This page is for maintaining my back-list of topics to blog on. If any of these especially tickle your cockles, or warm your fancy, let me know, and I’ll consider bumping its priority!

To Blog

  • What does “fundamental” really mean?
  • What does “liberal” really mean?
  • Was Job perfect?
  • Why resurrection? Why not just sacrifice?
  • Love for time-travel stories = yearning for God ??? (I don’t even know what this means anymore!)
  • Perfection vs. excellence (Jesus & sports)
  • My favorite hymns
  • Why do I like teaching?
  • Offside rule
  • Reviews
  • Fastest pre-industrial human?
  • Perspectives on Job
  • Gay marriage rant
  • Center for Christian Deconstruction
  • Code is Poetry
  • “Free” will isn’t free
  • Hyper-Calvinism : Free Will vs. Man’s Responsibility
  • What is Theonomy?
  • What is a Hymn?
  • Reinventing the Wheel vs. Scientific Specialization
  • Why was Sartre wrong? (suicide for the materialist)
  • Why was Nietzche wrong? (will to power & the SuperMan for the materialist)

Done Blogged:


9 Responses

  1. Rube,

    I had to post this somewhere. I figured here it would be out of the way. I resisted the temptation to quote any of it in the theonomy debates.


    by Mary Habeck

    November 17, 2006

    Mary Habeck is associate professor of strategic studies at
    the Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of
    Advanced International Studies. Her most recent book is
    Knowing the Enemy: Jihadist Ideology and the War on Terror
    (Yale University Press, 2006). This essay is based on a
    BookTalk she presented at FPRI on October 30, 2006; it is
    also available online at


    by Mary Habeck

    Who is the enemy, and what is this thing called jihadism
    that everyone has been talking about? Jihadism is a modern
    word, not something from the Quran. Jihadis, or jihadists,
    call themselves salafi jihadi or salafiyya jihadiyya (-iyya
    in Arabic is equivalent to -ism).When I first saw the term
    in early 2002, I thought it perfectly described the people
    we’re fighting and that the ideal name for the conflict
    we’re involved in might be a war on jihadis, or war on
    jihadism. However, the root of jihadism is “jihad,” which is
    actually a good word within Islam.

    Jihadis are a small minority within the Islamist movement
    that believes violence must be used in order to create the
    perfect Islamic state. Within jihadism there are
    disagreements about at whom this violence should be aimed,
    how it should be carried out, what it will accomplish, and
    what the Islamic state law will look like when it is finally
    created. Here, I address those jihadis who agree with Al
    Qaeda and affiliated groups on several important issues.

    Only a very small minority of Muslims believe in violence
    and are willing to participate in it, which–in addition to
    great FBI work–explains why no attacks have been carried
    out in the U.S. since 9/11, and why there have been few
    attacks in Europe or other places.

    Jihadist ideology can be reduced to unusual definitions of
    four Islamic words (tawhid, jihad, caliphate, and da’wa) and
    a few simple concepts. The jihadis believe, first, that
    they’re the only true Muslims in the world, the saved sect,
    the victorious party; that they’re the only ones going to
    Paradise. Second, they believe that hostile unbelievers
    control the world and have only one purpose in life, the
    destruction of Islam. In fact, according to several
    histories put together by jihadis, the entire purpose for
    the founding of America was to destroy Islam. Thus, thirdly,
    jihadis feel that war against the hostile unbelievers is
    permitted, because they’ve been attacked and aggressed
    against for at least ninety years, since the May 1916 Sykes-
    Picot Agreement (which divided the Middle East into areas of
    influence for France, Great Britain and others). Bin Laden
    frequently references that agreement. Other jihadis have a
    more expansive vision of this war, believing it began either
    with the Crusades or fourteen hundred years ago or even with
    the creation of man. To them, history has been a constant
    fight between the believers and unbelievers, light and dark,
    truth and falsehood. Thus, for jihadis, all their wars have
    been defensive.

    Finally, jihadis want to create an Islamic state for all the
    reasons that Islamists do–so that Islam will be correctly
    practiced, so that sharia law will be imposed, etc–but also
    to carry on this eternal war. Eternal war is the only
    foreign policy they envision for the caliphate, or Islamic
    state. When the war ends, it will be Judgment Day, the end
    of time. This is a dark, Manichean vision of the world.

    As noted, the jihadis have very specific views of the
    concepts of tawhid, jihad, the Islamic state, and da’wa.

    Tawhid, the belief that there’s only one god and only he
    deserves to be worshipped, is as central a concept to Islam
    as the concept of the Trinity is to Christianity. Neither
    term actually appears in the sacred texts. But tawhid is
    understood from everything that is contained in the sacred

    Most Muslims believe that–if one worships gods other than
    the true God–it is up to God to judge the unbeliever after
    death. God might have mercy on the unbeliever or he might
    not, but it’s his judgment, not something for other Muslims
    to decide. The jihadis agree that one should only worship
    the true God, but they also believe that tawhid includes the
    idea that God is the only law giver, only he–not people,
    kings, or states–has sovereignty. Therefore, if anyone
    claims to have the right to make laws, he’s actually making
    a religious, not political, statement. He’s saying “I’m God.
    I know better than God. Here’s my vision for how humans
    should act.” In fact, they have committed Shirk, the worst
    sin within Islam. The jihadi believes that he has the right
    to immediately judge that person and send him to hell–there
    must be judgment here and now.

    This implies that democracy is a foreign religion, not a
    political system. The jihadis feel that attempts to impose
    it are in fact efforts to convert Muslims to a different
    religion. In Iraq before the elections I saw posters
    proclaiming that “Anyone who votes in these elections has
    declared themselves an enemy of God and is following a
    foreign religion. Election booths are the places of worship
    for the foreigners.” If this makes little sense to us, it
    didn’t make much sense to most Iraqis, either. This is a
    minority, Wahhabi view, not the widely accepted vision, of

    Jihad is one of the most complex terms within Islam, with
    multiple definitions that seem to contradict one another.
    The term began as one thing and became something different
    within some hundred years of Mohammed’s death, and in the
    19th and 20th centuries it evolved again.

    Jihad means struggle or to strive hard for something. It
    doesn’t mean warfare. There’s a different word for war, and
    when Mohammed wanted to talk about war, he used that
    different word. There are two separate ways jihad is used in
    the Quran. One is striving to understand the Quran itself or
    to follow God more closely, the other is struggling or
    fighting against the unbelievers. After Mohammed’s death
    there was an outburst in Islamic fervor that led to the
    conquest of vast swaths of territory from Spain all the way
    to India within two hundred years. At the time it was viewed
    as a miracle, and therefore the term jihad began to change.

    Success bred the idea that jihad was mostly about fighting.
    The Hadith, which were collected 100-150 years after
    Mohammed’s death, are all about fighting. The notion of
    internal struggle almost disappeared. One small group, the
    Sufis, did keep the idea of internal struggle alive, but
    none of their ideas were incorporated into the Hadith.
    (Today, 80 percent of the Islamic population has some
    connection to Sufism.) Over the four or five hundred years
    that Islamic law was codified, the notion of jihad as
    fighting dominated and turned it into just-war theory.[1]

    Two separate kinds of fighting were distinguished. One was
    an individual duty, that if Muslims were attacked, everyone
    in the community must join in the defense. The other was a
    communal duty, that if there were a certain number of
    Muslims out on the frontiers carrying out offensive raids,
    that was good enough for the community. So it has both
    offensive and defensive aspects.

    The notion of an internal struggled remained within the Sufi
    community until about the 19th century, when Sufism began to
    spread widely and to influence and affect just about
    everybody’s thinking about the subject. The notion of the
    internal struggle became more and more important, and by the
    20th century and certainly today, if you ask a Muslim what
    jihad is about, they will say “First, it’s about an internal
    struggle to follow God more closely, and only second is it
    an external struggle about defensive fighting if we’re
    attacked. Jihad as fighting is a matter for the state to

    The jihadis hold that all this evolution over time is wrong,
    that there was only one true definition of jihad, and it was
    fighting right from the start. They attributed bad
    intentions to the Sufis (claiming they were afraid to
    fight), as they do to all their enemies. That’s actually
    purposeful, because within Islamic law, good intentions
    excuse almost everything. Thus to jihadis everyone has to
    have bad intentions. This is one of the reasons we may have
    trouble understanding them, and also explains why they have
    just as much trouble understanding us. If one has to read
    bad intentions into everything one’s enemy does, one will
    never understand what they are about.

    Jihadis also believe that eventually they will repel all the
    people who have taken their lands, and that then they will
    have to go on the offense, because the war cannot end until
    the entire world has been conquered for their version of
    Islam. This is the defining point of the ideology of
    jihadism. To them, jihad is a matter for each individual
    since there is no authentic Islamic state to declare war. If
    you decide not to join them, you’ve declared yourself an

    There are a wide variety of views within Islamic society
    about what kind of governance is Islamic. That is because
    Muslims define an Islamic state as a majority Muslim state.
    If a majority Muslim state decides on a given form of
    governance, it must be Islamically correct. On Islamic law,
    most Muslims will say “I think my laws should be Islamically
    inspired.” The Iraqi constitution in fact states this,
    meaning moral laws, because for most Muslims the only sense
    of morality comes from within Islam. So non-Islamic laws
    means immoral laws. Certain specific matters like divorce or
    inheritance law are generally widely understood, but other
    matters are vague. There is no idea of a correct form of

    A recent Newsweek article, “Caliwho? Why is President Bush
    talking about an Islamic caliphate? And what does the word
    mean?” made it sound as though President Bush had just made
    the word up.[2] In fact, it has been around quite a while.
    What most Muslims understand about it depends on their
    country. In Iraq, they understand the Abbasid caliphate,
    which was centered in Baghdad and which saw the height of
    Islamic civilization, in their opinion. In Syria, they think
    the height of Islamic civilization was when it was focused
    in Damascus. If you ask the Turks, it was the Ottoman
    caliphate. The point is that there were numerous caliphates,
    and each country has their own notion therefore of what the
    caliphate was. What is agreed upon is that it happened a
    long time ago and can’t be brought back.

    The jihadis, on the other hand, have very specific and yet
    maddeningly vague ideas about the caliphate, which to them
    is the only correct form of governance for a Muslim. It will
    have a caliph, territory, and the jihadis’ version of
    Islamic law. As to institutions, it needs only two: an army
    and an institution to promote virtue and prevent vice. There
    is no vision of economic, social or foreign policy, or a
    legislature, just the caliph, territory, and Islamic law.

    There are specific laws, rules, and regulations within Islam
    covering on which foot one should enter a room, how to brush
    your teeth, how long your beard should be, how often women
    should shave, and yet they do not know what the state will
    look like. That is because Mohammed didn’t create a state or
    institutions, just a community of believers. The jihadis
    refuse to recognize that and insist they must have a state.

    One gleans from the jihadis’ writings that after their state
    comes to control some territory and imposes its vision of
    Islamic law, then somebody will rise to prominence and be
    recognized by everyone as the caliph. This will turn the
    state into the caliphate, the only purpose of which is to
    spread the jihadist version of Islamic law so everyone is
    practicing it and to then make sure within the state that
    everyone is correctly practicing sharia. What the Taliban
    created in Afghanistan is a good image of the kind of state
    the jihadists believe they need to create in the caliphate.
    In fact, Bin Laden and Mullah Omar may have been within days
    of declaring Afghanistan the caliphate before 9/11, which
    was supposed to expel the U.S. from all Islamic lands.

    Within Islam itself, da’wa means the call to Islam given by
    Mohammed: a call to turn away from false gods and to the
    worship of the one true god. Most Muslims today also think
    of it as missionary work, either in other countries or
    possibly in day-to-day conversations.

    Jihadis have a very different view. Because they believe
    that the entire Islamic community has fallen away from God,
    their da’wa is aimed first and foremost at other Muslims,
    not the unbelieving world. Muslims who won’t answer that
    call must be killed. One group in Algeria actually calls
    itself the Salafist Group for Da’wa and Fighting.
    Ironically, then, many Muslims are giving money to charities
    the whole purpose of which is to turn them into jihadis. The
    money is not going off to convert the unbelievers, but is
    being aimed against them. This goes on quite a bit in the

    It is vital to understand that the jihadis’ war is first and
    foremost against other Muslims, who are the majority of the
    victims. This war has ideological, political, and military

    Ideologically, the message is aimed almost entirely at other
    Muslims. In 1996, Bin Laden put out a “Declaration of war
    against the U.S.” that was incomprehensible to anyone who
    hadn’t spent several years reading Islamic theology, law,
    and history. That declaration was aimed at other Muslims, to
    convince them to join up. The 1998 declaration, with its
    short bullet points, was aimed at the West.

    Politically, the jihadis are creating a caliphate on the
    backs of other Muslims, forcing them to follow their vision
    of sharia. When the Taliban imposed its version of sharia,
    the people of Afghanistan and Muslims generally were far
    from happy with it, seeing it as counter to what they
    understood Islam to be. Fallujah was a religious city even
    before the Wahhabis showed up, but once that version of
    Islamic law was imposed on them, and after the Americans
    left in April 2004, the jihadis began cutting off people’s
    hands and beheading people. They haven’t been able to regain
    a foothold there because the citizens, having experienced
    life under that version of Islamic law, do not want it

    Militarily, most of the people who have been killed by the
    jihadis have been Muslims. In Iraq, a few thousand Americans
    have been killed and tens of thousands of Muslim Iraqis. The
    jihadis don’t care if 50 Muslims are killed in a bombing
    that kills one American because to them, those Muslims
    aren’t Muslims. If you’re not supporting the Americans,
    you’re collaborators and nonbelievers. The jihadis have been
    fighting a war with us, however. That’s the one we tend to
    take interest in.

    Most of the ideas I’ve been discussing have to do with the
    jihadists that have signed up or began with Bin Laden and Al
    Qaeda. The main difference between them and the rest of the
    jihadis is this first point on prioritizing who the enemies
    are going to be. Ninety percent of jihadis believe, based on
    a Quranic verse, in taking on the local enemies before any
    far enemy. In the early 1990s,when Bin Laden began to change
    his mind about who he should be focusing his attack on and
    became convinced that it was the U.S., he had no Quranic
    justification. So he had to go back to a 13th-century
    theologian named Ibn Tamiyya who argued for taking on the
    greater unbelief first. With Ibn Tamiyya as the
    justification, Bin Laden called the U.S. the greater
    unbelief, the bigger enemy. Without U.S. support, all those
    lesser enemies or near enemies, whether it’s Israel or the
    Saudi government, would collapse. Bin Laden did not win this
    argument with the rest of jihadis: hardly anyone signed up
    with him in his global jihad against the U.S., only four
    small groups. Otherwise, he was marginalized and still is
    today within the jihadi community.

    As to war plans, to the jihadis, the only correct way of war
    is to follow the method of Mohammed, who had a specific,
    God-given plan. Within Islamic history there was one perfect
    moment of time and all of the rest of history is an attempt
    to recreate that. So this God-given plan is eternal and must
    always be followed. The jihadist version of Mohammed’s plan
    goes something like this: Mohammed started off in Mecca,
    gave da’wa to the residents there, and was rejected. He
    attracted a tiny vanguard of believers, but mostly was
    rejected and reviled, forced to migrate to Medina. There he
    found welcomers (ansar) who took him in, sheltered him, and
    were convinced through his initially peaceful preaching that
    Islam was a good idea. Then he was permitted to carry out
    attacks to begin an external jihad against his enemies.
    Defensive attacks became offensive raids, winning over more
    and more territory and more and more supporters, and
    eventually Mecca fell almost without a fight.

    This explains much about Bin Laden’s life. He began life in
    Mecca, where he had notions that people should follow him
    but no one did. He won a small group around him, but then
    was persecuted and forced to migrate first to Sudan and then
    to Afghanistan. Once there he tried to attract people and
    began carrying out attacks on those people in other places
    that had been oppressing him. He believes that eventually
    he’ll be able to return to Mecca, which will fall without a

    The basic ideas of jihadism come from three main sources.
    Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, an 18th-century preacher, revived the
    definition of tawhid discussed earlier. He also believed
    that there were no believers left except for him.
    Accordingly, he would try to win people over by preaching,
    and if they wouldn’t listen, he was allowed to kill them.
    This encompasses most of what you need to know about
    jihadism. Notice that his jihad was not against unbelievers,
    but against other Muslims. One of the first things he did
    when he had enough followers was to gather them together and
    head off to Najaf, in what would become Iraq, and burn the
    shrines there. Hatred of the Shi’a is built into this
    ideology right from the start.

    Hassan al-Banna (1906-49) had a very different notion of
    where this jihad should be focused. He agreed that one has
    to practice Islam correctly in order to truly worship God
    and that most of the world had fallen away from true Islam.
    But he believed in preaching to win over other Muslims,
    reserving violence for the occupiers. He founded the Muslim
    Brotherhood, which immediately began to take on the British
    occupation of Egypt. Unfortunately or fortunately, the
    British left peacefully before al-Banna could carry out his
    violence. But they put in place rulers who to the jihadis
    were agent rulers for the British empire. Al-Banna turned to
    violence against these agent rulers. They assassinated him,
    but not before this notion had caught on. Off and on
    throughout the 1950s and 1960s Gamel Abdul Nasser and others
    had to suppress these militants, who would flee to other
    countries like Syria, Palestine, and Saudi Arabia and start
    new organizations. Maintaining this notion of fighting the
    occupation is their main purpose in life.

    The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt maintained this until 1966,
    when some thousand of their leaders were rounded up and
    executed and the group renounced violence. But every such
    movement has its splinter groups, and the Muslim
    Brotherhood’s disagreed with this renunciation of violence.

    Sayyid Qutb, the most famous Muslim Brotherhood member, came
    to the U.S. in 1948 to study in Greeley, Colorado, where he
    was so disgusted by the decadence and repulsed by the lives
    of Americans that he became a radical.[3] Returning to
    Egypt, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and was imprisoned.
    While in prison he wrote a 30-volume commentary on the
    Quran, later condensed to a short manifesto called
    Milestones Along the Way, in which he reiterates that the
    main enemy is liberalism. Liberalism and democracy, he
    argued are a direct challenge to Islam as a way of life and
    the belief that God should be the only law-giver. Qutb was
    among those executed in 1966, but his brother Mohammed Qutb
    fled to Saudi Arabia and became a teacher; among his pupils
    was Bin Laden.

    Let’s look briefly at some of the jihadist groups that
    evolved from these concepts. Today, Hamas is just a new name
    for the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. Notice how these
    groups evolve over time. They begin by attacking soldiers,
    government officials, and when that doesn’t achieve any
    results, they find justification to begin killing men,
    women, and children. Likewise, the late Shamil Basayev’s
    people who carried out the 2004 Beslan school siege started
    off attacking Russian soldiers and government officials,
    then teachers, ordinary citizens, and finally any Christians
    in Russia.

    Al-Jihad was one of these splinter groups that didn’t agree
    with the Muslim Brotherhood’s renunciation of violence. They
    killed Anwar Sadat in 1981, and nothing changed. Who next–
    what about the tourists, who, they reasoned, were supporting
    the apostate ruler? So Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and Jihad
    Talaat al-Fath carried out a spectacular attack in Luxor in
    1997, after which ten thousand members were rounded up and
    imprisoned. But seven years later they renounce violence,
    are let out of prison, and splinter groups immediately
    carried out attacks in Sharm el-Sheikh and the Sinai. One
    part of Gama’a al-Islamiyya argued that killing tourists
    doesn’t work, however, and they need to wipe out the real
    support for the Egyptian government: the U.S. This explains
    the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993.

    Al Qaeda really began with this notion of the U.S. as
    occupiers. Although they didn’t carry out the 1996 Khobar
    Towers attack, they obviously supported it. They began
    changing their minds about the right methodology in the mid-
    nineties looking to strike repeated blows at the US, who
    they now saw as the “greater unbelief.” After all, the U.S.
    had left Beirut, Aden, and Somalia. They thought that
    jihadis everywhere and the Islamic community would join
    them, and with an energized community, nobody would be able
    to stand in their way. But none of those things transpired.
    It took them about two years to adjust to that and try to
    devise another plan, which was to recreate Afghanistan in
    northern Pakistan and start over. They’ve now recreated
    their Islamic state in northern Pakistan, where they have 22
    camps at last count. They’re turning out jihadis just like
    they did during the 1990s, and they’ve gotten a peace treaty
    signed with the Musharraf government, the likely duration of
    which may be measurable in months. Destroying this new
    Islamic proto-state will be a problem, since no one wants to
    invade the difficult terrain of ungoverned northern
    Pakistan. Al Qaeda has been trying to take over chaotic
    places like Somalia, Darfur, and al-Anbar province, and this
    is a very frightening proposition.

    There is one ray of hope. Atlanta writer Lee Harris has
    written about what he calls fantasy ideologies,[4] such as
    Nazism, fascism, and communism. These are ideas and even
    states in some cases that are based on fantasies. When
    people try to put these fantasies into action, to create
    states based on them, those states may last for a while–I
    see the current conflict as a two-hundred year war–but
    eventually they will collapse under their own
    contradictions, or when they are challenged. They’re based
    on a false reading of human nature, of how the world works.
    The Taliban state could only survive as long as nobody took
    it on. So while in the short term I’m pessimistic about some
    of these issues, in the very long term I’m very optimistic
    about our chances for victory.


    [1] See Islam’s Trajectory, David Forte, FPRI E-Note, 9/2006
    and Islam, Islamism, and Democratic Values, FPRI E-Note,
    Trudy Kuehner, 9/2006.

    [2] Lisa Miller and Matthew Philips, Newsweek, Oct. 12,

    [3] See John Calvert, “The Islamist Syndrome of Cultural
    Confrontation,” Orbis, Spring 2002.

    [4] “Al Qaeda’s Fantasy Ideology,” Policy Review, August
    2002, and Civilization and Its Enemies: The Next Stage of
    History, Free Press, 2004.


    You’re not going to believe this. The pagans have their own ark now.

  3. I reiterate my request for a thread on what the gospel actually is. If we must argue, let’s argue about the most important, most fundamental thing. Perhaps a thread about what the minimal requirements for salvation are, and whether or not we should remain only holding to those minimal requirements, or move on, adding to our understanding. And if we should add to it, what should be added to it, and how can we do that?

    Or perhaps a thread that combats that postmodern notion of truth, that it’s relative, and that absolute truth claims are so many grabs for power.


  4. Why was Nietzsche wrong?

    Or how about

    Was Nietzsche wrong?

  5. Well, yes Christians understand that Nietzsche was wrong, but the point is to ask the materialist why we should not all accept his conclusions about ‘will to power’ and the Ubermensch, which basically amount to “Might Makes Right“. This post will probably never be written. Neither will the Sartre flavor, which asks the materialist “if there is no end beyond personal gratification, shouldn’t you plan a set of criteria so you’ll know when your life is not worth living anymore, so you can kill yourself rather than wait around miserably to die naturally?” I’m thinking maybe of getting rid of this toBlog page altogether, actually, since I don’t use it for its original purpose.

  6. Nietzsche’s “Christianity is Platonism for the masses” is a great quote worth exploring.

  7. Compare that to Frank Valenti’s assertion that traditional reformed hermeneutic (since Luther & Calvin) is “too Hellenistic”.

  8. I’d enjoy a good dustup on the concept of “just war” and which US wars have been just, and what criteria we should use to engage in them.

  9. Why were you thinking to mention that article in the Theonomy discussions?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: