[Transcribed by Mail-to-Jail. Though Ian has been released from jail, we just received his blog #8 in the mail and we are posting it now.]
“The Greater Jihad”
If you’ve been following these blogs of mine from jail, you’ve probably noticed me referring to the Cheshire “House of Corrections” as the Keene Spiritual Retreat. Like most of my ideas, this one is not original. It was coined by Sam Dodson a couple of years ago when he was imprisoned by Edward Burke for not revealing his name. Sam spent 58 days in the Cheshire jail before being quickly and unexplainably released – still wearing his jail orange! Dig back into the Free Keene archives to learn more about that situation.
At first blush, calling a jail a “spiritual retreat” appears to be a joke, but really, perspective matters. You get to choose how you feel and how you approach the events in your life, so why not look on the bright side? In jail there is plenty of time to yourself. Lots of time to read and no access to the internet. (Amazingly, I did not experience withdrawals, but I do miss easy access to information.)
I have been reading some great liberty-oriented books and graphic novels sent in to me by some wonderful people, and also acquiring books on religions of the world from fellow prisoners and the jail library. One of the first books I read was the Qur’an, which I followed with more on Islam and its prophet Muhammad, in addition to discussions and study with a Muslin in my cell block.
I already knew from my conversations with Muslim callers to my radio show that most Americans’ views on Islam are at best misinformed and at worst, dangerously ignorant, but I wanted to know more. I wanted to be able to say I’d actually read the Qur’an, so I needn’t rely on others’ opinions in the way I had been.
It’s not my intention to share with you my spiritual journey, as that’s not the purpose of this website. It is worthwhile to share a little about Islam here however, before I get to the reason I brought it up, if only to attempt to correct the horrible lies being propagated against it.
I should acknowledge that there are certainly some people in the world that call themselves Muslims who advocate violence, but these people are misinformed, just like “Christians” who support war.
Orthodox Islam is very clear on conflict. “Islam” itself means, primarily, “the making of peace”. The Qur’an supports violence only in defense and not only that, it abhors retaliation. Once the attackers incline to peace, so should all true Muslims. (see 8:39) Also, any conflict is only allowed with those who would fight with you, not innocents. (2:190) Muhammad embodied these principles and had a history of forgiving and even setting free bloodthirsty enemies who had attempted to kill him.
The anti-Muslim paranoid might respond, “But Muslims are anti-Christian! They are on a jihad to destroy Christianity and force their beliefs on us!” Besides it being obvious this isn’t true (because nothing of that sort is happening, and every city in America has peaceful Muslims in it), it’s all the more clear when one reads the Qur’an. it was created after the bible and acknowledges Christians and Jews as neighbors who are merely confused on some doctrine that the Muslims believe was corrupted over time. The Qur’an intends to correct such misunderstandings, but never by force. 2:256 states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. For example, the Qur’an says the Christians got it wrong about Jesus – he was conceived in the Virgin Mary by god, but its not god – also it says the “trinity” is a confused idea and stresses there is only one god.
What is jihad then if not what the talking heads on TV and radio claim? It means simply enough, “struggle” – the struggle of the missionary effort of carrying the message of Islam to others. At the time the Qur’an was delivered to Muhammad, this was a struggle indeed. At that time and place in history, people were worshipping idols and were dishonorable – a message of a monotheistic god and a moral code was extremely radical and a threat to the status quo. It was indeed a struggle to spread the word, gain converts, and not be exterminated by the powers-that-be.
In my last blog, I spoke out against using terms like “struggle” and “fight”, and other conflict-oriented terms. I suggested that liberty-lovers look at our movement’s results as inevitable and that it is the people calling themselves “the state” and their supporters who will be fighting to keep the status quo and their system’s previous legitimacy.
So why title this blog, “The Greater Jihad”? By my understanding, to the Muslim, there are two types of jihad: that which is external, or the lesser jihad, and that which is internal, the greater jihad.
For Muslims, and certainly for the liberty movement, it is the internal struggle that is the greatest challenge. Do any of the following statements sound familiar to you?
- “They could put me in a cage.”
- “They could take away my child(ten).”
- “They could ruin my business.”
- “They could hurt/disappear/kill me.”
- “They could steal my car/home/possessions.”
They do to me. They are all reasons to do nothing – reasons to keep your head down. Keep in mind, I’m not just talking about civil disobedience and noncooperations here – I mean any form of activism. Whether politics, media, outreach, or whatever – the closer you come to success, the greater the threat to the status quo, the higher the level of risk to you and your loved ones.
The decisions to get active – at all – is just one internal struggle that each liberty -lover faces. I certainly have, and still do.
When you come to the ideas of liberty, you naturally want to seem them come to fruition, but you know that means risk. The government people have guns, cages, and near-immunity from consequences for using them against peaceful people.
If only we could achieve liberty without putting anything on the line!
As someone once said, (I’m in jail, so researching such things is difficult) “All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing.”
The fear that makes rationale like the above so persuasive also imparts a false sense of security. Sure, you can keep your head down and maybe stay safe for a little while but ultimately, they could still cage you, take your kids, destroy your business, harm you, and take or destroy your stuff ANYWAY. They are doing it all around you to people who aren’t activists, and you know it’s getting worse. By choosing not to act, you merely guarantee the inevitable tyranny you fear. Is that what you want to leave for your grandchildren?
Defeating the fear we create for ourselves is indeed the greatest jihad.
But wait! I’m not advocating recklessness. If you go it alone, you’ll either be ignored or crushed. When Muhammad began to spread Islam, he really was starting from zero. We can easily communicate with others of like-mind across the world. The power of that communication allows our weapon to be the video camera – dramatically lowering our risk, while simultaneously increasing the destruction of the legitimacy of “the state”. So, just by being here, now, we’re safer.
Muhammad’s strategy is still solid – move those of like-mind together. It’s the best way to mitigate risk and at the same time embolden activists who previously had been petrified due to feeling so alone. Plus, a larger concentration of activist increases the penetration and acceptance of our ideas – it’s the best way to popularize liberty.
The decision to move to NH as part of the Free State Project (http://FreeStateProject.org) of course is its own internal struggle for many. Here are a few common objections:
- “What if I can’t find work?” – the economy in NH is better than all of New England and the unemployment rate one of the lowest in the U.S. If you can’t find work when you make the move, you just don’t want to work. Of course, it’s always a good idea to build a nest egg up prior to the move.
- “It’s cold!” – Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from living in cold places, don’t worry, we have heat and warm clothing here. I’m no fan of ring cold, and my hands and feet get that way easily – it’s a small price to pay to live among people who love freedom and have a shot at achieving liberty in our lifetime.
- “What about my friends and family?” – If they love liberty, invite them along! Ultimately, this is one of the toughest objections to overcome. Even if your significant other is indifferent to liberty invite them to visit NH with you, perhaps during the yearly Liberty Forum or Porcfest – it’s a great chance to meet the community of people who are waiting to be your new friends, not to mention to experience the beauty of NH. Such a visit might just be the persuading factor for them, and for you as well.
We can be free and activists are already set to the task here in the Shire, but don’t expect it to happen without your help. It may be your skills and efforts that tip the scales.
“Ware is over, if you want it.” – So is your internal jihad. If you aren’t here yet, sign up for the FSP, consider the Keene area as your destination (130+ reasons to move to Keene at http://move.FreeKeene.com), plan to move sooner than later, and execute your plan! Once here, settle in, meet your fellow activists, and get involved. Also, we always need fresh activism ideas and leaders, so if you feel there is something that should be done – start it.
You may face various greater jihads throughout your life, but the ones regarding liberty activism can easier be overcome with a little help from your friends.
As the wise man says in “Sucker Punch“, a film that to me is all about the greater jihad, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”