Andrew Sullivan Misunderstands Word Jihad

Andrew Sullivan, Founding Editor of The Daily Dish and former editor at The New Republic, responded to Glenn Greenwald’s column criticizing calling the Boston Marathon bombing attacks terrorism based on publicly available knowledge.

And when will they grasp that a religion that does not entirely eschew violence (like the Gospels or Buddhism) will likely produce violence when its extremist loners seek meaning in a bewildering multicultural modern world? This was an act of Jihad. That does not mean we elevate it above crime; it means we understand the nature of the crime. It only makes sense in the context of immediate Paradise, combined with worldly fame. And those convinced of the glories of martyrdom – of going out with a bang – are the hardest of all to stop.

I have two objections to this passage. One, the idea that adherents to Islam are more prone to violence than adherents of Christianity or Buddhism is an assertion that requires evidence.

Second, even if investigations prove that Tamerlane and Dzhokhar deluded themselves into think that they were doing an “act of jihad,” which is a meritorious act in Islam, wishing does not make it so. The vast majority of Muslims, especially religious scholars, have condemned acts of terrorism as hiraba, a term that covers piracy and highway robbery, definitely unmeritorious acts.

So I hope that Mr. Sullivan would at least change the sentence “This was an act of Jihad” to “The brothers thought they were doing an act of Jihad.”



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