and benefit variable: those most likely to join are those with the least to lose.   
      As potential recruits they were invited to join Islamic study circles organized by the movement. later introduced into a variant of strict Islam which aggressively promotes rigid purification of faith under the banner of Salafism. This movement flourished as a consequence of Saudi Arabia’s politics of expanding their geo-political influence throughout the Muslim world – by exporting reconstituted Wahhabism. Under the changing political circumstances in Indonesia during the 1990s, it succeeded in establishing an exclusivist current of Islamic activism, even reaching remote areas of the countryside. Salafism captured public attention following the fall of the Soeharto regime in 1998. Certain groups of Salafis called on Muslims to perform jihad in Maluku, where skirmishes between local Christians and Muslims had escalated into full-blown communal conflicts. The most radical, known as jihadi Salafis, perpetrated terrorism. Salafism had to confront the changing politics after 9/11, particularly related to the government’s determination to fight terrorism and mounting resistance from Muslim villagers. The latter have been active in organizing cultural performances aimed at de-contextualizing and de-legitimating the Salafi call for purifying Muslim beliefs and practices

Historical Trajectory
            Over the last decades, scholarly discussions portrayed radicalism in the Muslim world as a manifestation of Islamism, an extremely complicated religiously inspired discourse and set of actions that passionately demand the repositioning of the role of Islam in the discursive domain and in Indonesia’s national political landscape.[i] In this understanding, Islamism cannot be explained merely by browsing the historical developments in the Muslim world over the last fourteen centuries, or be perceived as just a continuation of the conflicts prevalent in Islam’s early history. Nor can it be conceptualized as a mere impulse of religious fanaticism or a longing inspired by the wish to attain heaven, for instance. In many respects, Islamism is a rupture, an important intersection in prolonged historical time, intimately linked with the social, political, and economic changes that impinge on various parts of the Muslim world. Its manifestations often mirror the meeting points between global political and socio-economic dynamics, and the local socio-political context.
            At the start of the twentieth century, the explosion of Islamism began to reveal the fire of its influence along with the expansion of the modern nation-states that replaced the Caliphate, princedoms and other feudal family and clan-based forms of government. Because the system of the nation-state was adopted, new political elites and their supporting socio-economic classes started to emerge and to replace the dominance of the groups that had previously been in power. In the 1930s, Hasan al-Banna (1906-1949), the founder of the Ikhwan al-Muslimin in Egypt, and Abul Ala Maududi (1903-1978), the igniter of the Jama’at-i Islami party in Indo-Pakistan introduced ways of thinking that sought to identify Islam as a political ideology that was in direct opposition of other major twentieth century political ideologies.[ii] Their ideas were adapted, modified, and disseminated in line with changes in time and context.
            Both major ideologies legitimized their new visions by referring to the calls for purification (Salafism) previously introduced by Mohammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792) – of late more familiar under the name of Wahhabism – and for modernism conceptualized by Jamaluddin al-Afghani (1838-1898), Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905), and Muhammad Rashid Rida (1865-1935). While the first focused on a return to the texts of the Qur’an and the hadith and to the inspiration of the early generation of Muslims in order to purify Islam from polytheism (syirik), undesirable innovations (bid`ah), and other traditional religious expressions, the last strived to push for the acceptance of rationality and modern, Western progress in science and scholarship, which it claimed as an inherent part of that kind of pure Islam. The ideas of these major innovators spread amidst formidable waves of colonization so that it gave birth to sentiments against anti-Western dominance and the concomitant obsession with the resurrection of the Islamic community and a return to the Caliphate (pan-Islamism) that had ruled triumphantly for centuries.[iii]
            The Ikhwan al-Muslimin and the Jama‘at-i Islami bemoaned the decline of the Muslim world and its backwardness and they worked hard to insist on revitalization and solidarity among the Muslim community. Both stressed that the decline of the Muslim world was solely the result of insufficiently strong feelings of solidarity and fraternity among Muslims and of the decline in their awareness of their moral and religious values. Both the Ikhwan al-Muslimin and the Jama‘at-i Islami went through times of growth and decline and rowed between repression by, and accommodation from the authorities while prominent figures among them disseminated revolutionary ideas they borrowed from militant Marxists.[iv] For them, taking over the state would provide them with the means to disseminate true Islam among their society, which had been contaminated by Western values. Undoubtedly, both exerted profound influence in many parts of the Muslim world.

Matrix of Islamism
Islamism, or often called political Islam, is conceptualized primarily not as a religious phenomenon, but rather a socio-political phenomenon involving a group of Muslim individuals who are active in the movement based on certain ideals that they believe (hastily assumed shared ideology).[v] The most important element that distinguishes Islamism with other socio-political phenomenon lies in three things: (1) the actors involved, (2) activism , and (3) ideology . Actor involved in Islamism is a group of people who are Muslims. Religious identity - as a source of meaning built by individuals in the process of social interaction, more than Islam itself, binding activity and the involvement of individuals who are submissive in Islamism. Some of them are believed to actually move for confirmation of identity (religious).
But religious identity alone is not enough to attribute something to Islamism , required two equally important elements , namely activism . That is, although there is a group of individuals who are Muslims, Islamism symptoms do not occur before they turn on themselves to do a particular movement, the movement and a political activity that has a very broad spectrum, particularly related to power systems. Elements to be inherent in the ideology of Islamism as a close linkage with the power system. Ideology - as the cultural matrix to simplify the complexity of social life- serves as a driving force and rationale or the idea behind the activities and movements were categorized as Islamism.[vi]
Islam is emphasized not just as a religion, but also a political ideology, which is the basic ideology of the Islamic state , or at least the devout Muslim Shariah, can be built . Elements of the idea of ​​purity (purity) and the need to maintain a clear boundary between ' us ' ( we) and ' lian ' (the others) is inherent in Islamism.[vii] Slogan back in the frame to what is understood as a model of pure Islam - the Qur'an , the Sunnah of the Prophet , and the practices of the early generations of Muslims - Islamism manifest in a variety of dimensions , from the assertion of identity parokhial to terrorism in the name of jihad . Identifying with violent Islamism, therefore, is a fundamental conceptual error.[viii]
Islamism is a political - religious expression that spans four primary spectrum , covering militancy , radicalism , extremism , and terrorism . The fourth in a row it shows the strength of the influence of Islamism gradation stuck in a person. All four can be described in the following matrix:





Militancy concept refers to the mind and intolerant views and actions that seek to drive change by taking the distance of open societies around the open society. There are sincerity, determination,  and commitment to the beliefs , thoughts , attitudes and certain principles that awoke within a militant . This principle is rooted in suspicion and hatred against those who are not the views or ideologies. The most important consequence of militancy is a commitment to abstain and perform denial of influence of the others, which are often defined as the 'infidels. Intolerance became keywords in militancy.
      Militancy can develop into radicalism, which is a variant of Islamism that aspires for a radical change in the political system or society. Radicalism has the ultimate vision of political order of Islam that reject the legitimacy of the modern sovereign nation-states and governments trying to establish a pan-Islamic Caliphate or revitalize. An activity or considered radical thinking if rejected the validity of the contemporary nation-state system and seeks political system and replace it with an entirely new government based on sharia. In the spirit of revolutionary radicalism stored realization that require changes to the system as a whole, but does not require immediate action and the use of violent methods. More radicalism regarding the basic attitude that requires a comprehensive change to the system and the existing order, and therefore, can be more patient waiting for the expected changes.
            If the desire to change the system at a state level, it is not uncommon for radicals to legitimize the use of violence to achieve their Islamist vision. Extremism develops from radicalism. Extremism emphasis on violence as the primary method, and even the only one that is considered legitimate to achieve political change. Extremism is always revolutionary, because it relates to methods and ways in which to break down and break the old system , and build on its ruins a totally new system . The changes are expected to happen quickly and immediately and through street violence. Different from radicalism, extremism shows impatience wait for the change by selecting the violent tactics.
      From extremism terrorism develops. Terrorism is the peak of violence. Violence can happen without terror, but there is no terror without violence. Terrorism is not the same as bullying or sabotage. He is a violent act that is based on systematic thinking and tactics for political purposes. Acts of violence that are not based on systematic thinking and tactics cannot be called terrorism. He just acts of random violence. The existence of systematic thinking and tactics become fundamental in terrorism.[ix] The goal related to their efforts to change the system and the prevailing political order as a whole. The violence spawned chaos and fear effects designed for the purpose of influencing public authorities are confronted with being responsible behind a policy. In turn, radicalism and extremism are polished with the spirit and the doctrines of jihad spawned jihadism.

Al-Wala wa’l- Bara
      Islamists believe in the doctrine of al-wala wa’l-bara. Basically, al-wala means “to love, support, help, follow, defend,” and al-bara means “to despise, desert, denounce.”[x] Al-wala wa’l-bara implies that any Muslim who claims to have faith in Allah must love, help, and defend Islam and other Muslims while at the same  time denouncing infidelity and segregating himself or herself from the influence of infidels.[xi] Theoretically, this doctrine entails a clear-cut distinction between the world of believers and that of unbelievers. A person’s decision to migrate from a non-Muslim land to a Muslim land in order to safeguard personal religious beliefs, or an adherent’s perseverance in refraining from behaviors associated with a non-Muslim way of life, can be considered forms of obedience to this doctrine.  The doctrine of al-wala wa’l-bara has provided the basis for the Islamists’ choice to live in small tight-knit communities (jama`a), a general practice that is expected to protect them from bid`a and reinforce their unity in the face of Muslim enemies. Al-wala wa’l-bara is thus the principle to be followed consistently by all Muslims in order to answer the challenges of Muslim enemies.[xii]
      Nevertheless, the commitment to follow the community system requires committed individuals to form vital organic cells devoted to the realization of the true Islamic society either in a real sense or virtual.  According to Sayyid Qutb, these organic cells should form an independent entity separate from the community in which they live.[xiii] Qutb’s promotion of the necessity of the jama`a (community) system is related to his concept of jahiliyya, which considers the present world order to be dominated by pagan ignorance because it is governed by man-made regimes and systems, disregarding what God has prescribed.[xiv] To him, jahiliyya is not just a specific historical period, but a state of human affairs and socio-political orders characterized by ignorance and barbarism that existed in the past, exists today, and may exist in the future.[xv] Accordingly, Qutb divided the world into two spheres: dar al-Islam (the Abode of Islam) and dar al-harb (the Land of War). Because the present world order is perceived to belong to the dar al-harb, Muslims are required to undertake hijra (migration) until the divine order is restored.[xvi] It is worth noting that the concept of hijra often plays an influential role in shaping the ideological formation of an Islamist movement. It is a program of action that gives witness to the totality of God’s sovereignty through the creation of a way of life that differs from the Western model.[xvii]
      Some Islamists, calling themselves, Salafists emphasize that they choose to segregate themselves in Muslim communities primarily because they wish to withdraw from corrupting innovations and live in accordance with the example of the Salaf al-Salih, not because they have committed to the revolutionary dream of creating a totally Islamic society, as suggested by Qutb. Thus they strongly criticizes Qutb and asserts the dissimilarity between the meaning of “community” as defined by the Islamists and the Muslim Brotherhood’s definition of the concept. They are convinced that the community system of the Muslim Brotherhood has simply generated fanaticism, which has subsequently brought about disunity among Muslims. They level a similar criticism against the Tablighi Jama`at, which in spite of its enthusiasm for the jama`a system he considers to be ignorant of the true principle of al-wala wa’l-bara because it inclines toward Sufism.[xviii]
      In light of what has just been said, it stands to reason that the Islamists acknowledge no bay`a, the doctrine of oath of allegiance that requires all members of a movement to vow loyalty to their leader (‘amir or imam). This doctrine has been applied by most radical Islamist movements to assure the loyalty of their followers. In the eyes of Salafis’ ideologues, baya might entail a serious deviation from the principle of al-wala wa’l-bara because he believes that baya necessitates a declaration of unconditional loyalty to a jama`a leader under all circumstances, even if the leader commits sinful acts. The rejection of baya significantly distinguishes the Salafis from jihadis united in, for instance, the NII (Negara Islam Indonesia) movement. The NII is a homegrown Indonesian Islamist movement, inspired by the Darul Islam rebellion, which arose in the 1970s and campaigned for the establishment of an Islamic state. In this movement, a loyalty to a particular ‘amir is indeed fundamental, and the bay`a functions to bind the members’ loyalties to the ‘amir.
      In their endeavors to abide by the doctrine of al-wala wa’l-bara, the Salafis are committed to following specific codes of conduct and dress. Generally speaking, they prefer to adopt Arab clothing—a long white shirt, baggy trousers gathered above the ankle, and headgear—and allow their beards to grow long.[xix] Female members wear long, fairly shapeless black dresses and cover their faces with veils. They are secluded from the men and are only allowed to have contact with males in the presence of their husbands or of mahrims, close relatives whom they are not allowed to marry. In short, their social interactions are highly restricted.[xx] These practices all are believed to be effective means of distinguishing believers from infidels. For the same reason, the Salafis also reject all entertaining distractions: music, theatre, and places of pleasure and entertainment, such as cafés, discotheques, and dance clubs.[xxi] Perfume, the cinema, television, and photographs are considered aspects of infidel cultures.[xxii]
      The doctrine of al-wala wa’l-bara developed by the Salafis is reminiscent of the guidelines espoused by Ibn Taymiyya, who witnessed the Mongol invasion of Damascus. He developed the idea that the divide between believers and unbelievers must be total. In his Iqtida al-Sirat al-Mustaqim, he explained in detail all the rules of behavior Muslims should follow in order to distinguish themselves in their encounters with non-Muslims. According to him, Muslims, for instance, should speak Arabic in preference to any other language and should cut their hair and let their beards grow long in a manner different from that of Jews and Christians. The followers of these two religions (Ahl al-Kitab) were seen by him as active agents of unbelief who posed a threat to Islam.[xxiii]

      Although the ideology of the Salafis seems at glance nonrevolutionary, we encounter some of its ambivalences in dealing with certain issues, such as that of hakimiyya. This is a key concept developed by Qutb and Mawdudi, whose writings teach that in Islam governance belongs only to God, referring to the Qur’anic verse that reads, “Those who do not rule in accordance with what God has revealed are unbelievers” (Q: 5,47). Qutb, therefore, insisted on God’s absolute sovereignty, and asserted that the only true shari`a is God’s.[xxiv] In developing this concept, Qutb was in fact inspired by Mawdudi, who had written that true sovereignty can be ascribed only to God, who is Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe.[xxv] In both Qutb’s interpretations and those of Mawdudi, hakimiyya is understood to be one of the main components of tawhid. 
      The Salafis reject the so-called tawhid hakimiyya, conceptualizing hakimiyya as an independent branch of tawhid.[xxvi] They support this position by referring to a number of fatwas issued by the Salafi authorities in Saudi Arabia maintaining that the tawhid hakimiyya is a form of bid`a exploited as a political weapon by hizbiyya groups.[xxvii] This understanding requires one to embrace the takfir doctrine, which has been used by hizbiyya groups as a means to legitimize their revolts against legitimate Muslim rulers. The takfir doctrine teaches that the rulers—or even a society as a whole—who do not follow the shari`a are considered apostate (kafir) and consequently should be resisted and replaced by true Islamic leaders through the use of violence, if necessary.
      From the Salafis’ point of view, the use of the takfir doctrine is characteristic of what are called “neo-Kharijite groups” (neo-Khariji), inspired by the thinking of Qutb.[xxviii] They consider this doctrine to be a modern manifestation of the politics of the Kharijites, who were notorious for declaring all other Muslims to be unbelievers; their confidence in making such broad judgments was founded on the tawhid hakimiyya or mulkiyya. [xxix] The main doctrine of the Kharijites is that a ruler cedes his legitimacy through any infraction of the divine law and must be therefore removed. The unjust ruler and his supporters are dismissed as infidels, unless they repent.[xxx] As noted by Hrair Dekmejian, the spread of this doctrine has left its mark on present-day Islamists, influencing not only their opposition to the status quo but also their revolutionary method.[xxxi]
      The Salafis argue that Qutb’s advocacy of the takfir doctrine is highly dangerous, as it can lead Muslims into error and ultimately catastrophe. Taking Rabi` ibn Hadi al-Madkhali as his reference, as-Sewed insists that Qutb’s interpretation of the doctrine was born of a false understanding of the phrase “there is no God but Allah,” in which he interpreted the word “God” as al-hakim, the ruler, while in fact, according to as-Sewed, there is no such connotation known in Arabic. He is convinced that, as a consequence of this flawed understanding, Qutb was far too ready to excommunicate other Muslims.[xxxii]
      Despite their explicit opposition to Qutb and his followers, however, the Salafis advocate a strict application of the shari`a, in effect making a political claim and vitiating their criticism of hizbiyya groups. Submission to the shari’a is considered compulsory because it is God’s law. The Salafis emphasize that Muslims’ acceptance of the shari`a as their only binding law constitutes one of the pillars of Islam. But they maintain that this is part of the tawhid al-uluhiyya, which entails that all kinds of worship are meant for God alone. According to their interpretation, to believe that those who do not apply the shari`a stray necessarily into infidelity (takfir), as implied by the tawhid hakimiyya, is a mistake.
      Interestingly, the Salafis cannot avoid using the takfir doctrine in their analyses of the legal consequences for rulers who fail to honor the shari`a. But their rejection of these rulers falls short of declaring them all unbelievers. They distinguish between two categories of unbelievers: Kafir Itiqadi (infidel at the level of belief) and Kafir `Amali (infidel at the level of practice). While the first is no longer considered a faithful Muslim, the second is still accounted a Muslim, albeit a Muslim who commits sinful acts. Those who belong to the first category include:

1) Rulers who oppose the righteousness of the law of God and His messenger;
2) Rulers who do not oppose the law of God and His messenger, but believe that a law made by a being other than God and His messenger is better and more comprehensive;
3) Rulers who do not believe that man-made law is better than the law of God and His messenger, but nonetheless consider the former is equal to the latter;
4) Rulers who do not believe in the equality between the law of God and His messenger and man-made law, and still consider the former is better than the latter, but keep an open mind about the latter; and
5) Rulers who condemn the shari`a and oppose God and His messenger.[xxxiii]

However, Abu Syai’sa does not list those who belong to the second category. He only gives an example of a ruler who, because of his individual interests, judges something on the basis of laws made by human beings, but still believes that the law of God and His messenger is the only true law and is aware of the mistakes he has committed. In this case, he is considered to have fallen into kaba’ir (great sin).[xxxiv]
      Here we see the political nuances of the Salafis’ ideology. It is apparent that the necessity to submit to the shari`a as a manifestation of tawhid has an inevitable consequence in their assertion that faithful Muslims should obey this law. Although these teachers seem cautious about the impact of this doctrine, as indicated by their creation of the category of kafir `amali, the Salafis have asserted that the shari`a is the only legitimate law and that it should be followed by Muslims. It can be inferred therefore that the boundary between the Salafis and members of other Islamist groups in terms of ideology is, in fact, very thin.

      The Salafis’ inconsistency in viewing political activism seems unequivocal when they pioneered the call for jihad in conflict areas such as the Moluccas. This inherently political decision clearly contradicted to what they had believed, that political activism, or more precisely hizbiyya, is a  tendency that has thrown various Islamic groups into the sins of bid`a. This means that their refudiation of political activism is not an intrinsic part of their ideology, but rather as a tactic and strategy that can especially be used to avoid repression from hostile ruling regimes and, thus, might be changed under favorable cimcumstances. This also indicates that a-political or political tendencies adopted by any Islamist groups have constantly coexisted and the choice of a certain mode has greatly been determined by political constraints.
       In the context of their response to the Moluccan conflict, the Islamists identified jihad as an obligation for every Muslim. What they mean by jihad here is clearly an armed war. Muhammad Umar As-Sewed, an ideologue of the Salafis, argues that Muslims in the Moluccas have been slaughtered by the enemies of Islam and that all Muslims are thus obliged to wage war in order to prove their commitment to the shari`a; any repudiation of the fulfillment of this obligation would carry the risk of being an outcast from Islam.[xxxv] For Ja’far Umar Thalib, the commander of Laskar Jihad, the willingness to participate in righteous jihad is a manifestation of the completeness of a Muslim’s submission to God, and it constitutes a higher obligation than pilgrimage, prayer, or fasting,[xxxvi] an idea reminiscent of the opinions expressed by Ibn Taymiyya.[xxxvii] Jihad is thus recognized as an important part of the shari`a that Muslims must abide by totally. Commitment to jihad proves the strength of a person’s tawhid.
      The importance of jihad in Islam is rooted in the Qur’anic command that instructs believers to struggle on the path of God and follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad and his early Companions. The term “jihad” itself comes from the Arabic verb “jahada,” meaning “to struggle” or “to expend effort” for a particular cause. In Islamic legal theory, the ways for a believer to fulfill his jihad obligation include using the heart, tongue, hands, and the sword. Jihad that employs the heart is concerned with combating the devil, and it is regarded as the greater jihad (jihad akbar). The jihad using tongue and hands is for enjoining right and forbidding wrong (amar ma`ruf nahy munkar). The jihad using swords is equivalent to war, and it is regarded as the lesser jihad (jihad asghar).[xxxviii]
      The aspect of jihad that is equivalent to holy war has received particular attention in the debates of classical Muslim jurists. They divided this jihad into two kinds: offensive and defensive. Offensive jihad is identical to the war against unbelievers, waged in an effort to expand the territory of a Muslim state in order to bring as many people under its rule as possible. Participating in this jihad is considered a collective duty (fard kifaya), which is fulfilled if a sufficient number of people take part in it. If it is not fulfilled, all Muslims are sinning. Defensive jihad takes place when a territory occupied by Muslims is attacked by the enemy, and participating in this jihad becomes an individual duty (fard `ayn) for all Muslims capable of fighting. In both cases, jihad requires the approval of a legitimate ruler (imam) and has always been regulated by a host of ethical prerogatives and legal sanctions.[xxxix]
      Unlike classical jurists, modernist thinkers, including Muhammad `Abduh and Rashid Rida, were inclined to emphasize the nature of jihad manifested as defensive warfare. They were of the opinion that peaceful coexistence is the normal state between Islamic and non-Islamic territories, and jihad is only to be waged as a reaction against outside aggression. They envisaged various forms of aggression against which jihad is lawful, such as a direct attack on an Islamic territory or a suspicion that such an attack is pending, and also the oppression of Muslims residing outside the boundaries of the Islamic state. To them, the offensive jihad as understood by classical Muslim jurists has no enduring place in Islam. While emphasizing the defensive nature of jihad, they broadened its meaning to include all kinds of moral and spiritual struggles. In this regard, they considered the translation of jihad to mean “holy war” as incorrect, and they denounced the usage.[xl] 
      Fully aware of the word’s spectrum of meanings, Thalib prescribes certain limits on and requirements for the compulsion to commit oneself to jihad.[xli] Referring to the concepts developed by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya,[xlii] the main disciple of Ibn Taymiyya, Dzulqarnain bin Muhammad al-Atsary distinguishes four levels of jihad, namely jihad al-nafs, jihad al-shaitan, jihad al-kuffar wa al-munafiqin, and jihad arbab al-zulm wa’l-bid`a. The jihad al-nafs means jihad against worldly temptations, which is accomplished by, among other means, improving one’s knowledge of religion, practicing this knowledge in the right and proper fashion, spreading it to other Muslims, and being consistent in all these efforts. The jihad al-shaitan refers to jihad against devilish influences from inside and outside the self. The jihad al-kuffar wa’l-munafiqin means jihad against unbelievers and hypocrites and is performed by heart, word of mouth, physical strength, and use of one’s property. The last one, jihad arbab al-zulm wa’l-bid`a, refers to jihad against despotism and heresy.[xliii]
      Ayip Syafruddin, another Laskar Jihad ideologue, argues that what is intrinsic in jihad is a struggle to be consistent in keeping to the straight path, which is identical with the jihad of the first category noted above. But he also asserts that the prevailing situation in the Moluccas demands Muslims wage a jihad of the third category, namely jihad al-kuffar wa’l munafiqin.[xliv] According to as-Sewed, this category is further divided into two sub-categories: jihad al-talab or jihad al-hujm and jihad al-mudafa`a. In a jihad al-talab, in which the offensive is taken, Muslims initiate an attack on infidels by offering them three choices: converting to Islam; paying a poll tax; or being subject to war. This sort of jihad is controlled by a host of regulations. For example, it can be carried out only under the command of a ruler whose legitimacy and leadership are approved by Muslims. In addition, it should be conducted under a strict ethical code; women and children are not allowed to be the targets of attacks. The jihad al-mudafa`a is a defensive action, initiated when Muslims are under attack by infidels.[xlv]
      The Salafis underscore this “self-defense” argument to legitimize their calls for jihad in the Moluccas. They consider it to be a defensive jihad waged against an unholy alliance of Jews and Christians attacking Muslims. This line of argument has been bolstered by some fatwas from the Middle East, as discussed in the previous chapter. As we have seen, Muqbil ibn Hadi al-Wadi`i and Rabi` ibn Hadi al-Madkhali assert that in order to overthrow Christians who occupy the islands jihad is compulsory for every Indonesian Muslim, and those outside Indonesia are subject to a collective duty to help them.[xlvi] In order to highlight their ruling that jihad of this kind is only lawful if it is waged for defensive goals, that is, to defend Muslims from attacks of Jews and Christians, they outline some requirements and prerogatives. For instance, in the fatwa of al-Wadi`i, the Islamists are directed to focus on their proper task—propagating their vision of Islam in Indonesia—and measure their own capacity to fight jihad. He also warns them not to be trapped into a political game that can distract them from their focus on studying Islam and defending the Sunna. To him, jihad is also disallowed if it causes physical violence among Muslims themselves.
      As-Sewed thereby claims that the nature of the Islamists’ jihad is diametrically opposed to jihad launched by other Islamist groups active in fighting a war against Muslim rulers. He believes that these actions have caused jihad to become debased, turning it into little more than a form of rebellion. In his writing, as-Sewed constantly reiterates that the call for jihad in the Moluccas is an unavoidable necessity since Muslims in the islands are fighting against belligerent infidels (kuffar harbiyun) who have been killing them and plundering their property. Those who reject this jihad, while claiming the necessity to wage jihad against a legitimate ruler, he argues, fall into the error of the bid`a of the Kharijites.[xlvii] His basic criticism is aimed at the interpretations of Qutb and Mawdudi, who, as we have seen, did champion aggressive jihad. As far as these authors were concerned, jihad was a state of total war, declared to bring about an end to the domination of man over man and of man-made laws, and to establish the recognition of God’s sovereignty alone and the acceptance of the shari`a.[xlviii] In this respect, ideologues like Qutb and Mawdudi consider jihad to be the sixth pillar of Islam. Qutb even claimed that those who saw jihad only as defensive weapon did not understand Islam.[xlix]
      Even though they have ruled that Muslims are obliged to wage jihad when attacked, the Islamists still stress the need to wait for the approval and command of a legitimate ruler. In the opinion of Abu Usamah, jihad launched without the approval of a ruler can potentially incite chaos.[l] In this sense, their concept of jihad is no different from the classical one, which underlines that jihad can only be waged under the leadership of the legitimate imam. The importance of a ruler’s approval is emphasized by the fatwa of Ahmad al-Najm, who advises the Islamists not to rush off to battle in the Moluccas without prior preparation or consultation. According to him, the Islamists must follow these steps: (1) Choose a representative who will meet the ruler to advise and reproach him, and (2) if the ruler takes their suggestions into consideration, then he should be obeyed.[li]
      Given their position on what kind of ruler merits—or does not merit—obedience from his Muslim subjects, the Salafis argue that jihad can still be waged, even when the ruler withholds approval, if that ruler has strayed into infidelity or simply wickedness, because the approval of an infidel (or wicked) ruler is no longer needed. In this case, as Dzulqarnain al-Atsary puts it, Muslims might appoint a contemporary imam who would unite them.[lii] Al-Najm’s fatwa provides the foundation for this position, stating that “if the ruler rejects the suggestions to wage jihad on certain necessary conditions, then Muslims may rebel against him, provided that they have sufficient power.” Al-Najm adds that “if there is no Muslim leader responsible for the jihad, then a temporary leader may be appointed.”[liii] Here lies the ambivalence of the Islamists, further complicating their already ambivalent conception of the relationship between Muslims and rulers. The question of when the ruler can be considered to have strayed into infidelity or wickedness is a matter of interpretation.   
      Understanding jihad as described above, the Salafis believe that those who fulfill the call for jihad to assist their Muslim brothers attacked by belligerent infidels deserve to receive the title of martyr if killed on the so-called jihad battlefields. It is not surprising that they claim to have no fear of going to the Moluccas. They are convinced that they will be confronted with only two possibilities: victory, which signifies that the fighter has upheld the dignity of Islam; or death, which earns a warrior the title of martyr, the highest title for a Muslim. In short, martyrdom is portrayed as a consummation that should be sought rather than as a risk that should be avoided. This belief has developed with the circulation of religious texts, replete with Qur’anic verses and Prophetic Traditions extolling the merits of fighting a jihad and vividly describing the reward waiting in the hereafter for those slain during the fighting. These texts accompany tales of martyrdom, describing, for instance, the martyr’s body as pure and declaring that it would be welcomed in heaven by thousands of angels.

Concluding Remark
       An understanding of the ideology behind the expansion of Islamism enables us to look for a more appropriate and comprehensive solution to the heightened threat of radicalism and terrorism in contemporary Indonesia. It should be noted, however, the ideology that pushes the radicalization process is functionally intertwined with structural macro and micro socio-economic factors. A number of individuals’ disappointments coupled with frustration caused by daily interactions with the outside world is perfectly matched by socio-economic macro conditions often portraying unemployment, backwardness, inequality, corruption, injustice, and poverty. The only way to break this chain of radicalism is that the government and all segments of society find an effective way to deal with the structural problems that impact on social life.

*Artikel ini disampaikan pada acara Pra-Muktamar Muhammadiyah di Universitas Muhammadiyah Prof. DR. HAMKA (13/03/2020)


Gentala Jambi: How Radicals Justify Violence: The Logic Behind Islamists’ Resort to Radicalism and Terrorism
How Radicals Justify Violence: The Logic Behind Islamists’ Resort to Radicalism and Terrorism
Gentala Jambi
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