During a New Year’s Eve Islamic terror attack that took place in Russia minutes before the clock struck midnight, two Muslim men—Akhmed Imagozhev, 22 and Mikail Miziyev, 18—drove their car into and stabbed to death two police officers, one a married father of four. Other officers subsequently shot one of the jihadis dead, while hospitalizing the other.
An image of the two Muslim men posing with knives was later found on social media. Beneath it appeared the words, “love and hatred based on Tawhid!” This is hardly the first time this ostensibly oxymoronic phrase appears in connection with Islamic acts of terror. After launching a successful terror attack that killed two policemen in the Kashmir Valley, the militant commander of Kashmir’s Hizb al-Mujahidin—“the Party of Jihadis”—justified the murders by saying, “We love and hate for the sake of Allah.”
Interestingly, in this otherwise cryptic motto lie the roots of Islam’s conflict with the rest of the world. “Loving and hating” is one of several translations of the Islamic doctrine of al-wala’ wa’l-bara’ (which since 2006 I have generally translated as “Loyalty and Enmity”).
The wala’ portion—“love,” “loyalty,” etc.—requires Muslims always to aid and support fellow Muslims (including jihadis, for example through funds or zakat). As one medieval Muslim authority explained, the believer “is obligated to befriend a believer—even if he is oppressive and violent toward you — while he must be hostile to the infidel—even if he is liberal and kind to you” (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 64 ). This is a clear reflection of Koran 48:29: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves.”
But it is the bara’—the “hate,” the “enmity”—that manifests itself so regularly that even those in the West who are not necessarily acquainted with the particulars of Muslim doctrine sense it. For instance, in November 2015, after a series of deadly Islamic terror strikes in the West, then presidential candidate Donald Trump said, “I think Islam hates us. There’s something there that — there’s a tremendous hatred there. There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There’s an unbelievable hatred of us.”
This “tremendous” and “unbelievable hatred” is not a product of grievances, political factors, or even an “extremist” interpretation of Islam; rather, it is a direct byproduct of mainstream Islamic teaching. Koran 60:4 is the cornerstone verse of this doctrine and speaks for itself. As Osama bin Laden once wrote:
As to the relationship between Muslims and infidels, this is summarized by the Most High’s Word: “We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—till you believe in Allah alone” [Koran 60:4]. So there is an enmity, evidenced by fierce hostility from the heart. And this fierce hostility—that is, battle—ceases only if the infidel submits to the authority of Islam, or if his blood is forbidden from being shed [i.e., a dhimmi], or if Muslims are at that point in time weak and incapable. But if the hate at any time extinguishes from the heart, this is great apostasy!… Such, then, is the basis and foundation of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity, and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion. (The Al Qaeda Reader, p. 43).
Similarly, the Islamic State confessed to the West in the context of Koran 60: 4 that “We hate you, first and foremost, because you are disbelievers.” As for any and all political “grievances,” these are “secondary” reasons for the jihad, ISIS said:
The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam. Even if you were to pay jizyah and live under the authority of Islam in humiliation, we would continue to hate you.
Koran 58:22 goes as far as to praise Muslims who kill their own non-Muslim family members: “You shall find none who believe in Allah and the Last Day on friendly terms with those who oppose Allah and His Messenger—even if they be their fathers, their sons, their brothers, or their nearest kindred.”
According to Ibn Kathir’s mainstream commentary on the Koran, this verse refers to a number of Muslims who slaughtered their own non-Muslim kin (one slew his non-Muslim father, another his non-Muslim brother, a third—Abu Bakr, the first revered caliph of Islamic history—tried to slay his non-Muslim son, and Omar, the second righteous caliph, slaughtered his relatives). Ibn Kathir adds that Allah was immensely pleased by their unwavering zeal for his cause and rewarded them with paradise. (The Al Qaeda Reader, 75-76).
In fact, verses that support the divisive doctrine of al-wala’ wa’l-bara’ permeate the Koran (see also 4:89, 4:144, 5:51, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 60:1). There is one caveat, captured by Koran 3:28: when Muslims are in a position of weakness, they may pretend to befriend non-Muslims, as long as the hate carries on in their hearts (such is taqiyya; see here, here, and here for examples; for other Islamic sanctioned forms of deception, read about tawriya, and taysir).
Little wonder, then, that America’s supposed best Muslim friends and allies—such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar—are on record calling on all Muslims to hate. According to a Saudi governmental run website, Muslims must “oppose and hate whomever Allah commands us to oppose and hate, including the Jews, the Christians, and other mushrikin [non-Muslims], until they believe in Allah alone and abide by his laws, which he sent down to his Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him.”
Indeed, because enmity for non-Muslims is so ironclad in the Koran, mainstream Islamic teaching holds that Muslim men must even hate—and show that they hate—their non-Muslim wives, for no other reason than that they are “infidels.”
If Muslims must hate those closest to them—including fathers, sons, brothers, and wives—simply because they are non-Muslims, is there any surprise that so many Muslims hate foreign “infidels” who live oceans away—such as Americans, who are further portrayed throughout the Islamic world as trying to undermine Islam?
In short, jihad—or terrorism, war on non-Muslims for no less a reason than that they are non-Muslims—is simply the physical realization of an overlooked concept that precedes it: Islam’s unequivocal command for Muslims to hate non-Muslims.