A police officer stands behind discarded medical equipment near Borough Market after an attack left 7 people dead and dozens injured in London, Britain, on June 4, 2017. Photo courtesy Reuters/Peter Nicholls

For London terrorists, attacking enemies is a sacred duty

(RNS) It is jihad, again. “This is for Allah,” shouted the attackers, before they “stabbed a girl 10–15 times,” according to a video of an eyewitness.

Responding to June 3rd's London Attacks, British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was “far too much tolerance” of Islamist extremism in the U.K.

Many Muslims worldwide were ready to sincerely condemn the horrifying attacks in London, affirming Islam does not support such atrocities against civilians.

This is a new wave of terrorism in London.

Three “Islamist militants” drove a van across the London Bridge at 50mph, killing at least seven and injuring more than 48, before they continued driving to Borough Market, where they began “randomly stabbing” victims.

This terrorist attack took place less than two weeks after “an Islamist suicide bomber killed 22 people including children at a concert” in Manchester in northern England, and almost two months ago, “a man killed five people after driving into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in central London.”

But, what on earth could drive these attackers to commit such horrible deeds?

It is their conception of jihad, especially if you consider this is Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month.

Whether you consider these attackers evil lunatics or genuine believers is not the issue. We cannot underestimate the call to “jihad against the unbelievers,” which is found in the ancient sacred texts.

Jihad, as a term, is an Arabic noun, meaning struggling and striving, found in the Quran and Muhammad’s sayings (hadith) hundreds of times. Jihad, as a sacred command in the Quran, occurs explicitly more than 28 times in its singular and plural form. In most cases, it is linked with fighting for the cause of Allah.

Contemporary Muslim interpreters rightly emphasize jihad as striving in Allah’s path to live a godly and pious life, influenced by mystical Sufi understanding of purifying one’s soul.

However, what likely drives attackers, such as those in London is an understanding of jihad that existed throughout the past 12-centuries of Islamic interpretation: Jihad as striving in Allah’s path by destroying the unbelievers.

According to the Quran, “Not equal are those believers remaining (at home) — other than the disabled — and the mujahideen, (who strive and fight) in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives.” The word “strive” in Arabic is a form of jihad.

For those London attackers, armed jihad and attacking enemies are sacred duties. They see themselves devout and adhering to the literal message of the most sacred text, the Quran. In a sense, they are following Allah’s command to Muhammad: “O Prophet, fight (form of jihad) against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” 

Attackers wholeheartedly believe, “The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive (form of jihad) with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah.” 

When attackers wage jihad against what they view as unbelievers, they are observing the command, “So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive (form of jihad) against them with the Quran a great striving.” 

In Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month, jihad becomes a necessity. Instead of devoting time to worship and reciting the Quran, militant Muslims see the streets of London as full of evil and nudity. For them, all those non-Muslims are infidels and unbelievers, against whom jihad is prescribed, commendable, and supported by ancient sacred texts.

(Ayman S. Ibrahim is an assistant professor of Islamic studies and director of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)



  1. The above is not what seems to occupy the twittersphere and facebook etc. What’s seems to dominate is that these attacks are in accordance with an eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth order in the Quran. It’s common knowledge that in the past few months over 4000 muslim innocent mums dads and kiddies have died under coalition bombs.

    Plus often referenced is this –

    Q: Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: *”We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”*

    A: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”
    —60 Minutes (5/12/95)

    Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press.


  2. Thank you for speaking to the reality on the ground with this article.

  3. If only there were a more effective means of separating the wheat from the chaff.

  4. So the author is the “House Muslim” for the Southern Baptists. Good grief.

  5. Uncle Tom….Clarence Thomas…JUDAS..thirty pieces of silver to lie on the people who raised you…such sad sad writing that I really don’t even have words.

  6. just like the good ‘ol house negro.

  7. How much blood is shed in the name of Allah? Shame, shame, shame on this bloodthirsty deity.

  8. Really? Going right into the slurs from the get-go? This isn’t a Reddit board. You can show at least a pretense of not being a rabid bigot.

  9. Really? Going to label me a rabid bigot for deriding people who follow an illiterate con artist’s manifesto where he impersonated a deity that espoused nothing BUT BIGOTRY? gtfo

  10. Switch to “christofascists” and you won’t be a bigot anymore. See how simple that is? 😀

  11. Um, sarcasm alert. But not to worry, I’ll simply consider your rant redirected to the rabid bigots who actually DO use anti-Christian slurs here and upvote each other for doing so.

  12. eye-for-an-eye-tooth-for-a-tooth with the yézidis too ? Damn, this yézidi empire must have been so mean with the muslims.

  13. oh.. sorry 🙁 It’s harder and harder to tell these days 🙂

  14. and the eye for an eye tooth for a tooth isn’t even in the quran, but in judaism, but oh well, my comments get deleted.

  15. Just more ‘peaceful muslims’ enjoying Ramadan

  16. funny how you can name-call this author and call him a ‘traitor’ and deride him so, but while fellow muslims said the same about the guy in your avatar image and killed him.

  17. Funny that I heard similarity veined comments from Theodore Shoebat and Dr. Michael Brown about the Araina Grande concert goers. (He could have just as well said that Muslims just get cranky from abstaining from food and tobacco all day. ) Even odder in terms of the British Muslim perspective is that not one of the London terrorists are getting traditional prayers for their burial. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/05/imams-refuse-funeral-prayers-to-indefensible-london-bridge-attackers

  18. Quite often, the references to those passages from the Quran that call for attacks on unbelievers do so without concern for context. Likewise, the rightful condemnation of jihadist terrorist attacks falls short because it forgets the full context of the attacks.

    Perhaps we should look at a possible parallel between how Israel has become an oppressor because of past anti-Semitic atrocities executed by Christian Europe and the direction of today’s jihadist terrorist attacks–I hasten to add that terrorists have hijacked and corrupted the word jihad. For what we see in both is a human problem that all who are oppressed and who have had atrocities committed against them are vulnerable to. For us Americans to see that the above is a human problem is to consider the history of our own nation’s treatment of Native Americans and Blacks. Such should help us to see that the violence we abhor in others is not too far from ourselves.

  19. “Christofascist” certainly hasn’t been deleted. It’s still in black and white over at the thread on “What’s Next For the Pro-Life Religious Liberty Crowd?” Some “rabid bigots” are evidently more acceptable to RNS than others.

  20. You are mistaken in thinking that there is any specific Israel motivation on ISIS’s part. Nor is it anything about objections to Western presence in Muslim lands. It is about killing non-Muslims and establishing a caliphate, period.

  21. Arbustin,
    Didn’t say that there was an motivation tied to Israel though I wouldn’t rule that out. Israel’s Occupation against the Palestinians plays a large role in motivating Islamic terrorists in attacking the West. This was part of Al Qaeda’s motivation.

    What you are missing here is why extremists can recruit. And Western intervention and Israel’;s occupation motivate many terrorist recruits into joining. And those factors play a role in moving leaders into extremist positions. For example, the leader of ISIS was held in a US military prison for around 1 to 2 years.

  22. your writing is a little incoherent, but I think you are saying that Malcolm X was killed by Muslims….please find your local mosque and let someone teach you basic Islam. The NOI are not Muslims. So please learn Islam and then get back to me, because frankly, you are showing ignorance about something I have spent my life studying and white skin does not give you points with me.

  23. LOL Nation of Islam isn’t Islam? LOL One of those ‘No True Muslim’ games, eh? But yes, he was killed by his muzzie followers. And no thanks, one does not need to go into the Angra Mainyu’s dwelling to learn about Islam. Don’t want to risk being killed or being forced to drink whatever the same Blood of Kali-Ma that causes people to regurgitate the word ‘beautiful’ like a weird robot. I already know everything about Islam and likely more than you do. And you’ve likely been studying AS a Sheep instead of like the Wolf founder. Mohammed was a con artist. Btw, what was that little racist bit at the end?

  24. Cf. reading ancient Hebrew, the Quran has not changed the Arabic and we may or may not comprehend the meanings of words. Also they may or may not mean what they did when they were written. And they were written in a context which is not today’s context. It is impossible to know the “true” intent of the word “jihad” which I understand to mean “struggle.” But life is a struggle and we all wrestle with things we encounter. This won’t help the radicals who are just looking for an excuse to commit mayhem but it helps me to survive knowing they exist. Yes, it is difficult.

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